We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trolling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week — including a “portable blanket” (that’s actually a faux fur), friendship-bracelet floss for adults, and the black face mask all the cool people wear.
The black face mask all the cool people are wearing
“Over the summer, protective masks–as-fashion reached something of a fever pitch: patterned, fringed, lace-adorned, and silken masks proliferated. But for a certain set, the most appealing mask wasn’t embellished at all — it was simple and pretty cheap: a black surgical mask,” Strategist writer HIlary Reid wrote. She investigated the trend and found many devotees of the “insouciant” and “health goth” style. “It’s simple, safe, and self-explanatory,” said Laura Naparstek, a product marketing manager at Braze who wears the black mask daily. “Wearing it is as if you’re saying, ‘Yes, I’m wearing a mask, it looks chic as hell, now let’s move on.’”
A safer way to savor food from a New York City institution
Every year around this time, we reach out to foodies to tell us about the best new cookbooks to gift. Of the many worthy options in this year’s crop, this cookbook, featuring recipes from New York City’s Xi’an Famous Foods, feels particularly of the moment considering many of its fans probably can’t make it there to eat in person. It comes recommended by Yossy Arefi, the author of Snacking Cakes, who told our writer Nikita Richardson “I have stopped into one of Jason Wang’s family’s restaurants on many, many occasions for a steamy bowl of spicy and sour dumplings in soup or spicy cumin lamb noodles. Their book not only has recipes for XFF’s signature spicy, hot, and sour dishes and lots of other regional recipes from Xi’an, but the storytelling is top-notch too.”
A ‘portable blanket’ (that’s actually a faux fur)
Writer Cat Marnell, a self-proclaimed faux-fur obsessive, told us that a poncho from Donna Salyers Fabulous Furs is the best thing she bought this year and would make for a great gift to anyone looking to bundle up this season. “Fake is better in every way: the price, the colors, the durability,” she promises. “This poncho from Donna Salyers Fabulous Furs is like a portable blanket you can wear over jeans. You can wear it to bum a cigarette outside the new Delancey Street Popeyes or you can wear it to eat the chic caviar at my favorite restaurant, Le Crocodile. You know?
A six-pack of Sesame Street slipper-socks
As our senior editor Peter Martin pointed out in the latest edition of the Strategist haul, kids need house shoes, too — and that’s exactly why he bought this delightful set of socks with grippy bottoms for his daughter. “Now that our daughter is running around the house a lot more, she’s also slipping a lot more. We needed socks with grips on the bottom, and after struggling to find gender-neutral options, I eventually came across these, which she seems to love almost as much as her mom and I do.”
A handmade (in India) runner for your holiday table
Just because our holiday dinners may not be as populous as they were last year doesn’t mean we still can’t get appropriately festive with tablescape décor. While it’s not exactly seasonal, this runner from our latest edition of Don’t Dillydally has the sort of timeless look that makes it appropriate for year-round use, whether you’re buying it for yourself or as a gift for the consummate host or hostess in your life. The “intricately designed, 100-percent-cotton runner was handmade by artisans in Nagaland, India,” we wrote, noting it is part of a new collection of smaller homé decor accents from “Revival Rugs, which we called the Casper of vintage rugs back in 2018.”
A dining chair with ‘legs for days’
Interior designer Caitlin Murray told contributor Alexandra Ilyashov that this “curvy, angled, legs-for-days chair” would make for a more interesting and less ubiquitous dining chair than the Eames Eiffel or that $300 chair’s many dupes. “This has design appeal from every angle,” she promises. “It’s such a delicate, sculptural piece that feels like high design and unpretentious whimsy at the same time.” If you want to shop around, head here for 20 more Eames alternatives that Ilyashov heard about.
Editor’s note: the Ripple Chair is currently sold out, but we’ve put together a bunch of equally stylish Eames alternatives here.
A spice worth stocking up on
“After getting sick with COVID-19, my cooking and eating shifted to being completely anti-inflammatory,” says stylist and Apértif author Rebekah Pepler, “So I’m flying through my turmeric stash. Diaspora’s is truly the best. According to its manufacturers, its flavor profile is “bright, zesty, and deeply floral.”
Friendship-bracelet floss for adults (and kids)
“Making friendship bracelets is the ideal quarantine hobby,” says our senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson. This $10 pack of neon floss provided her with hours of productive entertainment while cooped up at home over the past several months, which is why she recommends it as a great, affordable gift for the crafter in your life (or just for yourself, so you can use it to make bracelets for loved ones). While she admits that “following patterns is a bit challenging,” she promises it is “not so difficult that it’s frustrating, and it’s easy to get into a rhythm that’s both relaxing and stimulating.” (Her full story has helpful resources for finding said patterns.) Importantly, she concludes, “the process is a soothing break from real-world anxiety.”
And the most sculptural electric toothbrush we’ve ever seen
“People invest in these really lovely skin-care and makeup products for their bathroom, but will then just pick up a random drugstore toothbrush or toothpaste. There’s nothing wrong with that,” model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley told us, “but I want to love everything I use.” Love is exactly what she feels for this “beautiful piece of technology” that she told us she can’t live without. “I love how it looks and I love using it — I wouldn’t use it if it didn’t work. I bought it maybe three years ago and it’s really held up. I’ve obviously changed the heads, though.”
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.