sunday circular

9 Products That Delighted Us Last Week: From Canned Coffee to Presidential Pens

Photo-Illustration: retailers

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 the canned coffee that jeweler Ben Baller drinks every morning, bedding separates in a range of “delicious colors,” and an actually nice-looking nursing bra.

A back brace to help with posture (even on stools)

If your back is begging for a break after a year of working from home, but you don’t want to invest in bulky, ergonomic furniture, contributor Charlotte Klein recently went on a hunt for portable — but still effective — desk accessories. It’s all “stuff I could easily bring with me to make whatever seat and surface I sit at much more comfortable to work at,” and it all fits in a tote bag. But the “most portable of all my gear because it weighs less than a pound and folds up compactly” is this back brace. It simply “uses tension to tilt your pelvis slightly forward and prop you up to encourage better posture while seated,” even transforming how you sit on low-back chairs or stools that don’t provide support.

The Japanese canned coffee that Ben Baller stocked up on at the start of the pandemic

Last March, lots of people stocked up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. But jeweler Ben Baller told us, “When the pandemic started, I stocked up on cases of two drinks: One is UCC Coffee, which is in all the Japanese markets.” It’s since become one of the things he can’t live without, along with his Crocs and earbuds. “I get up around 6:30 a.m. and have a UCC coffee over ice. I haven’t gone a day without it for more than a year now.”

An ‘easy jean’ to ease out of sweatpants

Since most of us have become accustomed to spending a lot of time in loungewear, a pair of stiff new jeans might not sound appealing for spring wardrobes. But this week, Everlane launched the Easy Jean to smooth the coming transition from sweats to hard pants. They’re fashioned similarly to their popular Easy Pant, complete with an elastic waistband and straight-leg cut, even though they’re technically denim. They’re also “ultrasoft, thanks to their loosely woven knit, which gives them that broken-in feel from the moment they arrive at your door.”

Skin-safe shampoo and conditioner for stubborn hairline acne

Suffering from stubborn whiteheads around her hairline and behind her ears, writer and “acne veteran” Leah Muncy wanted to find a shampoo and conditioner that would stop the breakouts without making her already-dry-leaning hair even more frizzy. So after talking with several dermatologists for a story on skin-safe hair care, she tried SEEN, a hair care line developed by a dermatologist that’s free from heavy oils but formulated with skin-safe moisturizing ingredients like hemisqualane and shea butter. And just over two weeks after switching over, she noticed “the breakouts, especially those behind my ears, were starting to heal — and no new ones were forming in their place. But perhaps more surprising, my hair was looking better too. It was soft and less frizzy, and I would often hold a piece up to my nose just to get a whiff of the deliciously clean scent.”

A mod dog raincoat from Skymall

Though it’s a bit late in the season to pick up a puffer for your pet, there’s still lots of rain to come — and this bright-yellow Push Pushi raincoat will keep them dry. It comes recommended by Dusen Dusen designer and dog owner Ellen Van Dusen, who was gifted it by a friend who saw it on Skymall. Van Dusen says that it’s perfect for her dog Snips: “It has a clear plastic hood, so she can still see if it goes over her eyes.” But if you want something with a bit more insulation that still looks good, writer Liza Corsillo talked with several other stylish dog owners about their dogs’ favorite jackets.

President Biden’s (and Reagan’s and Bush’s and Obama’s) favorite pens

As President Biden signed his first 17 executive orders on his first day in office, senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson “couldn’t help but focus on another item on the Resolute desk: a little wooden box displaying a lineup of identical black-barreled pens with shiny gold accents.” She ended up finding the exact pen that Biden uses: the Cross Century II rollerball pen in black lacquer with gold appointments and a felt-tip refill “to produce bold, more marker like creamy writing.” Turns out that Rhode Island–based A.T. Cross has been supplying pens in the White House since the Reagan administration, and these presidential pens are hot commodities, sometimes gifted as souvenirs after ceremonial signings. Biden himself received one from Barack Obama, after he signed the Affordable Care Act into Law. (As for Obama’s favorite pens? He liked the Townsend in black lacquer with rhodium details and the two-tone Century II “Tuxedo.”)

An actually sexy nursing bra (that really works)

When contributor Sarah Z. Wexler had her son, she was told by a lactation consultant that she’d need to pump a lot — up to “eight to 12 times a day” — and needed a really good nursing bra. A friend sent her the Dairy Fairy bra, and Wexler loved that she could not only “unclip this one to nurse, it also has slits that let it work to pump, too.” But most unexpectedly, this nursing bra was actually sexy. “Becoming a mom is already enough of an identity shock; you don’t also need to feel like a granny in the process. This bra’s black lace let me say to myself that, even though my boobs were now a thing that made food for my baby, they were still mine.”

Size-inclusive bridal dresses with ‘spot-on’ custom sizing

Shopping for a wedding dress is stressful — and for plus-size brides, in-store selection can be woefully limited, especially since “samples usually max out at size 10 or 12. And this is bridal sizing we’re talking about, which is anywhere from two to four sizes smaller than regular sizing.” So contributor Alexandra Ilyashov, who is getting married next year, found that shopping online for a wedding dress is the more appealing option — especially now with the ongoing pandemic — and very doable, with lots of different options and price points for every type of body. One brand recommended to Ilyashov by fashion blogger and brand consultant Liz Black is eShakti, which carries sizes 0 through 36W and offers the option to customize a dress’s length, sleeves, and more for just an extra $10. And, Black notes that their sizing is “pretty spot-on” and true to size, unlike most bridalwear.

Bedding separates in a range of ‘delicious colors’

If spring is giving you a “sudden urge to replace white sheets with linen ones in a very specific color scheme,” writer Lauren Ro “embarked on a rather thorough investigation” to find a brand of linen bedding that offers separates, so you can buy sheets and duvet covers and shams in different tones without having to pay extra. Her search led her to Bed Threads, a “direct-to-consumer company based in Australia that makes its sheets with 100 percent French-flax linen in a range of delicious colors.” But what stood out to Ro most is that unlike most bedding brands, Bed Threads lets you “buy basic bedding — a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and two pillowcases — separately for the same total price the company charges for a set of those same items.” With this option, Ro was able to achieve her desired “desert rose–inspired bed” with “two pillowcases in turmeric, a duvet cover in rust, and sheets in pink clay” — all at the same price as a monochrome set.

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.

9 Products That Delighted Us: From Canned Coffee to Pens