If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying. Which led us to think that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we bought in July.
Anthony Rotunno, senior editor
While visiting friends in Jamestown, Virginia, my husband did a little window shopping on a morning when I had to work. I told him to grab me any modestly priced souvenirs he thought I might like. He returned with a haul of napkins from Caspari, a heritage brand that has been making what I’ve called “museum-quality” paper napkins for more than 70 years. The sets he bought all have a bit of nautical spirit, but some — like napkins featuring two folks getting ready to dive into a couple of drinks — are less literal than others. Caspari’s draw is its attention to detail, and these are no exception. The lobster-print napkins, for instance, have a treatment that makes them look more like a natural-colored linen.
Leah Muncy, deals writer
I moved out of a four-person apartment, where I was borrowing nearly everything from roommates, and basically had to furnish my new kitchen from scratch. I spent a few days researching electric kettles and settled on this one from Hario for two reasons: 1. I love the stainless-steel body and wavy handle, and 2. it has a gooseneck, which is ideal for pour-over coffee. So far, I love it. It boils water in just under three minutes and looks so cute on my countertop.
I was pleased to discover the brand also makes these double-walled coffee glasses. Like the electric kettle, the wavy shape just about did me in — I ordered two on the spot. I use the 15-ounce one for tea and the 10-ounce for espresso. The outside really does stay cool to the touch, while the inside keeps coffee and tea warmer than most mugs.
Ambar Pardilla, writer
These are the latest addition to my ever-expanding shoe collection. I spotted these clogs in Nordstrom’s new-arrivals section before the Anniversary Sale and had a feeling they wouldn’t be marked down anytime soon. I immediately loved the patchwork pattern and horse-head hardwear. But mostly, I was into them for the low heel (I’m not a big fan of heels over 3 inches for fear of falling). They’re so comfortable to walk in that I didn’t even need to break them in. And they dress up my usual combination of jeans and a T-shirt during the summer. This pair also comes in brown (for slightly less), but the patchwork — thanks to its mix of neutrals and brights — is actually more practical for my wardrobe.
If there’s one piece of makeup I can’t leave the house without, it’s eyeliner (yes, even more than concealer). I’ve stayed loyal to my trusty Chanel Le Crayon Yeux (in the Brun Teak shade) for years, but I decided to branch out when I saw this Marc Jacobs eyeliner on sale. It’s creamy enough to blend well underneath my waterline. It doesn’t smudge during the day. And when it’s time to wash it off at night, it doesn’t take much for it to disappear (just a dab of remover will do). I own three of the silverish shades — Luna(tic), (Stone)Fox, and N(ice) — and feel like an extra on Euphoria now.
Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer
I first bought these running headphones around a year ago and they just stopped working now — probably because I put them back in the case while they were still wet a few too many times after sweaty runs. At first, I bought a different pair of highly recommended (and much more expensive) earbuds, but I ended up returning those after one run. They actually formed too good of a seal in my ear canal, which amplified the sound of my every footstep and was super-annoying. So I ended up coming back to the affordable, no-frills Poly BackBeats. They sound great while still allowing in some outside noise so I feel safe running across the street or on a crowded path. They also have a long battery life and stay in my ears no matter how much I sweat. I plan on taking better care of this pair so they last a long time.
Now that I’m getting into the meat of training for the NYC marathon in November and my long runs are getting longer, I’m on the lookout for better ways to carry water on my runs. I used to run with a water belt (like this) that held a good amount but never fit quite right and would bounce around as I ran. So far in this training cycle I’ve just been sticking one of the bottles that came with my belt in my shorts pocket, but now that my runs are getting into the 15-plus-mile range, I find that I need more than one bottle of water. I stumbled upon these shorts with two built-in pockets for bottles on the back and decided to give them a try (especially since they were only $20!). I ran 16 miles in them last weekend and was so impressed with how comfortable they felt. The two bottles held more than enough water, and there was none of the bouncing or chafing that might happen with a water belt. These are definitely going to be a staple in my long-run wardrobe.
Daniel Varghese, associate editor
I have lost every tie bar that I’ve ever bought, so I recently resolved to stop buying them. Then, on a trip to Maine for my dear friend Rebecca’s wedding, I stumbled into Orphan Annie’s Antiques. They literally have a drawer filled with whimsical tie bars and cufflinks. I pushed past a boat, a wrecking ball, and a couple naval seals before I stumbled upon a lovely little fish. Resolutions, I guess, are made to be broken. I highly recommend a trip to the store — packed floor-to-ceiling with beautiful glass lamp shades, ornamental servingware, and admittedly nightmarish dolls — but on the off chance a trip to Augusta, Maine, is not on the calendar, I also recommend buying something similar on Etsy.
Look, I cannot lie to you. I do not know why my barber M.J. recommended this specific prep spray to me. The website lists a bunch of ingredients, including aloe, almond, cucumber fruit (???), and prickly pear, but I have genuinely no idea what each actually does. All I know is that when I spray this stuff into my hair after I shower (and do not towel dry it off), it looks great. Even in the humidity of a New York summer, the spray keeps my hair voluminous, but not frizzy, and ensures my curls are tight and bouncy. I just bought two more bottles.
Kitty Guo, junior writer
A few years ago I went through a brief but intense hypebeast sneaker phase. I’m mercifully rehabilitated now, but once in a while I’ll stumble across a must-cop grail that quickens my pulse — like these Converse high-tops designed by Dior artistic director Kim Jones. I’ve been searching for a sneaker that wouldn’t get waterlogged if I was caught in a sudden downpour. With their stacked platform sole and overlaid TPU cages for wet-weather functionality, these kicks kept my feet warm and dry throughout several wicked thunderstorms.
I stopped into an Aesop store, intending only to sniff a few samples, and accidentally-on-purpose walked out with a tube of its Rind Concentrate Body Balm. Fresh, citrusy scents are my go-to during the summertime, and this delightful body lotion is infused with pink grapefruit and lemon and orange rind, as well as nut-oil extracts for extra hydration. It’s nice and lightweight, not greasy at all, and layers beautifully under a perfume like Atelier Cologne’s Clementine California, which I’ve been reaching for on a daily basis.
Chloe Anello, writer
I love anything and everything from Alex Mill. I would fill my whole closet with its stuff if I could. With this particular purchase, I loved the terry material. It’s cozy and unique, and it’s so comfortable to wear, especially when it’s scorching hot outside. And because it’s a set, I don’t have to think about a full outfit. It already did the job for me.
My very energetic dog loves to play, especially with me, and has a lot of toys I use to play with him, but recently his favorite has been the sleeve of my sweatshirt — and only while I’m wearing it. He’ll come up and tug on my sweatshirt, which, for obvious reasons, I don’t love. (And sometimes he bites a little too hard because he forgets my hand is there.) I kept saying I should get a pair of socks to wear over my hand instead of my sweatshirt, but then it dawned on me that puppets exist. I did a quick search and bought these. I figured if they were safe for kids who also like to put things in their mouth, they would be safe for him. I swear he’s never been happier. He plays with his other toys occasionally, but the look on his face when he sees me bring out the puppets to play with him is priceless. He’s particularly fond of the horse, but a close second is the cow.
Kelsie Schrader, editorial coordinator
I’ve been a daily runner for over a decade now, but my lifelong hobby of denying myself things I actually need means I haven’t upgraded my running clothes for … over a decade now. The pair of three-inch compression shorts I bought at age 16 are not as long and loose as they were 10 years ago, nor are they high-waisted. Although I truly detest them, I still put them on several times a week because they’re all I’ve got. I finally decided I deserved a pair of shorts I like, so I bought these high-waisted five-inch shorts. It is such a delight to run in clothes that fit the way I want them to fit — those extra two inches are a game changer. I’m now the proud owner of two pairs of these shorts (the second pair is navy) and am considering upgrading my drawer full of circa-high-school sports bras next.
It was a very good month for me in the bottoms department, as I am now also the proud owner of the first pair of jeans I have ever (ever) (everrrrr) liked. This past weekend I was thrifting in Queens and found a used pair of these Reformation jeans, and I had that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants moment when I pulled them on and they fit perfectly. Like, truly perfectly — not too long on my five-foot-two frame, not too tight in the thighs or too loose in the waist, or vice versa. Such a fit has never happened for me. And they are actually comfortable! Normally when people call jeans “comfortable” I want to ask them how much Levi’s is paying them to say that, but truly, these are comfortable. I’m ready to bike commute in them. Since they were used, I got a criminal deal, but if it counts for anything, I would drop the full $128 for another pair (and may in fact do so if my hunt for good blue jeans fails).
Maxine Builder, editor
I engaged in a lot of outdoor activities over the last month, including an overnight sea-kayak trip in Maine, a weeklong sailing trip along the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and an impromptu campout at Dunes Edge in Provincetown. As I’ve been unpacking and using and repacking all of my gear, I realized I was missing one crucial item: a good camp mug, for coffee in the morning and boxed wine at night. So I picked up this double-walled one from Snow Peak. It’s twice as heavy as a single-wall titanium mug, but I’ve never been an ultra-light kind of girl, and I really wanted it for drinking, rather than cooking or boiling water. The double-wall construction means it’s insulated, so it keeps hot coffee hot without scalding your hand. But the real game-changer has been the silicone lid that keeps bugs and leaves out of my drink (and, in turn, my mouth).
I not only bought an Outdoor Voices skort this month, I am now excited to tell everyone about how much I love my Outdoor Voices skort. I paired it with this little Alo Yoga crop top, and I was feeling my country-club fantasy while walking the dog in McCarren Park. I even wore it while jogging, and I was impressed by how well the built-in shorts stayed in place on my thighs and how cute I felt, which is important when you’re huffing and puffing and your face is turning beet-red.
Dominique Pariso, writer
Skater Socks are my absolute favorite socks to rollerskate in. They’re super soft, add a little extra cushion, and come in every color you could think of. The brand was having a sitewide anniversary sale, so I stocked up and bought four new pairs at 33 percent off: two knee-highs and two that hit my mid-calf.
My love of pistachio-flavored products has already been documented, so obviously I bought this pistachio spread the day contributor Katie Quinn published her ode. My order hasn’t arrived yet, but I know when it does, it’s going to take all my self-control not to eat the entire jar in one go.
Arielle Avila, junior writer
As a very inconsistent and tepid runner, I was hesitant when I bought my first pair of Hokas a couple months ago. (I only pulled the trigger because these were on sale in the REI Good & Used section and well under $100.) But now I’m fully convinced they’re worth their weight in gold. I’ve run more than I have in years since buying them, and I even found myself changing outfits just to wear them out casually. Earlier this month I bought myself a second pair, this time in a much more neutral all white, and they’ve become my go-to shoes.
Jenna Milliner-Waddell, writer
My indecisiveness sometimes leads me to spend more money than I need to. For a friend’s birthday this month, I knew I wanted to get her something from Nappy Head Club, but couldn’t decide between the “Good Hair” scarf and this tank top. I ordered both and promised myself I would return whatever didn’t end up being part of the gift. That didn’t go as planned. I gave her the scarf and kept this for myself.
I’ve gotten a lot of Instagram ads for this brand Cider. I feel like I’m too old to be shopping there — some of the clothes say “2000s Baby” on them — but everything is pretty cute and really cheap so I thought I’d try it out. Nothing’s arrived yet. They wait until everything is at their warehouse to ship it all at once in an effort to lighten their shipping footprint, so I do trust that it’s coming. This is one of the items I’m most excited to try on.
Lauren Ro, writer
I’d been using cheapo razors for a while, and they were fine, but then I thought, Why not be a little kinder to my underarms and also the environment? I got these based on the thousands of positive reviews at Target, and I’m happy to report that they’re superior to my disposables in every way (of course they are) and absolutely worth the extra money. I’d used Venus razors back in the day but forgot how smooth (and soothing) they were on my skin. The metal handle is also hefty and feels good in the hand. Now, I actually look forward to shaving and realized that what I chalked up to laziness before I got these was actually reluctance.
Simone Kitchens, senior editor
My favorite sweater company, Babaa, was having a little sale the other week. Everything they make is so beautiful and feels like it will last for years and years. Even though it couldn’t be more sticky outside, I got excited thinking about wearing this navy sweater with my newly eBayed Levi’s a couple months from now.
I also ordered incense from Bodha. (Bodha’s incense is made in Japan by Nippon Kodo, and its packs, which come with 50 sticks, seem to never run out.) This time I got Calm, which has lavender, clary sage, and rosewood. I think it smells like Nag Champa Light. It’s woodsy and herbal but, most importantly, not too strong. I’ll light one of the smokeless sticks before I get into bed — and pretty much drift off right after.
Jessica Silvester, contributing editor
Purple shampoo always bums me out. Even though I’ve come to rely on it in the summer to tone down the brassiness of my thin, balayaged hair, every one of the three or so brands I’ve tested has felt gooey in my hand and disinclined to lather. This month I took a chance on Philip B.’s version of the product, and it was noticeably different, if also noticeably pricier. Pooling into your palm, the deeply pigmented liquid has a shimmer to it and almost an effervescent quality. When you rub it together it gets luxuriously sudsy. And it’s not just my color that looks less burnt when I use it. The overall feel of my hair is smoother and bouncier, too.
In June, when my younger son was ready to lose the baby bottles and start on sippy cups, I gave him a few of the versions that I had left over from when my older son was that age (the Munchkin ones, in particular, had worked well). But child No. 2 happens to be more of a Bamm-Bamm than child No. 1 — he likes to spike his cups off the floor and slam them against the wall, etc. Milk was leaking all over the place. So I went ahead and ordered the brand that writer-mom Hannah Selinger said she’s discovered to be really, actually spillproof. Sure enough, no matter how bad a beating those Re-Play cups take, their rubber valves keep the contents well contained, and I’m wiping up fewer messes these days.
Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer
Another month, another slew of book purchases. I only bought four books this month (which might be a record?) — Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor, Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz, and Dear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell. Of all the books, I’m most excited to read Ace of Spades, which is being pitched as Gossip Girl meets Get Out. I’m not usually one for YA, but I got swept into the purchase by a convincing TikTok about good new releases to read.
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.