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 trawling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including classic rain boots, fashionable tennis separates, and a smart meat thermometer.
Cute oversize collars
It’s a Gen-Z dream collaboration: Depop and Ganni have partnered with six female designers to rework the brand’s signature oversize collars. This one in particular, from Sio Studio, was crafted out of dead-stock Ganni fabric and vintage Levi’s denim. Since they’re handmade out of preexisting materials, that means they’re available in extremely limited quantities, so if you see one that strikes your fancy, we recommend you don’t dillydally.
Todrick Hall’s holiday scented lotion
This Bath & Body Works lotion topped performer Todrick Hall’s list of what he can’t live without, and he was “heartbroken when I learned that it is usually only available during the holidays.” Another vanilla-bean-scented lotion from the brand is available year-round, but Hall declares “it’s not the same.” The next time this lotion became available, he started “buying ten, then 20, then 30 at a time. I know this sounds excessive, but I put them in every room of my house.” And he’s not alone in his obsession with this cookie-scented lotion; he insists that “there are other people who stock up on it every year, too — there’s a cult behind it.”
Sweet slurpable jelly
“The screw-top pouches [this jelly] comes in make me feel a bit like I am eating high-end baby food,” writes Fishwife founder Caroline Goldfarb, who says that finding new things to snack on “is not only a hobby but a passion that verges on raison d’etre.” After encountering this jelly in food-diary vlogs from Korean and Japanese YouTubers, Goldfarb decided to give them a try, and they’ve since become “a go-to when my sweets cravings hit hardest, which is typically during the post-lunch afternoon slump.” Available in flavors from peach to green grape, mango to cola, she advises sticking them in the fridge “because they’re most sublime when chilled” and promises getting “the sweet, chunky gel flowing into your mouth” is a “wholly gratifying endeavor. By the time I finish a pouch, I always feel satisfied.”
The best laptop for the college-bound
With back-to-school season quickly approaching, Strategist tech writer Jordan Bowman spoke to a panel of computer-repair and tech experts about which laptops are best-suited for every type of student. Miguel Melendez, a PC expert at B&H Photo Video, recommends the latest version of the MacBook Air, which has Apple’s own M1 processor. “It’s really all a student would need, no matter what they are going to study. The M1 chip is very capable and it has been doing very well for any type of user,” he says. Plus, the Air is one of the most lightweight laptops on the market, which means you won’t get a backache from lugging it all over campus. Melendez has witnessed multiple returns from students who got a laptop that was too heavy, because “with all the books or other things they might need to have with them, two or three extra pounds make a big difference.”
Cult-classic rain boots
Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale is on now, and while we’ve compiled a list of everything that’s caught our eye, we were particularly excited over these classic Hunter boots, which are on sale for $100 (more than one-third off). Hunter’s rain boots have come highly recommended to us by adults, kids, and even gardeners as some of the best element-protecting footwear. This sleek black pair is sure to pair well with any outfit, whether you’re commuting to the office, out to dinner, or just running around town. Seattle-based style blogger Heidi Grey says they have zero leakage because “they’re made from one plastic block,” and Karrie Meiklereid, creative director for the Style Room at Zappos, calls Hunter “the go-to brand for rain boots.”
A mighty desk fan
More than 14,000 Amazon reviewers attest that this diminutive desk fan is surprisingly effective for its size. One shopper writes that before they bought this fan, they were “sweating enough to get us out of the California drought. With this fan now I am cool as a cucumber. I have not drippity, drop, dropped a single sweat in my room ever since I plopped this puppy on my desk.” It’s also very quiet and unobtrusive; another reviewer who is a teacher turns it on to circulate air in their hot, stuffy classroom and “it is so quiet that the kids don’t even know it’s on.” And another reviewer says it might even work too well, finding it to be “so powerful I would freeze out my co-workers if I did even the lowest setting.”
Tom Colicchio’s meat thermometer
Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio swears he can’t live without this smart meat thermometer, which features “two sensors — one to get the internal temperature of what you’re cooking and one to get the ambient temperature of the oven.” It also syncs with your phone through Bluetooth, and you can program it as well: “If I’m doing a roast and I want the internal temperature to be 117 degrees, I can set it to that and the probe will actually calculate when I should take the roast out. It alerts me on my phone, so I don’t have to constantly check the oven.” With this handy tool, Colicchio gets “perfect meat every time.”
An at-home test for vaginal health
Bacterial vaginosis is nothing to be ashamed of — but of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Strategist writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell spoke with Evvy co-founder Priyanka Jain about her company, which offers an at-home vaginal microbiome test. The test can tell you everything that is present in the vagina, including the percentage of good and bad bacteria and what course of action you should take. According to Jain, knowledge is power: “There’s so much research showing that the vaginal microbiome is predictive of everything from fertility issues to preterm birth to STI acquisition to cervical-cancer progression,” she says.
Stylish tennis essentials
“Tennis-inspired fashion, from pleated skirts to retro tube socks, seems to be everywhere these days,” says Strategist senior writer Karen Adelson, who spoke with everyone from coaches to players about what the best tennis clothes are. Racquet Magazine founder Caitlin Thompson is a fan of the British brand Jupp Sport, which offers “amazingly cute, fitted tennis whites.” She especially loves to pair its Maverick shirt and Maui skirt. “The top has a three-quarter-length sleeve that comes down right above the elbow, which is very flattering on most women’s arms, and both pieces have built-in spandex material to keep you dry,” she says. “They allow you to look buttoned-up in a way that’s not stuffy, and they look great on all silhouettes.”
An actually chic diaper bag
According to Strategist contributor Sarah Hoover, “A fanny pack is far superior to any proper diaper bag.” When the prospect of buying a proper diaper bag “evoked terrifying thoughts about my failures as a mother that fed my depression as it evolved from prepartum to post,” Hoover decided to pick up this Paravel fanny pack instead and found that it has “just enough room for the baby things I needed on daily excursions in my son’s first year: two diapers, a little Ziploc of wipes, and an extra onesie just in case he took a blowout shit at the Odeon and I had to make a quick judgment call.” The Paravel pack is also sleekly designed and budget-friendly, which means it “goes well with jeans and simple dresses, but has a price that makes me not too worried if it ends up with a little baby puke on it.”
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.