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 an entry-level four-season tent, chef Jacques Torres’s take-everywhere knives, and a “more sophisticated” rattle alternative.
Loafers are a quintessential fall staple, so writer Chloe Anello consulted 21 loafer lovers to find the best options out there. Franco Sarto was a popular name recommended by the panel of cool people, including Strategist writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell. She admits she was never fond of the brand when growing up, but now she thinks it’s fairly underrated. “Every time I wear them, I get compliments, and no one ever believes they’re from DSW and Franco Sarto,” she says. “I also like that they don’t gap when I walk because I have a wide foot, and that normally happens.” Plus, she notes, they’re comfortable right off the bat.
An entry-level four-season tent
The trick to hiking in winter is having the right gear. To help prep your next cold-weather trek, Strategist writer Katherine Gillespie asked seven experienced hikers, backpackers, and outdoor-gear experts to help put together a packing list. Along with base layers, sleeping bags, and snacks, the experts recommended a four-season tent that is “designed with thicker nylon and a larger rain fly that stretches down to the ground, heavier poles that can withstand wind, and smaller ventilation panels.” REI’s virtual-outfitting-team lead, Forrest Jarvi, recommends this tent as an entry-level option because it has all of those features and is relatively lightweight and inexpensive.
Chef Jacques Torres’s travel-friendly knives
“I hate bad knives,” chef Jacques Torres told us when we spoke to him about the things he can’t live without. He made the mistake of forgetting his knives while on a trip to Los Angeles and had to use the ones provided by his rental. “I was sick to my stomach using their knives. That was a catastrophe, and it was so hard to cook with,” he said. Now he never travels without his own set. He said he likes these fairly inexpensive knives from Togiharu because “they go through anything you need, and they keep the sharpness. They are also light. A knife is like a pen. When you write a letter with a good pen, you feel good about it. A bad knife is just as frustrating as a bad pen. Both are a little bit like an extension of your finger.”
Strat-approved (on sale) skin-care stocking stuffers
We have long been fans of the Ordinary, which regularly appears on our best-of beauty-products lists. The brand’s reasonably priced serums, toners, and oils are rarely found at a discount, but now through the end of November, you can take 23 percent off sitewide as part of its Slowvember sale. We rounded up all our favorite Strategist-tested products, which, we might add, would make excellent stocking stuffers (especially for notoriously hard-to-shop-for teen girls). One such product is this peeling solution, which “you will no doubt have seen gracing your FYP and Instagram feeds over the last year,” according to the Strategist UK’s guide. And Rio Viera-Newton can see why: To her, the product is nothing short of “phenomenal … I use it twice a week, and I absolutely adore what it does for my overall redness and hormonal acne.”
Graphic throw pillows …
In this week’s installment of “Don’t Dillydally,” along with dumplings from Fly by Jing and pasta bowls from ceramicist Jono Pandolfi and chef Missy Robbins, we unearthed these throw pillows from Design Within Reach and the Block Shop. It’s part of a home-goods collaboration (that also includes framed art prints and flat-weave rugs) “inspired by sculptor Alexander Calder’s wire circus Cirque Calder.”
… and a Bearaby blanket dupe
Give the gift of a good night’s sleep with a weighted blanket. We consulted sleep experts and tested some ourselves to find the best options, including affordable, luxury, and cooling picks. A nice dupe for the best-overall Bearaby blanket is this YnM knitted blanket, which we say “ditches the traditional bead-filled construction for a chunkier knit one made of 100 percent hollow fiber that is long-lasting and breathable.” The price shown here is for the lightest blanket (10 pounds), but the heaviest one (20 pounds), at $200, still costs a lot less than a Bearaby.
A cleansing oil for “Über-sensitive skin”
Finding the right makeup remover is tough, especially if you want to wash away a full face of makeup without drying your skin. So we turned to 13 dermatologists and makeup artists for suggestions based on skin type as well as makeup type. Makeup artist Mary Irwin recommended this cleansing oil “for Über-sensitive skin,” especially skin with eczema. “It’s hypoallergenic, fragrance free, and deeply soothing,” she says. The formula, which combines a lightweight soap with cleansing oils, is even approved by the National Eczema Association. It promises not to exacerbate any issues or cause further flare-ups, and on top of all that, Irwin says, it completely removes all your makeup.
Perennial artisanal brooms
If you’re shopping for the gardener in your life, we think they would appreciate this gorgeous push broom from French brush-maker Andrée Jardin. And while we wrote about the artisanal-broom trend a couple of years ago, this one’s made to last. Not only is it nice-looking, it’s also “made of thermally treated, humidity-resistant ash wood, which means your gardener can use it all year long.”
A “more sophisticated” rattle alternative
Shopping for a 1-year-old can be tricky, which is why we created the Toy Matrix. For something educational and affordable, consider this squishy bead toy that will hold their attention and stimulate motor-skills development. “It’s like a more sophisticated rattle. It rattles when you shake it, but it also has beads that move around the bars. And it has a sensory aspect to it,” says Sarah MacLaughlin, a child-development expert and the author of What Not to Say: Tools for Talking With Young Children.
Gift cards that give back
Supply-chain and shipping issues are expected this holiday season, and unfortunately, the problem has disproportionately affected small businesses. But you can still support small businesses and get what you want on time with gift cards. We pulled together a list of 37 New York–based shops offering gift cards, including Neighborhood Spot, which started selling collaboration merch and artist prints in March 2020 to help support local NYC small businesses. A Neighborhood Spot gift card can get you “hoodies, tees, and other goods from businesses like La Bonbonniere, Casa Magazines, and the Elizabeth Street Garden fund,” we wrote. “You can also buy our own ‘Reasons to Love NY’ print or tote bag illustrated by Jeanne Verdoux.”
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.