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 a luxurious silk tank, an easy-to-clean stove-top percolator, and a massager for relieving WFH aches.
Rob Dyrdek’s secret to staying camera-ready
TV host and entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek counts these Clean & Clear facial blotting sheets among his favorite things because they prevent him “from being glossy on-camera.” They were first given to him by the producers of his podcast, which is also filmed, and he’s “used them every episode since.” Dyrdek says he’s “not typically a face sweater,” but when he’s recording under bright lights and gets “riled up, I tend to sweat a bit — just enough to look a little shiny.” So he keeps a blotting sheet handy “to pat my face down and make sure I’m always looking fresh.”
A cozy case for packing your laptop …
While hunting for a stylish and functional laptop case, Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo was thrilled to stumble upon this padded sleeve from Baggu. Resembling a “miniature sleeping bag,” the sleeve is “quilted and filled with recycled Poly-Fil, closes with a square inch of Velcro, and comes in seven different patterns and two sizes: 13 inches for small laptops like my Macbook Air and 16 inches for larger devices,” according to Corsillo. Whenever she tucks her computer into the “fun” and “cozy” case, she imagines she’s “putting my laptop to bed.”
… and cute cubes for packing your clothes
When we asked travel experts to share their favorite packing cubes, Briona Lamback — the founder of Buoyant, a community for Black travelers — recommended this Shacke set, which she says has been going strong since 2017. “They’ve helped me pack more efficiently by maximizing my space,” she told us. “I just feel more organized while traveling because the packing cubes force me to be intentional about what I’m bringing on a trip.” Since the set includes multiple sizes of packing cubes, Lamback can mix and match depending on how long her trip is; she uses one large cube as well as the smallest size for a weekend escape, but for a three-week long-haul vacation, “I’m using all four between my carry-on and checked bag.”
Contemporary linen-blend bedding for cold winter days
Linen bedding can be pricey, but we found a great deal on a Scandinavian-chic linen-blend quilt and pillow shams at West Elm: Several colors are currently 50 percent off. Made of European linen and cotton in an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 factory, it comes in lovely neutral shades such as natural flax, burnt terra-cotta, and subtle indigo and is filled with 100 percent recycled polyester. The queen-size quilt is available with two matching shams for as low as $135 or on its own for a very reasonable $115. If you’re looking to upgrade your bedding in anticipation of the chilly weather ahead, don’t dillydally.
A surprisingly silky camisole
We consulted a panel of cool people to find the best silk pajamas for women, and professional undergarment educator Kimmay Caldwell recommended the brand Hanro for its “extreme dedication to quality fabrics and environmental causes.” Though this camisole might look as if it’s made of knit fabric, it’s actually crafted with 100 percent silk — part of what Caldwell calls the label’s “surprise silk.” Available in both black and cream colorways, Hanro says it’s designed for sleeping, lounging, and layering as thermal underwear.
The shoulder massager that replicates a spa experience
The best thing senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson bought this year was a heated shoulder massager to help soothe her “wrecked” back, shoulders, and neck. “The massaging knobs genuinely feel like hands, kneading aching muscles and working out sore spots,” she writes. “It takes just one 15-minute session to soothe my stiff neck and shoulders, and it’s become a treat I look forward to at the end of the day.” Whenever she feels a headache coming on, she can usually ward it off “with a few minutes under the massager,” and she says the heating element helps her “imagine I’m at a spa and not just in my living room.”
Space-saving food-storage containers
Amazon reviewers love that these Popit! containers “stack inside each other like Russian nesting dolls,” says one customer. “It’s great for space-saving, which was a major issue we had with our old Tupperware. It made for a pleasant surprise!” Another reviewer is so delighted with the containers that they’ve ordered them a whopping 14 times: “Now refrigerators at our house, cabin, and boat are well organized and have more usable space. Seems like it nearly doubled the capacity of our tiny boat fridge … They stack and stay put even in wavy conditions on the boat.”
David Hallberg’s Goldilocks pen
When we asked Australian Ballet artistic director David Hallberg what he can’t live without, he told us about this Zebra pen, which he discovered via Tomoko Dunbar, the head of wardrobe at American Ballet Theatre. “They have the finest point for writing, but they’re not fragile. And the ink is not erratic; it’s very consistent,” he told us. Hallberg says he’s specifically drawn to the dark-blue color, which he feels is “just so much more soothing for the eye. I don’t like to write with black ink, and people who write in red are clearly angry.”
A stove-top percolator for fuss-free coffee
Strategist kitchen and dining writer (and self-professed coffee addict) Emma Wartzman finally found her forever coffee maker in this Farberware stove-top percolator, which has the honor of being the best thing she bought this year. Wartzman reports that the percolator is far “less fussy than an Aeropress and pour-over,” and because it’s made entirely from stainless steel, it’s the “easiest thing in the world to clean” since it “wipes down easily” and all the parts can be thrown in the dishwasher. If you’re more of a tea person, she says it can pull double duty: The “nonreactive material means it doesn’t hold on to any coffee taste, so as long as it’s clean, you pour your tea into the same cup as you do your coffee grounds, and voilà.”
An apron with French flair
We surveyed a bunch of chefs and bartenders about their favorite aprons, and three of them mentioned this good-looking and budget-friendly style from Bragard. Anna Polonsky, founder of the food-focused strategy-and-design consultancy Polonsky & Friends, thinks they’re “made of the best-quality cotton on the market by far” and pointed out that “most bistros in Paris still use them.” Charlie Pennes, owner of White Bark Workwear, held up Bragard aprons as a go-to choice for many chefs’ first “nicer aprons.” “The linen helps it drape nicely so it doesn’t bunch up, and the blue color hides a lot of stains and has an association with classic French workwear,” Pennes said.
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.