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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in February

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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 February.

Erin Schwartz, writer

I just bought Bass Whitney Weejuns, one of those Strategist obsessions I was unfamiliar with before working here. Now, I love them. They are some peak Ivy League, “Walcott”-by-Vampire-Weekend, tennis-lessons-on-the-weekends loafers, an aura powerful enough that it turns anything I wear into prep cosplay. (I got my pair new on eBay for $75, which I recommend trying first for cult-favorite shoes that don’t change much year to year, like Dansko clogs or Kork-Ease Ava sandals.) They’re comfortable, well made, and look good with anything. I sometimes think the most versatile shoes aren’t the most minimal or neutral but instead show a “commitment to the bit” that absolves you from worrying how they play with the rest of your outfit.

On Valentine’s Day, I went to Live by the Sword in Williamsburg to get ear piercings with my pod of eligible bachelors. Saline solution is essential for piercing after-care; I am absolutely horrible about not touching a new piercing while it heals, so I tend to use a lot of it. This spray bottle is convenient, and it’s inexpensive enough that I don’t feel wasteful using it several times a day.

Kelsie Schrader, editorial coordinator

My yoga mat has been peeling for about two years now, so every time I used it, a million tiny flecks of vibrant green foam scattered all over my floors. As you can imagine, that was beyond annoying, especially for someone who is obsessive about cleanliness. But I don’t let myself have nice things — let alone fully practical things — which is my one consistent personality trait. So since my mat wasn’t actually broken, I could never justify buying a new one. But when I saw this one was on sale for less than $10 during REI’s Presidents’ Day sale, I couldn’t justify not buying it. I don’t use my mat as much for yoga as I do for core workouts and such, so having it be anti-slip is not as important to me. This 10 mm.–thick one is much cushier than my old one, which is nice when I’m doing, for example, Russian twists. More important, I haven’t had to crawl around on my hands and knees picking up foam flecks every morning, which happens to be life-changing.

I’ve admired these for several years now, but you really need at least six for any configuration to look good, and I’ve never been in the market to drop $300 on them. But someone on Facebook Marketplace was selling a set of six for only $50 (three big, three small), in perfect condition, which feels like a bit of karma I’ve done nothing to deserve but will accept all the same.

Maxine Builder, editor

Sometime in 2021, I naïvely went through my closet and got rid of anything that I hadn’t worn in a year. The result was a wardrobe full of technical outerwear, graphic T-shirts, and Outdoor Voices Rectrek pants. That’s fine during a pandemic, but I realized the true gravity of my mistake while getting dressed to see Kacey Musgraves at Madison Square Garden. I no longer owned anything appropriate for dinner parties, drinks with friends, or just plain fun. So I went to Aritzia, determined to get some going-out clothes, and ended up with this pistachio-green slip-style skirt (that was actually selected by my endlessly patient fiancé). It’s not a silver bullet for my wardrobe woes — and I’ll probably still pair it with a graphic tee — but it’s a solid step in a decidedly more fun direction.

Chloe Anello, writer

For her birthday this month, my sister said she wanted mulch for her garden. She didn’t specify what kind of mulch or how much — just mulch. After consulting with my mom, I decided perhaps that’s more something she should gift herself (with a gift card from my parents) because I didn’t want to buy her dirt, and I’m pretty sure I would buy the wrong kind anyway. Instead, I found this molecular-gastronomy kit. She loves cooking and science, so I figured this combines two of her biggest interests. At the time I’m writing this, she has not received it yet, so I can’t share her reaction. But I can guarantee she will love it.

I was just really sick of peeling garlic by hand. It works just as you would imagine it to. You throw the garlic inside, roll it back and forth a few times, then out plops perfectly peeled garlic.

Arielle Avila, junior writer

The combination of winter and living in an apartment without a dishwasher has been rough on my hands. So instead of going through hoards of hand lotion, I decided to take a different route. I dug through the Strat archive, read about these dishwashing gloves that Rachel Khong wrote about in 2017, and immediately bought them. After using them for about a month, they’ve completely transformed my dishwashing experience, from dreadful to, dare I say, delightful. And my hands are definitely thanking me.

Ambar Pardilla, writer

I can’t call myself a denim nerd, but I do wear jeans almost every day. Once I find a favorite, I wear them until they go from deliberately distressed to ripped beyond repair. After getting rid of a few pairs this month, I found these from Frame on sale at Nordstrom Rack. (The sizing is limited right now, but you can find a lighter wash at Bloomingdale’s, which is linked below as well.) They’re pretty much perfect. As someone who is petite but curvier on the bottom, the jeans that do fit me in the waist will be too cartoonishly long in the leg. I don’t have to tailor these, but I can roll them up easily for that laid-back look. But I just really love how comfortable they are — stretchy but not too stretchy, fitted through the hips, and looser through the calves. I plan on stocking up on these (I’m even willing to pay full price). And don’t let Gen Z fool you — low rise is on its way out.

File this under “unnecessary but necessary purchases.” I’m a sucker for Tory Burch shoes — they’ve been a staple through cobblestoned paths in Europe and my treacherous pre-pandemic commute that involved a car, NJ Transit, the subway, and a walk. I stalked these since they first appeared on the brand’s site and snagged them as soon as they went on sale. They’re truly as “slipperlike” as they’re described — the squarish toe makes them easier to slip on than rounded or pointed toes (which can get uncomfortable very quickly). The crystals aren’t gaudy, as they’re speckled with a gunmetal finish that’s not as showy. I’ve been wearing them every chance I get — they’re painless to walk in.

Dominique Pariso, writer

Christine Mai Nguyen is the artist behind Ceramrap and makes the most delightful objects I’ve ever laid eyes upon. I’ve been waiting ages for her restock so I could finally scoop up this handmade cowboy-boot match-striker. While it’s currently sold out, Nguyen restocks approximately every two weeks, and, according to her Instagram, the next drop is on March 18. But a word to the wise: She makes her wares in extremely limited quantities that typically sell out within one minute, so if you want to get your hands on your own boot match-striker–slash–shot glass, I suggest marking your calendars now.

[Editor’s note: This match-striker is currently sold out.]

Katherine Gillespie, writer

I snagged a discounted Kartell Componibili in the final days of Design Within Reach’s living-room sale at the beginning of the month. I’d always kind of wanted one and had been passively seeking an end table to put next to my couch for a while. There’s literally nothing new you can say about these — they just look cool, full stop. I went for the classic white. The top module I keep open to display some vintage paperbacks; the bottom I keep closed and full of secrets. I plopped a pothos plant (in my favorite Wing On Wo & Co. planter) on top, and there’s still room for a couple of coastered drinks.

Lauren Ro, writer

Every parent tells you that you shouldn’t spend too much money on kids’ apparel or buy that much stuff at all because they grow out of everything so quickly. Sometimes I think I take it to the extreme: I rely on hand-me-downs and make a couple of clothing orders a year for special occasions or when there’s a really good sale. In terms of shoes, Augie currently has one pair of slip-on sneakers and a pair of rain boots that are frankly getting too small. All winter, he relied on those two pairs, and I sometimes felt bad sending him to school in rain boots when there was still snow out. (He never complained.) Now that spring is approaching, I thought I should get him some better all-weather sneakers and settled on these popular Merrell hiking shoes that reviews say are great for general wear and are super-durable. They’re not waterproof, but they are machine washable, and they feel (and look) like real adult Merrells, and I imagine they will take him at least through the summer, when I’ll be getting him a new pair of Crocs.

Emma Wartzman, writer

In an attempt to give my butt a comfier seat when my boyfriend and I eat dinner from the living room, and in an attempt to create more seating in general when guests come over, I bought this West Elm floor pillow, which is truly so plush (I didn’t even realize I was on the kids’ site until after the fact). It’s somehow bigger than I envisioned, but honestly that’s a good thing.

Brenley Goertzen, intern

Last month, Strat writer Chloe Anello featured Sandy Liang’s third collaboration with Vans, and when I finally sat down to look over the collection, I was too stunned to speak. As a Lower East Sider, I frequent Liang’s brick-and-mortar store, and I can’t say enough about her whimsical New York City brand. I’ve wanted a pair of black SK8-Hi Vans for a while, but these put the perfect novel twist on a beloved shoe. They also come with a removable lug sole that hooks onto the bottom of the shoe, which gives you two sneaker-style options in one.

My sister has a February birthday, so earlier this month I was on the hunt for the just-right gift to match her bright Y2K closet. When I stumbled across Les Miss in Nolita, I knew I was in the right place. Founded by Leah Gans, the store is bursting with trendy clothes, delicious handmade jewelry, and even some very charming home décor. The Green Shroom earrings, which also come in red and purple, are frankly edible. It’s safe to say I struck gifting gold.

Liza Corsillo, senior writer

From $45
Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Retailer

February is my dad’s birthday month, and, as I was trying to find a gift for him, I remembered that he had been talking about the U.S. premiere of the Jamie Lloyd Company’s Cyrano de Bergerac at BAM. It stars James McAvoy, which is one of the main draws for both me and my dad. And it won the Olivier Award for Best Revival for its run in London. I bought two tickets in the section I think of as BAM’s sweet spot: within three rows from the front of the balcony. It’s much cheaper but still affords a great view.

I have been aware of Olaplex for a long, long time. But I finally bought this leave-in-conditioner stuff last week after getting an Olaplex moisture treatment at a salon I love in Brooklyn. As I get older, my hair has been getting frizzier and more prone to breakage. I’m getting married in July, so I decided I need to take control of the problem starting now. I was so impressed with the sleeker and softer result from the salon treatment that I bought the at-home Olaplex, too. So far, I can’t tell what is from the treatment and what is from this little bottle, but I’m feeling less freaked out about my wedding-day hair.

Jen Trolio, senior editor

Last year, I was generously gifted an Ember mug, and as the type of person who frequently microwaves forgotten coffee or tea multiple times throughout the day — or, rather, used to — it has truly improved my mornings. I recently picked up this universal silicone lid to go with it; it not only helps extend the mug’s battery life by trapping heat but it’s extra-useful when I occasionally take the mug in the car. The simple, squishable disc is dishwasher safe and fits snugly inside multiple mug sizes, so if you have a favorite that could use a little more insulation or spillproofing, it’s an inexpensive and very handy accessory.

Mix a pop fidget toy with a child’s board book and you get the Poke-a-Dot! book series by beloved toy-maker Melissa & Doug. I bought a couple of these as gifts for my 2.5-year-old niece, and they were an instant hit. I love that they add a layer of sensory input and keep-’em-busy distraction to the typical toddler tome.

Sanibel Chai, junior writer

Shopping consignment for furniture is one of my favorite hobbies because I always find something unexpected, and the sales people are so knowledgeable. When I went to Eisenhower Consignment, I knew I wanted something with shelves that was functional and non-ugly, but I didn’t have any other criteria. The store had a great selection of étagères (and credenzas and buffets), and I ended up going with a slightly smaller version of this accent shelf. The hammered metal and the gold-leaf finish are touches that make it a special piece and elevate my entire space.

I love illustrator Carolyn Suzuki’s cheeky and whimsical designs. The Fruity Nudies collection is my favorite, but I also love the houseplants theme. I’m a compulsive list-maker and note-jotter, and pages are always littered across every surface in my apartment, so I tend to indulge in cute stationery.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, writer

I have chronically dry feet. I haven’t found a moisturizer that works, and, to be honest, I’m not consistent enough to see a change. I figured I’d start from scratch. If this peel is anything like Rio says it is, I look forward to watching my skin fall off over the next few days.

Chelsea Peng, senior editor

By now, you might have noticed that I tend to only buy food, vintage/secondhand, and … restaurant merch, which I will argue does fit into my definition of (more) ethical consumption because it supports an industry that may not recover until 2026. Very not “soigné” — unlike this T-shirt from Cozy Royale, a neighborhood spot that is fast becoming my third space thanks to its sweet staff, wholesomely kitschy Saucy Sunday series, and “I can’t stop thinking about her” chicken-liver mousse (especially when it was plated with a funnel cake). Cop your own tee in person along with a caviar-dolloped bloomin’ onion and several house martinis.

I regret to inform you that I’ve only become a sillier melon since last month’s haul, so to commemorate reaching my ultimate form, I’ve found an earring from U.K.-based jewelry brand Laugahey that is hand-painted with those exact Chinese characters. Designer Kate Lau’s Hong Kong collection features other highly relevant phrases, including a dim-sum-related one and 哎呀, an interjection expressing surprise or exasperation that I use on the daily because I am as much a grumpy Taiwanese grandpa as I am a goofy cantaloupe. And even though my outer-ear piercings were carefully done à la Repossi, I may have to add more to accommodate the entire range (in increasing order of profanity).

Crystal Martin, senior editor

I’ve been trying really hard to eat a mostly plant-based diet for a few months now. But there still aren’t great grab-and-go plant-only food choices in my neighborhood. I had fallen into ordering $20 vegan burrito bowls from Chipotle every other day. Mosaic changed that. It’s all frozen bowls, soups, and oats that are really tasty, interesting, and fresh. I ordered my first box of 15 meals, and it was just the right amount of food for about three weeks of supplementing the meals I prepared myself. My surprise-favorite bowl was the Sundried Tomato & “Everything” Oats. It’s meant to be a breakfast dish but hits like a small lunch because it’s so savory and filling.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in February