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 all-star pair of black work pants, a romantic Regency-inspired eyeshadow palette, and a stylish yet durable tote for weekend getaways.
A charming baby book
In the latest installment of our advice column, Ask the Strategist, writer Lauren Ro revealed the best nonobvious kids’ books to gift at a baby shower. Some of her family’s favorite books are by Japanese author and illustrator Taro Gomi — she “got them for our toddler when he was 10 months old, and they’re still in rotation” (he’s 3 now). My Friends follows a little girl traveling through her town and meeting animals, her teachers, and her classmates, from whom she learns various skills such as running, jumping, and playing. Ro calls the writing “simple yet mesmerizing” and the artwork “exquisite, adorable, and cheeky.”
Pastel socks with a patriotic twist
While watching the Supreme Court confirmation hearing, we noticed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s husband, Patrick Graves Jackson, wearing an array of colorful patriotic socks, and we just had to say something. They’re printed with the illustrated figures of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln against a “Powerpuff Girls–esque color scheme” that really “popped against Jackson’s otherwise neutral outfits.” The socks are available on Amazon in a four-pack and have already racked up 1,300 hyperenthuiastic reviews, so if you decide to stock up, be ready for your hosiery to receive “more compliments than a Hanes crew sock ever could.”
Nana Mensah’s all-natural makeup remover
When we asked actress Nana Mensah what she can’t live without, she mentioned that this coconut oil “helped balance [her] skin” when it was overproducing oil due to using makeup remover wipes. “Whenever I’m wearing makeup, I use fractionated coconut oil as my makeup remover, and it comes right off,” Mensah says. “I’ll run a makeup washcloth under the water, make it nice and hot and then do a little facial massage to relieve some stress, especially around the eye socket — get that all off.” She likes that it doesn’t “strip your skin of oil, so when you continue on with your cleansing, it doesn’t make your skin super-dry.”
An eyeshadow palette fit for a queen
Pat McGrath has once again teamed up with Bridgerton to release an eyeshadow palette inspired by the Netflix show’s second season, which premiered Friday. The “Belle of the Ball” palette features a Regency-meets-modern beauty theme, with shades of shimmery gold, velvety pink, and deep berry, all wrapped up in a luxurious rose-and-pearl-printed package. The first collection sold out in the blink of an eye, so if you want to snag one for your vanity, don’t dillydally.
Black pants to wear to the office …
As people tentatively plan for more in-office days, Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla went looking for the Best in Class black work pants — and after much deliberation, crowned these Banana Republic slacks as the top pick. Pardilla has tried pairs from “Loft, J.Crew, H&M, and Cos, to name a few — but no company does work pants better than Banana Republic. Its trousers make me feel like the Working Girl career woman I wish I was.” She says they make her look “much more put-together” thanks to their “traditional” flat front and faux fly, but the “pants have an elastic waistband in the back that’s easily hidden with a blazer” that essentially makes them glorified sweatpants. She currently owns five pairs in both the regular and the petite length and has plans to stock up on more soon.
… and perfume to wear to happy hour
We spoke with Jennifer Zuccarini, founder of high-end lingerie brand Fleur du Mal, about her favorite perfumes for feeling sexy and self-assured. She loves Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 for a “night out with friends when you want to be free and yourself” because of the way it “smells different on everyone … It’s basically a non-fragrance.” She says the sheer sandalwood scent “mixes with your natural body chemistry, and certain notes become enhanced.” Even if it’s too subtle for you to smell it on yourself, “whoever you’re with will, and it can be very entrancing,” Zuccarini assures.
A one-and-done weekender bag
If you’re planning a quick getaway to take advantage of the warming weather, we suggest you snap up this Lesportsac tote that’s currently on sale for $95, more than 50 percent off the original price. With a roomy main compartment, three outer pockets, and a zippered bottom section for shoes, it’s the perfect companion for a weekend trip that doesn’t require a full luggage set. Kathleen Hyppolite, the owner and creative director of Kat Flower, loves her Lesportsac weekender because it can “handle the bulk while maintaining a level of chic simplicity.” This one is about six inches larger than Hyppolite’s, but just as sleek and good-looking.
Mood-boosting Marimekko wallpaper
Finnish design brand Marimekko just announced the launch of peel-and-stick wallpaper, and Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo couldn’t contain her excitement. No other wallpapers “hit me in the gut the way these do, because none of them embody nearly a century of fashion and design history,” Corsillo writes. “They are contemporary and timeless, iconic and fresh, as if they could exist in multiple decades simultaneously, or like I might have seen them in my grandmother’s bathroom before I even knew what Finland was.” Her favorite print, Unikko, comes in “five different color combinations, including poppy red with magenta and creamy white with olive green,” all of which “put [her] in a good mood.” And “the idea that I could probably put a few rolls up without any help in just a few hours” adds even more delight.
A blow-dryer on a budget
In search of a salon-quality blowout, Strategist writer Dominique Pariso spoke with several hairstylists to find out which hair dryers are the Best in Class. This wallet-friendly option from Remington came recommended by Fiona Hair NYC founder Fiona Guidice, who notes that it’s “amazing” that you can get a dryer with a diffuser and a concentrator nozzle for less than $25 when “many diffusers on their own cost more than that.” The dryer also has multiple heat settings, high wattage, and a cool shot, “which is key for setting your style, locking in volume, and reducing frizz,” Guidice advises.
Anna Polonsky’s day-to-night travel tote
Creative director Anna Polonsky goes to Uruguay every other year with her husband, and she walked us through her itinerary for our latest installment of Steal My Vacation. During her last trip, she made sure to visit Francis Mallman’s historic restaurant, go shopping for local knitwear and leather goods in town, and partake in an open-fire dinner by the beach. And wherever she went, this bucket bag from La Reunion came with her, as it’s her “absolute go-to when [she] travels.” She’s a fan of the “discreet and super-practical” shoulder strap, plus the roomy design is “casual and wide enough that I can wear it during the day while sightseeing but also stylish enough to make for a nice statement at night.”
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.