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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in May

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 May.

Maxine Builder, editor

I’ve been using these Baggu pouches to corral my cords and chargers for years, but over time, they’ve become overstuffed and bulky and, as a result, take up too much room. So I did some digging on Amazon and found this much slimmer option, with little elastic bands to keep individual cables in place. It looks quite dorky, and I feel like a bit of an AV nerd when I pull it out. But it is hyperfunctional, holds everything that once fit in that Baggu pouch, and has freed up a significant amount of space in my tote bag.

Jen Trolio, senior editor

Ah, spring — the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the weeds are sprouting everywhere, threatening to take over my backyard. As I continue to fight what is likely to be a years-long battle with invasive garlic mustard while trying to plant a shade garden full of hardy perennials, this hook-shaped CobraHead tool has me … hooked. I ordered it on impulse and it has quickly become indispensable, thanks to its superstrong arched steel neck and pointed head that is easy to maneuver beneath each uninvited guest, even in tight spaces, and yank them out at the roots. It also slices through and tills soil with ease, and it isn’t too hard on my hands.

My 4-year-old and 6-year-old daughters are a lot more willing to sit still for sunscreen application than they used to be, but getting it onto their faces is still a bit of a struggle. Like so many parents, I’m always on the hunt for kid-safe sunscreen that isn’t a total nightmare to apply. And while no 100 percent mineral formula will ever be especially easy to spread, this Supergoop stick is the best one I’ve used lately, rubbing in reasonably well without feeling too greasy, collecting in ridges at their hairlines, or leaving them as white-casted and ghostly-looking as many others we’ve tried. I’ve comfortably used it on myself too, and though I’ve been slow to jump on the Supergoop! train (it’s not exactly cheap!), I’m suddenly a lot more interested in trying the brand’s many other Strat-approved products.

Emma Wartzman, writer

I go through a lot of olive oil for cooking, so I generally don’t invest in anything too expensive. But I’ll always treat myself to a fancier finishing bottle, something I only dole out raw and in moderation. After updating this story recently, I decided to try Pianogrillo Farm — and it’s maybe my favorite I’ve had in a while. It’s difficult to describe the taste of olive oil, but it really is so fruity and delicious.

Marian Bull is a ceramicist (and writer) I have long admired. I finally decided to invest in one of her pieces recently: a small planter that is currently sitting on my windowsill. It’s one of a kind (so now sold out), but there are others available on her site, and you can follow her on Instagram to find out every time she drops a new collection.

Liza Corsillo, senior writer

I’ve been looking for a small single hoop to wear on my wedding day that will go with the rest of the jewelry I plan to wear. So while I was at the Mejuri store in Soho trying on wedding bands, I also asked about huggie earrings. The salesperson who helped me said he had the perfect thing to match my mother’s three-opal ring (my something old). The Opal U hoop is super-delicate and matches my ring perfectly, plus I got to pick out the exact one I wanted since every quartet of tiny opals is slightly different. I love how subtle it is while still feeling so special and unique.

I don’t know why it took me so long to buy a Stackers jewelry box. Maybe it took going to the Container Store in person (an emotional moment of self-care), or maybe it’s all the wedding stuff that’s on my mind. Either way, I am so happy to finally have a system that looks nice and organizes my jewelry so everything is easy to find. You can customize your own box based on what kind of jewelry you have the most of. For me, that’s rings and earrings, so I went with the 25-section tray, the lidded box, and the ring-bracelet tray.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I saw a TikTok in which a commenter asked Maggie Rogers where she buys her perfect white tank tops, and her response was to check out the “Hanes little boys’ section.” (This is also a tip from Paloma Elsesser.) Five tanks only runs about $9, so I bought a pack to supplement my usual rotations of Everlane and Buck Mason.

Sanibel Chai, junior writer

If you see me traveling this summer, there’s a good chance I’ll be wearing this lightweight gingham set (matching shirt sold separately). The silky, machine washable material has plenty of give so I can heft my suitcase into the overhead bin without tearing a seam, while the pleats keep the shorts looking neat and polished. Both the pockets are zippered, so if I need to slip my passport inside, I don’t have to constantly check that it’s still there. I also love that Wayre shows its clothing on a wide range of body types so I could get a sense of how the pieces would fall on me.

I usually avoid packing in duffels because all it takes is digging out a pair of socks to create a jumbled mess, but this segmented travel bag changed my mind. If you imagine the duffel as a sushi roll, this one is divided into four pieces. It was designed with caregivers looking after several children in mind, but I use the compartments to support my habit of packing way too early. In the week (or two) leading up to a trip, I gradually fill the sections knowing that I need to keep one empty for the last-minute things (cosmetics, medicine, etc.), which ensures I don’t miscalculate space. Organizing my belongings in the easy-access compartments also lets me confirm and reconfirm that I haven’t forgotten any chargers, adapters, or sunscreen. I also love that there are three ways to carry it — backpack, handles, shoulder strap — so depending on how heavy it is, I can adjust.

Ambar Pardilla, writer

I turned 26 this month, which meant that I was a little frivolous with my spending (I did save in advance, though). But one of my smartest purchases was this Shiseido stick. Unlike other sunscreens that leave a Casper-like cast, Shiseido’s is invisible (which the brand is known for). You do get the faintest glow from it, but the effect is almost highlighter-esque. And since it’s a roll-on, it’s incredibly easy to reapply (especially as most of my day is spent in front of a laptop screen and a window).

Since I’ve been on the pajamas beat, I realized that I’m in desperate need of new ones. And as Salter House came up in my search, I went with this duo, which makes me look like a long-lost Lisbon sister. The cotton is so diaphanous and looks especially haunting by candlelight. It’s probably a little too scandalously sheer to go out in, but there will be nothing better to wear once we’re in the middle of summer.

Katherine Gillespie, writer

I’m Australian, and sometimes I really miss the clothes back home. Luckily, Alpha 60 — a purveyor of what I’d call Melbourne minimalism, characterized by lots of monochromatic linen shift dresses — has speedy free shipping to the U.S., and the exchange rate is in my favor. I bought this hat in anticipation of having the best summer ever (I’ll keep you updated), and it arrived more promptly than the warm weather. Since it is designed in a country with no ozone layer, it has a thick, broad brim that offers actual sun protection.

I got this little frame bag as a birthday gift for a bike-loving friend. The colorways are obviously very fun, and I love how the triangle design wedges so satisfyingly between the tubes. It’s a nice size for storing snacks and other items as you run errands around town, while still leaving space on the frame for a water-bottle holder. My friend ended up biking to a wedding, then detaching this bag and using it as a purse during the reception, and she says she got a lot of compliments.

Erin Schwartz, writer

This month, I finally got around to hanging a set of shelves above my desk. I’d bought tracks and brackets from Menard’s in March, but I delayed buying wood for the shelves until the scaffolding was up — I have a real “hang to the room, not to the level” apartment, so the theoretical dimensions of a project often differ from reality. After hanging, then rehanging the tracks to account for my crooked walls, I went to Home Depot in a bad mood and found this surprisingly high-quality pine board. Home Depot will do basic cuts for free in-store, so this 10-foot plank became three 3-foot shelves, with a nub left over to use as a cutting board. The final product looks greater than the sum of its $50 parts, and the shelf step was easy enough that it pulled me out of a DIY doom spiral.

“Noon“ by Diane Williams
$15
$15

New shelves mean new books! After reorganizing my bookshelves, I realized I hadn’t bought the most recent issue of Noon, a fantastic journal of mostly fiction edited by author Diane Williams that I first discovered as an uncorrected proof on the New York Review of Books free shelves. The phrase M.F.A. fiction gets thrown around a lot to describe the kind of smooth, obliquely funny writing you’ll find in Noon, but sue me — I love a short story where the decisive action is, for example, the theft of a stuffed toy apple or pineapple date salad being underwhelming. It’s also a great subway read — after reading Madame Bovary mostly on the N train, which I do not recommend, it has been nice to transition to something I can finish before the end of a trip.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, associate editor

This month I reactivated my ClassPass. Lori Harvey said the girlies are doing Pilates, so I guess I’m doing Pilates. I just had my first class at Flow Pilates NY in Bed-Stuy, and I really enjoyed it. After doing some careful math, I realized it was cheaper to continue to book through ClassPass than directly with the studio, so I’ll likely be increasing my membership there to get more credits so I can continue to go regularly. Anyway, abs loading.

I bought a set of four of these plates more than a year ago and I absolutely love them. The plate is deep enough for all the juices from a braised short rib, but not so deep that it’s impractical for something like a piece of pizza. One broke a while ago, but H&M was sold out of it in black for months. I occasionally check the site for restocks and got lucky this month. I bought three more to have a set of six, as I am manifesting a bigger apartment with a dining table large enough for dinner parties.

Leah Muncy, writer

I think Crocs are cute (sue me), but I can’t stand their bumpy, acupressure-y soles that, after a long day of wear, make even bare feet on a hardwood floor feel luxurious. I’d long been tempted to try a pair of Merrell’s Hydro Mocs instead — a favorite of Strategist editor Maxine Builder and lots of other cool internet people — which looked more breathable and ergonomic than Crocs. After scrolling through REI’s (very good) Anniversary Sale, I was able to pick up a pair for just under $30. After a week or so of wear, I can confidently say they’re well worth paying full price; my feet are more supported and less sweaty, and I think that they look great with or without socks. The best part, however, are the smooth soles — I never want to take them off.

Kitty Guo, junior writer

Former Strategist associate editor Daniel Varghese turned me on to Nomenclature, an indie perfume brand that works exclusively with synthetic molecules. My curiosity piqued, I stopped by Aedes to sniff the collection in person, and while spritzing Adr_ett on my wrist, got a bit on the sleeve of my sweater. For days afterward, I couldn’t stop smelling my sleeve — it’s a clean, musky scent, very soft and subtle, a pure distillation of the moment you pull fresh laundry out of the dryer. I hardly ever buy full-size perfumes — I’m always amassing more samples, never content to settle on a signature scent — but I was so enamored with it that I went back for the 1.7-ounce bottle.

I am a bread fiend. With chips, chocolate, and French fries, I can exercise self-control pretty readily, but give me some bread and olive oil, and I’ll polish off the whole thing in a single sitting. Eating really, really good bread is a transcendent experience, and that’s exactly what happened when I tried the milk bread from ACQ Bread Co. It’s made from a slurry of milk, flour, eggs, and butter, all sourced from small, ethical, family-owned farms. I carried the loaf under my arm all the way to Prospect Park and then wandered around ripping off hunks with my bare hands, and it was probably the closest I’ve come to communing with the divine.

Crystal Martin, senior editor

I’m planning a renovation of a new apartment and will be doing some novice DIY-ing along the way. I’d heard that Semihandmade makes custom-looking doors for Ikea cabinets and wanted to use them in my new kitchen. But being a Strategist editor, I had to test Semihandmade out on a small project before committing to the whole shebang. So I replaced one of the doors on my old Ikea Besta storage unit with its panel in Sonoma, a cool-toned, wood-look melamine. First off, the installation was actually easy: All I needed was a screwdriver. I’m pretty handy and have some basic tools, but attaching the door would be doable for just about anyone. And it’s beautiful — a significant upgrade to the boring matte door I had before.

My old blue-striped cotton shower curtain had seen better days, and I wanted something that would brighten my bathroom and my mood. Looking out through this transparent curtain feels like wearing OJ-colored glasses. It’s a small morning treat that I’ve come to love. After about a month of showers, it does seem to resist water stains better than you’d think, but it wipes off easily with a damp cloth.

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

I’ve recently become obsessed with undergarments and shapewear. I’ve tried a bunch over the years, and I’m usually deeply unsatisfied with the uni-roll shape it gives me. But I stumbled upon my perfect combination recently, which gives me shape and hold but feels like a comfortable second skin. It’s a two-layer process, which starts with an Amazon bodysuit I found on TikTok. It’s a bit challenging to get into, but once on, it fits and contours like a glove. It’s so comfortable I could sleep in it, and I am likely going to buy another color to make sure I always have one in rotation. I follow that up with the Skims bodysuit, which when combined, gives me a snatched, curvy look while still allowing me to look like myself.

As usual, I bought some books. This month I grabbed five — Paraiso by Fernanda Melchor, The Premonitions Bureau by Sam Knight, Love Marriage by Monica Ali, You Make a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi, and Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman. I came across the last thanks to one of my favorite bookstagrams, Adeline Reads. The premise is captivating: A young woman in a happy relationship seeks to blow up her life because she feels like she’s wasting her youth. She does something drastic and then falls in with an intoxicating couple. Seems like the kind of book I’ll fly through.

Louis Cheslaw, associate editor

I wish I didn’t even need to know what Claritin is. But this month, as it does every year, reality collided with my excitement to ride the updated electric Citi Bikes and read The Netanyahus in the park. It’s only down to these tablets that I’ve been able to do those things — stock up before you’re caught out like I was.

Canvas is far and away the most comfortable material for a non-dressy summer shoe, but Chuck 70s are equipped for so much more than your standard plimsolls. For one, they have a cushioned, running-shoe-like insole that’s a far cry from the zero-support Converses of my childhood. Second, the tougher canvas, fatter sole, and reinforced stitching makes them incredibly durable (and even cool-weather appropriate). And third, they’re one of very few designs in this world that will earn you approving nods from your parents and Dimes Square denizens alike.

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 May