sunday circular

13 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Non-Alcoholic Tequila to Nancy Meyers’s Sheets

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

We write about hundreds of products each week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked some of our recent favorites: expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and very good deals we uncovered while trawling through the vast online-shopping universe — including many picks for summer (swimsuits, dining sets, and barbecue grills); the non-cakey concealer Lisa Ann Walter learned about on Hollywood Squares; and the underwear brand trans families recommend for all sizes and genders.

The shirt Steve Schirripa bought when he made it on The Sopranos

It was Worth It Week at the Strategist, so we spoke to famous people — who’ve found success as business owners, screenwriters, authors, and more — to hear about the one thing they purchased when they achieved big-time status. Some spent their first hefty paycheck on luxurious items, like Padma Lakshmi’s diamond earring, while others went for less obvious indulgences, such as Laura Geller’s self-cleaning toilet and this shirt favored by Steve Schirripa. Schirripa says buying a new pool and paying off his house in Vegas were his first two splurges, but once he became a series regular on The Sopranos, Schirripa began scooping up these tops in every style and color. “I’ve always worn Tommy Bahama,” he says.

The face oil John McCauley steals from his (also-famous) wife

When we spoke to Deer Tick frontman John McCauley about his favorite things, he told us about this do-everything oil he uses before (and sometimes after) shaving. His wife Vanessa Carlton ordered it a few years ago, but McCauley says he took over the bottle and began buying it for himself. “She comments on how great the skin on my face looks, so she’s seeing a difference,” he says. It also gets rid of static and “smells like being outside,” thanks to hints of lavender, geranium, sage, and palo santo, McCauley says.

Hip-hiding skateboarder shorts for trans men and GNC folks …

“To me, shorts are easier to shop for as a transmasc-presenting person because, compared to regular pants, there is a bigger diversity of style to play with,” Strategist contributor Lily Marotta says. While we’ve heard about Dickies’s slouchy-yet-crisp pants (Strategist writer Erin Schwartz wrote an ode to them), Marotta recommends these shorts as a warm-weather alternative. Compared to the classic work style, these shorts have slimmer legs and a shorter inseam so they aren’t overly baggy, but the sturdy fabric still “lends itself to a straight, boxy, masculine silhouette that hides curves,” Marotta says. “I’m five-foot-five, if you were wondering, and I usually size up in the waist with Dickies because of the aforementioned hips that don’t lie,” they say.

… and the retailer everybody loves for trans youth

As seen in our shopping guide for trans youth, many of the over two dozen trans people and their families we surveyed recommend TomboyX because the brand makes high-quality basics and underwear for all genders and body types — including flat-front boxers, tucking underwear, and leak-proof period boxer shorts. One parent of a trans son called out this light compression top in particular, which TomboyX describes as a comfortable stand-in for a traditional chest binder.

The sateen sheets Nancy Meyers’s family won’t stop buying

In 2018, Annie Meyers-Shyer, along with her mom Nancy Meyers (of coastal grandmother fame), rented a house in the Hamptons and awoke the first morning in awe of the sheets in their rooms. After stripping one bed, they determined the maker to be Lands’ End, Meyers-Shyer says, but they quickly emailed the owner of the house, who confirmed the maker. “We have been buying them ever since,” Meyers-Shyer says, adding that she has at least five sets. She describes them as “delicious” and says whenever other sheets are on her bed, even her husband is perturbed: “Why, why? We need to put the Lands’ End back on.”

A no-frills grill you can take almost anywhere in the city …

Wednesday marked the first official day of summer, so it’s high time you broke out a barbecue grill for the cookouts ahead. When we asked pitmasters and Strategist staffers about the best ones on the market, the Smokey Joe was deemed a more portable (and affordable) version of our top-rated Weber. Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa says the compact size is a huge plus, as he can easily load it into his trunk and drive it to parks or tailgates, as well as campgrounds. And since it doesn’t have long legs like other full-size grills, it isn’t a pain to store, even in an apartment with limited square footage (Rellosa keeps his in his pantry).

… and an under $600 outdoor-dining set for backyard barbecues …

After searching online for an affordable patio set to no avail, Strategist contributor Jessica Goodman began asking outdoor-dining experts and friends up and down the Eastern Seaboard for suggestions. Her criteria: a six-person, weather-resistant rectangular table with lightweight, easy-to-store chairs for under $600. While many sources balked at her budget, four recommended Ikea’s now-discontinued Äpplarö table and chair, with one friend pointing Goodman to the brand’s replacement Nämmarö collection. “I visited the showroom and found she was right,” she says of the “timeless” acacia wood and no-assembly-required pair. Although the set likely won’t last forever, Goodman says “as far as attractive, affordable outdoor-dining sets go, it’s hard to argue with Ikea’s Nämmarö line.”

and a not-too-expensive window AC unit that “couldn’t be easier to use”

If your living situation is sweltering right now, a window air conditioner like this one, which is our best affordable pick, can fix that. Strategist contributor Steven John recommends this unit for its wallet-friendly price tag and reliability in cooling down spaces of 150 square feet, like a bedroom or office. “Frigidaire has stood the test of time as having the most well-built machines,” RentAnAC’s Jess Mastro says. Its function is also super-simple with just two dials: one that controls the fan speed (and turns it off), and another that controls the temperature, John says.

A durable one-piece for kids of many ages

Like adult swimwear, suits for kids range widely in style, fit, and sun protection — which is why Strategist contributor Younga Park spoke to designers, photographers, creative directors, and parents who live near the beach to learn about the best attire for summer. Courtney Klein, CEO of Storq and San Francisco–based parent of a 9- and 6-year-old, recommends this affordable and versatile one-piece, which she describes as the “workhorse” in their collection. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve put this swimsuit through its paces, and it still looks and feels as good as new,” Klein says of the UPF50 suit that comes in sizes for kids as young as 9 months and as old as 16 years.

The concealer pen Lisa Ann Walter has used for 22 years

We’ve heard about the brightening power of YSL’s Touche Éclat before, and Lisa Ann Walter — who first learned about the under-eye pen during the Hollywood Squares reboot with Whoopi Goldberg — counts it among her favorite things. The game show’s makeup artist gave Walter the “hot tip” for dark circles and told her “you can put as much as you want on and it’ll never build up.” Walter’s secret is to apply the concealer under the eyes and leave it until she’s “ready to roll,” when she taps the formula into the skin to blend.

A board game an heiress-turned-CEO plays to win

Sequence Game

For our Assistant Files column, we spoke to “Clara,” who was the assistant to a Chinese beer heiress turned education-tech CEO for two and a half years. On every domestic trip with her boss, Clara says she purchased this board game at a Target or CVS close to their hotel. They’d play up to four times a day on leisurely beach vacations, and Clara says each round mainly served as an ego boost for the CEO, who played so regularly that “she could beat anyone at it.” Rather than packing up the game to use in the future, Clara says it would be left behind in the hotel room because the CEO wasn’t keen on reusing things.

Abby Elliot’s peppery tequila alternative

Abby Elliot can’t live without this non-alcoholic tequila, which she was introduced to during her first pregnancy while staying at a friend’s New York apartment. Elliot, who’s pregnant again, says she craves margaritas, and this is a nice alternative to actual liquor. She likes that it has some smokiness, and mixes well with lime juice, agave, oranges, and ice. “Drinking one with enchiladas is very satisfying,” she says.

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.

13 Things We Loved: Tequila to Nancy Meyers’s Sateen Sheets