We write about hundreds of products every 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 the vast online-shopping universe — including the earplugs James Kennedy recommends if you’re going to gigs and “you’re not in your 20s anymore,” a kids’ costume that’s surpassed Frozen in popularity, and a pillowy sponge that buffs products more seamlessly than a Beauty Blender.
A clean cocoon for germaphobes that fear hotel sheets
We’ve spent years finding items to help you sleep soundly, and our extensive research has led us to test over 35 mattresses, uncover the most worth-it linen sheets, and find pillows for all types of sleepers. But to present our findings in one streamlined place, we’ve curated the Strategist Sleep 100, which includes a headphone headband that won’t disturb your partner and a face-covering pillow that celebrities can’t live without. And for germ-conscious summer travelers, this silky sleep sack comes recommended by Strategist contributor Alison Freer, who uses it to sleep on questionable hotel or Airbnb sheets. The machine-washable bedding rolls up “into a tiny pouch the size of a burrito” and has a pocket where you can insert a pillow, Freer says. It’s also wide enough to turn or roll around in, so she says she never feels “mummified the way you sometimes do in a sleeping bag.”
The concertproof plugs James Kennedy uses to fend off ear ringing
“I’ve been DJ-ing for a decade now,” says Vanderpump Rules star James Kennedy, who counts these protective earplugs among his favorite things. He says his years of concerts, club nights, and gigs have resulted in ear ringing in the past, so Kennedy now uses these silicone Mumba plugs, which are well-known in the DJ world and among musicians. “They’re also good if you go to a lot of shows, you’re standing by speakers, and you’re not in your 20s anymore,” Kennedy says.
An Encanto costume for kids who are over Elsa …
To find the best costumes and props for kids, Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo spoke to parents, educators, and toy experts about the items you need to build an imaginative (and safe) dress-up trunk. Two experts — Jocelyn Greene, founder of Child’s Play NY, and Ariel Grun, VP of merchandising at Camp — say Encanto is one of the most popular children’s movies, with the film’s protagonist Mirabel surpassing other Disney characters, like Moana and Elsa, in popularity. Corsillo says there are many choices when it comes to Mirabel dress-up clothes, but this dress, which has a scalloped collar and embroidered floral details, is the official Disney costume inspired by the film. There are also DIY ways to bring the ensemble to life; for example, Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio’s daughters use green pipe cleaners to make Mirabel’s glasses, Corsillo says.
… And an adjustable (and reusable) swim diaper for parents who are over soggy bottoms
If you’re taking your child to the beach or pool, regular diapers won’t cut it because they’re designed to absorb liquid — that’s why a good swim diaper is crucial, Strategist contributor Abigail Libers says. For an option that’ll also last longer than one summer, this Beau & Belle diaper has snaps to fit three sizes (for babies weighing between 8 and 36 pounds), which means it can be adjusted as your kid grows. Joanna Stewart, a makeup artist and mom of two, is a fan because it also stays in place once on her “squirmy toddler.” Made from a soft, polyester fabric, this reusable swim diaper is waterproof, machine-washable, and available in eight patterns.
An inexpensive multipack of tanks that models, singers, and Strategist staffers love
In our guide to the best women’s tank tops, we named this lightweight Hanes bundle our favorite affordable multipack, which comes recommended by model Paloma Elsesser, musician Gracie Abrams, and Strategist writer Arielle Avila. Elsesser likes that each one fits her like a crop top without alterations, while Abrams calls them “a perfect everyday basic.” Meanwhile, Avila emphasizes their versatility, pointing out that she wears hers as sleep shirts, beach coverups, undershirts, and more. While these are the brand’s boy-size tanks, they are also available in a men’s version.
The $40 bag taking over Tokyo and London (that’s finally in stock again) …
While vacationing in Tokyo, Strategist writer Rachael Griffiths spotted this slouchy, drawstring bag multiple times — including inside a matcha café and at the Tsukiji fish market — and later identified it at Uniqlo, she says. Three months later, Griffiths noticed the mixed-material tote, which she calls the “de facto elder sister” of the brand’s popular Round Mini Shoulder Bag, at a rave in London. The Drawstring has only recently come back in stock, and since Griffiths purchased her own, she’s been using it to haul her essentials to the office, the gym, and on nights out. She even calls it a “ludicrously capacious bag that can do it all.”
… And the crimson carpeting appearing in tons of tasteful interiors
Strategist writer Lauren Ro says she stopped cold when she saw an Instagram photo Laila Gohar posted of her bright-red wall-to-wall carpeting. While the effect is indeed dramatic, installing it takes some real commitment and effort, which is why Ro suggests using area rugs to achieve a similar feel — as other stylish people, such as CAP Beauty co-founder and CEO Kerrilynn Pamer and interior designer Madelynn Furlong Hudson, have done. (Both own the same hand-loomed Nordic Knots style in brick red.) The Swedish brand’s rugs have rather hefty price tags, but this darker-red one is a more reasonably priced option that’s 100 percent wool.
An efficient and wallet-friendly pizza oven
As seen in our guide to the best pizza ovens, the Karu 12G, which uses wood or charcoal fuel, is our top-rated choice for an affordable at-home model. It can cook up to a 12-inch pizza on a thick cordierite baking stone, plus it has an insulated glass door so you can check on your pie without releasing any heat, Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa says. Rellosa, who tested the Ooni, says it takes some tweaking to set up, but after your first batch, it becomes simpler to maintain your desired temperature. “Anyone who has used a gas stove or charcoal grill will find the Karu 12G easy to use,” he says.
A dupe for the OG Beauty Blender
Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton loves a good dupe — but it wasn’t until her youngest cat took a liking to shredding Beauty Blenders that she set out to find a replacement for the $30 sponges. After consulting Reddit and TikTok, along with crowd-sourcing among her friends, Viera-Newton ordered various options from Amazon and Target to put to the test. While the first few were duds, Viera-Newton says she knew this Paw Paw sponge was a spot-on alternative when she almost confused it with one of her real Beauty Blenders. But the Paw Paw sponge is “slightly more pillowy and soft” and it “buffs the product out more seamlessly when it’s gently pressed into the skin,” she says. Plus they’re a fraction of the price (less than $10 for a pack of six).
Chicken-feet pearl earrings from the “genius” Gohar sisters
Gohar World’s chicken-feet motif previously appeared on our site when Strategist contributor Allison Rodman couldn’t stop buying (actually functional) objects that look like food. But this week, as seen in our latest installment of Don’t Dilly Dally, the brand dropped these matching earrings with the same claw-shaped freshwater pearls that will “flatter all skin tones and add a touch of humor to even my most funerary ensembles,” as Rodman said of the necklace version.
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.