sunday circular

12 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Sunshades to Steven Spielberg’s Pencils

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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 orthopedic wedge sandals Lily-Rose Depp resurrected from the early aughts, an XXL visor for the ultimate in sun protection (and feeling like a celebrity), and the pencils Justin Peck learned about from a big-name director.

An on-sale planner that’s part of this weekend’s deals extravaganza … Wellness Planner

If you’re trying to get some shopping done over the long weekend, we’ve rounded up the best Fourth of July sales from some of our favorite retailers, such as Girlfriend Collective, Madewell, Casper, Ulta, and more. is offering 30 percent off with the code SPARKLERS on most items, including these colorful planners that Strategist writer Latifah Miles says she likes because they’re undated so she can list tasks as she goes. She also says she appreciates that there’s a designated spot for writing down priorities. “Putting those in a separate section is a really nice way to refocus so I don’t feel totally unaccomplished at the end of the day if my long list isn’t fully crossed out,” she says. “Some days, my priority is to just sleep in.”

$18 at
with code: WELL30

… and a handy power adapter you’ll definitely remember to pack for the next long weekend

From $20

It might be too late this time, but for your next trip, make sure to reference our Travel 100, a comprehensive guide on all the best products to make your vacation as easy and stress-free as possible. While it’s not the most glamorous item, this combination power adapter and USB-charger block goes with Rachel Coleman, the social-media lead at Berlin travel agency GetYourGuide, on every trip. “I can charge everything in one place, no matter which country I’m in,” she says of the universal tool that juices up her phone, headphones, and external batteries. Strategist writer Katherine Gillespie also owns one, and she says for when you’re not on the road, it’s still useful as a bedside charger for multiple devices at once.

A 16-foot sunshade for sharing with friends …

After Strategist contributor Ruth Baron’s dad recommended this Shibumi sunshade to her and Strategist senior editor Kayleen Schaefer for its simple design, they hit the beach and were able to pop it up in two minutes. When the 16-by-8-foot covering is constructed, Baron says it offers a generous amount of sun protection — though the whole contraption can compress into a lightweight, umbrella-size bag at the end of the day. Although the shade isn’t cheap, Schaefer says its size means it can accommodate a lot of people, like when she hosted six guests (and two coolers) under it comfortably during a very hot Fourth of July weekend.

… and an XXL visor for keeping the cover all to yourself

Because Strategist contributor Liana Satenstein uses Retin-A, she was in the market for high-coverage headwear to shield her face from the sun. After trying several iterations of visors, she landed on this very large fishing hat with a wide brim that extends past the ears and a vented flap that goes over the face. While Satenstein says she likes that the concealing front piece makes her feel “like a celebrity who was trying to be seen by not wanting to be seen,” most of the time she says she wears the hat without it, as the side brim offers enough shade already.

The smooth pencils Justin Peck saw Steven Spielberg sketching with

$27 for 12

When we asked Justin Peck what he can’t live without, the West Side Story choreographer said these graphite pencils Steven Spielberg introduced to him are “a game changer because they glide beautifully.” Peck says he noticed Spielberg using the smooth Blackwings to sketch out ideas, so he started using them himself. “It’s a pristine pencil for taking notes, making sketches, and creating storyboards or choreographic patterns,” he says. “When you’re creating, you want materials that inspire you too.”

Erin Wasson’s Rollerblades for cruising around the boardwalk

Rollerblades have been part of model and actress Erin Wasson’s life since she was a kid, and today, she still counts these K2 inline skates among the things she can’t live without for their soft wheels (which provide a smoother blading experience). “It’s always nice to have something that’s going to get you outside and get you into fresh air and is also wildly enjoyable,” she says. “You’re out there getting sun, getting a little bit of a tan, it’s fun.”

The slightly cheeky Calzedonia swimsuit the Strategist’s editor took to Cape Town

Earlier this year, Strategist editor Maxine Builder honeymooned in Cape Town, where she spent eight days hiking the surrounding mountains and swimming everywhere from St. James Tidal Pool to Llandudno Beach. Because she was spending a lot of time in the water, she wanted to treat herself to a new bikini that wasn’t too expensive. The result: this two-piece black swimsuit from Calzedonia, which was “a good compromise on quality, price, and general sexiness,” she says.

The $14 linen shorts one writer says gives “young Parisian mom” …

Strategist contributor Sophie Vershbow says she immediately bought two more pairs of these linen Old Navy shorts after trying on a first pair. “These trouser shorts have elevated my summer style from ‘extra in Wet Hot American Summer’ to ‘young Parisian mom taking her kids to lunch on Saturday,’” she says of the “extremely flattering” bottoms that fall mid-thigh. And they satisfy all of her (very specific) shorts needs, Vershbow says, with a partially elasticized waistband (no need to unbutton the top at the end of the day), three pockets (big enough to hold your phone), and easy-breezy material.

… and a Chris Black–approved linen shirt that doesn’t give “sad vacation dad”

When a Strategist reader asked columnist Chris Black about his recommendation for short-sleeve summer shirts that don’t have camp collars, Black suggested this Sunspel button-up that comes in a range of colors — white linen, he says, can make you “look like a sunburnt dad in Mykonos on holiday.” Black prefers this hunter-green version and says you can wear it buttoned or over a white shirt.

Mal Wright’s “low-key statement” carabiner

Mal Wright of The Ultimatum: Queer Love topped off her list of favorite things — which included a Casio gold-tone watch, Aesop hand cream, cauliflower chips, and Birkenstock Bostons — with this lightweight and durable carabiner from REI. “I need this for my keys … When you see it, you’re like, Handy? Dyke? Or just cool?” Wright adds that she’s working on a luxury version with her co-star Lexi Goldberg’s dad, who’s a jeweler, so stay tuned.

The early-2000s orthopedic sandals Lily-Rose Depp brought back in style

As a fan (or anti-fan) of The Idol, Strategist contributor Emilia Petrarca spent some time learning more about its star Lily-Rose Depp and the orthopedic cork wedges she’s been spotted in. They’re made by Wörishofer, which was founded by a German podiatrist in the 1940s, and had their heyday in 2006 when Lucky declared them “chic” and “ridiculously comfortable.” When Petrarca got a pair herself, she said she could feel the supportive arches of the sandals’ sole. And with their dainty perforations and cute buckle, the shoes are going to look “freakin’ awesome” for the summer, Petrarca says. “These are motherfuckin’ world-class sandals.”

A best-selling purifier for clearing the air

The New York metro area saw a series of smoky days in June, and readers responded in kind by purchasing this Levoit air purifier — sending it to tenth place on this month’s best-sellers list. With HEPA filtration and a coverage range of 130 square feet, the Levoit is the reason that Camilla Cho, SVP of e-commerce at Vox Media, says she can live in the same house as her dog. “Pet dander, after all, is just another contaminant for a purifier to pull from the air, and this filter captures it within its multilayered netting,” she says. After only three days, Cho says her nasal passages were clear, her eyes were de-puffed, and she was no longer sneezing. And after seven months with the purifier, she says she was able to take allergy pills once a month instead of daily.

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.

12 Things We Loved: From Sunshades to Spielbergian Pencils