what i can't live without

What Jonathan Adler Can’t Live Without

Photo: Photo-Illustration

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Jonathan Adler, potter and designer of household objets d’art on the occasion of his collaboration with fancy weed-supply store Higher Standards about the insoles, polo shirts, and hand cream he can’t live without.


I’m a potter, first and foremost. Like, if anyone asked me, “What do you do?” I say I’m a potter. As most potters are, I am cursed with extraordinarily dry hands. So the Aquaphor is the most intensive and effective potter’s balm I could find. Leave studio, wash hooves, apply Aquaphor.

The sneaker revolution is one of the great things to happen to our planet as far as I’m concerned. I have a closet groaning, groaning, with couture footwear, all ignored in favor of my beloved Stan Smiths and all of their myriad forms ranging from collaborations with Pharrell to classic Stan Smiths in white. It’s just the shoe I reach for every day. I have a uniform. It’s Stan Smiths and white Uniqlo jeans — those are the only pants I own at all — and then in the winter, a Thom Browne sweater, and in the summer a Lacoste shirt.

I’m afraid that I’ve entered my orthotic years. The thing about becoming part of the orthotics cohort is that you should just buy a fuck ton of them because one has so many shoes. It’s sort of like, the same way when you enter your readers years. You have to buy like fifty-thousand readers so they are just wherever you are. Orthotics is a new category of shopping. I’m a drug-store queen. I’m very high-low, it looks like I just skimp and save in every other area of my life, so I can afford a Thom Browne sweater.

$37 for 2

I am an Anglophile. Big-time Anglophile and married to a Brit. If you were to walk into our house, I would hope that you imagine that you’d be walking into a residence of two glamorous, eccentric style trailblazers. But the reality is quite different. It’s actually just like walking into any working-class English house where people are bickering over who made that last cup of tea. PG Tips is sort of the most basic English tea and I use a lot of it. It’s 11:30 and I’m on my eighth cup of tea of the day. I take it, in England they call it builders. Which means milk and two sugars. But I do builders, hold the sugar. Builders, like a construction worker.

I drive a navy BMW X5, which could get lost in a sea of other navy BMW X5s, and about five years ago one of my employees borrowed my car, and as a joke, they put an Ed Hardy steering wheel cover on. It’s become my favorite thing because it makes me remember my car. It’s very maximalist and it gives me a little giggle every time I get in the car. I like Ed Hardy because Ed Hardy is great, but it’s become so reviled. I always like to stick up for an underdog.

If I’m honest, my husband Simon Doonan’s book Beautiful People. I just keep rereading it. I can’t get enough of that little guy’s writing. It’s a strange thing to live with a literary genius, because of course one takes one’s spouse completely for granted, and I spend all day making fun of him, claiming he’s like an idiot. All I do is mock him for his stupidity and then I read his book and I’m just like, “Oh my God, I’m married to a genius.” I’m sure I’ve read it like five times. I read all his books again and again. It’s just, whenever I’m bored and can’t think of anything else to do I’ll read Simon’s genius books.

I have multiples of this sweater. It’s all I wear. It is chic and classic and it is bone-crushingly expensive. I gotta go to work every day just so I can pay for my Thom Browne habit. But, it’s worth it. I pretend it’s not happening as it’s happening. I’m a petite person and the Thom Browne stuff feels like it was made for me. So, I put on a Thom Browne sweater and I slice through the day. The day I’m slicing through involves me working incredibly long hours to pay for my Thom Browne sweater. It’s a bit of a hamster wheel.

I am a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan. I bleed green. I grew up outside of Philadelphia. I’ve always been a little bit pessimistic in life because of my Eagles, and I always used to say “One before I die” and then my Eagles did it last year and It has rocked my world. It has turned my frown upside down. It’s changed my entire perspective on life and the possibilities life has to offer. I haunt the Eagles online shop for new bits of Eagles memorabilia and paraphernalia, and I love my Eagles T-shirt. I have a ton of different ones, and when I see a fellow Eagles fan on the street, we just wink and nod and appreciate each other.

Basically all the money I save on a handbag habit that most people are spending, I spend on Thom Browne sweaters. This tote bag is the bargain of the century. It’s hard to find the camo version. It seems like it should be easy but it’s actually under their hunting section. So for something that’s such a classic, you have to work a little bit for it. Which I appreciate. You’ll find a theme with all of my things, which is that I like to get things monogrammed. The only thing about the L.L. Bean tote bag is, that it doesn’t have a pocket, so I always have to sew one in.

My uniform in the summer is white jeans, which are always my uniform, but in the summer I wear a Lacoste polo. They do a slim fit now, which is the best thing that’s happened to the Lacoste community. It’s a new fit and I love it. I always get it monogrammed with my J.A.P. monogram.

[Editor’s note: Additional sizes of this same polo, albeit not in this shade of green, are available on Amazon.]

It’s funny, I’m an incredibly clean-living person. I’m like a very responsible orthotics-wearing grown-up. The thing that I love about my Higher Standard collection is that it gives me an opportunity for that kind of thing without the hangover. Personally drugs don’t agree with me, but I like the idea of at least appearing loose. and if I can do that through a decorative accessory, great.

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What Jonathan Adler Can’t Live Without