celebrity shopping

What Judy Collins Can’t Live Without

Photo: Getty Images

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 grammy nominated singer-songwriter Judy Collins, who is currently performing her newest album Winter Stories at Joe’s Pub, about the coffee, headphones, and cat ribbons she can’t live without.

I use this scale for weighing food. I carry it with me, and I weigh and measure most of my meals. Always the protein, but not always the salad. It gives a whole perimeter of three meals a day, and nothing in between. I do four ounces of protein, unless it’s cheese, which is two ounces. It’s very helpful, it keeps me on the straight and narrow.

I really need these in my life because I travel a lot of places where there are a lot of people around me. And they’re so important if I’m on a plane. I was on coming back from Albuquerque recently and changed planes in Minnesota to get on one to New York. On both of the flights I had a lot of music to listen to, so I had to have my earbuds. I haven’t ever had success with other types of headphones — I lose them, I break them, I drop them, I can’t get them into my bag, they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Earbuds are much more accessible.

I love Johnny Was. I bought my first one at a resort out in Arizona; it was like $120 or something. I wore it for years, and then somehow I lost it. It was falling apart, though, I must say. I was wearing one last night and I was over at EAT, the Zabar family’s restaurant on the Upper East Side. This older gentleman in the restaurant pointed to the jacket and said to his wife, “Now that is a coat. A beautiful coat!” So, yeah, I love Johnny Was’ design, I found out that Johnny Was is not a person, but the line from a song by the Grateful Dead. I don’t know which song, so I can’t tell you, but I suppose I could do a search on Google.

My purple Pilot pen is the best. I used to write with a Montblanc, but quite frankly the ink and the spillage and the nuisance I can’t put up with. I have these all over the house, and I’ve got to order more because I see that we might be running out. My husband prefers green, so he has a green pen — it’s also a Pilot fine-point. I think mine brings me luck. Purple is a very spiritual color, they say. So these purple pens are with me always, even right now. I just did the New York Times crossword puzzle with one. I don’t use the app, I do it on paper, and I do all kinds of things to get it. If I’m in a city where I can’t get a New York Times, sometimes my husband will email me the crossword for the day, and then I get it printed out at the hotel so that I can do it on paper.

I just got a new one of these for 2020. It’s beautiful — a gorgeous purple color — and I’ve put some things in it because I have a few things happening in 2020 already. I’ve used the Manhattan Diary or the New York Diary for years. I love the shape because it fits into my purse easily. My husband is always saying to me, “Why don’t you put your dates in the digital thing on your phone?” I can’t relate to that. I have to have something written down with my purple pen in my purple diary because I have to see it and actually connect with it that way, rather than online. I do a lot of things online; I write books and use a computer for my songs and everything else. But if I’m writing my dates down I have to use my real notebook.

Since 1964, I’ve gone to Arden’s for various things. I started out getting massages there and then finally getting facials and my feet done. My feeling about Elizabeth Arden is that she really knew what she was doing — the Eight Hour Cream has been around since she started her business, I think. And the formula is still the same. You can use it for anything, a little bump, a little scratch, a little irritation here and there. It’s really first-rate. She originally invented it to use on her horses, and that’s always impressed me. The other thing about the horse connection is that when Sea Biscuit’s trainer, Tom Smith, was out of a job after Seabiscuit died, Elizabeth Arden hired him to come and work on her horse ranch, and she kept him on for the rest of his life. She didn’t need to, but she kept him there. He was a real hero and he used the Eight Hour Cream on her horses, their bruises and bumps, to help them to heal. You can put it on chapped lips and the next day you’re good to go.

I couldn’t do anything without my coffee. I grind my own combination of espresso beans and dark roast, always from Zabar’s. I have a coffee maker in my bathroom, so I don’t even have to go into the kitchen. I started doing that because I’d wake up in the morning and want to start writing right away, but I have to have my coffee. And I don’t want to wander around the house looking for it. Years ago, before hotels had coffee makers in them, I traveled with a little suitcase that had my coffee grinder, my coffee beans, and my coffee maker. It was actually a T. Anthony suitcase. In 1993, I went to stay at the White House; Clinton was just inaugurated and he invited me over. So I took my suitcase with my coffee maker in it. After dinner with him — just him and me in the Map Room — I went up to my room, pulled out my coffee gear, went into the bathroom, set the whole thing up, and ground the coffee. Then the whole thing fell on the floor. So I was on my knees in the middle of the night in the Lincoln Bedroom’s bathroom, cleaning up the coffee off the floor. I realized later that I could have just called one of the people who work for the White House and ordered some coffee. Turned out they made awfully good coffee, because I did that the next morning when my coffee maker was on the floor with coffee beans everywhere.

I love cats. I have three Persians now, but I’ve always had cats. When I adopt cats, it’ll be three at a time because I like them to have company. At the moment my three are 11 years old, they are a white Persian, a blue Persian, and a black-and-white Persian. The white Persian’s name is Tom Wolfe, the blue Persian is Rachmaninoff, and the black-and-white Persian is Coco Chanel. The black-and-white one particularly loves to chase the ribbons, and so I always have a handful of ribbons that I can run around with, pulling them behind me so that the cat will chase me. It’s very good for them, it’s healthy.

Ultra Quercetin is the mineral that makes all the other vitamins work; my naturopath turned me on to it years ago. I take A to Z, everything — I take about 50 pills a day, and the Quercetin is the thing that makes it all happen. I don’t know why, it’s a mystery. From a very young age, I’ve always been involved with nutritionists and people who were proponents of alternative medicine. I do acupuncture — I’ve gotten a little lax with it, but I do that. I do vitamins, and I think they are part of the secret to my health, I really do. Now of course, I do other things. I have osteoporosis so I have a little trampoline in the dining room, which I’m told is the best exercise to deal with bone issues. I don’t use it enough, but I do run and I exercise all the time. I’m always walking and running and carrying on.

It’s my go-to wedding gift or anniversary gift. I’ve given it to people all over the world; I just sent one to Heidelberg for the son of my musical director. It’s a beautiful, simple, elegant shape, and inexpensive in terms of glassware. And Tiffany still makes it. That’s what’s so amazing, because they’ve dropped a lot of things out of their line that were beautiful. Many, many, many of their various kinds of glass hand warmers, paperweights, and so on, they’re gone. But the Harmony Bowl is still around. It makes a beautiful sound when you hit it with a piece of silver, and it holds beautiful big salads or a lot of fruit in it. It’s very special.

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.

What Judy Collins Can’t Live Without