celebrity shopping

What Roxane Gay Can’t Live Without

Photo: Jay Grabiec

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 Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, Hunger, and Not That Bad, about the headphones, travel bag, and custom shirts she can’t live without.

I appreciate that these are exactly what they are and nothing more. I travel a lot, so it’s awesome to have these headphones, because even when I’m not listening to music, they just drown everything out and give me the space to think and get writing done on the plane. I actually can do that. The internet on flights is so slow that I don’t bother to do a lot of browsing and wasting time, so as long as I use the noise-canceling headphones, I can work.

My favorite book by my favorite author. It’s pretty much a comfort read to me now. I just love going back to it. And it’s witty and funny and tragic every time. It’s everything I could want in a novel. I just picked up Kitchen Confidential to reread, too.

Apple AirPods

I use these when I’m running errands or when I’m at the gym. I’ll use them to make phone calls, too. They’re just so much better than I’d ever thought they would be. The wheelhouse for Apple isn’t audio, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but they’re great. And they don’t fall out. It’s really, really weird — they’ve never fallen out once. When they first came out, it was not clear how weird they would look on people. Even now when I see them on people I think about that hair gel scene from There’s Something About Mary. But they’re really great headphones.

For a long time I have been carrying little totes because you can get a ton of totes if you work in publishing. A few months ago, I thought I needed to step up my game and stop carrying these threadbare totes around, so I was like, “What’s something that’s soft butch that’ll work?” And this LV bag just jumped out at me. The leather is gorgeous and the bag itself is roomy. It has pockets, which make it so good for when I’m out and about between meetings, to keep my charger, my iPad, a bottle of water, a book, and so on.

I love having music on at home in multiple rooms, but in addition to the gorgeous sound, the Sonos app allows you to bring in all your subscriptions, to Apple Music, Amazon Music, Sirius, Pandora, and Spotify. I can centralize it all so I can listen to music across the different platforms on the speakers.

I have TSA Pre-Check, and I’ve gotten used to just breezing through security without taking my laptop out of my bag. But this bag is great because on those occasions when I do have to put my bag through the machine, I still don’t have to take out my laptop. I can just unzip the back half, lay it flat, and put it through. It’s convenient and looks nice and I could almost use it as an overnight bag on quick trips.

I don’t really not check bags because I just wanna take what I wanna take. I need options. I don’t want to wear variations on one outfit for five days. I’m not a Transformer. So I use this for long trips and short trips — it’s expandable, so if people give me things, which inevitably happens on tour, there’s room to put stuff in there. It’s ridiculously overpriced but well made. It rolls nicely, too.

I use it in this very narrow way to find out the time and the weather, but it’s good for music in the morning. I say Alexa, and she does whatever I ask. And I actually have a friend named Alexa so it gets very confused if I say her name, too. It just shows you they’re absolutely just listening to people’s lives.

For many years, I was curious why Ina Garten wears various shirts of the same shape every day. She explained on the FAQ of her site, which is no longer there, that she got her shirts custom-made, but she wouldn’t say by whom. So I thought that was such a good idea that I just went and did it. I used to use a company in Naples, where my parents live, but when I started coming to L.A. more often, I decided I needed someone here. I Googled “custom shirt maker” and that was it. Now I’ll just go in to pick out new fabrics, and they’ll adjust measurements if needed, but his office also happens to be less than a block from my apartment, so I can pop in any time.

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What Roxane Gay Can’t Live Without