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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in April

Photo-Illustration: Retailers

If you follow our biweekly feature Your Shopping Cart, you know that we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying. Which led us to think that as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we all bought in April.

Casey Lewis, senior editor

Every time I’ve tried to go to my local Whole Foods recently, the socially distanced line to get in has been around the corner and down the block. I’d been craving their raw cashews, of all things, for weeks, and after seeing Chris Black give Nuts.com a shout, I placed an order for six pounds of nuts (plus a nut butter, for good measure). I was astonished that it only took two days to arrive — even faster than Amazon these days — and now, I’m set for months.

Lauren Ro, writer

These are hands down my favorite quarantine purchase to date. A couple of weeks into working from home, I realized that not wearing shoes was doing a number on my feet. Perhaps it was precisely because they were so free and unsupported (and not cooped up in moisture-trapping shoes) that they were becoming chapped and cracked. I decided I needed at-home footwear that was enclosed but still breathable and, of course, comfortable. So I got a pair of classic Crocs clogs in the cheeriest lemon yellow. (They’re the polar opposites of my “sexy” Crocs sandals in terms of looks.) Not only are they a delight to behold, they’ve helped my feet heal and given me a sense of grounding. One note: The product description said to size down for half sizes, but it’s wrong! I would size up.

Katy Schneider, senior editor

My sister, boyfriend, and I collectively purchased four pairs of $12 Gildan sweatpants this month: one navy, two black, and one green. We were inspired by the model and actor Miles Garber, who told the Strategist that he and his girlfriend purchased three pairs to share. They’re very comfortable and strangely — flattering? Or at least, not as baggy as other sweats.

Photo: reatailer

I’m quarantining in my hometown and my local bookstore R.J. Julia (where I also happened to work as a teenager) is doing curbside pickup. After tearing through Marjorie Morningstar, which involves Borscht Belt romances and the Upper West Side in the 1930s, I picked up Light Years by James Salter, which was recommended to me by two friends, one of whom said, convincingly, “You’ll want to live life inside of there.” Sold!

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

Photo: reatailer

I bought an incredible amount of books this month, all of which I’m really excited about. I’m even more excited about Bookshop, which gives a portion of their proceeds to support local bookstores. Most of the books I purchased this month came from there; the rest I purchased at WORD, a favorite local store of mine. One of the books I’m most excited about is Lakewood, a debut novel by Megan Giddings that deals with medical experimentation and race. Given the long history of experimentation on the black body, I have a feeling this is going to be a haunting, impactful read.

Photo: reatailer

I’m also excited about Conjure Women, another debut novel that deals with the pre-and post-Civil War South and gives me big Beloved vibes. It tells the story of three women — two who can conjure and heal, and one who’s the master’s daughter. From what I’ve seen so far, this book is getting great reviews, and I’m excited to dive into Akora’s world for myself.

Jessica Silvester, contributing editor

Photo: reatailer

I’m getting close to my due date and shopping my way through the anxiety. Rigorous podcast research led me to this sleep mask, which comes highly recommended as a tool for finding a mental oasis during labor. (The midwife-doula team Birth Kweens are big fans.) And for only $11, I’d say this is also a great investment even if you’re not trying to block out the hellish reality of your delivery room. It’s made of contoured foam that stays put against your face and seals off the light; it’s also airy as a meringue and won’t smudge your eye makeup or indent your temples. I am calmed by the mere sight of it near my go bag.

Like just about everyone, my son has started having nightmares lately. (His are about a monkey.) He’s been getting out of bed at all hours and trying to begin our days at 4:30 a.m., which needed to stop. This color-changing night-light hasn’t been delivered to us yet, but I’m heartened by everything I hear about the “time-to-rise” function. (It’s also widely praised for its double duty as a sound machine.) Via Bluetooth, you can set the color of the lamp to adjust according to a timer — so, say, it will glow blue while your kid is supposed to be sleeping, and turn green once it’s 6:30 a.m., when he is free to get out of bed and ask for breakfast and scream bloody murder while rattling the gate. My friend’s nephew, who’s just a little older than my 3-year-old, apparently will not disobey the laws of the light, and that seems like a dream.

Jordan Bowman, tech writer

During quarantine I’ve had to completely rethink my workspace and my work-from-home habits. What used to be a pile of sticky notes, random papers, and books has turned into something resembling an organized office. I also bought this cube-shaped digital alarm clock to help me keep track of time, because it’s all too easy for it to slip away when you’re sitting at a desk all day.

Photo: reatailer

Being stuck at home and constantly flipping through apps, answering DMs, and talking over Zoom has me thinking about communication lately. Maybe I’m longing for more natural conversations instead of the ones spent talking over unstable internet connections, but I decided to check out David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day. Sedaris spends most of the book thinking about communication and how hard it can be in day-to-day life to get simple ideas across, especially when you’re in a foreign country. He spends the back half of the book trying to learn French, one bizarre noun after another. I kept wondering what Sedaris would say about this time and how people have adapted to communicating with their devices after nearly two months of isolation. I just hope my Wi-Fi holds up or else the title of the book might change to Me Talk … One Day.

Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor

My 19-month-old flat out refuses to keep his socks and shoes on while going for walks in his stroller, and given that it’s still quite cold out, and walks in the stroller are truly all we have left in this world, my husband and I had to come up with a solution for keeping his little piggies warm. Our first idea was to simply wrap his shoes and socks with masking tape; try as he might, he could not take his shoes off. This worked for a few walks, but took so much time and so much masking tape, that it was really not a sustainable solution. So I went on the hunt for toddler-size pants with feet. This is not such an easy task since pants with feet are not meant to be worn by toddlers. they are meant to be worn by helpless newborns. But a few brands make them in sizes 18 to 24, including one I found on Amazon, City Threads, as well as Old Navy (which has since sold out of them). I ended up getting the Amazon ones, and while he looks a little ridiculous in them, they get the job done. His sneakers also fit on top of them, so he can get out and walk. We’ve taken to calling them his “going-out pants.”

While perusing Old Navy, I stumbled upon these leggings with pockets (which I’d been in the market for). I am so in love with them, and have been wearing them to “work” as well as on my semi-regular weekend runs. The deep teal color is very pleasing to me.

Chloe Anello, junior writer

My sister just accepted a new job at Apple, and I thought it’d be funny to send her a box of apples as a congratulations gift. I looked at a few companies that do fruit boxes but very few had boxes of just apples. I eventually found this brand, and after reading a bunch of reviews, I decided it was probably my best bet. The apples shipped from Oregon, and my sister said they were excellent — although if they weren’t, I doubt she’d tell me. They even allow for gift notes and specialty ribbons to add a personal touch. (I added a blue “Congratulations!” ribbon, if you were wondering.)

Speaking of, my sister is also getting married in February 2021. She didn’t give me many guidelines for my maid of honor dress — aside from it having to be navy blue — so when this dress at Fleur du Mal that I’ve admired for quite awhile went on major sale, I instantly bought it. She’s wearing a suit, and her fiancé is wearing a jumpsuit, so I thought it complemented the whole tailored, menswear-inspired vibe they’re going for. It honestly was kind of a risk to buy, because I could only get store credit if it didn’t fit, and I’ve never bought anything from the brand before. But it fits perfectly, and it’s not as short as it appears in the photos. Plus, it has pockets, which every woman knows is a very exciting feature. It’s currently sold out in the navy, but you can get it in gold and red, which are also quite pretty, if you’re in the market.

Maxine Builder, managing editor

There was a moment this month when the reality of working at home for the foreseeable future hit me, and that is when I decided to splurge on the coffee maker of my dreams: the Moccamaster, arguably the Rolls-Royce of drip coffee makers (that was also our pick for the best high-end coffee maker). To break it in, I bought a big bag of Dunkin’ coffee grounds (because that’s all that was left at Key Foods, and I unironically love the coffee at Dunkin’), and it tasted so good from the Moccamaster that my boyfriend was sure we were drinking some fancy, single-origin beans.

Before we were forced into self-isolation, I was going to Y7 about three times a week for my fix of hot Vinyasa yoga set to hip-hop (that’s also a favorite of Diplo). I’ve missed it a lot. None of the other online yoga classes and subscriptions I tried got my heart-pumping quite like Y7. So I nearly jumped out of my chair when I got the email earlier this month that Y7 Online launched. The offerings are still pretty limited, but one of my favorite instructors Danny W. (who probably has no idea who I am even though I rave about his classes to everyone I know) has a few prerecorded sessions up, and I am so happy to be able to flow with him — and the rest of the crew at Y7 — in the safety and comfort of my own home.

Anthony Rotunno, senior editor

Not long after we started working from home, the discomfort I felt in my upper back at the end of each day suggested I could not go for long using the wooden chairs at my dining table without modifying my setup. But I didn’t have a lot of room for a proper “office chair,” nor a lot of money to spend, due to some pandemic-related cuts to my household’s budget. Inspired by this piece I worked on with Frances Dodds, about the back brace that saved her “from becoming the Quasimodo of Park Slope,” I remembered my husband had a similar brace stashed away — so I dug it up, started wearing it, and began to notice less discomfort. Of course, he wanted to resume wearing it after I started to, so I caved in and bought a second (reading reviews, a smart person convinced me to buy the large, even though it may be a bit bigger than my frame, because the Velcro makes it super easy to adjust on any body).

Photo: reatailer

Right before most of us started to shelter in place, I received a 50 percent off coupon from Patagonia after ordering a sale item that they didn’t actually have in stock. (The coupon came as a surprise with the full refund they offered, which to me said a lot about the company’s commitment to customer service.) I knew I wanted to use it to get some Baggies — even while trying to spend less, $23 was just too good a price to pass up — but Patagonia actually paused its entire operation, including shipping, around the time many businesses were closing to flatten the curve, so I had to wait. They un-paused sometime in April, so back I went to redeem my coupon on a mango-colored pair that I cannot wait to live in once it’s warm enough to.

Peter Martin, senior editor

After we started sheltering in place with my sister’s family, the number of things our daughter gets to play with every day expanded quite a bit. Her favorite new toy, by far, is her cousin. But after that, it’s the old tricycle she found in the garage. Buying her a helmet to wear while riding was a little harder than I thought it would be. Most seem to be for kids over 5, so it took a while to find one that would actually fit. I almost bought this one, and then we settled on this cute checkerboard pattern. It’s CSPC–certified and, as we now know, also fun to wear in the kitchen. (We bought ours on sale at REI, where it’s now out of stock, but another option is available.)

One of the things you might forget when you pack up a bunch of clothes and flee your home to get a little childcare help during a worldwide pandemic is an extra pair of shoes for that child. But it did give us a good excuse to buy these.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, junior writer


Receiving packages is one of the only ways I can get my thrills these days, so I’ve been buying quite a bit recently. One of my biggest purchases was this vertical climber. Of all the large-scale workout equipment I could buy for what I’m hoping is a temporary home gym, this was by far the most affordable and the most conducive to New York apartment living. When fully assembled, it fits perfectly in the corner of my living room, and when not in use, I can fold it up and stick it behind my TV. Between this climber and my previously purchased dumbbells, jump rope, and booty band, my home gym is complete.

With my stimulus check in hand, and the Sephora VIB sale going on, I figured it was the perfect time to splurge on some skincare. I’ve always wanted to try SK-II’s essence, but the price was always a deterrent. When I saw this experience kit for the same price as the essence with the added bonus of a sheet mask and toner, it was a no brainer, especially with a 15 percent discount. It’s only been about a week since I started using it, but I already like the way it makes my skin feel, and I can’t wait to see what it does for my acne scars. The experience kit is currently sold out at Sephora, so there’s no more taking advantage of the sale, but at this point I’m ready to recommend it, even at full price.

Hilary Reid, writer

One of my favorite Strategist discoveries was that fitness instructors love Forever 21’s activewear line (three told Karen it was just as good as much more expensive brands). Since then, I’ve accumulated lots of cheap “active camis,” bike shorts, and leggings, and ordered some more this month. I’m looking forward to wearing them for mornings spent following my virtual pilates instructor’s direction to move my limbs in “grape-size” ranges of motion.

After talking to a bunch of chefs about their go-to shelf-stable foods, I had tinned and jarred foods on the brain. Luckily, my local fish store, Mermaid’s Garden, has plenty of appealing options — last weekend I picked up a jar of jalapeño sauerkraut and plan to take Danny Bowien’s advice and eat it with some canned tuna and rice.

Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer

Photo: reatailer

Yes, it’s a little on the nose right now, but Camus’s novel about a bubonic plague outbreak in a French-Algerian city is eerily spot-on in its descriptions of the emotional (and financial) costs of living through a pandemic. If you read it back in high school or college as an allegory for the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, it’s worth a — much more literal — reread.

My husband needed new running shoes recently, and since going to a local running store and trying on a bunch of pairs isn’t an option right now, we went with the newest model of the Brooks Ghost. He’s been wearing versions of the Ghost for a few years now and it’s just a nice, solid, reliable shoe that he’s confident buying sight unseen. He’s already been on a few runs with them and has no complaints.

Louis Cheslaw, writer

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a number of influential figures in the menswear community (including our own Chris Black) rallying behind a new clothing brand, Flat File, whose schtick is turning vintage exhibition posters into T-shirts. As someone who’s missing museums in quarantine — and never met a long-sleeved tee he didn’t like — I was thrilled to grab their Calder shirt, inspired by a 1976 Paris show the American sculptor put on.

I’m addicted to the scent of this natural body wash. In fact, in a cultural moment where it’s easier than ever not to shower, it’s about the only thing convincing me to hop in every morning. After a couple go-arounds testing the product out with the smaller, more affordable sizes, April was the month I finally took the plunge and ordered the 16-ounce bottle.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I’ve been relying on this workout bodysuit as I’ve cycled through the free trials of a variety of boutique-fitness workouts. Whether I’m doing The Class or Lekfit, the Next-to-Naked bodysuit makes me feel like an extra in Perfect.

Photo: reatailer

Jot gave me a bottle of their coffee concentrate to try out for free a few days before the quarantine started, and now their direct-to-door model seems even more convenient than before, especially as cold-brew season starts. You can use the concentrate for everything from lattes to iced coffees, but I love it in coffee tonics.

Liza Corsillo, writer

I have been a fan of Monogram tees since the husband and wife designers launched the brand four years ago. I love the ’70s and ’80s vintage graphics inspiration and I really, really love the soft cotton and the flattering fits. I could spend a fortune buying almost every last design from cheeky tees in multiple colors that say “bullshit” where a pocket would go in tiny letters, to the wacky Milton Glaser–esque club sandwich tee. This month felt like a good month for celebrating pasta, so I decided to treat myself to the above.

When I started seeing news of the Postal Service’s financial woes on social media, I panic-bought a bunch of stamps. I have always loved sending letters, but social distancing has given me the extra time to get back into it. For many reasons, it’s scary to think about a world without the USPS. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, and the frog, Sesame Street, WPA posters, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden stamps I just bought will be more than just collector’s items for a long time.

Rio Viera-Newton, writer

Excessively lighting candles has really helped me feel calm and cozy during my time at home. I’ve purchased two, pretty affordable candles in the past month that I’ve absolutely adored: this leathery-saffron scent called Chandelier from Otherland, and this wonderful, smokey-amber scent Cashmere Kush from Boy Smells. If you’re in the market for affordable yet powerful candles for your home, these are both excellent options.

Photo: reatailer

I have long coveted this terra-cotta, blush-colored pan from Our Place. Not only is it adorable, it has a pour spout for sauces, as well as an attachable spatula and steaming basket for easy access. When my old sauté pan decided to suddenly break — the handle just snapped off one day — I decided this was the perfect opportunity to treat myself. This has made my days filled with at-home cooking (and cleaning) a little bit more exciting. I made dumplings in the steamer basket the other day, which was delightful!

Kayla Levy, intern

Photo: reatailer

This past month, my bedroom-turned-office also became a fermentation site when my partner set up his food dehydrator to make tempeh. The food dehydrator actually made a pleasant white noise-like sound, but the soybeans were not properly fermenting (read: molding) until we bought this elaborate temperature controller from a California–based home-brew supply company. The beans stayed at exactly 86 degrees for 36 hours, and now we have tempeh.

After all of the therapists who I spoke to this month (including my own) recommended trying out meditation and mindfulness apps to ease some stress, I finally figured they might be onto something. I downloaded Insight Timer, at the suggestion of Dr. Alexis Conason, because you can choose meditations based on topic and length of time, plus the app includes a bunch of non-meditation but still mindful recordings like songs and teachings (including from Tara Brach, my guru herself). The app is free, but includes various in-app purchases, starting at a $1.99 meditation teacher donation.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What The Editors Bought in April