our shopping cart

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in November

Photo-Illustration: retailers

If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know 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 November.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I’m bracing for winter, so in addition to snapping up an oversize cashmere chesterfield coat from the Jil Sander x Uniqlo collab, I stocked up on more hand and toe warmers for future outdoor hangouts.

Crystal Martin, senior editor

I’ve always liked an occasional dog bandanna on my wheaten terrier, Lupo. But I’ve been Dance Mom–level committed to her wearing them during the pandemic because of the joyful reactions we get from our neighbors on walks. Tail Trends makes appliquéd bandannas for every season, so she’s had lots of looks: a sunglasses-clad pineapple this summer, spooky spiders for Halloween, and a clueless-looking turkey for Thanksgiving. This month, I purchased Lupo’s holiday collection: a snowman, smiling Christmas trees, Rudolph with a rhinestone nose, and Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread.

I recently lost 20 pounds and needed to restock bras because all of mine were suddenly too big. At $40 to $60 a pop for my trusty Calvin Klein styles, the whole exercise started to get really expensive. So I decided to try some cheaper bras from Amazon. This bra is a nice dupe for one of my favorite pricier sheer bras. It’s comfortable and supportive — I’m 34C-ish now — despite the cups being made of just two layers of mesh. And the hot-pink color cheers me up even though it’s mostly hidden.

Lauren Ro, writer

I already have two pairs of kitchen shears, but after reading about these chef-recommended ones, I wanted another. I finally bought them this month, and while at first I was skeptical of their petite size, they’ve become my go-to scissors when I need to cut up food for my toddler. Their sharp, pointed tips make them perfect for snipping off florets of steamed broccoli (the only vegetable he eats plain) or for cutting up radish kimchee (his new favorite) into bite-size pieces, and I can do it all one-handed, right on the plate — no more fussing with a knife and cutting board. They’re also really well made and just nice to look at; I love the red handles. I use them every day.

Jessica Silvester, editor

This month, I took deliberate steps toward not being so negative all the time — less Twittering, more gratitude journaling, etc. And for this reason (in addition to the fact that the author happens to be my good friend), I bought three copies of this book on, essentially, how to feel better about yourself through the prism of Frida Kahlo. The cover art alone is enough to brighten your mood; I’ve got one copy on my kitchen windowsill and plan to give the other two as gifts.

From $84

Oh dear: I think I’ve found a pair of leggings I like even better than my Aligns, which is saying a lot considering I’ve written a whole ode to those. The Vuori Daily Leggings are just as peach-skin soft and flattering, sitting not too high or low on the waist and lifting your butt. Plus, they have a drawstring tie, which is fun, and they’re a little bit less expensive, too.

Leah Muncy, junior writer

$11 for 2

I have a new four-legged roommate: a teeny tiny mouse. Her hobbies include nibbling on my loaves of bread, digging up my roommate’s potted plant, and peeking out from behind the stove. The exterminator came by and gave us a bunch of glue boards, but I’m an animal lover and I can’t think of a more horrific fate than death by glue. I found these humane (and reusable) rodent traps on Amazon, which just may be the best thing to have ever happened to mice. I put some raw sunflower seeds inside, pushed down the spring-loaded door, and placed the traps in her favorite spots. It’s been about a week and I haven’t caught her yet, but I have hope!


I went on a Hinge date with this guy who wouldn’t stop talking about how much fun this game is, so I picked it up on my last Target run. It is, in fact, really fun! It’s sort of like an IRL Among Us, in that one player is the “chameleon,” and they have to try to blend in as best they can without the others discovering their true identity. If you’ve been stuck indoors with lots of roommates (as I have), I highly recommend it.

Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor

My husband and I have been using some very uninspiring flatware that my parents bought for themselves at a yard sale about 15 years ago, and since we’ve been eating at home … constantly … it felt like time for an upgrade. I obviously wanted to go to a store and feel the flatware for myself, but in lieu of that, I spent hours looking at reviews online and settled on this set from Crate & Barrel. It’s modern without feeling too modern and heavy enough to feel substantial without giving us carpal tunnel. We got the 20-piece set (in case we weren’t sure if we wanted to commit), but I’m going to pull the trigger and get 20 more pieces.

My 2-year-old loves foam hand soap. “Foam!” he yells every time we wash his hands in the sink. So when I found this foam hand sanitizer from Babyganics, I got a six-pack. We keep one in the stroller and one in the diaper bag so we always have one at the ready, and as I had anticipated, he finds using it extremely delightful.

Casey Lewis, senior editor

I stocked up on wine — ’tis the season — from Mysa, which has the best selection of weird, funky natural bottles on the internet. Mysa ships superfast (even if you’re quarantining in the middle of nowhere), and it’s a small business so you can feel good about supporting it. The lineup is tightly curated, so you really can’t go wrong (but if you need a recommendation, choose anything from Swick).

Karen Adelson, writer

I’ve been wanting to try running clothes from Sweaty Betty for a while now, so when the brand was offering 30 percent off for Black Friday, I jumped at the opportunity and ordered these warm-looking leggings. They’re lined with brushed fleece and have lots of pockets, so I’m excited to try them out. I also like that they come in a 7/8 length, which I hope will work for me since I’m short.

Maxine Builder, deputy editor

My sweet, perfect, one-eyed dog, Harmony, had a fairly major accident on our doormat, and I made the executive decision to throw it out rather than clean it up. (Trust me when I say you would have done the same.) But the timing was sort of perfect because our writer Leah had just published this guide to actually stylish doormats, and I picked up this one from Target that’s both stylish and, so far, Harmony-proof.

Since the state of ski resorts is still looking shaky for this winter, my boyfriend and I decided to finally try Alpine touring, which requires a whole different set of ski boots — and skis and bindings and skins — from downhill skiing. To keep it all together, I got an Dakine boot bag (on sale), and though I haven’t had a chance to test out any of my other touring gear, I’d recommend this bag to anyone who owns ski boots. In fact, this is my second time purchasing this bag; I already owned one for my downhill gear. There’s enough room for all the stuff I’ll need for a day out, including a deep, padded pocket for a helmet, and I like that it’s so easy to throw on my back. It also just looks more stylish than a lot of the other boot bags I’ve seen, which is a bonus. All I need now is some snow — but unfortunately, I can’t buy that on the internet.

Peter Martin, senior editor

After I noticed this touchless trash can in a couple of tech TikTok videos, I asked Townew if I could test one. It’s too small to replace our kitchen can (the company says a kitchen-appropriate 40L version is in development), so we’ve been using it in the bathroom. Now, instead of struggling to tie off an overstuffed bag without having old dental floss slap onto the back of my hand, I hit a button and the trash can snips and heat-seals the top of the bag for me. Once I take that out, the can automatically lines itself with a new bag. It’s gimmicky but useful — and pretty fun to watch. If there’s ever a diaper-pail version, I’ll buy one right away.

Now that our daughter is running around the house a lot more, she’s also slipping a lot more. We needed socks with grips on the bottom, and after struggling to find gender-neutral options, I eventually came across these, which she seems to love almost as much as her mom and I do.

Jordan Bowman, writer

From $680

When I used to reach for my phone while sitting, it looked like I was trying to perform Krav Maga on my pockets. My phone had turned into a technological burden, a piece of baggage I had to lug around everywhere. So when it was time to upgrade, I got Apple’s new flagship tiny phone. It has solved most of my issues, and though it’s small, it has all the bells and whistles of the larger phones. The battery isn’t as good, but who cares? We’re all spending most of our time inside anyway, and maybe it’s a good thing if I manage to put my phone down a little more.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, writer

I’ve been in my apartment for two months now and have finally had it with the blank walls. I first learned of Jesiah Atkinson through the Black Artist Fund and fell in love with her prints. I bought a few, as I am planning a pretty big gallery wall, and this one is definitely my favorite.

After working on a story about the best hair masks earlier this month, I figured it was time to finally give Olaplex a try with this travel-size conditioner. Instead of the very popular No.3, I went with No.5, which is recommended for thicker hair. With this, a restock of my Grew by Mika English shampoo and conditioner, and a Felicia Leatherwood detangling brush, I am armed and ready for my post-box-braids wash day.

Hilary Reid, writer

My most exciting purchase this month was a silk-upholstered ottoman I found at Housing Works — it was labeled $300 but turned out to be $30! I schlepped it home on the subway and felt triumphant the whole time. Since I’m using the ottoman as a mini coffee table with my beloved chair-and-a-half, I needed a tray to protect the fabric. I went with this red lacquer one from William-Wayne, a haven of trays of all kinds and all the Caspari napkins you could ever desire. I love the deep shade of red, and the lacquer is easy to wipe down.

This was actually an early holiday gift from my family, but since I’d picked it out and ordered it, I think it’s fair game for this column. I had been looking for something soft and neutral with a little bit of texture, and this rug was exactly that — plus, it’s 100 percent wool, which is hard to find at this price point. I ordered it during Parachute’s Black Friday sale, and it should be arriving any day now. Between the ottoman, tray, and rug, I’m finally feeling like my apartment is “really coming together.”

Chloe Anello, writer

When I bought my new phone, Apple expected to ship it out in the middle of November. Well, it arrived about three weeks early, and because I couldn’t bear the thought of carrying around a caseless phone, in a very un-Strat-like manner I bought the first case I saw and kind of liked, assuming I could just buy a new one later. Luckily, I actually love this case. I think the design is fun, and the case is extremely secure. I bought the “bold” version, which the brand said is more protective, for only a few extra bucks. I’m not prone to dropping things, but I don’t really want to risk it.

I’m moving in with my boyfriend, and while he and I agree on many, many things, home décor isn’t exactly one of them. I like patterns and prints and color, while he likes black, white, and occasionally navy blue. (I’m sure he almost had a heart attack when I texted him a photo of a surprisingly tasteful green zebra-print chair I’d found.) To compromise, we agreed on having a fun living room and a toned-down bedroom. I had been eyeing this duvet set from CB2 even before we decided to live together. When I showed it to him, he actually loved it just as much as I did, so once I saw it on sale this month, I immediately bought it. I still get a pattern, but it’s basic enough to fit within his style, too. Now wish me luck as we sort out the rest of our décor!

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

I’ve been wanting a pair of Veja sneakers for a long time, and since everything was 20 percent off at Sneakersnstuff, I figured there was no time like the present to add them to my cart. I like that these have a subtle platform and a slightly thicker sole than the standard sneaker and that they come in this fun two-tone colorway.

I also (of course) bought some books. This month, I picked up a few new releases, including Danielle Evans’s The Office of Historical Corrections, which is ultra-exciting because it’s the first thing she has published since Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, one of the first short-story collections I’d read in undergrad by a Black female author. This is both a story collection and a novella, and I’m excited to dig in. She’s such an incredible writer, and I’m sure it will keep me occupied and delighted for hours.

Kayla Levy, junior writer

My skin-care routine (if you can call it that) is sparse, but after dealing with some maskne this past month, I swung by CVS to get this silicone cleansing brush. While it’s not technically a Foreo cleansing brush, it does have the vibrating silicone bristles and looks sort of similar. More important, it’s a fraction of the price, and it gets the job done.

I also bought a couple of books at Community Bookstore in my neighborhood. One, which is a Hanukkah ‘present for my partner, will remain unnamed, but the other — To Be a Man, by Nicole Krauss (my all-time favorite author) — caught my eye at checkout. I bought it on the spot, and I plan to spend a full, rainy Saturday reading it.

Anthony Rotunno, senior editor

While I risk outing myself as a poseur who is not technically a member or (until this purchase) a financial supporter of the Sunrise Movement, I do follow the progressive organization on Instagram, which is where I scrolled upon this tee. I liked how aggressively the shirt spoke to me about the policies it promotes: stopping climate change, defunding the police, creating new jobs. The tee, as when I bought it, is still available only for preorder. But like the policies it advocates, the shirt itself is another of those good things worth waiting for.

November was a month of birthday shopping for me: I got one of Bethenny Frankel’s favorite oversize sweatshirts for my mom, a carnivorous pitcher plant for my mother-in-law, a larger potted aralia for my soon-to-be sister-in-law, and lots of things for my husband, including one of these newly released beanies made from the same wool as some of our favorite sweaters. It definitely surprised him — as did the fact that I ordered another one (in navy) for myself so I didn’t have to borrow his.

Aisha Rickford, intern

I first heard about this soap and this brand in Liv Tyler’s skin-care routine video for Vogue (which I strongly suggest watching, if only because her voice alone is pure ASMR). It’s a really soft and gentle soap, it comes in adorable packaging, and the CEO even sent me a really thoughtful handwritten note with my order. The face cream is also amazing; it gives me such a dewy glow and is really soothing for inflamed skin. I’m obsessed.

Louis Cheslaw, writer

As someone who likes 100 percent cotton jeans that break in naturally, I’ve been wary of buying new pairs from Levi’s in recent years, as the brand has increasingly moved toward cotton-elastic blends that just don’t age as well. Thankfully, Sid Mashburn keeps an eye out for the few pairs of full-cotton jeans that Levi’s still makes and sells them at a very reasonable price point. My new Mashburn-approved 501s arrived a few weeks ago, and they’re beautiful, textured, and getting softer every day.

On Black Friday, I picked up this backpack after a discerning cyclist told me it lasts forever, is fully waterproof, and has tons of storage space (including a clever helmet pocket) without ever feeling bulky or restrictive while riding. If you’re on the fence, check out the reviews of this thing — it’s like a cult. I can’t wait to start throwing it around.

Rio Viera-Newton, writer

I did a lot of gift shopping this month, but at the risk of one of my friends or family checking the Strategist, I’m going to share just the two things I picked up for myself. My sister’s brand, HVN, just launched a ton of absolutely adorable, sparkly, vibrant Christmas-tree ornaments: I snagged the basket of strawberries and the purple dolphin for myself. I stare at them dangling on my tree all day and, frankly, I’m tempted to buy the peach and the jellyfish.

All of Shop Zuck’s jewelry is incredible, but I can’t stop wearing these little cowboy-boot and hat earrings. I swear, they can transform even the dullest outfit into something lively and fun — especially when paired with a colored liner. These are an incredible gift for any eccentric earring enthusiast in your life and great way to zhuzh up your look for Zoom calls!

Nikita Richardson, writer

I went a bit wild in November and made major investments in my personal coziness. After much stalking, I finally bit the bullet on the Snowe bathrobe, which will get a lot of use on hours-long wash days and whenever I just don’t feel like putting on real clothes.

And for the first time in my 30 years on this earth (or at least since I was a toddler), I am now the owner of a real-deal set of pj’s. Bad news for my collection of giant T-shirts but good news for my personal comfort. These pj’s, which I’m wearing as I type this, are not only soft but delightfully weighty. They’re like putting on a wearable weighted blanket. True comfort at its finest. I’ll think of the Strategist every time I wear these (so every single night except on laundry days), and I’ll see you all later!

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 November