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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in October

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 October.

Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor

On Prime Day, I could not resist getting this sweatshirt that Liza Corsillo wrote an ode to a few months ago. As she noted, it really does have the feel of a “boyfriend sweatshirt” and is extremely comfortable. Also as she noted, it was a bit long, so I lopped off a chunk of its bottom and it is now very nicely cropped.

Also on Prime Day, I got my 2-year-old this guitar. He calls it his “toggy,” totes it around the house from room to room, and enjoys “playing” it to “YMCA,” which he calls “Young Man.”

Anthony Rotunno, senior editor

While our search for the best Baggies-like lounge pants turned up more than a few worthy options, I didn’t want to buy one without doing a lay of the land myself. That lay of the land led me to these from the North Face. Like Baggies, they are made of a technical material that sort of stands out — in a good way — against the linen or cotton or wool of my not-as-sporty button-downs and (now) sweaters. They’re also baggy-ish, but they have elastics you can use to nip in the ankles so they don’t look too sloppy. I like that they come in a handful of solid colors (I got black and navy) with a relatively minimal logo that is far less noticeable in person than in pictures. Best of all, they were just a few bucks more than the shorts I swapped out.


Shortly after learning we might be working remotely until September 2021, I broke the second dining-room chair I had been sitting in to work from home. I took the two developments as a sign that I should invest in a better seat. I went with this kneeling chair from our roundup of expert-approved ergonomic office chairs because it seemed small enough not to take over my open-plan home, and, since I’m trying to take walks and get up more throughout the day, I felt I could abide by the experts’ recommendation to change positions while using it. I’ve really grown to love this chair. My legs took a couple of days to get acclimated, but now I truly never tire of the position it puts me in; in fact, it feels so natural now, I probably sit in it more than I should.

Maxine Builder, deputy editor

I’ve been considering buying a weighted blanket for years, and I finally bought one on Prime Day: the well-reviewed, 20-pound YnM, in a very silly print they call “Terrazzo,” for just under $60, which is the cheapest I have ever seen a weighted blanket. The print is even sillier in person, but I wouldn’t say it’s offensive. And honestly? It could be the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen and I’d still love it because there’s nothing I look forward to more these days than quietly lying on my couch, like a mummy in a sarcophagus, with the weighted blanket draped over my body, neck to toes, and just … not thinking about anything.

I’m a longtime Tatcha fangirl, and the brand’s cleansing oil has been a staple of my skin-care routine for years. But when I finished a 5.1-ounce bottle this month, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $48 on another. So when I saw this 6.7-ounce bottle of DHC cleansing oil on sale at Dermstore on Prime Day, at half the price of a bottle of Tatcha cleansing oil, I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s more viscous and feels oilier on my skin than my beloved Tatcha, but it works in that I haven’t broken out since using it. And given the price, I may buy it again. (But if Tatcha brings back the ten-ounce bottle of cleansing oil, I would buy that in an instant. It just feels like a better deal!)

Louis Cheslaw, writer

Chloe Anello’s interview with the Haim sisters reminded me that I too used to own the guitar tuner they use, but I lost it in a move. It was a welcome reminder to purchase it again, and it hasn’t left the head of my guitar since it arrived. Now, getting in tune to play takes just a few seconds (and the display is so bright!). So long, ProGuitar online tuner, and thanks for the memories.

Reeves Wiedeman has written some of my favorite New York Magazine feature stories ever. From scene reports on celebrity-packed high-school basketball teams and the fall of Tulum, to juicy behind-the-scenes looks at media companies like Condé Nast and Vice, he has a track record of writing about things I didn’t know I was waiting to read. So obviously, I jumped at the chance to pick up his book about WeWork. We all know the founder walked around New York City barefoot and traveled with a personal guru, but I trust Reeves to serve me up all the other bizarro tales I don’t yet know.

Hilary Reid, writer

A new Japanese grocery called TenIchi Mart opened near my apartment, and the first time I went in I had a bit of a spree. Most of what I bought I can’t find online (I would link to the dark-cocoa-and-matcha pirouline wafers if they were!), but these instant miso-soup packets are, and they’re delicious. They take about five seconds to put together: Put the miso paste and dried seaweed in a bowl, pour some boiling water over it, mix, and you’ve got lunch.

I ordered these Hanukkah coasters after putting them in our guide to actually nice-looking Judaica and plan to use them year round. My desk setup is pretty sedate (Wedgwood cup for pens, rock from the beach for … serenity?), so I’m looking forward to having something kind of ridiculous and kitschy in the mix to use for my coffee. I’ll probably use these under a bowl of the miso soup.

Casey Lewis, senior editor

After an unfortunate experience with boxed dye from the drugstore — apparently professional stylists are not exaggerating when they tell you to stay away from the stuff — I’ve been desperately trying to rehab my hair at home. In addition to frequent deep conditioning with Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair, mask (an old favorite that’s also Rio approved), I added the brand’s leave-in conditioner to my routine. It brilliantly revives day-old curls and makes my hair miraculously moisturized and shiny. A lot of leave-ins weigh down my hair, but not this one.

I’m a longtime devotee of Christophe Robin’s Baby Blonde mask, but now that I’m back to my natural light brown, I decided to give this golden-blond mask a go. It’s fantastic! After leaving it on for 30 minutes, my hair looks warm and golden (and, crucially, not orange or copper) and feels deeply hydrated. It’s pricey, but it sure is cheaper than salon highlights.

Peter Martin, senior editor

We bought these for our daughter after she insisted on wearing my leather work gloves to pick up leaves in the backyard, which was cute to watch but not exactly effective. These have a rubber palm for grip and protection when she eventually has the attention span to help in the garden or on home projects. For now, she prefers to wear them so she can clap her hands together, “for football,” before running up and down the hall.

Our kitchen faucet got stuck on the spray setting, causing so much splash back that you couldn’t wash dishes while wearing glasses. I didn’t want to spend $300 (or more) on a name brand, so I did a little online research and found this one. It lacks some features you’d get with higher-end faucets, like a magnet to hold the spray head in place and easy pop-on connections for the water lines, but the weight on the hose is substantial enough to hold the head up, and tightening the water connections by hand added less than a minute to the process. It looks great, but what really impressed me were the instructions, which include pictures, numbered components, and clear language. No matter how much faucet-installing experience you have, you can handle this in under 30 minutes.

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

I’ve long loved Audre Lorde — she’s basically my philosophical North Star and was my first example of a Black lesbian scholar. She created a sort of blueprint for me in navigating the many stages of life as a young Black lesbian, and I’m forever indebted to her work. That translates into my obsessively picking up anything of hers that is (posthumously) released, whether it be the stunning new edition of Sister Outsider, reimagined by artist Alexis Eke, or this book, which offers up an incredible selection of some of Lorde’s most moving writings and poems in one place. It’s also incredibly giftable and will likely be given to a few friends this holiday season.

I’m still in the process of decorating my apartment, and recently I have been dreaming of a chair for this random corner in my bedroom. I ended up buying this Breuer replica on Amazon, and, for the price, it looks incredible and elevates the overall look of the room. It’s larger than I expected, so it just fits into that space, but I like it too much to send it back (and it probably wouldn’t fit through the doorway a second time).

Chloe Anello, writer

I bake a lot with my dad — or rather, he bakes while I sit there, watch, and occasionally photograph for his Instagram account. I impulse-bought two gluten-free-baking cookbooks recommended by Maxine Builder (and, coincidentally, Lauren Conrad) a while back, and Amazon suggested I buy this one, too, so I did. My dad has posted some stuff on his budding Instagram account, so I guess you could say we’re enjoying them so far. It’s nice that I don’t have to go through the headache of converting a recipe to gluten free and face the disappointment of having it fail with gluten-free flour.

My current 5-year-old iPhone had seen better days, so I thought it might finally be time to upgrade. My sister works for Apple, and because she knows a lot more about their products than I do, she convinced me to just go for the 12 instead of the (apparently now passé) 11. It hasn’t arrived yet, so I don’t have a review, but I’m now in the market for an excellent phone case and will give an update next month.

Dominique Pariso, writer

This month’s big purchase was tickets to a drive-through drag show for Halloween (since most traditional means of celebration are off the table this year). Other than that, I have been making weekly trips to Gowanus Wine Merchants, a shop around the corner from my apartment that has a really wonderful, tightly curated selection. The staff is super-knowledgeable but not snooty at all. I mostly stick to the under-$15 bottles and have never been disappointed. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I suggest stopping by and stocking up.

Leah Muncy, junior writer

Photo: Frank Oudeman

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at ceramics, so I took a six-week (socially distanced) beginner class at BKLYN Clay. We learned all the basics — throwing, trimming, and glazing — and I have entirely fallen in love with it. I decided to buy a membership this month, which includes 24/7 studio, wheel, clay, and glaze access, along with a private shelf so I can keep it up. It’s expensive, but at least I can use the membership to make holiday gifts — I’m thinking some (charmingly?) misshapen mugs — for everyone on my list this year.

Homesick claims this candle, which has notes of pear, vanilla, and amber, smells like Northern California. It simply does not. But I still love it! It’s just the right combination of sweet, clean, and woodsy. It doesn’t overpower my small apartment, and the spicy, musky base notes make for an unexpected, non-pumpkin-y fall scent. It’s like the easy-listening of candle scents. It burns evenly, too, and the smell lingers in my apartment for hours, long after I’ve blown it out.

Rio Viera-Newton, writer

As the weather gets colder and colder and I start leaving my house less and less, I’m keen to keep my space as cozy, warm, and nice smelling as possible. So I indulged (one might even say I overindulged) in a lot of candles this month. My favorites have been Boy Smells’ Cedar Stack, a woodsy, peppercorn-y, scent with some light floral notes; Otherland’s Cardamom Milk, a sophisticated, clean take on a milky, vanilla-y fall candle; and Bath & Body Works Tree Farm, a pine, cedar, and spiced-apple scent, which is one of B&BW’s most elegant, in my opinion.

I put off buying this bra for a while, but so many of my friends — many of whom are bra snobs — vouched for its high level of support and extreme comfort. I simply couldn’t resist. It is, in fact, a superspecial, dreamy bra! It’s totally wireless, incredibly supportive, and great for loafing around the house.

Jenna Milliner-Waddel, junior writer

This month I purchased a hodgepodge of treat-yourself purchases, after doing absolutely nothing that deserves a reward, along with a lot of things for my new apartment. I got a floor mirror from Homesense and picked up a very discounted Ikea media console on Craigslist. I also bought a new TV. Before this, I was watching a 7-year-old dumb 32-inch TV. Honestly, the picture quality was fine, and my Fire TV Stick made it smart enough for my needs but the size was embarrassing. Now, with my 4K 50-inch, I feel much more adult, and my TV is actually appropriately sized for my space.

At the final Building Black Bedstuy Marketplace, which ran every Sunday in October, I picked up several of those aforementioned treat-yourself purchases, like this candle. I typically don’t go for sweet scents — like the cashmere and vanilla notes in this candle — but there was something about the “It’s been a DAY!” sentiment that I really liked. It smelled like cuddles, which, when you’re single in a pandemic, are really hard to come by, so I couldn’t pass this up.

Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer

One of the things I miss most about normal life is getting regular manicures. I know salons are open and people are getting their nails done safely, but the idea of sitting up close and face-to-face with someone (even masked) for over an hour (I used to get elaborate nail art that took … a while) still kind of creeps me out. Instagram and Facebook have been serving me ads for the Poppy for months now, and I finally caved in and ordered one. The promise is that once you pop this little rubber handle on the top of your nail-polish brush, you’ll be able to give yourself a “perfect” manicure even with your nondominant hand. Now that I’ve tried it out, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s perfect, but it’s definitely better than the sloppy job I would have done without it. Having more surface area to hold on to makes the brush feel a little easier to control, meaning I keep the polish mostly on my nails.

Along with the Poppy, I ordered Olive & June’s nail-polish-remover pot, and this is what really blew me away. It’s this little tub filled with a spongelike material saturated with nail-polish remover. You stick your finger in, swirl it around for a second and then pull out a totally polish-free nail. I was very skeptical that this would work, but it really does. It’s way quicker and less wasteful than scrubbing my nails with a remover-soaked cotton ball. I’m a little curious about how long it’ll take to dry out, but so far I’ve used it twice and it worked perfectly both times.

Liza Corsillo, writer

My partner, Jacob, is a second-grade teacher who has been working in person again since the beginning of the school year. This means he’s back to his very early morning schedule after a more relaxed one teaching remotely since March. So with daylight savings time coming fast (and seasonal depression likely along for the ride), we decided to invest in a sunrise alarm clock. This one has been written about on the Strategist before and was also recommended to me by writer Chloe Anello, who says it’s definitely worth the money. We haven’t tried it yet, but I’m really looking forward to mornings that start with a glowing light that gets progressively brighter rather than an iPhone alarm set to blaring siren.

Nikita Richardson, writer

This month, I sold my first batch of weavings and used my profits to buy six incredibly soft balls of cotton yarn from Wool and the Gang. I’m a huge fan of the Lily Sugar ’n’ Cream yarn I’ve been using, but I needed some earth tones and that’s where Wool and the Gang delivers. The only problem is it’s so pricey that I’m loath to waste any of it, but I’ll just have to get over that.

I also re-upped on my favorite natural deodorant. When I started using this a few years ago, I thought I’d just use it on my least-sweaty days, but it has completely replaced my normal deodorant. It smells so delicious, and you can apply it as often as you want, which is a plus because, like I said, it smells so good. If you’re making the switch, consider also copping Megababe’s underarm mask to help with the surprisingly itchy transition from nonnatural to natural deodorant.

Lauren Ro, writer

My toddler lived in his Crocs clogs all summer, and I was really sad to give them up when he outgrew them and the weather turned chilly. So when he needed rain boots, I was thrilled to find out that Crocs makes some — ones that are not only adorable, lightweight, and a cinch to put on but also Strategist approved! They really are the cutest things, and Augie loves sloshing through puddles in them. I got a size up so he would have room to grow into them, and he has had zero problems running in them and keeping them on. I already loved Crocs, but after this purchase, I’m a fan for life.


This is tied with the Crocs for my favorite purchase of the month. It’s huge, but I’m obsessed. I first learned about it by talking to home experts about their favorite mirrors, and the Hovet was touted among influencers and retail stores. It’s also a fantastic deal for something so large. I don’t know why it took so long for me to get a proper mirror. We were using another (much narrower) Ikea one that a friend was offloading, and the difference between the two is like night and day. We have it leaning against the wall for now (but plan to mount it eventually), and it really opens up the space and makes our bedroom feel like a fancy boutique. And, of course, it’s great for mirror selfies, too.

Jordan Bowman, writer

I had imagined I would see the Desus & Mero live show sometime in 2020, but I guess their book will have to do. As they say, “The brand is strong.” The book is filled with classic Desus & Mero references and knowledge darts that fly straight to the dome. They have back-and-forth conversations about love, drugs, sports, and the “inevitability of being washed.” They’re witty, sometimes dark — check out Desus’s thoughts on relationships — and most of all hilarious.

I was searching for the perfect cozy shirt. I ended up settling on this orange heavyweight workwear-inspired chamois shirt from J.Crew. It feels soft, has a pop of color, and gets me out of wearing the same sweatshirt day after day.

Kayla Levy, junior writer

This month, my dad turned 61, and for those who remember when he said he couldn’t live without his singing bowl, it should come as no surprise that The Hidden Life of Trees was on his wish list. In it, the German forester Peter Wohlleben details how trees exchange everything from nutrition to social support through their “wood-wide web” (an underground network of roots and soil). After we took a hike through the most beautiful forest and coast on earth, in Point Reyes, I stopped by the local bookstore, Point Reyes Books, and got him a copy.

After waiting in line for a couple of hours to vote, I stopped by the bodega on my way home and grabbed a bag of these ginger chews to snack on. Out of all the ones out there — and I’ve tried a bunch — these are the best balance of sweet and spicy.

Annabelle Williams, weekend writer

When Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy wrapped up earlier this year, it left a Tudor England–shaped hole in my heart. (One particularly dark night of the soul left me searching for a replica of Anne Boleyn’s famous pearl choker on Etsy.) So when I heard that Hilary Mantel’s writing from The London Review of Books spanning 30 years was being compiled and published, I ordered immediately. The book features Mantel’s famous “Royal Bodies” essay and many others. Plus, I can’t resist a punny title.

Somewhere between moving out of my college apartment and back home, I lost my trusty silver hoops: the ones that looked understated enough to wear while hiking (gotta be glam on the trail!) but cute enough to wear out to dinner. I went looking for a replacement and found a pair that was much cheaper than I expected. These little guys haven’t lost their shine, despite being worn in the shower, and they’ve yet to gunk up my sensitive ears. And crucially, for someone with a propensity for losing small objects, these earrings are secured without a back.

Aisha Rickford, editorial intern

I first discovered this shea butter at a natural-foods store in my college town. Even though it’s a little pricey, I like buying it because the company sources the shea butter from Ghana and Nigeria and invests money back into those communities. I love using this on parts of my body that are extra dry, but my favorite way to use it is right after I wash my hair to lock moisture in. It gives my hair the prettiest curl for braid-outs and twist-outs.

The changing weather has caused my skin to break out and be irritated. I read online about zinc pyrithione’s ability to calm inflamed skin and treat eczema as well as prevent rashes and breakouts, so I picked up this cleansing bar. It hasn’t dried out my skin any further, which is good.

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 October