Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers
We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trawling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including a versatile cashmere sweater, a bigger-on-the-inside work tote, and child-friendly headphones for sensitive ears.
More than 42,000 Amazon reviewers gave this MidWest dog bed five stars, writing that it’s “super soft” but still “easy to clean” and “chewproof.” One reviewer with a four-month-old puppy reports that the bed “survived her death-grip teeth with no damage,” adding that “it looks like a high-end pillow. Yeah, I was half tempted to rest my own head on it.” Sometimes dogs can be finicky about a new bed, but it seems like pups take an immediate shine to this one; another reviewer found their niece’s dogs “chilling on their new beds with the cage doors open, and it wasn’t even bedtime! Now that they finally have their own comfy place, maybe they will stay off of the furniture.”
When we polled a panel of cool people about the best cashmere sweaters, this Uniqlo one came highly recommended. Karen Phelps, creative director of AGOLDE and Goldsign, says their sweaters are a “great value.” She prefers their men’s version, which is more relaxed and oversize, but Mandy Madden Kelley, creative director and founder of Pagerie, is a fan of the more fitted women’s version, which she calls “classic.” It all comes down to personal preference, but regardless of which you pick, Phelps says Uniqlo’s offerings are “a perfect staple that can be dressed up or down.”
As kids have “smaller ears and shorter ear canals,” according to the pediatric ear experts we spoke to, they need specially designed headphones to ensure that they’re listening to audio at safe and appropriate noise levels. This inexpensive LilGadgets pair is foldable and has two ports for connecting multiple headphones. It does have a max volume that’s set slightly above the recommended 85 decibels, so don’t forget to monitor your kids closely to make sure they aren’t blasting music. Strategist senior editor Peter Martin bought a pair for his 3-year-old before a trip this past summer and says they looked “adorable on her — she looked like a little teenager in training.”
Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo discovered the wonders of magnetic tape while making decorations for her fiancé Jacob’s fourth-grade classroom. It looks “just like scotch tape, but instead of simply being sticky, it’s made out of paper thin magnetic material with adhesive on the back,” she writes. She likes to press a few “centimeters of the tape to the back of photos or cards and plonk it onto the fridge for a neater, floating effect.” Now that she’s fallen in love with the tape, she’s in the process of “plotting all the things I would turn into magnets at home: love notes, abstract shapes cut out of construction paper to give our fridge more personality, pompoms, laminated photos of our dog, and of course magnetized versions of our favorite recipes cut from magazine pages or jotted down on index cards.”
We asked celebrity tailor Rich Fresh about what he can’t live without, and he mentioned this fluoride-free Dr. Bronner’s cinnamon toothpaste. He’d tried “Dr. Bronner’s soap before, so I know the ingredients are solid and figured I’d try the toothpaste.” Even though he hates “cinnamon-flavored anything,” he makes an exception for this toothpaste: “It’s my favorite. It makes your teeth feel real clean. And shiny, too.”
In our sweep of the best hand balms on Amazon, reviewers attest that this Burt’s Bees hand balm did the trick when every other product failed. “Perfect for my severely chapped hands,” writes one reviewer whose hands were “dry, sometimes cracked, and bleeding” from frequent handwashing. “I tried regular and intensive hand creams, but they weren’t fixing it. I got this stuff, and I love it. Within two days, my chapped hands were healed.” With winter weather rapidly approaching, another reviewer advises not to bother with “liquid moisturizer for dry hands because it’ll soak it but doesn’t help heal the cracks.” Instead, they suggest using this balm, which “leaves a bit of oil on your skin for a few minutes, but it quickly dries smooth and does not leave a waxy buildup on your hands.”
Nail polish brand Olive & June has expanded their offerings to include fake nail sets. Its collection of press-ons come in 21 different sizes, so you’re virtually guaranteed to find an option that fits you. There are also tons of colors and designs to choose from. Some styles, like the classic French, are part of the permanent collection, while others, like this navy double French style, are limited edition and liable to sell out soon, so if you want to add a bit of chic to your nails, don’t dilly dally.
In our guide to the best wine subscription boxes, Winc came up as one of the best — and most affordable — options at $39 a month for three bottles. Susan Kostrzewa, former editor-in-chief of Wine Enthusiast magazine, says Winc’s unique wines “range from classic blends to obscure, single-vineyard fringe projects.” New members take a short quiz that asks questions like how you take your coffee and whether you prefer salty, citrusy, or earthy flavors, so your monthly subscription is tailored to your personal palate. You can also rate the wines you receive, so your subscription will learn more about how your taste runs over time.
We’ve written about this sturdy, dependable Madewell Transport tote before — Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen uses it to hold “a laptop, water bottle, and all the toys my kids swear they want to play with that I get stuck carrying home.” If you’re in the market for a new work bag, we just spotted it marked down at Verishop for their Singles’ Day sale, which is running from now through November 13. The black colorway is 30 percent off, bringing it down to $118, and the saddle color is slightly more expensive at $132. The neutral, go-with-everything shades are perfect if you’re planning a return to the office in the new year.
No less than six olive oil experts recommended this California Olive Ranch olive oil for its affordability, versatility, and variety of flavors. Food writer Kimberly Lord Stewart is a frequent user of California Olive Ranch, noting the producers manage to maintain the quality of the oil while keeping the price very reasonable. Anna Hezel, senior editor at Taste, calls it a “dependable, mild olive oil to add richness to a tomato sauce or to fry some eggs in,” while Matt Hyland, chef at Pizza Loves Emily in New York, thinks it works just as well in a vinaigrette as it does drizzled atop of a fresh pie straight out the oven.
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.