stuff we buy ourselves

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in October

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: 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.

Lucy Carr, editorial intern

I spent the past year working from home, alternating between two slightly ragged pairs of tracksuit bottoms. So, when my housemate proposed that we make the most of Hollister’s “buy one get one 50 percent off” deal, I thought I would take the opportunity to update my leisurewear. I hadn’t shopped at Hollister since I was a teenager, so I followed my housemate’s guidance on what style to go for and opted for these dad joggers in black. I usually go for tracksuits with a drawstring around the waist so I can easily adjust the sizing, but I found that with these there was no need as the waistband is super stretchy. They’re more form-fitting than I expected, but still baggy enough that they don’t feel tight. I would say that if you’re a little bit taller you might want to size up for the length (likewise if you’re shorter, you might want to size down). But overall, they’re so unbelievably comfortable that I regret not buying two pairs just for myself.

Chris Mandle, writer

I bought this gooseneck kettle to improve my pour-over coffee brewing, which I’ve been experimenting with as an alternative to my usual cafetiere or Aeropress methods. The main difference with pour-over coffee is the intensity; with a cafetière, the grounds are steeped in boiling water, but with pour-over methods, the water passes quickly through the grounds and into the cup. The result is a smoother taste; many experts describe it as less “bite-y” than steeped methods, which is particularly desirable if you’re on your third cup of the day. But with any drip methods, you need to “bloom” the coffee grounds first, to extract as much flavour from them, as they’re in contact with the water for less time. This involves adding just enough water to cover the grounds, leaving it for 30 seconds, then filling it up fully. Most electric kettles, with their broad, stubby spouts, aren’t able to control their water flow very delicately for the blooming stage, which can result in overly bitter or burnt coffee. While speaking to coffee roasters, brewers, and baristas for our guide to the best gifts for coffee lovers, this Hario gooseneck kettle came up several times, so this month I added one to my cart (despite my cupboards now groaning with all manner of at-home brewing devices). It’s a cheaper alternative to popular plug-in gooseneck kettles, like the Stagg, and you can either fill it with just-boiled water, or boil water in it on the hob yourself (it’s induction safe). Even better, it serves a dual function — I was also looking for a watering can with a narrow nozzle for some of my smaller house plants, and found this kettle does an excellent job.

Most people would find it hard to get excited about optimising their cutlery space, but not me. I’ve had an eye on a few of Joseph Joseph’s kitchen tools for some time — and this month I finally ended up buying their cutlery holder when I noticed it was 63 percent off. This is the same one contributor Javaria Akbar wrote about for us last year — rather than having all your cutlery laid out across the drawer, this device stores them on a slight angle, meaning you can fit more in. I am honestly shocked at how little drawer space my 16-piece cutlery set takes up, and how much space I’ve been wasting all this time. They do a slightly larger one, too, if you have even more cutlery rattling around your drawers than I do.

I have always been particular when it comes to trainers, favouring a white, minimalist, athletic-ish shoe. But something changed in 2021, and I became drawn to more chunky, textured, and comfy silhouettes, and after months of weighing my options, this month I finally bought a pair of New Balance 990v5s. The 990v5s have that whiff of Seinfeld-y normcore — something I might wear gardening, yes, but also also something I could wear while waiting in the line at the densely packed Sup Ya ramen in Dalston on a chilly evening. Even after trying them on in Foot Patrol on Berwick Street (insta-review: comfier than a pair of North Face thermoball slippers), I had to spend a minute thinking it over — I’d never spent this much on a pair of trainers before. But after admiring the suede and leather detailing, as well as the sheer comfort (plus the realisation I hadn’t bought a pair of trainers for about five years), I was sold. They’re a lot more casual than the white trainers I might wear out to dinner, but easier to keep clean, so I won’t be jeté-ing like a ballet dancer over puddles and leaf piles this autumn.

Rachael Griffiths, writer

I’ve been on the hunt for an Afghan-style jacket since last Autumn, combing through charity shops, vintage markets and price-hiked reseller apps — to no avail. I was genuinely surprised, then, when I happened across this option. Out of sizes XXS – XL, I ordered the jacket in a size small. When it arrived, I was thrilled by how furry the trim was, I even stroked it in adoration for a few minutes before actually trying it on. It’s fitted but not too snug, and the pockets (whilst too small to fit a phone) are the perfect size for lip glosses and various bits-and-bobs. I first tested the jacket out on a trip to Alton Towers, and it kept me toasty in the long queues, and even as I was battered by wind on The Wickerman. My only warning is to remove the jacket before you eat — some of the fur can tend to shed.

While reading through our gift guide for writers (according to writers), it occurred to me that through the busy months of starting a new job and preparing to move, I hadn’t journaled in some time. I decided that a new notebook might entice me back into the habit. I opted for one recommended to us by three writers — including poet Scarlett Sabat — in my favourite colour, green. I’m pleased to report that the lovely notebook has done the trick, and my nonsensical memoirs are firmly back on track.

Rosie Percy, senior audience-development manager

On one soggy day during winter 2019, when we still went to the office, I slipped on a wet floor in our co-working space, irreparably ripping my favourite pair of vintage leather trousers. The embarrassment was temporary, but the loss of those trousers still stings, and I’ve been searching for a replacement ever since. I wanted something high-waisted, with straight legs (but not tight), and that wouldn’t cost me the earth should I manage to fall over again. My never-ending search paid off with these Zara trousers. The jogger-style waistband has a flatteringly high fit and doesn’t cut in, while the straight leg hits the ankle at just the right point. They’re also as soft as the original pair I’d ruined — only they’re not real leather. You wouldn’t know these are faux from wearing them, as there’s no telltale crinkle or squeak, and they’re so smooth I have to stop myself stroking them.

TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug Wi-Fi Outlet
From £37
From £37

I prefer ambient lighting, so I have multiple lamps dotted around my home to create a cosy glow. However, that meant taking a walking tour of my flat every time I wanted to switch a light on or off, so I looked into smart pugs that would let me adjust the lighting without having to move. These TP-Link Tapo plugs were the top recommendation on Amazon. They’re compatible with smart speakers such as Google Nest and the Amazon Echo, have over 3,500 five-star reviews, and a four-pack costs just a little more than one single Phillips Hue plug. The plugs are really easy to set up, too — you just attach them to your lamp (or other device), and activate them via Tapo’s own app. You can then link them to your smart device — I have Google Nest, so I linked Tapo with the Google Home app, and grouped the lamps into rooms. Now I can ask Google to turn the bedroom or living-room lights on, and call from the front door on my way out to switch everything off without having to do a lap of the flat.

Ailbhe Malone, senior editor

After meeting my book club for lunch last weekend, I dropped into the Space NK while walking back to the tube. I had spied a Paula’s Choice sign in the window, and remembered that Dupe Shop Beauty had posted about a Paula’s Choice cream that was a near-perfect dupe for Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream. I pored over the Paula’s Choice selection, but couldn’t spot the exact item (I tried to google it, but found myself in a 3G black spot). All of which is to say, while I was telling the sales assistant that I was trying to find a dupe for this Charlotte Tilbury cream, she mentioned that Space NK had 20 percent off all items that day — including Charlotte Tilbury. It seemed too good a discount to pass up — not least because ever since my Mum got the Magic Cream for Christmas last year, I have been stealthily pinching daubs of it every time I visit, my face gleaming as I leave the bathroom. I got the small pot (at a tenner off) and it’s a dream — fast-drying, non-pilling, and glow-giving.

By the way, if you’re interested in the dupe, it’s the Skin Recovery moisturiser, and it’s only available directly from the Paula’s Choice website.

WilderBee Hot Honey
£7
£7

I had a slight Nathan Barley moment earlier this month, and bought a waitlisted hot honey. I’ve been eking out my previous bottle for a solid four years (it is sublime on pepperoni pizza, but also delightful on honeydew melon as a starter). It’s a tingly kind of heat — not smokey or sharp. If you’ve eaten at Chuku’s, it’s a little like their honey suya sauce (without the smokiness of the suya). To be frank, I don’t know why I didn’t order more than one bottle.

The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors 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