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 February.
Ailbhe Malone, senior editor
I’m not super into Valentine’s Day — but I picked up this vinyl as a surprise for my husband. I walked down the aisle to “Bless the Telephone,” by Labi Siffre, and this Guardian profile prompted me to see if I could find a Labi Siffre record in time for Valentine’s Day. I bought it at HMV, of all places.
If I were to ever be interviewed for our Can’t Live Without column, this sesame-and-salt rice seasoning would feature. I first tried it in Japan four years ago and brought a hefty amount back in my luggage. Since then, I buy it in bulk when I run out. I normally pick up my stash at the Korean supermarket by Warren Street tube station, but since I’ve not been in that part of town in a while, I ordered this batch online from the Japan Centre. There are plenty of different brands — I have no strong preference for any one in particular — but I like Marumiya’s blue packaging , and the fact that the packages are slim, and easy to store in my cupboard.
Rachael Griffiths, writer
A pair of Maison Margiela Tabi Boots have been on my wish list for years and years, but they’ve never been something I’d seriously consider springing for (they cost almost £800). That was, until a few weeks ago, when I window-shopped the annual Ssense sale and noticed they’d been slashed to the cheapest price I’d ever seen them. After umming and aahing for several days, I found myself back on Ssense after failing my driving test, and — in a Carrie Bradshaw–esque attempt to deal with my problems — I ordered a pair. I’d read conflicting things about sizing up and down to accommodate for the tabi-wedge between your toes, so I just played it safe and ordered an IT 37, which is my usual UK size 4. Suffering from buyer’s remorse before their delivery, when the boots arrived, I tentatively unfolded the tissue paper … and all thoughts of returning them dissipated. Instantly. They were simply divine. After slipping them on, I was relieved to find that I’d made the right size choice: The brown supple leather moulded to my feet perfectly. As the boots’ soles are so delicate, I decided to take them to a cobbler to have an additional rubber sole fitted to preserve them as best as possible. Whilst I (literally) never spend this type of money on things, I’m happy that I treated myself, and I know I’ll be wearing my little Tabi hooves for years to come.
This may sound like a stark contradiction from my previous entry but: Be smart with your money. There’s no need to spend £100 on a singular pair of Tabi socks. Instead, this six-pack from Amazon does the job nicely, and will give you change from a tenner. I guess it’s my way of going all fur-coat-with-no-knickers, but who needs to know?
Rosie Percy, senior audience-development manager
After two years of postponing due to COVID, my younger sister is finally getting married next month. It was up to me to plan her hen do: a chilled weekend away. My main aim — other than ensuring that the wine fridge never ran dry — was making sure that everyone in the group had fun without it being too forced, as can sometimes be the case when bringing different friendship groups together. What the Cluck fit that brief: It was funny, non-offensive enough to play with family members, and focussed the attention on the bride-to-be by asking the hens to answer questions all about her. I initially bought it as a bit of a filler task for the afternoon, but we ended up playing it multiple times as it encouraged us all to swap stories and learn new things about my sister, and get to know each other better too. With more of my friends getting married in the near future, this will be a staple in my hen-party arsenal.
I love Les Girls Les Boys, but their pieces are often out of my budget. So when their sale landed, I spent hours scrolling and saving everything I liked, including this ’70s-inspired swimsuit. As I’ve been promising friends to get more into sea swimming since moving to the coast, and the suit was reduced to £33 from £110, I reasoned that it was a necessary purchase.
It turns out my instinct was right — the suit is everything I wanted. I’m usually a size 10, and the Les Girls Les Boys medium fit me just right without cutting in as other bikinis have done before. The low scoop back is flattering, and the high-cut leg makes me feel like Lily James’s stunt double in Pam and Tommy. Even better, the material is thick enough to not go see-through or show too much after being in the water, which I’ve unfortunately experienced and noticed too late. Now I’ve got the suit, I’ve just got to summon the courage to take a dip. [Editor’s note: This product is now out of stock, but there are plenty of full-price swimsuits still available.]
Lucy Carr, intern
In preparation for my holiday to Swedish Lapland a few weeks ago, I drew up a list of clothing essentials I would need for a week of snow-based activities. I already had a trusty range of warm gear in the back of my closet from when I lived in Canada a few years ago, but I was lacking a good pair of waterproof trousers — I knew I’d be doing a lot of walking, so I wanted a pair of bottoms that offered protection against the snow but were thinner and easier to move around in than my salopettes. I found this pair in Mountain Warehouse. I ended up wearing these trousers almost every day of my trip over a pair of gym leggings. They’re super-lightweight and breathable, with long zips and buttons going down the seam of each leg, making them easy to put on (or take off) over hiking boots. They also have an elasticated waistband with a toggle at the front which you can use to make them tighter at the top if needed. They’re a great in-between trouser if you want protection from wet weather but don’t want an outer layer that’s too heavy or warm while you’re hiking.
My go-to birthday gift is a cookbook kit from the Spicery, and I picked one up for a friend this month. The kit contains a cookbook with over 80 recipes, all of which use a combination of four spice blends you receive in a little box. What I love about the Spicery is that the recipes are simple to follow and only require you to buy a handful of fresh ingredients; which is great if you’re cooking on a budget or want to rustle up a fuss-free dinner. They have other curry boxes, mezze and taco options, as well as a range of subscription services to choose from, so there’s a gift option for someone whatever their tastes.
Chris Mandle, writer
Buying trousers online is a high-risk, high-reward game, but it can be worth it. I have been coveting a pair of olive trousers in a relaxed fit for a while — I wanted some that were comfy but not baggy, and I was particular about the shade (not khaki, not seaweed, not jade). The ones I settled on are from Blacksmith — the online shop where I buy my Pro Club T-shirts from. Though they are known for stocking other brands (including Artex hats, Kleman shoes, and the if-you-know-you-know Camber USA hoodies), they’ve begun making their own in-house pieces, too, and I’m happy to report the trousers are exactly what I was looking for. Compared to my Dickies, which are a straight fit, these are more relaxed in the leg, but pretty neat on the waist. The hip pockets are deep, and the carpenter-style pockets further down the right leg are ideal for stashing everything from train tickets to my hand sanitiser. And the colour goes great with all the black, grey, and white I wear, but also looks nice with blue and navy (which composes 90 percent of my wardrobe anyway).
Because of the way my bedroom is laid out, the wardrobes are furthest from the window, so the inside can be pretty dark. This wasn’t a problem when I lived alone, as I kept my coats on the farthest side and everything else nearer to the window. But since my boyfriend moved in last month (and I kindly gave over half the wardrobe to him) he noticed it was almost impossible to root around his clothes first thing in the morning without turning the big light on (and waking up a legendarily light sleeper such as myself). Since I love a challenge, I started looking at lighting options for the inside of the wardrobe last month – complicating matters is the fact there’s no nearby plug socket, so I was looking for wireless options that didn’t look tacky. Almost eerily, I started seeing videos for motion-sensor lights on TikTok — a lot of people use them under bathroom cabinets or on staircases so they can get up in the night without swatting around looking for the right switch. I’d seen a few inexpensive options, but I was put off by the glaring, polar-white brightness — I want our clothes to look nice, not bathed in a hue you normally see at the dentists’ office. After weeks of comparing models, I landed on this light by Yeelight because it forgoes harsh lighting for a softer, butter-hued glow. It stays in place via adhesive magnets you attach to your desired surface, and charges via USB cable (reviewers online claim a single charge lasts three-to-four months). The sensor light is pretty responsive — I do have a slight lip on my wardrobe, as they’re built-in, so you do have to stand right in front of your clothes for the light to kick in, but I figured we’d be doing that anyway. I was so impressed by it, that I bought one for my side, too.
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