stuff we buy ourselves

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in August

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 August.

Chris Mandle, writer

I’ve been buying Hard Lines coffee sporadically over the last two years. Their coffee is outstanding, and their delightfully weird merch has found its way into my wardrobe, too (they are designed by artist Cali Lane, whose own work is colourful and surrealist). Recently, I’ve fallen into the habit of getting my coffee from the big Sainsburys near my flat, which usually sells brands like Union and Modern Standard, but on the last few trips I’ve noticed the independent brands being nudged out the way to give more room to brands like Pret and Leon, who are both pivoting to selling coffee beans directly in supermarkets. I tried a bag of each, out of curiosity, and let’s just say it wasn’t long before I went to Hard Line’s website to get some coffee I might actually look forward to brewing in the morning. There, I noticed they’d launched a coffee subscription service for as little as £10 a month, and I signed up immediately. My first delivery featured their Columbian roast and their limited edition Nicaraguan summer coffee — I opted for two bags a month at £18, but they’re offering 25 percent off your first month with the code SAVE25.

We are going to Cornwall for our summer holidays next month, which means swimming in the ocean and relaxing in the hot tub of a well-placed friend who lives near our rental. During a cursory glance through my wardrobe this month I discovered that my Orlebar Brown shorts — which I’d been gifted at a fashion party back when I got invited to such things — no longer fit. They have been a stalwart of many a holiday and they really are the best swim shorts, but they also cost upwards of £145, and that seems like silly money for something I will largely be showing off while submerged in water. My other options were jazzy and lurid (purple hibiscus-print swimmers? What was I thinking?!) so a replacement pair was in order. I picked up a pair of inexpensive, inoffensive adidas ones from End. Paired with a loose shirt and some trainers, I think I could just as easily wear these to a late lunch at the Rum and Crab Shack as I could to a day at the beach.

CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser

This is my go-to cleanser, which I’ve been using for about nine months (previously, I’d been using Cerave’s foaming cleanser — which is one of the best-selling products on the Strategist). I don’t know much about whether my skin is sensitive or oily or dry, but after noticing a build up of blackheads, I reached out to Strategist contributor Daniela Morosini, to see if she could troubleshoot. She thought I needed something that could strip away excess oil, and recommended Cerave’s smoothing cleanser — it features salicylic acid and encourages gentle exfoliation, so is great for reducing superficial blemishes and redness. Like my favourite gel moisturiser, it’s usually on sale — I got it for 30 percent off this month.

Rosie Percy, senior audience-development manager

When I started working at the Strategist UK almost two years ago, my lovely colleagues in the States sent me a welcome package containing homemade cookies and stationery to get me set up, including a weekly planner. The original planner was a huge help while I settled into a new role, and later adapted to working from home, and lasted an impressively long time, only running out of pages this month. I couldn’t find the exact same pad that my colleagues gifted to me, but this Sweetzer & Orange planner comes incredibly close, in even better colours. The daily windows help me plan the most important, time-sensitive tasks, while the bulleted to-do list reminds me of other items that I need to get to at some point, to then satisfyingly tick them off. It’s made day-to-day work life less overwhelming and more manageable, especially during the stress of the pandemic that turned my mind to mush on some days.

On a trip to Stockholm in 2017 I spotted a pair of high-waisted Wrangler flares in a shop window that I loved, but didn’t buy. Naturally I spent the next few years yearning for them, but unable to ever find them again. So when I spotted these jeans by & Other Stories while searching for a birthday outfit, I did a double-take. They’re doppelgängers for the Wrangler flares I missed out on — they had the same dark denim with yellow stitching, similar large front pockets, and wide legs. I didn’t hesitate buying them this time.

Although the & Other Stories site claims that their 36 is a UK 10, I have a sizable bum to accommodate, and found the 38 fit me perfectly. The jeans are everything I wanted from the Wranglers that got away — a high waist without any gapping around the back, the ’70s-style large front pockets, and wide flare all the way down, not just from the knee. These jeans are also slightly cropped which is even better for me, a 5’1” person who’s never successfully bought jeans without turning them up.

I’m cheating a little bit here because this was a birthday present rather than something I bought myself, but it had been on my wishlist for a long time. I’d first spotted this book in a store within the design-y Wynwood district of Miami back in 2019. Like many others, I haven’t travelled internationally since then, and have no plans to in the near future. For me, this book offers a taste of the escapism that a staycation to the New Forest just can’t do. I feel warmer just flicking through the beautifully shot photos, and it almost gives me something to look forward to, and hope that I’ll be able to experience travel safely again soon. It’s a promise of a brighter, more normal future, which I know is a lot to have riding on a photography book. It also just happens to look really nice on my coffee table, too.

Ailbhe Malone, senior editor

I’m trying not to buy any more books until I get through my to-be-read pile, but I was eager to pre-order Shon Faye’s book. I adore Shon’s writing, and pre-orders are a really valuable way to show bookshops that a book is of interest (and also count toward the book’s first week of sales).

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

When I was adding Shon’s book to my cart, Waterstones suggested The Appeal by Janice Hallet. I gobble up detective books as if they’re a bowl of cereal, so added this too. I read it in a day. The premise will either enchant or frustrate you — the novel takes place entirely over email and WhatsApp. If you can get past this (I did, quickly), then it’s a blast — it’s so well-constructed that I actually went back to figure out the clues after I’d read it.

At the start of the summer, I picked up a pair of cat-eye sunglasses from ASOS. I wore them solidly for two months, until one day, I fished them out of my handbag and noticed that the screw on the hinge had fallen out. I tried to replace the screw with a glasses-fixing kit I found in the kitchen drawer, but unfortunately, none of the screws in the kit were the right size.

Undeterred, I scrolled sunglasses screws on Amazon. But as I hunted, I realised that a multipack of sunglasses screws (around £10 for 200) was more expensive than just buying a pair of cheap cat-eye sunglasses (which I planned to remove the screw from to repair my ASOS pair). Anway, I added these guys to my basket, and when they arrived, I realised I preferred them to my ASOS pair. They’re just the right size for my face (the ASOS ones tended to slip down my nose), and despite being exceedingly cheap, are UV-protected. They even came with a free case, which I’ll endeavour to actually use this time.

I’ve been the designated driver quite a lot this summer, and have consequently tested many non-alcoholic beers. I thought I had my preferences locked (Aldi’s St Etienne 0 percent lager, or a bottle of minerally Vichy Catalan water) until I tried Lucky Saint at a beach barbecue in August (hosted by my Strategist colleague Rosie, in fact). Lucky Saint isn’t totally alcohol free (it’s 0.5 percent ABV) so if you don’t drink alcohol for religious reasons (or any other reason) then it might not be one for you. But if you’re driving, then it’s ideal: a crisp lager that doesn’t have the metallic tang of many non-alcoholic beers. I like it so much that I now keep a stash in the fridge, for when I’d like an adult drink on a weeknight, without the alcohol.

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 August