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Thanks to my job, I get to see, try, and test an unbelievable amount of stuff. Thanks to my underdeveloped self-soothing coping skills, I tend to stress shop. That combination means I evaluate products on a shockingly frequent basis and am always looking for something new and noteworthy.
While I’m working on becoming a more minimalist version of myself who solely chases dopamine hits through healthy outlets like exercise, in the meantime, I figured it’s worth sharing the best things I discovered in 2021. For me, these items are 100% free of buyer’s remorse, are versatile, and have an excellent price per wear. Most importantly, they have sparked serious joy for me, and I have a hunch they might for you as well. Consider them all 11/10 pieces, and yes, I’m aware that the categories are all over the place. The astrology for December is chaotic, and that’s manifesting here!
Best Peel for Questionable Feet: Barefoot Scientist Reboot Revitalizing Foot Peel
My family spent the majority of January 2021 in La Jolla at my parents’ house, and while there, I went on 4.5-mile walks with my dad most mornings. While the exercise and father-daughter bonding was great, the blisters-turned-gross-calluses on my feet that resulted from that time were not. So I decided to do a peel. I started with the “famous” one—IYKYK; if you don’t, DM me, and I will tell you—and it didn’t work for me at all, despite my meticulous direction following. Someone on IG recommended Barefoot Scientist’s version, and when I tell you it changed my life, I am not joking. I went from having truly unappealing feet to basically being a foot model. It only took one painless soak in the Barefoot Scientist booties and then approximately 13 additional days for all of the dead skin to fall off. Truly a remarkable product.
Best Probiotics for My Thrashed GI Tract: Seed Probiotics
Warning: This story involves labor and bodily functions. If you’re still reading, welcome, you gross weirdo! Just kidding. So here’s the story: I was in labor with my daughter for a long time, and by the time she arrived, I was running an almost 103 fever due to a bacterial infection I’d picked up during the process.
Understandably, I was given some pretty high-test antibiotics to get rid of said bug, and then about six months later, the barfing started. For the first 1.5 years of my daughter’s life, I would get violent food poisoning every six months, like clockwork, but I was always the only one in the house to suffer from it. I casually mentioned this to a friend—assuming this was normal, which it’s not—and she rightfully told me to call a gastroenterologist.
After I relayed my story, the doc confirmed that the culprit was most likely the lifesaving antibiotics I got in the hospital and said that my gut would benefit from being repopulated with some probiotics as a start. I signed up for a Seed subscription almost immediately after that and have been taking them nightly ever since. They are expensive, for sure, but the “food poisoning” episodes have stopped, and that is priceless.(If you want to try Seed, the lovely team has given me a limited-time code for y’all for 20% off for your first month. Just use HILLARY20 at checkout.)
Best Striped Shirt for When I Want to Look Presentable But Not Boring on Zoom: Même Chose The Striped Springs Shirt
In theory, I am team button-down, but in practice… meh? While I love the way a menswear-inspired shirt looks, honestly most of them are either too preppy or too boxy for my taste, and I have a hard time buying one if the fabric isn’t flawless. Enter the newish DTC brand Même Chose. Founded by two fashion insiders in 2019, the line offers a range (sizing goes from 0 to 20) of really beautiful shirts that are clearly designed for the way women style their shirts but with an elevated elegance that you sadly normally only find in excellent men’s shirting. I love this striped one and think you will too.
Best Relatively Affordable Organic Kids’ Pajamas With Chill Prints: Owlivia
I love cute jammies for my kids as much as the next Instagram mom, but so many of them are crazy expensive and don’t feel high quality. Happily, I discovered the brand Owlivia this year, and I’m so pleased. The pajamas are made out of 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, are pleasantly thick and cozy, and have cute, underrated prints. My daughter loves her Cheetah set and our son likes the Blue Star print.
Best Shower Cap in Form and Function: Shhhowercap
At some point this year, I realized that I needed an actual proper shower cap, not the elasticized Saran Wrap iteration I was using, which honestly I’d stolen from a hotel during “the before times.” I had no idea what was new/cool/good in this sector, so I asked for recommendations on IG, and wow, folks came through. A large swath of people swore by Shhhowercap, and honestly, I love it. Is $43 a lot for a shower cap? Absolutely, but it doesn’t get moldy or stinky, it TRULY keeps my hair dry, and the prints and style are—dare I say it?—chic. That said, it says one size fits all hair types and head sizes, and that may be the case, but on my large noggin, it fits, but snugly.
Best Modern Heirloom Jewelry: Kinn
The amazing editorial team at WhoWhatWear.com turned me on to this brand, and I’m just so impressed. The line is created with recycled gold and conflict-free, fair-trade gemstones, and the pieces themselves are elegant, thoughtful, and timeless. I love the Baroque Pearl Drop Earrings—which are exceedingly well priced at $240 for what they are—but the whole collection is full of delights.
Best Skirt That’s Super Versatile and Always Makes Me Look Chicer Than I Am: Anine Bing Bar Silk-Satin Midi Skirt
There are a handful of brands I’m extremely loyal to, and Anine Bing is one of them. I live in her vintage-inspired T-shirts, swoon for her blazers, and have yet to not like a single boot style she’s designed. But while I own a lot of her stuff, the piece I wear the most is her black, below-the-knee, silk-satin skirt. The fit is flawless, which is saying a LOT given that it’s cut on the bias and has an elastic waist (two things that are tricky, IMHO). It’s easy to wear with a T-shirt and checkered Vans for a casual day or with heels and a cashmere sweater for an elegant, easy look. Bing also often designs updates/iterations of this classic piece, so keep your eyes peeled for those, too.
Best Investment-Worthy Luxury Bag: Valentino Roman Stud Quilted Leather Bag
Bags right now are tricky. They’re either a whisper (so understated you nearly fall asleep looking at them) or so SHOUTY YOU WISH THEY HAD AN OFF BUTTON. For me, this Valentino bag is perfect because it’s extremely luxurious and still has a personality. Is it crazy expensive? Absolutely. Worth every penny when you think through the longevity and price per wear of it all? Also yes. You can wear it lots of different ways: as a crossbody, a shoulder bag, a top handle, or even a clutch. The size is actually quite lovely and functional. And what can I say? I’m a sucker for a pyramid embellishment when it’s done well, and this one is perfect. I have worn this almost every day this year and have no bag fatigue at all. I look forward to passing this one down to my daughter in 50 years. (Why, yes, I plan on wearing this bag well into my naughty 90s. So what?)
Best Sophisticated Anti-Acne Serum That Won’t Thrash Your Skin: Facile Clear Acne Serum
Getting pimples in your 40s (!!!) just feels like a cruel joke, and sadly, it’s one that happens to me still from time to time. The acne products I relied on when I was younger feel way too hard these days, which is why I was delighted to discover this serum from beloved L.A. dermatologist Nancy Samolitis. If you’re having overall breakouts, you can use it as a post-cleansing layer. I just use it as a spot treatment, and it really does the trick.