The best things I’ve bought during quarantine so far
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With non-essential brick-and-mortar stores shut down for months on end, many of us have taken stock of our retail habits. Some have been intentional about saving, either in an effort to have less stuff or for financial reasons as the economy has taken a hit. Others have coped by ordering items that help us adapt to new ways of working and entertaining ourselves inside our own dwellings.
And while I wouldn’t normally describe myself as a retail therapy type of person, the “Order Confirmed” emails in my inbox over the last four months would paint a different picture. (I bought four blazers.)
From the perfect work-from-home pants to patio furniture, here’s what I didn’t send back.
A modest work-from-home setup
In March, I was one of those people who thought the quarantine life would only last for a few weeks. It quickly became apparent that I was wrong, and months of hunching over a laptop wasn’t working. Relying on Wirecutter as my guide (as always), I bought an adjustable laptop stand ($55), along with a wireless keyboard ($60) and mouse ($39). The laptop stand makes positioning the screen down really simple, so you can hit those angles for video calls.
Dress for the job you have
I’m not sure what’s so revolting about wearing a bra with an underwire while at home, but the stay-at-home orders seemed like a great time to try a bra I’ve been eyeing on Instagram ads for awhile. The comfort is a given, but the support is truly there, as well. I’ve recommended these to nearly every woman in my life.
An inexpensive treasure from Target, these tanks are my go-to for Zoom calls—and the softness can’t be beat. I now own these in four colors. Don’t delay: They are selling out quick.
I’ve been eyeing the effortless chic of others’ travel clothes for years, so I decided to finally head to the mecca: Lululemon. I originally invested in these as a go-to airplane pant, but they double as the perfect work-from-home pant. I wear these at least three times a week. They are light enough to be still be comfortable during the hot summer days.
While I did transition to a chiropractor that didn’t require a public transit journey, my weekly massage and spinal alignment sessions are a thing of the past. Long days working from home—along with the stress of a global pandemic—has turned my hip, neck, and shoulder muscles into rock. This massage gun isn’t a perfect solution, but it provides enough relief to go weeks in between doctor visits.
My efforts to obtain proper workout gear were about as successful as my ability to grab a grocery delivery slot—not very. I gave up on hand weights after trying for a few months, but I was able to lock in an extremely comfortable yoga mat from Target. This 15-millimeter thick mat has made my Peloton strength classes, which I stream from my Apple TV, a lot easier on the joints.
My partner and I are both working from our apartment with no end in sight, and when summer hit, we realized we needed an A/C unit in every room. This WiFi capable LG unit has gone in our living room and has quickly proved its worth. On my way back from a bike ride, I can turn it on so the apartment has cooled a bit before returning home.
Aunting from afar
Instead of throwing water balloons and eating popsicles with my nieces and nephew this summer, I’m reading books over FaceTime and considering buying a $300 video game console so I can visit my niece’s island on Animal Crossing.
As an aunt, it’s my duty to gift ridiculous things, so this summer, they received giant water toys for playing in the backyard. These 4 foot tall watermelon ($27) and unicorn ($22) sprinklers were a hit.
If we’re looking on the bright side of stay-at-home orders, the quarantine has been a fantastic opportunity to build some routines without distractions. I only wear makeup when I have meetings with external stakeholders or am moderating a virtual panel, and so I have doubled down on my goal of a more regular skin care routine.
Adding to a stable of favorites including Tatcha’s deep cleanse exfoliating cleanser ($38) and Olehenriksen’s banana bright eye creme ($39), I sought out new types of products. I dove into the world of serums with Olehenriksen’s banana bright vitamin C serum ($65) and the Honest Company’s honestly pure retinol serum ($28), and I added Laneige’s eye sleeping mask ($34) to my nightly routine.
Fortune‘s office closed in March while I was traveling, so I didn’t have a chance to pick up things from my desk before my work-from-home stretch began. I love my Felix Gray blue light blocking glasses, but I didn’t want to spend $100 on something I already owned. I tried a cheaper pair from Amazon, but they just weren’t doing the trick.
Enter Eye Just. I was a bit skeptical at first, but the blue light blocking screen protector for my iPhone ($35) works. My eyes feel less tired at the end of the day, and my headaches aren’t as frequent. It works so well, I added a screen protector to my Macbook ($56), as well. Now the protection is there constantly—no need to remember to wear glasses.
By Midwestern standards, I have an ugly, unfinished slab of concrete outside my apartment that faces a major street. By New York City standards, I have glorious outdoor space.
A summer without rooftop bars and patios meant waiting for my landlord to finish the patio was no longer viable. First, with input from some friends, I purchased a Char-Broil grill ($280) for easy dinners.
Then came the patio set. It was really difficult to find patio furniture that was in stock and available for delivery this spring as so many were also investing in their home spaces. I set up alerts on several options, and when this four-piece West Park set ($700) restocked at Home Depot, I jumped on the opportunity. I like that it’s part of a bigger collection, so I can add matching pieces in the future.