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Welcome back to Shopping Journal, a new weekly feature where Racked editors share what they're buying and where.
Last weekend I took a trip upstate with my boyfriend Andy for his birthday, to remind ourselves that time is fleeting and that, by living in Brooklyn, we are living incorrectly. While there, we went on a book-buying spree.
In Rosendale, a crazy-small, crazy-hippie town with a Bernie Sanders sign in every window, we stopped by a used bookstore called Mostly Books (they also sell vinyl and knick-knacks, for cash or trade only). I picked up an old paperback titled Retirement Homes Are Murder, the first title in a series of gruff mysteries that includes Senior Moments Are Murder and Living With Your Kids Is Murder, featuring an elderly circumstantial detective with short-term memory loss. Is it minorly racist in the way your grandparents are? It sure is!
In Beacon, we spent some time at Binnacle Books, which had a great selection of old and new tltes. I got a bunch of new books because I am a fancy lady, while Andy bought a bunch of old books, because he knows the value of a dollar — which, outside of Binnacle, is one book! I got Alexandra Kleeman's You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine (because I enjoy jealousy in all its forms), Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend (because I'm slow to the game and afraid of feelings about female friendship), and Kate Beaton's latest, Step Aside, Pops, for Andy because birthday.
For a total of three American dollars, he bought old copies of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (great hardback condition for the price) and The Iliad and, at my insistence, Encyclopedia Brown author Donald J. Sobol's Two Minute Mysteries, which were great and brought us lunch and cartime delight for way longer than two minutes. — Meredith Haggerty, senior editor
Quick: On a scale of 1 to 10, how difficult would you guess it is to acquire a silk flower crown in New York City during Coachella Weekend 1? Probably around a 3? It was more like a 5,000, factoring in the embarrassment of having to ask cool Brooklyn shopgirls "Do you guys sell flower crowns?" and then absorbing their immense judgement.
I needed said flower crown not because I was jetting off to a fancy California music festival, but because I'm throwing a bridal shower for my sister, who only specified her desire for one a week before the party. (Why couldn't I just go to a florist and request they make one? Because the party is an airplane ride away in Vermont and if you walk into a Vermont florist and request a flower crown you'd be met with blank stares.)
I tried the usual suspects — every very confusing floors of Space Ninety8, the Union Square Forever 21, the Flatiron Anthropologie, the Free People next door, the Fifth Avenue H&M, and finally the IRL version of Etsy, Paper Source — and found not a one. I then gave up to day drink.
This story ends happily for me, but only because a co-worker happened to have randomly received a silk flower crown from a publicist a few days before and graciously gave it to me (thanks, Nicola!). But I'm putting this out there as a call to action: NYC stores, start carrying flower crowns! Because in the words of Liz Lemon, "They're fun, and people like it." She was referring to disposable cameras at a wedding, but I think it applies here, too. — Rebecca Jennings, entertainment writer
During Monday's VIP hours, I hit the SoulCycle warehouse sale in Soho for the very first time, since I regret missing the one last fall. I'm a regular at the Bryant Park studio (especially Sydney's 6:30pm class on Mondays and Wednesdays which I can only get into if I set my alarm a week ahead of time to register) and strangely, I have a hard time deciding what to wear to class. Literally everyone wears branded apparel, and while I refuse to buy a $50 tank top just because it has a skull on it, I'd be lying if I didn't admit I sort of wished I owned one.
The sale was calm and easy to shop through (compared to the mobs of people that would hit it later in the week — oy!), so I took my time sifting through the bins and brought a giant pile to the back of the sale and stripped down in the corner with some other brave shoppers. Prices weren't exactly as low as I hoped, but I ended up walking away with two cute pairs of sweatpant joggers ($36) I will probably do a lot hiking and brunching in and two white muscle tank tops ($28).
I was feeling pretty good about my haul until I showed the goods to my husband, Yoni. I bought him a pair of Lululemon Pace shorts, too, and he said he liked them but "wished they didn't have the logo on them." He made me feel pretty silly about buying into the whole branded apparel thing (literally), but at least now I know what I'm wearing to my next ride. See you Monday, Sydney! — Chavie Lieber, senior reporter
I scanned & Other Stories while bopping around Soho last week and this matching crop top and skirt set caught my eye as I was walking out the door. I decided to put it to the old shopping test: Am I still thinking about it days later? Considering that I'm writing this now, you know what the answer is.
I went to the Fifth Avenue store on a lunch break to try it on and was dismayed to find only the top in a too-large size hapharzardly misplaced on a rack. A sales associate told me that they've been selling through the set so quickly that she even had to remove it from the window display mannequin!
A call to the Soho store uncovered each piece in my size range, so I rushed back to the downtown store to try them on (I never buy without checking fit) and luckily they both worked out perfectly. And between using store credit and a Visa gift card that recently came my way, I paid the balance with the change in my wallet. — Laura Gurfein, Racked NY editor
Our weekly team meeting included a go-around where everyone on staff dished on their favorite beauty products. I've always admired our editor-in-chief Britt's eyelashes from afar, so when she revealed that it's Kevyn Aucoin's Curling Mascara that does the trick I made a beeline to Barneys to grab a tube for myself.
After an in-store makeover at the counter, I also ended up picking up the Sensual Lip Balm, the only one I've found that I can apply over matte lipsticks without making my lips sticky. — Callia Hargrove, social media editor
Ever since I got back from Seoul a few weeks ago, I've been even more attuned to New York's Korean beauty landscape. It somehow escaped me that Nature Republic opened on 14th Street in the fall (there's also a location in Chinatown and one in Flushing), so I went over the weekend.
In Seoul, Nature Republic is everywhere, including subway stations. It's...fine. I'd consider it the Korean equivalent of The Body Shop. You're not going to find anything particularly innovative and/or cute here, but there are some possibly products worth checking out. The 14th Street store is a good approximation of the Nature Republics in Seoul: big, well-stocked, and blasting an excellent K-pop soundtrack.
If you're looking to bulk-buy sheet masks, you can get packs that contain 20 aqua gel masks for $30 (choose from bamboo, canola honey, aloe, and a bunch of other options). Watery gel moisturizers are still big in Seoul (I'm personally very into them), and Nature Republic has its well-priced Super Aqua Max line that promises "intense hydration with minerals from pristine deep sea."
You'll find cleansing oil, snail emulsion, gold hydrogel masks, and argan oil ampoules here, too. Do any of these things work? Are they any good? I don't know, but they're there! Definitely skip the Bath & Body Works-like range of body washes, lotions, and antibacterial gels that come in scents like white musk, cotton powder, and apple mango. Also skip the color cosmetics. Yikes. — Julia Rubin, features editor
I have a really bad habit of accessorizing during my work commute, pulling out earrings, necklaces, and rings from the change pocket in my wallet while on the 6 train. This really isn't the best idea — I've tangled necklaces and tarnished a million rings, and most recently lost one of my favorite earrings: A pair of tiny gold hangers courtesy of Gorjana's collaboration with blogger Jacey Duprie of Damsel in Dior. They were a one-off collection, and I hadn't found anything that comes close just yet.
But while browsing the shops at Turnstyle, I saw the perfect replacement: Elma Blint's handcrafted 14k teardrop stud and ear jacket. Blint herself put them on my ears after she saw me ogling them for far too long, and I was sold. This pair is definitely staying in my ears and out of my wallet. — Channing Hargrove, Racked NY associate editor