It wasn’t so much that I wanted to hibernate in December (and spend all the dollars on quilts, coats, and pillow forts that would have made that happen) as much as I wanted to slather. The weather on the East Coast has been temperate, but the palpable shift in season hit me like a Nor’easter storm. Then it made me crave moisture.
Let me just kick off this tale of ceramides with a disclaimer: I’m in fact not much of an impulse clothes shopper. As the staff of Glamour can attest, I show up to work each week in the same Everlane GoWeave pants, cast of Demylee, AYR, and Vince sweaters, and three Ganni dresses. (I like to repeat outfits so much that 90 percent of photos of me on social media look as though I had them taken on the same afternoon.) But whatever restraint I have when it comes to clothes evaporates in the face of creams, tonics, serums, pastes, and potions of all manner. With a much-anticipated trip to Rome between Christmas and New Year’s, I managed to resist most non–skin-care temptations this month. It is, I think, most chic to indulge on the other side of the Atlantic. But what did I give into? Overpriced oils from Aesop, creams from Ole Henriksen, and a cone of hot roasted chestnuts in half a dozen piazzas in Rome.
The Sweater I Snapped Up to Wear on the Banks of the Tiber: $138
I’m no influencer, but even I can’t resist the charms of a vacation outfit. I spotted this Demylee x J.Crew sweater while I browsed the retailer’s site in a doctor’s office. Do I know on some level that I look jaundiced in marigold? Yes. But could I resist this adorable balloon-sleeve sweater? No. Before I could overthink it, it was paid for and I had a full photoshoot planned in the shadow of the Pantheon.
The Clutch That I’m Convinced Will Get My Life in Order: $89
Listen, I could draw up a firm budget, become a batch-cooker, clean the bathroom, and organize all the books I own…or I could skip all that and just invest in this “Grand Slim Zip Clutch” that I found on sale at Of a Kind and have since become convinced will transform me, in one brilliant blue instant, into a woman who never forgets to stock up on toilet paper. I picked the clutch.
The Roll-on Oil That’s Supposed to Cure All That Ails Me: $31
I think we’ve established that I’m a sucker for serums and lotions of all kinds, but I have a particular affection for niche products. Think lip plumpers. Bubble masks. Balm cleansers. I had walked into Aesop to pick up a scrub for a friend (her Christmas gift) when I spied a tube labeled “Ginger Flight Therapy.” Packed with ginger, lavender, and geranium, it’s meant to be applied to “neck, temples, wrists, and abdomen in times of stress, nausea, or weariness.” It’s America in 2019! All times are stressful. I had to have it. Weeks later, I’m not quite sure if it has fixed our democratic institutions or the persistent headache I just can’t kick, but it smells delicious.
The Book I’ve Bought for Three Different Friends: $16.80 x 4 = $67.20
I read Educated by Tara Westover in one sublime week in November and gifted it to four friends in December. It’s a beautiful memoir about Westover’s childhood in rural Idaho, her survivalist parents, and what we mean when we talk about the value of an “education.” I’ve never read another book like it, and each time a friend has asked me for a recommendation since, I just order another one from Amazon and have it shipped to her front door.
A Banana-Laced Brightener (and Four More Cosmetic Enhancements I Became Convinced I Needed): $226.47
Until the second I purchased this cheerful Ole Henriksen “crème”, I would have insisted I didn’t believe in the concept. I’ve tended to believe that creams aimed at “fine lines” and “puffed lids” are nice-scented scams. Minuscule quantities of moisture, marked up at an outrageous price! I didn’t want to fall for them. But then I started to see this adorable cream heralded on websites, positioned on store shelves, and hiding in friends’ medicine cabinets. (I peeked! I couldn’t help it.) It’s supposed to brighten dour complexions and make concealer glide over dark circles like a dream. I had to have it. So while I had intended just to restock the liquid liner I’ve used since high school (Stila’s Stay All Day), I somehow ended up at checkout with Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo, my ‘gram-bait Ole Henriksen cream, Tatcha Silk Canvas Protective Primer, Tatcha Water Cream, and a free sample of the Milk Makeup Blur Stick.
Boots for Inclement Weather That Are Also Purple: $280
I had stopped into Cole Haan on a whim when I spotted a pair of so-hideous-these-could-be-Prada boots. When a helpful clerk mentioned that the shoes were 100 percent waterproof, I had a sudden vision of me in inclement weather, unaffected! The boots do come in black, which is the version I first tried on. But then I went wild and made a split-second decision to become a different person; one who wears maroon. I was in and out of the store in 20 minutes.
All the Roasted Chestnuts I Could Stomach in Rome: $28.50
I don’t eat meat, which means street food options tend to be rather limited for me. Most of the time it’s a stale hot pretzel or bust. Then I landed in Rome and discovered the best portable sustenance—hot chestnuts. Roasted over coals and piled into paper cones, a stack of chestnuts goes for about five euro. A dozen or so of them are warm, delicious, and leave just enough room for another scoop of gelato an hour later. I picked them up close to half a dozen times on vacation and wish I’d done it even more. The perfect seasonal snack.
The Carry-on Bag I Was Forced to Check Against My Will: $96.80
Does a person need free will in order to impulse shop? If so, then scratch this one from the record. I had sailed onto the plane in New York with what let me just assert is a small suitcase. But when I tried to board in Rome, the woman at the gate insisted it wouldn’t fit in the overhead bins and compelled me to check it—for a steep fee! Cries that other people’s suitcases were at least as big as mine went unanswered. Reader, I checked it.
The Swedish Sweets I Bought My Boyfriend to Celebrate His New Job: $22
Some people recommend the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Others will enthuse over Bergdorf’s or some luxurious restaurant in Tribeca. But the one place I recommend to all tourists is tucked into a small street in the West Village. It’s a modest storefront. It doesn’t shill fashionable coats or leather goods. It sells Swedish candies, and it’s the happiest place on earth. Please, I beg you: Go to Sockerbit if you’re ever in NYC. I passed it a mere 10 minutes after Jason called to tell me he’d just gotten offered a dream job. I had to go in. Now did I also have to purchase 32 ounces of peach skulls, watermelon sours, and caramel licorice? I don’t want to answer that question.
The Newsletter I Subscribed To Because the Title Alone Justified the Cost: $30
The brilliant writer Lyz Lenz (read this for a taste of her genius) launched a newsletter in December titled “Men Yell at Me.” Its elevator pitch? “Behind-the-scenes stories from a life of reporting and making men mad.” I know; I was sold in about three milliseconds too. I paid $30 for an annual subscription, and based on the first installments alone, I feel I can assure readers it’s a worthwhile investment. I laughed. I seethed. I felt so much righteous, white-hot rage I could have powered an electric stove. Join me!
Mattie Kahn is a senior editor at Glamour.