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This has been a year unlike any other, and with it, I found that the items I purchased and found most valuable were different from any other year. This year was spent more at home, focusing more on comfort and health. Even though I am known as a fashion blogger, I often write about wellness, lifestyle, and non-fashion topics and discuss such products.
This list of my top 12 best purchases for 2020 has a touch of fashion, but plenty of unexpected items that made this year better. More enjoyable, more comfortable, and yes, more stylish.
Not everything was purchased this year, but this is the year that made me really value having this item in our household or my closet.
My Top 12 Best Purchases of 2020
The first item on this list HAD to be this bidet! We bought our first one in 2019 and loved it so much, we bought a second in March just before the pandemic!
I'm not afraid of a little TMI; I have dealt with hemorrhoids for years, and last year it got so bad I had to go to a proctologist to take care of the situation. I eat a high-fiber plant-based diet, stay well hydrated, but especially near my cycle, I seem to get them. I tried a Squatty Potty, got moist wipes, but then after doing some research on the internet, got this bidet attachment, which is less than $40.
This thing is the sh*t, pun intended. The water isn't heated, which may take some getting used to, but it cleans gently requiring less wiping and less paper and no need for wet wipes. My husband is also a fan, so we added one to the half bath downstairs. We love them so much we miss them when we're traveling.
My husband installed them, but said it was relatively easy, no need to have plumbing skills. Both have held up beautifully without any issues.
We didn't buy this Nespresso coffee maker in 2020, but we never used it as much as we did this year!
We have had Tassimo, Keurig, a stovetop moka, a variety of French presses and all were... fine. Actually, we didn't like our Keurig at all and the Tassimo was meh coffee. The French press was our favorite but it was time consuming and I just never mastered the griding and amount of coffee grounds per water. I wanted something I could do half asleep at 5:30am knowing no one else would be drinking coffee until around 9:30 and not be a waste. I splurged on this Nespresso coffee maker and haven't regretted it at all.
I experienced Nespresso on business travel in hotel rooms and was obsessed. The coffee was so good, I enjoyed it black. I loved the foam on top, the elegance of the machines, the whole process. I liked that the pods were recyclable - the pod itself is aluminum and recycled, the coffee grounds composted (in NYC you can throw them in your commingled recycling; for the rest of us Nespresso offers free bags to ship them back via UPS).
I didn't need fancy gadgets like milk frothers and such and wanted to be able to have a variety of sizes so went with Vertuo (the original Nespresso is only small espresso-sized coffees). Perfect choice. You can click here to read my Nespresso coffee maker review and why it's worth it.
We get coffees right from Nespresso; they have the best selection, the price is the same wherever you buy it, and it ships super fast. We bought this stand/drawer which holds four sleeves of Vertuo pods and place our machine on top of it. It makes it easy to grab a pod and go. Our go-to pods are Colombia, Solelio, Decaffeinato, and Half-Caffeinato.
We actually bought our first Ring doorbell several years ago, but we truly found its value in 2020. While my job has had me online shopping for years, this year we did far more online shopping and home delivery than ever before. It has been wonderful to have a video doorbell that not only lets us know when someone is at the door, but also when anyone enters our property.
There are many video doorbells now on the market, but back when we got the Ring (inspired by an ad playing during some show about war or aliens on the History Channel) it seemed to be the only one available that was designed to be a doorbell. We liked how it looked, and liked how we could answer the door from anywhere. I remember talking to our UPS person from my hotel room in Columbus, Ohio. My neighbor wanted to get in touch with us and forgot our number; she rang our doorbell and we were able to chat right away. It was brilliant.
As Ring grew, so did our collection. We upgraded to a newer version of their doorbell, and used the old one on the back door. We got one of their security camera/lights to replace it in the back area. We upgraded the technology and have never regretted the purchase.
With our Ring doorbell, we're notified not if someone walks past our house, but only if they open our gate or are within our fence line. We've controlled the settings so we're not told when the neighbor's cat or a deer comes in our yard, only when it's a human.
Thanks to Ring, I've been able to let brands know that their delivery has arrived, even if I am in another state. We've thwarted porch pirates and have had fun scaring off raccoons trying to get in our trashcan in the middle of the night. We can communicate with delivery people without having to open the door, and have recorded video if there is an incident where we need it for evidence.
You don't need to drill Ring into your house, you don't need an electrician, and the only monthly fee is if you want to be able to store videos and stills in their cloud storage. We liked ours so much we got one for my mom. It's a reasonably-priced piece of technology that can offer peace of mind and protection for your online purchases; I can't recommend it enough.
Birkenstock Arizona Sandal
I have worn Birkenstocks for years, but never appreciated them as much as I did this year. While I already worked from home before 2020, I did a lot of working from coffee shops, The Wing, a friend's house, and such. I also often had events during the day and in the evenings that required me to pull myself together, put on shoes, and leave the house. This year, I did a lot of being home 24/7 and started a lot of that in my stockinged feet.
I soon realized my feet were miserable without any shoe to support them. I ended up taking two pairs of Birkenstocks: an EVA style to be my outdoor shoes when I went out in the yard, and my silver metallic ones to be my house shoes. My feet immediately felt better with the cork sole offering support and cushioning.
As the weather has gotten colder, I got a pair of slippers, but honestly, my favorite footwear around the home is still my Arizonas from Birkenstock, just with a pair of cozy socks.
I asked my husband to get these for me as a Christmas gift last year. I was so obsessed with them, I got them for him, and then as a graduation from elementary school/you're surviving the 'demic and being such a rock star about it gift, got a pair for our daughter.
These headphones stay in, even if you bend over or lie on your side. They are sweatproof and water-resistant (I may or may not have worn them in the shower). They're comfortable (they come with a variety of ear pads for a custom fit), they come in fun colors (I have white, my husband has a yellow/green, my daughter has pink), they cost less than AirPods, have excellent sound quality and battery life.
I use them for calls and Zooms, for Peloton rides and guided meditations, for listening to podcasts while cleaning, and music when taking walks outside to get fresh air. Do note, these are not noise-canceling, but I think these are well-made, high quality headphones worth their cost!
With a large bust that has been graced by gravity and years of breastfeeding and weight fluctuation, I have always been looking for a truly supportive sports bra. However, I also want that bra to lift, separate, give good shape, and not require me to be double-jointed to put it on and take it off.
I am now the owner of three of these bras from Freya and unless I take up a higher-impact sport in the future, have no desire to find a different one. This ticks off all my boxes while also being so cute I could dare to wear it and just it with a pair of leggings to a public gym.
In fact, it is so comfortable, moisture-wicking, and giving of great shape that for much of 2020, I have also worn these as everyday bras. I have some wireless bras that I like, but honestly, I find these more comfortable and like the shape better, especially when I leave the house.
Neewer Ring Light Kit
I had this ring light in my virtual shopping cart for months, but finally pulled the trigger March 14th of this year, realizing I'd have to spend more time doing shoots and calls and videos from home. That early in the year, I had no idea how valuable this ring light would become.
This ring light is floor standing. It has an attachment to hold a smartphone, but it's easily switched out to instead hold a DSLR or tablet. It comes with a remote to control that smartphone or other camera that uses Bluetooth has a flexible neck and adjustable height. It also comes with frosted and amber sleeves to go over the bulbs so you can have a ring of cool or warm light. You can also adjust how dim or bright you want it.
All my Zooms have used this light. My IGTVs and IG Lives used this light. I did these photos and this photo and this photo with the light and remote (the last one, my toe clicked the remote). These photos were done with the light bouncing off the ceiling. My daughter has used it to film videos for Girl Scouts and school.
It's not small. While it can be packed down, I just keep it standing in the corner of our home office/virtual school/gym room so it's at the ready for the next video or photoshoot!
Lukue Microwave Popcorn Popper
I was influenced by my friend, who would get on Zoom game nights with this red bowl full of popcorn. She had all these creative recipes to jazz up the popcorn too. She said it made popcorn so easy, and it was consistently great popcorn without needing any oil. So I ordered one.
She was right, this thing is awesome. Not only do you not need oil and don't have extra waste from those microwave bags, but you may get at most one or two unpopped kernels and none of the popcorn burns. Time and time again we have been served fluffy, well-popped, delicious popcorn from this device.
It's dishwasher safe, it's so easy your kid or tech-unsavvy parent could do it. It comes with a few recipes so you can make fun popcorn recipes with curry, honey, coconut flakes, and such. Or you can just enjoy popcorn popped so perfectly it tastes great on its own.
It was hard to think of which item of clothing I bought this year was the best purchase. I wear my Athleta Polartec leggings all of the time, I loved my J. Crew sundress this summer, I wore the heck out of my J. Crew Breton shirt. But these leggings have impressed me the most and have been worn way more than I ever could have imagined. Here is my initial Spanx faux leather joggers review.
Many of you have shared cheaper faux leather joggers you have found online and I am glad as these aren't cheap. But as a leather and leather-like lover, I know faux leather is usually a short-lived trend in one's closet. You need to baby it, and even so it will eventually crack, peel, wear holes, and disappoint. That which is more durable usually feels more durable which doesn't mean comfortable.
I have washed my Spanx faux leather joggers a dozen times and they still look and perform the same. I have napped in them, and stretched in them, they are that comfortable. The pockets are deep, the waistband is wide and doesn't fold over. The legs aren't too tight for my solid calves and thighs, but not so loose I look like a fashion victim. A perk to these is they're wind-resistant while also being lined in soft knit so they are really warm and cozy and great when being outside.
They make me look pulled together, even if I'm wearing well-worn boots and an old turtleneck, and I know they will look cool when the world opens again.
Baublebar Hera Link Necklace
In a year where accessories weren't necessary and often a nuisance, I wore the HECK out of this necklace! It was just the thing to look more polished on a Zoom call, to dress up casual knits, and to feel myself when nothing felt normal. I wore it often with my Jenny Bird initial necklace, but also on its own. I don't think there was a single item more asked about that I wore on Instagram either, I must have shared a link to this necklace in my DMs at least a hundred times. And with all that wear (and even the occasional wear by my tween) it still looks great; I am always pleased with Baublar quality!
I had 11 items on this list and wanted a nice even 12 so I asked my daughter what she thought was the best family purchase of this year. She didn't hesitate in saying our Hyperice and I bet my husband would say the same (or else the Peloton which is right below this on the list).
This January, my trainer brought his TheraGun to the gym; he got it for Christmas and was obsessed. I didn't understand the appeal or the pricetag, even after trying it on my arm after my workout. But once I began riding the Peloton regularly I got it. There were some days where a foam roller didn't do the trick plus the stress of this year did a number to my neck, my back, and all other parts of my body (did the stress my feet held this year!).
Doing my research, I found the Hypervolt from Hyperice was just as highly recommended as the TheraGun, but less expensive. I got it for my husband for Christmas but I ended giving it to him early when he had an especially hard workout that left him hobbling around the house.
The whole family is a fan; if you saw my Instagram Stories from Christmas you know we even had my mom try it out. It's as powerful as you want it to be, easy to control, and a variety of attachments to target muscles or for a more all-over massage. It has a corresponding app that will provide "workouts" or classes on what to massage and how depending on your needs (I love that it has a bunch of workouts for office workers!).
How could I not include our Peloton bike? One of the most impactful purchases of the year, this bike has changed my fitness game, helped me mentally, and provided a way for my husband to click over a new shared hobby. I've written a lot before about the Peloton so I won't go into it again, but even if you're not athletic and you hate cardio you may find something like a spin bike to be what changes your opinion.
If you are considering getting one because of my review, use XV4E4E at checkout and you'll get $100 worth of Peloton bike accessories for free and I'll get a store credit in the Peloton boutique.
And now I would love to hear from you! What would you consider to be your best purchase of or for 2020?
I finally bought a nespresso two years ago when the furnished rental house we were temp. living in didn’t have a coffeemaker. Love it and usually make a version of an Americano (two shots espresso/one shot water) when I am not feeling 100% espresso. Peet’s pods are good, too, though their subscription service has gone haywire. And I love a microwave popcorn maker with fresh kernels (and not just because one of my clients is a non-GMO, US-grown family-owned popcorn company!) 2020’s best purchases were the Calm app because I use everything in it — meditations, sleep stories, podcasts, mindful stretches and the splurgiest of splurges, a 2-person hottub. In the summer, it was post-dinner relax/sunset viewing with my husband every night. Now that it’s colder in the PNW, it’s the pre-dinner dip still watching sunset! Or sunday mornings.
In March I went from working from home 1 day a week to … working from home. For that, my best purchases were a laptop stand (amazon essentials), and a USB switch (ugreen) so I can quickly switch my monitor/keyboard/mouse back and forth from my work laptop to my home desktop computer without going under my desk and plugging/unplugging things twice a day. Much better on the knees.
I bought a few pair of CuddlDuds fleece leggings because (when I am not randomly sweating my head off for REASONS) I am always cold and these are perfect. Planner inserts from Cloth & Paper. And then I sprung for their subscription box – if you love planner stuff check them out. And an actual popcorn popper (I don’t have a microwave) from West Bend that reminds me of one I had as a kid.
We used our first stimulus check to buy a new sofa and rearranged our family room to make it cozier. It’s become a real haven.
On the personal level, I tried a sample of Kiehls Midnight Recovery oil in March and have continued buying it. It’s a nice little bedtime ritual that helps calm me down.
We also got a Nespresso machine this year, I freaking LOVE IT. I also bought myself some Adidas slides for around the house, and while they’re not as supportive as Birkenstocks they’re still comfortable and help my poor arches out a lot. My last favorite buys this year have been houseplants! Super cheap and when they do well it’s so fulfilling!
My Peloton is definitely definitely my favorite purchase of the year! My second favorite purchase would be a small crossbody that I bought at the beginning of the pandemic. It is nylon, so easy to wipe down, and it has a place for credit cards, so no need to bring my wallet and dig around in a big bag for it. I don’t go out much except for a quick errand, so it has really been perfect to fit my phone, hand sanitizer, cards, cash, keys, and a pen!
Ditto on the bidet purchase!
I have a birth injury (Brachial Plexus Injury/Erb’s Palsy) which limits my range and flexibility in my left arm/shoulder and last month had a reverse shoulder replacement on my “good” side. I cannot tell you how many conversations were had (mostly in my head) about how I was going to manage basic toiletry (literally) during my first month of recuperation with basically both arms out of commision. 😮
I determined a bidet was a required medical device – must have heated water, blower for drying, and with a remote. Settled on a “Luxe Bidet Luxelet E890 Electric Bidet Seat with Remote Control for Elongated Toilets with Warm Air Dryer and Temperature Control” purchased on Amazon. Not as economical as the one you mention, but met all my advanced requirements and then some. Never going back. 🙂
Your reviews of the Peloton led me to buy one in October. We received it December 4th and love it! I had never done a spin class or really worked out regularly but I have been on the bike 3-4 times a week and recently tried some non-beginner classes. I also love the meditation classes. My husband has started riding as well. Definitely the best purchase of 2020!
Some other items you’ve recommended and I love are – Collen Rothschild Retinol Oil (the best retinol that I’ve used), the Equilibira CBD Relief Cream (works great with the Peloton), Old Navy activewear, Soma wireless bras and I’m sure many other things.
Love these posts and I’m sure that I’ll be adding to that list in 2021!
These types of posts are always favorites of mine, as was the one where you shared the top reader purchases. You’ve given me great information & ideas through WO & it’s very much appreciated. After seeing you wear silver Birks so often, I decided to treat myself to a pair back in the spring (went with the Mayari’s); love them! You also steered me towards the Soma Sunday pants—I waited to buy them until the end of the summer & then wondered what took me so long! They are buttery soft & I love putting them on after work & on weekends. My mom got me the navy pair for Christmas! You shared the Rellery jewelry website in a gift guide, so I ordered my mom a necklace with her grandkids’ names on it. It’s so pretty. And I was incredibly surprised when my husband gave me one with our son’s name on it for Christmas! Lots of great ideas—thank you! Happy New Year to you & your family.
I scored two pair of the EVA Birkenstocks. I wear them in rotation. I spill and drop things constantly and I do t have to worry about these shoes or my bad feet getting worse. Also I’ve learned to appreciate lounge wear a little more. My Soma Joggers are still a favorite. And they still look nice. I also bought a new MacBook Air laptop. My old Mac had been “obsolete” for a couple of years and I could no longer work without being plugged in. It was time. And with all of the online shopping and being at home, it did make life easier. We are learning to be empty nesters…does tuition count?
I bought soft clothes from various places and the ones from Soma have been awesome! I got 2 wireless bras (the kind you have recommended), 2 sets of Cool Nights pjs, and a long blacker fleece duster that was in the clearance section in the spring and they don’t seem to offer any more but I wear ALL THE TIME. I would not have known about Soma if not for your posts (they don’t really seem to have a presence around NYC) so thank you!
A new iPad, gosh it’s amazing. Bought a Bluetooth keyboard & it’s incredible.
A spot in a parking garage. For 17 years I’ve parked on the street in my city neighborhood, really only 1 problem in all that time. But with me only driving once or twice a week now, it thought I’d get my car of out of the weather for the winter. And now we’ve have the snowiest December in years. Money well spent
A pair of high rise BF jeans. Worn on repeat since September
Lush’s avobath bath bomb.
Especially at the beginning of work from home if I consumed any Covid news I could not sleep. I found that a soaking bath helped me relax. Dr Teal’s fragrant Epsom salts are OK. But I was looking for a bit more.
I must have tried over 1/2 of Lush’s bath bombs before I settled on avobath. It turns the water a tranquil clear green. The fragrance is lightly citrusy & doesn’t give me a headache (many fragrances do). It moisturizes. & I love the fizz when you throw it in the water. The soak, a book, & a flame less candle make a nice, relaxing interlude.
I still have bouts of sleepnesses or just need to relax. A soak with avobath does the trick.
2nd best? A pair of neon pink SeaVees sneakers that I bought for $20 just to try the sizing. While they don’t sell wides, turns out that that they are wide enough for my wide feet. I wear these when I need some fun in my day.