Jan 8, 2020

The Shopping Team’s January Under-$100 MVPs (That’s Most Valuable Products!)

Here on the Refinery29 Shopping team, we see it all. All the new arrivals, all the top sellers, all the sales, and countless pitches on products ranging from snow boots to butt spas. We spend our days combing the inventory of retailers big and small, looking for the must-haves that will help our readers solve a problem, feel their best, or indulge in some self-care. (We also occasionally buy things for ourselves in the process.) All of this researching, browsing, and buying has given us a pretty good handle on what’s a good value and what isn’t — so you better believe that when we do see a stellar buy, much cross-cubicle chatter ensues.

We get so heated about these finds, in fact, that we decided it was time to start assembling them into a living, breathing, frequently-updated roundup of what we’re calling our “Shopping team MVPs” — those hands-down, no-foolin’ solid purchases that embody the much sought-after combination of competitive price, function, and sheer appeal. We put our heads together and assembled a list encompassing all of our shopping “beats” — fashion, lifestyle, home, and beauty (plus a few wild cards) — to create a short list of product suggestions that all clock in under $100. Click through to see what’s getting the Shopping team’s seal of approval this month.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

Stars Above Perfectly Cozy Lounge Jogger Pants

Believe it or not, I stole these from my mom — who is clearly in the know on affordable and insanely comfy loungewear staples. This pair of sweats from Target-exclusive line Stars Above is what my perfectly cozy winter dreams are made of. I change into them as soon as I get home from work, and sources close to me can confirm that I've been seen wearing them all weekend long (in private and public).

— Liz Buxton, Lifestyle Market Editor

Stars Above Women's Perfectly Cozy Lounge Jogger Pants - Stars Above™, $, available at Target

Vaseline Lip Therapy Crème Brûlée

As far back as I can remember, "Santa" has tucked this drugstore secret weapon inside my Christmas stocking — and every year, without fail, it's my most coveted present. An all-season essential that's even better in winter, this cute little pot of balm keeps my pout hydrated with the subtle bonus of a creamy vanilla fragrance. And when I've applied too much, I like to rub the excess on the backs of my hands to keep them feeling smooth and smelling sweet too.

— Liz

Vaseline Lip Therapy Creme Brulee (Pack of 5), $, available at Amazon

Casper Nap Pillow

Last September I went on a month-long sabbatical — visiting five different countries and staying in countless Airbnbs — and this travel-friendly bedding accessory absolutely saved my sleep. Essentially it's a miniature version of the brand's standard size pillow-inside-a-pillow but wielding the same support benefits plus a bonus packability. While friends and family tossed and turned, complaining of stiff necks in foreign beds, I slept like a restful rock on my personal pillow. Oh, and it also works great propped up against a plane, train, or automobile window too.

— Liz

Casper Nap Pillow, $, available at Target

Leandra X Mango Pearl Pendant Earrings

While I'm not one to be easily swept up into emerging fashion trends (I skipped leopard midis and ugly sneakers with no regrets), I couldn't resist the freshwater siren song of the pearl. The luminous oceanic stone exudes effortless luxury without actually costing that much at all if you know where to shop. Case in point: these beauties designed by Leandra Medine for Mango that radiate a chic vintage style — I've worn them with everything from glistening New Year's Eve party dresses to jeans and a white tee.

— Liz

Leandra x Mango Pearl pendant earrings, $, available at Mango

Otiumberg Sterling Silver Twist Ring

I did a huge jewelry purge after Christmas, so of course, I’m now in the market for... more jewelry! Just kidding — I’m actually actively trying to streamline a bauble collection that was severely out of control. Now I’m in the market for pieces I’ll wear every single day, and this sterling silver stacking ring from British jewelry brand Otiumberg definitely fits the bill. $85 is an excellent price for such a solid chunk of silver, and shipping costs to the US are most reasonable.

— Emily Ruane, Fashion Market Writer

Otiumberg Chunky Silver Twist Ring Sterling Silver, $, available at Otiumberg

Lou & Grey Fuzzed Mock Neck Sweater

With the holidays firmly behind us and a good 90 days of bleak winter weather to look forward to, the time for optimistic, endorphin-boosting knitwear is now. This true cerulean pullover in a fuzzy, touch-me fabrication will keep your bod cozy and your outlook bright as you count down the days until spring.

— Emily

Lou & Grey Fuzzed Mock Neck Sweater, $, available at Lou & Grey

Richer Poorer Femme Boxer

Per my observation above, this time of year requires a variety of coping mechanisms to stay sane and, almost more importantly, feel cute. If your itinerary for the next few weeks involves finally starting Succession and making a week’s worth of Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew, we’ve got just the loungewear ticket: Richer Poorer’s are-they-shorts-or-are-they-underwear Femme Boxers, a brief that offers just enough coverage and style to function as an around-the-apartment staple.

— Emily

Richer Poorer Femme Boxer, $, available at Richer Poorer

Verdusa Colorblock Corduroy Shacket

Wow. I never expected to find a color-blocked, patchworked boyfriend-fit shirt-jacket that could have easily cost $400 at Dover Street Market on Amazon, and yet, here we are. At less than $30, I am definitely taking this oddball layer for a spin.

— Emily

Verdusa Colorblock Corduroy Jacket, $, available at Amazon

Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial

"I waxed poetic about Drunk Elephant's brand new drop, the F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial already (click here for the full review!) and it's fully deserving of its MVP spot; I have oily skin, so hydrating masks have on occasion broken me out. This one did not — the lightweight yet potent formula absorbs with a non-greasy finish, and by morning, my skin was plump as this Urban Outfitters Dumpling Light that fellow R29 Shopping Team guru Liz keeps on her desk."

— Karina Hoshikawa, Beauty & Wellness Market Writer

Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Mask, $, available at Sephora

Comrad Companion Compression Socks

"I spent my holidays in Japan this past year, and after years of having little-to-no faith in compression socks, I'm finally eating my words. As I settled into the 13-hour flight to Tokyo, I slipped these Comrad socks on, and immediately, my coach-class seat felt like a serene oasis. Just kidding! But seriously, the socks made my feet feel amazingly supported and cushioned in a way I didn't know was possible. I know $30 for a single pair of socks might sound steep, but if you take long flights often for work or pleasure, then consider these an investment in your comfort — and weirdly enough, emotional wellbeing at 30,000 feet?"

— Karina

Comrad Companion Compression Socks | Indigo/White Stripe, $, available at Comrad

Tarte Shape Tape Glow Wand

"Tarte's Shape Tape enjoys a certain level of name recognition that is matched by only a handful of other brands. (Nars Orgasm blush, Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara...you know the drill.) Naturally, that means that I (not to mention, the legion of extremely devoted fans) had very high hopes for Shape Tape's second act, the Shape Tape Glow Wand. The radiant, dewy-finish formula looks incredible on, and offers coverage that doesn't look dry or cakey. True to the name, the effect is so glowy that I even skipped highlighter. My only gripe is that it's available in just eight shades for now (the original has 36), but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that that'll change in the coming months."

— Karina

Tarte Shape Tape Glow Wand, $, available at Ulta Beauty

Ursa Major Sublime Sage Spray Deodorant

"I made the switch to natural deodorants around three or four years ago, and while the um, adjustment period came with some less-than-fresh smells, I'm happy to say that I haven't looked back since. In addition to making a healthier choice for my body, I love that the natural deo market has made space for new brands to come up with a whole universe of scents that aren't powdery nor flowery. Clean beauty brand Ursa Major won me over last month with its new sage-scented spray deodorant, which hasn't left my purse since it arrived on my desk. I keep it on-hand for mid-day spritzes, post-workout refreshes, and yes — for emergencies in the event I leave my apartment having forgotten to put on deodorant. It smells light and fresh, and best of all, the stuff works."

— Karina

Ursa Major Sublime Sage Spray Deodorant, $, available at Follain

Stems Fishnet Tights

Right before I left for holiday break, I was visited by two inspiring women (one of which I knew from her swimsuit collection, Rochelle Sara) to check out their new venture in legwear. Stems, a luxury collection of tights made in Italy, are just as posh as Wolford but with a modern edge, lower price point, and size range from petite to 2X. Are they still pricier than your nylons-in-an-egg variety? Well yes, but if you're on board with quality over quantity — this new brand needs to be on your radar.

Marissa Rosenblum, Senior Shopping Director

Stems 'Caught up' Fishnet Tights, $, available at Stems

Pact Classic Fit Bikini

Not sure if this should be filed under TMI, but I have switched over to Pact bikini undies. They're the Goldilocks of underwear — not too big, not too small, just right. They're also made with 95% organic cotton
and fair trade certified. *two thumbs up*
As it goes, I got hooked with a deal — normally a Pact bikini cost $12, but you can buy 3 in any color for $27 plus there's free shipping. My sensible underwear drawer section is currently stacked for the new year.

— Marissa

PACT Classic Fit Bikini, $, available at PACT

Blue Blue Japan Indigo Turtleneck

I first discovered Blue Blue Japan on my honeymoon. We were window shopping around Tokyo and inadvertently wandered into a Blue Blue sample sale where both of us purchased beautiful hand-dyed indigo sweatshirts (not matching). When I got back home and looked up the brand, I saw that it has a cult following and sold on sites like Grailed and End. but it's near impossible to find women's Blue Blue online, until now. Canadian streetwear-meets-luxury shop SSENSE stocks a curated selection of the goods and I just bought this turtleneck at 50% off. The plan is to wear it to death.

— Marissa

Blue Blue Japan Cotton Rib Slub Turtleneck, $, available at Blue Blue Japan

& Other Stories Oversized Organic Cotton Shirt

Blue and white oversized button-downs are my uniform so when I see a really good one, I buy it. And this organic cotton, loose-fitting style fits the bill.

— Marissa

& Other Stories Oversized Organic Cotton Button Up Shirt, $, available at & Other Stories

West Elm Organic Turkish Tassel Towels

At this point, I've realized that I'm on an organic cotton kick. Perhaps it's the feeling of starting a new year off clean and fresh. Without getting too Freudian while I'm spitballing my current favorite buys, let me turn your attention to these exquisitely simple Turkish towels (they come in both bath and hand towel sizes) currently on sale for 20% off at West Elm with checkout code SAVEMORE. They're made in Turkey of 100% organic cotton and certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard.

— Marissa

West Elm Organic Turkish Tassel Towels, $, available at West Elm

Reformation Belfort Top

The elusive, influencer-loved shoulder pad muscle tank has popped up this month over at Reformation as part of their new "Strictly Business" collection. You might not be on board with this retro microtrend but you can't deny it's kinda boss.

— Marissa

Reformation Belfort Top, $, available at Reformation

Estée Lauder Little Black Liner

“During a Shopping Team best black-eyeliner for cat-eyes test, I stumbled upon this unlikely (for me) product MVP! Although I am NOT a black-eyeliner (or cat-eye) wearer, this dual-tipped tool from Estée Lauder managed to convert me — it goes on so smoothly and easily with rich precision and an all-day, stay-on-your-lids wear. Although I don't don it every day, I still turn to it whenever my lids need a fast, easy, and effortlessly chic pick-me-up.”

— Liz

Estée Lauder Little Black Liner, $, available at Nordstrom

Vintage Sterling Silver Ring

"Vaux Vintage is one of my all-time favorite Etsy purveyors, and I’ve been known to click through to their page with haste upon receiving their new-arrival emails. I especially love their one-of-a-kind, well-priced vintage sterling silver jewelry — this bulbous cocktail ring just landed on the site — but don’t sleep on the shop’s excellent assortment of boxy handbags or minimal ’90s shoes, either.”

— Emily Ruane, Fashion Market Writer

Vaux Vintage Vintage Sterling Bulbous Ring, $, available at Etsy

Cosabella for Reformation Elisabetta Brief

Cheeky undies are a recent Shopping team obsession, and Cosabella’s newest designs for Reformation are pretty darn cute. They’re also made with almost 50% recycled polyamide, making them a sexy and eco-friendly choice for the underwear drawer.”

— Emily

Cosabella Elisabetta Brief, $, available at Reformation
“I love a good chic-utility tote — especially now that I am an official dog-mom — and the new Go-Tote from quirky-bag brand, Baboon, is IT. Durable with an interior that fits my workday essentials and my pup, with a stylish exterior that still says fashun.”

— Liz Buxton, Lifestyle Market Editor

Baboon Go-Tote, $, available at Baboon

Coyuchi Solstice Romper

“Full disclosure: I am a hot and sweaty person. Every time I wear this organic cotton jumper to bed, I drift off to the most temperature-regulated sleep of my life. Plus, it's just as sexy-chic as a nightgown while still feeling appropriate to walk around (or out of) the house in.”

— Liz

Coyuchi Solstice Organic Romper, $, available at Coyuchi

Everlane Day Glove ReKnit

“I've never been able to really get into the flats game — my large, flat feet just don't feel easy and chic slipping into them. BUT, when I saw how cute Everlane’s Day Glove in ReKnit looked on our fashion writer, Emily, I started to toy with the idea of owning a pair. When the brand dropped new fall colorways last month, I caved, and I’m glad I did. This stretchy style felt more forgiving on my arches while still looking chic.”

— Liz

Everlane The Day Glove ReKnit, $, available at Everlane

4SI3NNA Soren Midi Body Con Dress

"My boyfriend and I are celebrating our four-year anniversary this month with a weekend trip to Boston, so naturally, I’ve been spending the past couple weeks searching every corner of the internet for the perfect date-night dress that is packable (and wrinkle-resistant), stylish, and yes, a little sexy. This minimal, body-skimming style that I found on Verishop checks all the boxes, and then some: The midi length means that I’ll only be freezing from the knee-down, and the fabric is super soft — and shockingly comfortable! — so that I can enjoy some pasta in the North End without feeling too sucked in."

— Karina Hoshikawa, Beauty and Wellness Market Writer

4SI3NNA Soren Midi Body Con Dress, $, available at Verishop

Follain Refillable Everything Soap

“I’ve been trying to take steps wherever possible to make my daily routine a little kinder to the environment. While I’m still working on weaning myself off of paper towels and cotton rounds, the easiest eco-swap to date has to be this new refillable multipurpose soap from clean beauty retailer Follain. The concept is genius: Pay upfront for glass container and refill it with affordably-priced refills in your choice of scent. Best yet, it’s gentle enough to be used on your body yet tough on dishes and countertops – hence the name, Everything Soap.”

— Karina

Follain Refillable Everything Soap, $, available at Follain

Boy Smells Cedar Stack Scented Candle

"Fall tends to come out of nowhere, and that’s exactly what happened this October. One day it was sundress weather, the next I was frantically searching under my bed for the sweaters I had yet to return to my closet. That said, the best thing about the season has to be the spectacular return of the fall candle. My current favorite is Boy Smells’ Cedar Stack, which has everything I love about a campfire (woody notes with a touch of juniper) minus everything I don’t (splinters, spiders, and burnt marshmallows)."

— Karina

Boy Smells Cedar Stack Scented Candle, $, available at Nordstrom

Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss

"ICYMI, gloss is back, and better than ever before. Right now, I have Kosas’s new description-defying oil-treatment hybrid in heavy rotation. The clear shade, Jellyfish, creates the most perfect, wet-look sheen on lips, yet feels like a dose of cushion-y moisture thanks to ingredients like peptides and hyaluronic acid. I’m also a fan of the nude shade, Dip, for a hint of shimmery nude, MLBB color that flatters my olive complexion."

— Karina

Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss, $, available at Kosas

Club Monaco Julie Turtleneck

"Between brisk fall mornings and too-toasty office heaters, dressing for transitional cold-weather season can feel like a game you can’t win. My solve for the foreseeable future will be living in thin, oh-so-layerable turtlenecks (like this whisper-thin Club Monaco one that I’ve been mildly obsessed with) that don’t make me feel like an overheating laptop. I love to wear them alone with high-waisted denim, underneath slip dresses, or with a sharp glen check blazer. The possibilities are truly endless!"

— Karina

Club Monaco Julie Turtleneck, $, available at Club Monaco

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