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076: What fifty bucks gets you
Part III of IV.
Should this evening digest reach you in the company of friends—having a one-drink dinner or picking up servingware from the weekend’s potlucks—perhaps you could close one eye and hold this list of small and affordable gifts up against their light to see whether anything lines up.
While the familial gifting budget tends to be the load-baring one, finding those non-obligatory and meaning-laden tokens for the tier just beyond is frankly much more fun. Everything enclosed in this email is $50 or under, a lesser stress on your disposable income than the suggestions of this newsletter’s yester-sends (you could outfit your entire ensemble cast-sized friend group for less than the cost of a Gohar World shirt-table cloth).
Find Magasin’s third of four gift guides, all $50 or less, below.
The litany of impressive -chloride and -ion minerals in this soak pales in comparison to the fact that its first listed ingredient is sea spaghetti. It’s a type of seaweed rich in muscle-soothing magnesium, but its name lends itself to the more imaginative gift recipient, who upon reading the back of the package may indulge themself in pretending they are a sea meatball, floating in a cauldron of Neptunian pasta.
The peculiar-flavored toothpaste trade is a long-running subsection of affordable gifting, longer-lasting than a food item and less presumptuous than skincare. This especially tasty-sounding paste carries the added importance of Buly origins; it’s always best if you can find your way into one of the brand’s boutiques, but even the evocation of its cabinets of otherworldly delights and velvet flourishes—distilled in this tube’s mischievous packaging—could snatch the recipient away to someplace far off.
Intended for cheeks, lips, and eyes, this color stick comes in shade options ranging from highly pigmented bronze to a green like a gorgeous grass stain to the gentlest layer of sheeny lilac. These sticks are incredible tools for creating anything from a “natural look” to a veritable work of abstract art on the face, not to mention their costume party potential. The Byredo website suggests color pairings for those who want to buy a few sticks but aren’t sure whether the colors “Sauce” and “Mesolithic” work well together (according to Byredo, they do).
While played out romantically (mostly for being so rarely executed correctly), underwear is an underrated gift between friends. This female-gazy French-cut pair by Hello Beautiful, adorned with a single satin rosette, would celebrate and expertly frame a platonic butt in your life.
Partly symbolic, as ephemeral gifts tend to be, this mushroom chocolate (not that kind) from Rafael Savvy’s Casa Bosques and Mycelia Lab best impresses the How to Change Your Mind-ers in your midsts. The reishi, cordyceps, and turkey tail mushrooms cemented in this bar speak to the connectivity between living matter—other words for friendship, perhaps—while their properties toast to health, wealth, and happiness.
These MNZ scrunchies, now considered a brand signature alongside the Julien bag and Olympia wedge, first hit the public as gifts to guests of the SS22 show. In the brand’s typical ‘80s vernacular, the unique fabric gathering identifies these carnations as unmistakeable Maryam productions: outsize emo corsages for your hair or wearing around your wrist.
Designed to be the same size as a cigarette, this lighter is a shock to the system—so obvious and so unexpected at the same time. It uncaps like a lipstick, can be refilled for long-term use, can be twirled between two fingers pensively or stuck into the rim of a beanie or the neck of a sock for insouciant transportation. The following word has been so overused and maladapted as to have garnered an acrid air not even this gift can shake, but it’s unavoidable—the lighter is, truly, chic.
This decade will be remembered by its ill-advised plastic footwear. A stain upon a generation, if you ask me. But all things considered, these rubber mocs aren’t so bad. The Plasticana Gardana Clogs made their way across alt-fashion media this year (GQ, Strategist, here…), becoming known as the “hot guy shoe” before then becoming the “hot girl shoe,” too. I tried to ignore them but couldn’t stay willfully ignorant for long, so here’s a short list of sightings: Jenny Bourn, Juliana Goldman, Juliana Salazar, Emily Dawn Long, a guy I knew from San Francisco, however many TikToks posted to IG, and an ID query in the Passerbys Discord. The people…they simply want these clogs.
More than being beautiful (though this one is), reference books should be useful. This visual glossary from Fashionary satisfies the craving for specificity when considering fabrics and fashion. “There’s a word for that” is how the mind starts manifesting, and this text is step one for conjuring an inevitably higher-quality collection.
A multi-purpose beauty tool is an on-the nose gift for anyone who either can barely be bothered with makeup or who simply can’t let go of their tiny bag habit and must choose a single tube to tote in their Gucci Ophidia Mini. This nubby stick is easy to grip on to for simple application, doubles as both a cheek and lip color, is made of moisturizing, creamy ingredients like jojoba oil, and comes in a range of floral shades with cute French-y names like “Dou dou” (a warm rose) and “Poppet” (a bright pink).
For those whose skincare ritual leans heavily on the “ritual” descriptor, this cleansing oil is a worthy anointment. Sage, cypress, and coriander coalesce in an herbaceous blend that cleanses the face in a fashion befitting a forest nymph, and a reference to Greek mythology isn’t a far reach—the brand was born in the Cyclades out of the wisdom of a Grecian grandmother.
My mom stopped asking me to bring her bagels when I visited DC because she “found a place that’s even better.” Hm. I don’t love them, so I don’t have skin in those East Coast carb Olympics quite like I do with, say, babka. As a source of pride, I always want to be the one providing the “good babka.” The thrill of finding this particular chocolate-coffee Russ & Daughters babka (Seinfeld babka episode-godly) on Goldbelly means flexing that muscle even with friends who live on the other side of the country.
It’s fun and correct to worship old brands doing things right. But it’s fire-starting to discover new brands that can keep the pace. Comme Si is the sock brand that hasn’t had to last generations to prove its worth; this pair or fine-knit, emerald green trouser socks is a worthy contemporary counterpart to Mes Chaussettes Rouges’ cardinal reds, official supplier to popes since 1798.
Bracelets are often at an awkward in-between when it comes to gifting jewelry: less suggestive and intimate than a ring, but less de facto than a necklace. This bracelet, however, engulfs the middle-ground; half modest chain, half flashy crystals, it would be equally at home alongside a cocktail dress or jeans and a t-shirt. It’s subtle but not flimsy, moves fluidly without acting as a jangly menace, and doesn’t have a prescriptive style, so any wardrobe would welcome its sparkle.
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Graphics and contributions by Em Seely Katz