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Not every kitchen tool needs to be a huge investment. Even professional chefs have budget favorites.
These tools are all versatile, useful, and importantly, less than $10.
Our picks include a tea infuser you can use for spices and a mini spatula that’s exactly the right shape for scrambled eggs.
Stocking a home kitchen can be expensive.
Between high-quality cookware sets, sharp and shiny knives, and a cabinetful of small appliances like stand mixers and pressure cookers, your kitchen will certainly start to take form – often at the expense of your wallet.
Related Article Module: 12 direct-to-consumer kitchen startups that are changing the way we shop for cookware and knives
However, it’s gratifying to remember that not every single kitchen tool costs hundreds of dollars. Sometimes, you only need to spend 10 bucks (or less) for a useful accessory that you’ll end up using every day, and for a variety of tasks.
Professional chefs know better than anyone that price doesn’t always indicate utility or quality. I asked 10 chefs around the country to share their favorite budget cooking tools and they had plenty to recommend.
Here are 11 small but useful kitchen tools, all under $10:
A mini measuring cup
Mini Angled Measuring Cup
Mini Angled Measuring Cup (button)
Not only is this the cutest little measuring cup ever, but I use it for everything! Forget about digging through your drawer and picking up every measuring spoon before you find the right one. This angled measuring cup makes it easy to measure everything from vanilla in your cookies to tequila in your marg. —Kristen Tomlan, founder & CEO of DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections
A tea infuser that can be used for much more than tea leaves
Mesh Ball Tea Infuser
Mesh-ball tea infuser (button)
I love to use tea balls, and they’re definitely not just for tea. I like to use them for my spices for all my stocks; it’s a must-own in our household, especially for Phố. —Jimmy Ly, chef and owner of Madame Vo NYC and Madame Vo BBQ
Versatile glass mason jars
Ball 16-ounce Glass Mason Jar
16-ounce Glass Mason Jar (button)
I use mason jars for many things, most recently as a makeshift cocktail shaker when my standard one was in the dishwasher. I mix salad dressings in them, store leftovers, sauces, nuts, flours, etc., in them and also use them as an earth-friendly way to share extra food with neighbors and friends. —Michele Rubini, chef at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
A small spatula that lets you grab every last ingredient
Wilton Mini Jar Spatula (Set of 2)
Mini Jar Spatula (Set of 2) (button)
The mini spatula is rarely spoken of, but to me, this is the greatest tool for mixing, making fluffy scrambled eggs, and helping get out all the good bits in a blender or food processor. Don’t overlook the power of a mini spatula! —Vikki Krinsky, celebrity chef and founder of VK Energy
A spray tool that you attach directly to your lime or lemon
Utopia Kitchen Store Citrus Sprayer
Citrus Sprayer (button)
This is a unique tool that will impress your friends as well. It’s a great way to get fresh citrus juice without the mess of juicing, and it works great with salt or sugar for rimming glasses for your cocktails or spraying onto a salad for a fresh dressing. —Zach Van Gaasbeek, regional chef at Bottleneck Management
A sharp zester and grater
Microplane Zester Grater
40001 Zester Grater (button)
A microplane and a good vegetable peeler are invaluable. I use a microplane for a variety of tasks, and home cooks would benefit from this tool since it is so versatile. You can grate garlic, ginger, cheese, and whole spices such as nutmeg. The grater is sharp enough that it is efficient and will not bruise your product. —Mari Katsumura, executive chef & pastry chef at Yūgen
A small strainer with an extra long handle
Helen’s Asian Kitchen Mini Spider Strainer
Mini Spider Strainer (button)
This tool can be used for lifting vegetables, pasta, fritters, eggs, or anything else that is cooked in boiling water or hot oil from a fryer. This is a very safe way of straining instead of pouring into a colander and avoiding being splashed with hot water or oil. —Paul Katz, corporate executive chef at Bottleneck Management
A tool that squeezes lemon juice
Aluminum Lemon Squeezer
Aluminum Lemon Squeezer (button)
The citrus squeezer is my secret weapon. I use citrus juice to make everything taste better and this little guy helps keep things efficient, clean, and seed free! —Vikki Krinsky, celebrity chef and founder of VK Energy
A pair of long wooden chopsticks
Donxote Extra Long Wooden Chopsticks
Extra Long Wooden Chopsticks (button)
Coming in many sizes and materials, chopsticks are extremely versatile, and I find myself using them in different ways every day. I use this 16.5-inch wooden pair for placing garnishes, cooking, stirring, plating, and more. —Sharone Hakman, chef and founder of Hak’s
A shaker to fill with your favorite seasoning
Cambro Camwear Shaker
Camwear Shaker (button)
I am a huge fan of the Cambro Camview Shakers. We use these in our BJ’s kitchens and I also use them at home — they are super versatile, inexpensive, durable, and dishwasher safe.
I also like that you can purchase different lids and use the same base container for different types of seasoning or preparation styles. These are the unsung heroes of BJ’s kitchens and versatile workhorses for every type of chef, from professional to amateur. —Scott Rodriguez, senior vice president of Culinary & Kitchen Innovation at BJ’s Restaurant, Inc.
A splatter screen to reduce kitchen messes
Harold Import Stainless Steel Splatter Screen
Stainless Steel Splatter Screen (button)
This one is a few dollars over the limit at the moment, but I fry a lot of food at home and it prevents the oil from splattering on me and the stove and floor. It’s a simple tool that makes cleaning up a lot easier. —Jimmy Ly, chef and owner of Madame Vo NYC and Madame Vo BBQ
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Monday dedicating $12 billion towards combating homelessness in the state.
The new legislation is the largest investment in the state’s history in confronting the homelessness crisis, topping last year’s amount of $950 million, Newsom said during a Monday press conference.
The “California Comeback Plan,” which will also focus on affordable housing, will come with “more transparency and more accountability,” Newsom said. He added that the funds will provide crucial support for the state population that are “getting on their feet.”
Previously, solving the homelessness crisis has been left up to cities and counties – not the state. Newsom said he will also be holding cities and counties accountable. Project Roomkey, a homelessness relief initiative, provided shelter for 42,000 homeless Californians during the pandemic.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that there were 161,548 people experiencing homelessness in California as of January 2020.
“We can end homelessness in the state of California,” Newsom said. “We don’t think that, we know that.”
Senate Democrats on Tuesday announced they struck a deal on a $3.5 trillion price tag for a Democrat-only infrastructure package that will expand Medicare and strengthen social safety net programs – and skirt Republicans staunchly opposed to more federal spending.
Combined with a $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal, the party-line agreement would amount to $4.1 trillion in fresh spending. It’s among the largest spending bills ever taken up by Congress as Democrats aim to wield their slim majorities and level the playing field within the economy.
“This is the most significant piece of legislation passed since the Great Depression, and I’m delighted to be part of having helped to put it together,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters on Tuesday evening. He’s pushed for a party-line package larger than $3 trillion in recent days.
The plan is poised to undergo the arduous reconciliation process, a legislative tactic that only requires bills to get a simple majority. In a 50-50 Senate, that means every Democratic senator must stick together for the plan to succeed.
The agreement didn’t include many specifics on which policies will ultimately be included. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it would expand Medicare to cover vision, dental, and hearing services. The Congressional Budget Office projected in 2019 it would cost $358 billion over ten years.
Democrats leaving the negotiations were confident about the topline agreement, and they said they would turn the agreement into a legislative bill in the coming weeks. “We are very proud of this plan. We know we have a long road to go,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.
A Senate Democratic aide granted anonymity to speak candidly said Democrats still recognize they face an arduous process ahead. “We don’t know what’s happening what’s happening with bipartisan deal,” the aide said. “This is the first baby step.”
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said that the spending would be “fully paid for” with tax increases. Democrats have labored to avoid tax hikes on households earning under $400,000 in keeping with President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge.
President Joe Biden promised on Tuesday to increase the wages of federal firefighters across the country, who he said make “ridiculously low” wages while fighting deadly fires.
“The last few days alone, we’ve seen droughts and wildfires in the West,” said Biden. “I didn’t realize this, I have to admit – that federal firefighters get paid $13 an hour. That’s going to end in my administration.”
Federal firefighters are paid according to the Federal General Schedule payscale. Entry-level pay is determined by “the level of difficulty, responsibility, and qualifications required” by the job.
Starting salaries may take education level, military experience, and location into consideration, ranging from $19,738 to $48,978. New Jersey, California, Washington, New York, and Hawaii are the top-paying states for firefighters.
Nationwide, the average yearly salary for federal firefighters is approximately $55,000, with local firefighters making slightly more at around $57,500. In 2019, the U.S. median household income was $68,703.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a Forest Service firefighter’s starting salary is more than $20,000 less than the starting salary for Cal Fire firefighters, Senators wrote in a letter to Congress on Tuesday. This is despite the fact that the federal government manages a majority of California’s forest land.
In the letter, Senators wrote that while the annual wildfire season grows longer and more intense, agencies are struggling to hire and retain federal firefighters due to low pay. The proposed bill language would restructure the federal firefighter pay grade to be comparable to wildland firefighters employed by state and local governments.
The federal budget to pay firefighters comes through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI). Their combined wildfire management budget has nearly doubled over the past ten years, with a budget of $6.11 billion appropriated in 2020.
The 2021 wildfire season is estimated to exceed last year’s record number of fires. Biden will hold a meeting next week to discuss preparing the nation for heat, wildfires, and drought.
I knew New York City was back when I found myself dancing on top of a booth in an East Village bar last weekend.
The night began with dinner out and ended with another bargoer’s drink on my shoe, eating pizza on the street, and an invitation from a six-pack-wielding stranger for my friends and I to drink beer and play “Mario Kart” at his apartment.
That is all to say: It was a normal Saturday night in NYC, one event in a weekend that felt very much like the Before Times. I also worked in the Insider office for the first time that Friday and hit the gym on Sunday.
Pfizer made all these adventures possible, and it seems that the vaccines are having the same effect on New Yorkers across the city.
For the past month, I’ve noticed the magical – and exhausting – things that make New York New York coming to life again: a stalled 1 train, a crowded 6 train, getting turned down by a full cab, tourists getting in my way of shopping on Fifth Avenue, trying four newly opened restaurants, the throngs of sunbathers and picnickers in Central Park, and the familiar murmurs of gossip and chatter over wine glasses on a rooftop. It’s not just a feeling: New York City’s economy is genuinely healing.
It’s also a far cry from a year ago, when New York became the center of the coronavirus in the US and everything that once lit up New York – the distant squares of office windows, taxi-cab lights, and Times Square – dimmed.
Even today, traces of pandemic NYC remain. My Saturday bar closed at midnight, and it took about four attempts to grab a late-night bite to eat at a restaurant not closing by 11 p.m. on Friday night, an insult in the city that never sleeps.
But the return of New Yorkers, lockdown lifting, and a financial boost have revived the city’s energy. NYC as we once knew it is gone, but the big city is back.
The data agrees with Bella’s diagnosis. The supposed mass exodus out of the city wasn’t so massive, according to recent data from USPS. According to Bloomberg, more Manhattanites moved to Brooklyn than anywhere else between March 2020 and February – 20,000 of them, compared with 19,000 Manhattanites who moved to Florida, 10,000 of whom plan to stay permanently. They’ll probably be back.
NYC also remains home to 7,743 ultra-high-net-worth individuals – more than any other city in the world, according to a Knight Frank and Douglas Elliman report from March. Mansion Global said the number of outward migrants from the NYC metro area ticked upward from 2019 to 2020 – a loss of 6.6 per 1,000 residents grew to 10.9 – but those who left for the suburbs were already returning.
“Whoever wrote off New York was wrong,” Kenneth Horn, the founder of Alchemy Properties, told Mansion Global. “This, of course, has been horrible. We’ve lived through a lot different, right. But people want to live in New York. People love the vibrancy.”
Late-night bars and subways
NYC hasn’t even reached its peak return of residents, but it already feels alive. A recent Bank of America Research note, from a team led by Head of US Economics Michelle Meyer, said this month would spark a dominolike return to the city, ultimately proving the mass exodus narrative was more myth than reality.
By the end of May, restrictions lifted include: most industry capacity limits, the limit on residential outdoor gatherings, the mask mandate for vaccinated people, and the midnight outdoor- and indoor-dining-area curfew for bars and restaurants.
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York wrote in a Tweet announcing some of these reopenings earlier this month, “NY is coming back!”
Now, while the state of New York officially reopened in May, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that he’s eyeing a full reopening for the city on July 1 and plans to eliminate remote learning come fall. But the Legislature unwinding many of the lifts has made it feel like city is already back in action.
“I haven’t had hope for any return to actual normalcy until now, seeing people both indoor and outdoors without masks, and it’s really starting to hit me that this wasn’t actually going to be forever,” Kelsey Peter, a 27-year-old nonprofit worker who stayed in NYC when the pandemic hit, told Insider.
Cash is flowing
The boomerang migration, uptick in real estate, and economic reopening are all helping cash flow again in a city made of money.
Card spending was up by 38% in the NYC metro area compared with the previous year and 17% compared with two years ago for the week ending May 22, according to BofA Research.
Spending on brick-and-mortar retail in NYC by local households hovered around 70% by the end of 2020, as compared to a 74% pre-pandemic trend, indicating a minimal drop from outmigration, BofA also found, while in-person spending on restaurants has improved. As of mid-April, it was still down 30% compared with two years ago but a major improvement from the 70% drop at the end of January.
NYC’s finances are also in better shape than expected. While the state’s tax revenue collected over the past fiscal year was $513.3 million lower than the previous year, the state was fearing a $3 billion bigger drop, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told Bloomberg, and a large chunk of that came from the city.
And President Joe Biden’s stimulus package included $5.6 billion for NYC, which Insider’s Juliana Kaplan reported likely saved catastrophic cuts to the city budget. This sentiment was largely confirmed at a City Council hearing in March, when Department of Finance Commissioner Sherif Soliman said this federal aid had given the city a “shot in the arm” financially and his office was optimistic for a “full recovery.”
At the end of April, de Blasio announced a $98.6 billion budget, $10 billion higher than previously planned, to help jump-start the city’s recovery. “These investments are about bringing the city back, and they just can’t wait,” he said in a press briefing, according to the New York Daily News. “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.”
But NYC is also set to get another injection of money beginning next year, now that Cuomo has finalized a budget that would have millionaire New Yorkers pay 13.5% to 14.8% in local and state taxes – the highest taxes in the country.
NYC’s next chapter
To say NYC 2021 resembles NYC 2019 would be inaccurate. Several aspects of the city still aren’t quite “normal.”
The contagious coronavirus variant spreading throughout India and other parts of Asia may also bring with it a risk of some form of lockdown returning later this year. On Thursday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the country’s full reopening could be delayed because of the variant, despite a successful vaccination campaign similar to America’s.
And while NYC is never going to return to its 2019 economy, just as America itself won’t, that doesn’t mean that the city has lost its luster. Much like it did after the Great Depression and 9/11, NYC is entering the next chapter of its life – and that’s starting now, in line with the race for a new mayor come November.
BofA noted potential for some recovery in the near term, as NYC remains a “premier city for young renters given status as economic, financial, and cultural centers.” The pullback in rents, it said, has also helped make NYC living more affordable and enticing for young professionals.
As the city was once America’s coronavirus center, NYC’s reopening serves as a metaphor for the country’s pandemic progress. It’s also revived the city’s intangible energy.
For some, this part of NYC never died. Even when the city felt empty, Peter said, there were so many people looking out for each other.
“You would get used to seeing the same vendor’s face at the wine store or at the coffee shop when you’re getting to-go,” she added. “That was all during the worst of it, and things only got better from there. It was always a community.”
As someone who also rode out the pandemic out in Manhattan, I agree with Peter. My local bodega owner, the friendly parking-garage attendant on my street, and a fellow parkgoer and his five poodles became the faces I’d typically see during my pandemic routine. With endless options to experience the city again, I’m back to encountering strangers and forgotten faces on the regular, from my waiter at Lil’ Frankie’s to my hairstylist and colorist, so much so that it’s getting somewhat exhausting.
Much has been made of what is included in President Joe Biden’s proposed $6 trillion federal budget, but supporters of reproductive rights are praising a key omission: a federal ban on funding abortion.
Known as the Hyde Amendment, that prohibition has been law since 1977. In practice, it means the federal government cannot cover the cost of abortions under Medicaid, the federal insurance program used by some 72 million low-income Americans. The Indian Health Service, which provides care to more than 2.5 million indigenous people, is also barred from providing abortion services.
A GOP effort to make the ban permanent failed the last time Republicans controlled the House. And in 2016, the Democratic Party formally endorsed scrapping the prohibition, named after its original Republican sponsor, Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde.
Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, called Biden’s move an “historic step in the fight for reproductive freedom.”
“For far too long, the Hyde Amendment has put the government in control of a personal health care decision for many people with low incomes,” she said.
It is far from guaranteed that the Hyde Amendment will be tossed aside in the budget ultimately passed by Congress. But if it is, it would have a significant impact on the health care options of low-income women. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one in five women of reproductive age is covered by Medicaid.
The budget proposal “marks a historic step toward finally ending the coverage bans that have pushed abortion care out of reach and perpetuated inequality for decades,” Georgeanne Usova, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
The US Air Force wants to mothball over 200 aircraft in the coming year to free up funds for new technology and weapons, according to the service’s fiscal year 2022 budget request.
The Department of the Air Force’s latest budget request asks for $173.7 billion, which includes an increase in research, development, test, and evaluation funding but a decrease in funds for procurement.
The KC-135 is an aerial-refueling tanker that has been in service since the late 1950s.
The Air Force has proposed scrapping 18 of these aircraft, reducing the size of the tanker fleet to 376 aircraft.
The KC-10 is a newer aerial-refueling tanker that has been serving the Air Force since the 1980s.
The Air Force is planning on cutting 14 of these aircraft, from 50 to 36, as it divests of older tankers and invests in the new KC-46 Pegasus.
The C-130H is a military transport aircraft able to move troops and cargo. The Air Force intends to retire 13 of these aircraft, which would leave the service with 128 aircraft.
The service also plans to acquire five C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System
The Air Force’s E-8 Joint STARS aircraft provide a variety of capabilities, including airborne battle management, reconnaissance, and command and control, giving it the ability to support attack operations through surveillance and targeting.
The service plans to cut four from its fleet of 16 planes.
RQ-4 Globe Hawk
The RQ-4 is a remotely piloted high-altitude surveillance drone. The Air Force has 30 of these drones, but it plans to divest of 20.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers Thursday that the budget proposal “is biasing the future over the present,” Defense News reported.
“We are trying right now to put down payments on investments that are going to pay huge dividends, five, 10, 15 years from now, for a future force that will be able to compete successfully with any adversary out there, to include China,” he said.
President Joe Biden’s first budget request will officially be unveiled on Friday, and the New York Times found that it will propose $6 trillion to help fund his major infrastructure spending plans.
On Thursday, the Times reported that the $6 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 will be accompanied by deficits of $1.3 trillion over the next decade, and it will also call for total spending to increase to $8.2 billion by 2031, according to obtained documents.
This would take the US to its highest federal spending levels since World War II, and it comes as Biden is lobbying for his $4 trillion infrastructure plan, which not only includes rebuilding physical infrastructure, but climate change initiatives and efforts to boost the middle class, as well. This budget proposal will help him do that.
The Times added that under Biden’s budget proposal, the federal deficit would hit $1.8 trillion in 2022, and it would recede slightly after that before growing to nearly $1.6 trillion by 2031. But his plans to fund infrastructure by corporate tax hikes and wealthy people would help shrink those deficits, despite Republicans firmly opposing those hikes.
Last week, Insider reported that issues that Biden campaigned on – like student debt forgiveness – will not be included in Friday’s budget proposal, based on information sources told The Washington Post, and health care promises, like lowering prescription drug costs, won’t be making the cut, either.
“The President’s budget will focus on advancing the historic legislative agenda he’s already put forward for this year,” Rob Friedlander, spokesman for the White House budget office, told the Post. “The budget won’t propose other new initiatives but will put together the full picture of how these proposals would advance economic growth and shared prosperity while also putting our country on a sound fiscal course.”
Biden also pledged to reform the unemployment insurance system when unveiling his American Families Plan, but that will reportedly not be in the budget, either. It will mainly focus on already proposed infrastructure investments, like education and climate change, and will likely not go too far beyond that for the time being.
However, this budget proposal requires congressional approval, so its fate rests at the hands of lawmakers. But given the course the infrastructure bill has taken so far, there will likely be disagreements on what will end up in the budget. For example, Democrats have been urging Biden to ditch negotiations with the GOP on infrastructure and pass a big spending bill while Republicans continue to counter Biden’s plan with a lower scope and size.
But Biden is still committed to bipartisanship, and whether his budget proposal gets bipartisan support remains to be seen.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the negotiations were an art of a “different kind of a deal – a deal for the working people.”
The US Department of Treasury announced on Wednesday that the US ran a $1.9 trillion budget deficit in the first seven months of the fiscal year – a record for that time frame.
As the country continued to recover from the pandemic, federal spending contributed to the budget deficit which marked a 30% increase from a year earlier. The department also found that outlays, or personal spending, rose 22%, to a record $4.1 trillion, which can be attributed to the government’s stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits to aid Americans during the pandemic.
In addition, federal tax receipts also hit a record for the seven-month period ending in April, rising 16% to $2.1 trillion.
As the country continues to reopen, the US economy is likely to see a boost as more jobs are added to the labor market and spending increases. However, last week’s jobs report fell significantly short of expectations, adding just 266,000 despite economists’ prediction of at least 1 million, causing some businesses and lawmakers to cast the blame on government aid, like extended $300 weekly unemployment benefits, which they say disincentivizes people from returning to work.
But President Joe Biden, and his administration, are confident in the economy’s recovery.
“I think as we continue to move forward here, hopefully in the coming months we are going to see lots of those Americans who are looking for jobs, finding jobs, and I’ll be able to stand in front of this camera and talk about the great gains we’ve had,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said last week. “But I still think 266,000 jobs this month is a good number.”
In March 2020, Vanessa Diaz was supposed to be in Mexico getting married. Instead she was quarantined in her Los Angeles apartment with her fiance and their chihuahua/pug mix, Raisin Bran. But she had just splashed out on a new set of pajamas she was planning to wear on her wedding weekend, and with no reason to leave the house she started wearing them more – like, a lot more.
Soon, Raisin Bran had his own set, too.
Diaz didn’t stop there, deciding to treat herself when she had to postpone her nuptials. Since she chose a lower-price-point Target set for $22 and kept her job in PR, Diaz was able to splurge on more sets, and over the course of a year she spent more than $100 on new pajamas. She said she’d never bought this much sleepwear before.
Prior to the pandemic, Diaz said, her leisure clothes consisted of oversized T-shirts. On the subject of pajamas, she said, “I just thought it was kind of like an unnecessary, luxury purchase, you know?”
Yes, we all know. Last April, PJ sales spiked 143% compared to March, launching an intimates-fueled year of quarantine. And in the year leading up to January 2021, market research firm NPD Group told Insider, pajamas priced at $50 or more grew at triple the rate of the total pajama market. In 2019, the global industry was worth more than $10 million, and it’s projected to reach more than $18 million by 2027.
The durability of this golden age for modern pajamas may even be a part of the new normal as the world reopens. That will depend on how long “skin hunger” and disruptions of “scheduled spend” continue to change the shape of the economy.
A post shared by Raisin Bran The Dog (@raisinbranthedog)
From unnecessary luxury, to comfort and self-care
When Ashley Merrill founded the pajama brand Lunya in 2014, she said her biggest task was convincing people to pay nearly $200 for something to wear around the house.
“They’re very comfortable spending $250 on a cocktail dress, despite the fact that they’ll maybe wear it once or twice, and very uncomfortable with the idea of spending $200 bucks on a sleep set which they will probably wear 197 out of 365 days a year,” she said.
That changed in a big way in 2020, as pajamas took the place of office clothes, red carpet glam, and streetwear. Those in the $50-to-$200 range from brands like Lunya, Eberjay, and Lake brought luxury to middle-class bedrooms, and sub-$50 sets from the likes of Target and Marshalls also served as a self-care indulgence for many in quarantine.
The market has shifted, Merrill said. Her brand, which has historically sold its washable silk sets in solid, neutral colors, is launching its first pattern. Merrill said she believes people have proven they’re willing to splurge on at-home clothes and are ready for a little more distinctive.
“We’re playing with some things that are a little more special, a little novelty, because we’re realizing, people are ready,” she said. “They now get the value of what it would mean to have something that they feel great in around the home.”
We’re suffering from ‘skin hunger’
In the last three months of 2020, searches peaked for pajamas on the shopping app Liketoknow.it, with over 200,000 unique queries for the term. A spokesperson for the company said shoppers are on the hunt for “silk pajamas,” “pajama sets,” and “satin pajamas” – all of which had triple-digit month-over-month growth last year and still sit in the top searches today.
These fabrics satisfy what Lorna Hall of London-based trend forecasting firm WGSN calls “skin hunger.”
“Many of us are starved of touch,” Hall said, “so tactile fabrications become really important, because they sort of mimic touch.” She said silks, satins, and plushes are examples of fabrics that satisfy this need.
The spokesperson for Liketoknow.it separately agreed with Hall. “Our consumers are very much still in the cozy mindset, with search data for things like loungewear, matching sets, nap dress, and home bedding all trending since the start of lockdown last year,” the spokesperson said.
Anne Read Lattimore and Cassandra Cannon, the cofounders of pajama brand Lake, said their most popular product had a blowout 2020. They sold 38,816 Peruvian pima cotton short sets, contributing to a 136% year-over-year increase in revenue. Lunya, which Hall credits with bringing washable silk to the masses, claims it has doubled revenue every year since launching in 2014, but declined to share exact figures.
The pandemic disrupted our ‘scheduled spend’
Among a certain set of customers, Hall told Insider, the pajama splurge could be the result of “lots of cash, nowhere to go.”
“The luxury pajama really fulfills a way to spend that makes sense, because you can wear them straight away, which, with a lot of apparel at the moment, you just can’t,” Hall said. “And you don’t have the event to wear something luxury and decadent to, because those events really don’t exist.”
Self-care items like pajamas took the place of what Hall calls “scheduled spend” or the purchases people regularly made in their pre-pandemic routine, like coffee, commuter fare, and lunches out. As routines changed, so did our regularly scheduled budgets. After all, Hall said, “bedtime is a thing that comes around every day, and lounging around in the house certainly is like a ubiquitous state for many of us.”
Plus, as Paris Fashion Week demonstrated, it’s no longer just about bedtime. Designers brought pajama-inspired looks to the catwalks this year, Hall said. “With pajama dressing and luxury nightwear, there’s a real crossover at the moment on the catwalks,” she said, describing Jil Sanders’ slip dress as “ostensibly going-out wear, but it’s a slip dress that could also be worn as a night dress, or is related to the night dress in terms of its shape.” In addition, Fendi’s wide-legged pants and intimates-inspired dresses fall in this category of “silky, satin-y, easy-to-wear, pajama-type wear as well.”
Hall said she believes the pajama boom will stick around post-pandemic, bolstered by designers’ pajama-inspired going-out wear. “Once you’ve treated yourself to something that’s of a certain fabric and quality level, it’s quite hard to go back when you’ve had the luxury sleep item.”