Living/Shopping Smart

4 Pandemic Purchases I Love A Year Later — & 3 I Regret (Review + Pics)

By | Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Instagram will have you believe I am one of those insufferable Pollyannas who actually picked up some new skills during the pandemic instead of just languishing in existential dread. And while that’s partially true – I’m now a solid B-minus student at royal icing sugar cookies and I made this giant snowflake marquee – I did not tell my followers just how much time I spent burying my emotions in a ThredUp scroll. That website claimed a truly shocking number of my waking hours in 2020 for reasons I can’t explain. Was it the thrill of the chase? Nostalgia for snappy little wrap dresses after weeks of nothing but hoodie-and-leggings combos? The numb comfort of free shipping? We may never know. All I do know is that this weird coping mechanism is responsible for many of the items on this list of the best and worst things I bought during the pandemic.

My Best Pandemic Purchases

A stand-up paddleboard: $741.91

This is, without question, the most money I have ever spent on something purely because I wanted it. I did not need a stand-up paddleboard; I already have a kayak. But between trying out my friends’ SUPs (Standup Paddleboard) and going for a few SUP excursions on vacation, I couldn’t stop thinking about getting my own. I had some leftover birthday money and a hefty freelance check to spend, so I did some research, asked my friends what brands they liked, and ultimately bought an Isle Pioneer.

It was the best money I spent in 2020. My SUP made me feel like I could create a mini-vacation every weekend while we were all hanging out at home. Plus it’s much easier to transport than my kayak, so it allowed for a little more spontaneity.

The best part: I can now invite anyone I want to go for a paddle adventure with me because now I can supply watercraft for both of us (which, more than anything else, makes me feel rich as hell). There is a spectacular bird migration pattern that happens near me, and I got to bring three different people down to see it for the first time thanks to my mini fleet. To be able to share this incredible experience with my friends and loved ones was so special and an unparalleled highlight to 2020.

A pair of extra-long Athleta pants: $19.19

I knew from the beginning that I would ignore every single article about adhering to office dress codes while working from home, so I was fully prepared to shell out on some comfy pants. But when you’re five-foot-ten with crazy long legs, this is no easy feat. There aren’t many brands who make jeans long enough for these gams—a lot of “tall” pants barely hit my anklebone—and it’s even harder to find lounge pants that don’t suddenly become crops the minute I put them on. So when I saw a pair of extra-long flare yoga pants from Athleta on ThredUp for less than $20, I snagged them immediately.

It is not an exaggeration to say that I wore these at least three times a week whenever the weather dropped below sixty degrees. They are unbelievably comfortable, they show no signs of wear, and they are, by some miracle, actually long enough for my stork legs. I still can’t believe I got them for so cheap.

Several Athleta skirts: $20 each

Surprisingly, skirts can be as hard to find as pants when your inseam tops out at thirty-five inches. A tasteful mini can cover all my bits and then some, but with so much leg leftover, I still end up looking like I’m headed for the club in Miami.

Thankfully, some other sky-high girl who is my exact size unloaded a collection of tall Athleta skirts onto ThredUp last summer. I bought them all on a whim, and I became an Athleisure Skirt Person overnight. They look super cute and cool with a t-shirt and flip-flops, and I wear them all the time.

Key takeaway: Tall gals, get thee to ThredUp.

Diva Cup: $22.95

When I first got my period, I wore pads for months before I figured out how to use a tampon. I hated every second of it and will still do virtually anything to avoid pads. (If pads are your period product of choice, great! They are just Not For Me.)

In the early days of the pandemic, when the mad rush for toilet paper was at its peak, I saw a tweet encouraging people to stock up on feminine hygiene products as well. I’m not usually prone to doom spiraling, but I found myself in a dead panic over the possibility of going to the store for tampons and finding nothing but empty shelves. Like any uterus-haver who has ever scrolled through a listicle of eco-friendly product swaps, I’ve always thought about trying a menstrual cup. Apparently, the potential threat of having to use a pad again was enough for me to pull the trigger and order a Diva Cup on Amazon. 

Best. Decision. Ever.

It may have started as a pandemic panic purchase, but my love for my menstrual cup has become a full-blown personality trait. I will tell anyone and everyone about how great this thing is. Yes, there’s a learning curve, but once you’ve mastered it, a menstrual cup will change your life.

No last-minute trips to CVS because my period, rendered unpredictable by my IUD, made a surprise appearance; my menstrual cup is always ready to go. No more mentally calculating how many tampons I need or wondering whether it’s time to swap out; I can go twelve straight hours before my Diva Cup runneth over. And no more guilt about all that plastic waste either; menstrual cups can last a year or more with proper care.

My Worst Pandemic Purchases

Blazer: $60

Who celebrates two months of working from home with no end in sight by dropping $60 on a blazer? Me, apparently. Thankfully it didn’t fit, so I returned it, but I am forever haunted by an alternate reality in which it did fit and my pandemic brain convinced me that I, a person who has not worn a blazer in literally years, needed to keep it.

Modcloth Sweater: $28

At this stage of the pandemic, I was getting by just fine on a steady rotation of the same four comfy pullovers that looked passably professional on Zoom and kept me warm in my slightly chilly home office. And yet, somehow, I got it in my head that I needed this open-weave sweater that is not at all warm, requires a cami to be wearable, and has a crew neck, which I hate. Utter foolishness. I have worn it zero times. 

Wedge Sneakers: $26.99

It should come as no surprise that the same brain that hit “add to cart” on a cold, unflattering sweater and a wildly off-brand blazer also decided that 2020 was the ideal time to take a fashion risk. Alas, I cannot lobotomize myself, so now there’s a pair of wedge sneakers collecting dust in my closet.

For the record, I have worn these exactly one time, on an errand that took less than three hours. However, the office sneakerhead did say they were cool, so that endorsement alone may have been worth the $26.99.


I’m pleased to report that my truly regrettable shopping choices have slowed to a trickle and that I haven’t missed any return windows on items that turned out to be flops. And 2020 did lead me to make some truly life-changing purchases that continue to bring me joy and satisfaction as the world inches toward the After Times. As long as I can keep my ThredUp addiction under control, I think we’re going to be just fine.

Maggie Olson is a freelance writer, editor, and content developer living in Akron, Ohio. You can see what she’s making on Instagram @maggieolson.

Images via Maggie Olson and Unsplash (header)


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