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Backed Hard: The Best Stuff We (Actually) Bought in August

Chic earplugs, cult-fave Hokas, and chainmail bikinis—here's what helped VICE editors survive music festivals, Renn Faires, and hot August days.
The Best Stuff Our Editors Bought in August 2022
Composite by VICE Staff

We did it, mate. We’ve made it to summer’s swan song after months of soaking up the sun à la Sheryl, sipping margs, and enjoying the drip of our mesh ‘fits at Jacob Riis/Will Rogers beach (choose your fighter). It’s been hot, it’s been horny, and most of all, it’s been real. A part of us will miss the hoards of AC units drooling above the city streets, but we’re more than ready to chill things out for a brisk fall season of leaf crunching, PSL-sipping, and wearing Columbia windbreakers to flirt with your mom at the rock wall. 

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All of this sounds nice, but we’re not quite out of the woods yet. Early fall can still have some damn hot days, and it’s equally possible for New Yorkers to spend Halloween poolside, or tucked away inside the bar. Summer’s warmest days always come with a few September and October blasters, which is why we’re so eager to tell you about the stuff that’s been carrying us through concerts, festivals, and social gatherings of this transitional period. 

Last month, we potted out disco ball planters, slathered on 80s-nostalgic sunscreen, and sipped craft hard seltzer. This month, we’re singing the praises of the comfy, aesthetic AF earplugs we brought to shows in Las Vegas, and of the chainmail bikinis we copped for the Renaissance Faire; we’ve scoured the web for the best running shoes to explore Central Park, and found clever new ways to stay hydrated. It’s Virgo season, jabroni! It’s time to get organized with wellness gadgets, gardening essentials, and the easiest ways to look like a normcore god with little to no effort. Here’s what our editors scooped (and loved) this month. 

The ultimate charcuterie board addition

I have given up hopes of making the perfect salami river in my cheeseboard, but I still want to look like I kind of know what I’m doing, not like I closed my eyes and grabbed the first three cheeses in the case. My secret is having the perfect accompaniments for people to drizzle and smear alongside their cheeses. There are a million different jellies and fruits you can add, but really, nothing is going to go over better than a good truffle honey. It’s sweet with that perfect hit of umami and tastes good on top of just about anything you could dream of putting on your board. I usually fill a small prep bowl with it (though you can be fancy and get a honey dipper) and throw on some grapes in addition to cracker, cheese, and cured meats. It takes it from random Costco haul to Martha-approved platter in no time. —Marshall Bright


$13.95 at Amazon

$13.95 at Amazon
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They look like Birkenstocks, they feel like a cloud

I’ve wanted to buy suede Birkenstocks forever, but something has just always made me hesitate before spending $150 on a pair of dad sandals, as iconic as they might be. But what I can handle is dropping 40 bucks on sandals that look exactly, and I do mean indiscernibly, like Birkenstocks. Better yet, these [cough] ootleg-bays [cough] have a super-comfy footbed with extra arch support, which I could always use as an archy-footed person. I bought these for a trip where I was hoofin’ it for 15,000+ steps a day, and they were unfailingly comfy. Used the extra $110 I saved to buy more weird, cantaloupe-flavored cocktails at local bars.  —Angel Kilmister


$39.99 at Amazon

$39.99 at Amazon

The best earplugs for going to (very loud) shows

I wrote about my love of Loop earplugs last summer after testing them out during my first few post-COVID shows, and I’m doubling down on my evangelization of these suckers. They are the most comfortable, best-sounding earplugs I’ve ever used for concerts, and with their unique in-ear flair, a babe told me he just “thought they were an interesting piercing,” which I’ll take any day over bright yellow foam sticking out of my head. Nah, just dorkily protecting my hearing so that I don’t aggravate my tinnitus, but you don’t need to know that. —Hilary Pollack

$29.95 at Amazon
$29.95 at Loop
$29.95 at Amazon
$29.95 at Loop
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A derm-backed fancy serum

Recently, I asked my derm what her best recs were for skincare, short of jumping to Botox or lasers. She kept it simple: A prescription retinoid at night and SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic every other morning. I get regular facials and have splurged on every hip serum known to skincare TikTok, but this relaitively simple regime has finally allowed my skin to really level up. Together, the two treatments help my skin look noticeably brighter, smoother, and plumper, and on its own, the C E Ferulic also helps protect skin against sun damage when used with sunscreen. The only downside is that C E Ferulic ain’t cheap, but when I consider the bevy of products its replacing (and that it costs less than a monthly facial), it’s worth it. —Marshall Bright


$169 at Dermstore

$169 at Dermstore

My Renn Faire bimbo jawn

It’s officially New York Renaissance Faire season (see you there??), which means everyone is gearing up to lick chicken legs and flirt with metalheads at the sprawling upstate festival. While reciting The Tale of Fram Son of Frumgar & Scatha the Long Worm is obvi my horniest flex, this sick chainmail bikini and coif combo can’t hurt my game. Plus, it can double as a Halloween costume later. —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp


$75 at Amazon

$75 at Amazon

$22.25 at Amazon

$22.25 at Amazon
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Like protein powder for your plants

I’m not the most intuitive gardener, which is a fancy way of saying I’m very impatient and can’t keep basil alive. Luckily, Back to the Roots’ nutrient-dense plant food is like Four Loko for your plants, and I’ve noticed a big difference in the health of the wildflower seedlings I planted earlier this summer. If you’re planning on potting anything for fall, it’ll def get your bounty on the fast track for healthy, fast growth thanks to nutrients such as kelp and alfalfa. . —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp


$9.99 at Amazon

$9.99 at Amazon

The best sleeves for protecting your vinyl

VICE recently asked Amoeba Records manager Chris Carmena about the best way to store vinyl records, and he had only the highest praise for these Mobile Fidelity sleeves. “Paper inner sleeves can tear, and when they do, they can scratch your records as they move in and out of them,” he explains, but Mobile Fidelity’s 4.9-star average rated 50-pack will keep them baby fresh and unbothered. You best believe I smashed that order button.  —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp


$12.99 at Amazon

$12.99 at Amazon

My new hydration combination 

All the things I enjoyed most this month helped me turn mundane, everyday tasks (i.e. drinking water and doing chores) into self-care. It may sound silly, but we all enjoy our little rituals, and if you can make those must-do things into pleasurable moments that, sorry to Marie Kondo you, “spark joy,” you’ll  have more pockets of relief from whatever steaming plate of B.S. the universe decided to hand you that day. Example: If you’re a person that forgets to drink water (guilty), you may also need to set incentives for yourself to stay motivated to hydrate. My new daily routine involves filling up a 32-oz. Mister Green Nalgene with water from my fridge Brita (which I am in a committed relationship with), plopping in a Plink hydration tablet, squirts of Joggy Runner’s High and Mary Ruth’s chlorophyll drops, and shaking. There you go—add ice, set a timer, grab a straw (I find it helps me drink faster), and suck—a whole new meaning to the word. —Becca Blasdel


$38 at Slam Jam

$38 at Slam Jam

$34.49$31.22 at Amazon

$34.49$31.22 at Amazon

$22 at Plink

$22 at Plink
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$88 at Joggy

$88 at Joggy

$16.16 at Amazon

$16.16 at Amazon

$12$6.99 at Amazon

$12$6.99 at Amazon

Mood-lifting jewelry

I was raised in a household with just myself and my mom, and as Nancy Meyers as it may sound, there was plenty of stressful times, during which it was important to remember that you always deserve a little treat. Nothing quite turns an ennui day around like a plain frozen yogurt with melba sauce from Bloomingdales, and maybe a piece of jewelry, or some shoes (on sale, of course, doll!) I’m currently frothing over this colorful jewelry that gives my brain a serotonin blast whenever I put it on. Mon Été, meaning “my summer” in French, creates its freshwater baroque pearl and 14k gold-filled accessories by hand in Brooklyn. I’m especially thankful for the convenient magnetic clasps (perfect for klutzes) and the inclusion of clip-on earrings (yes, I’m an ear virgin). This jewelry comes in extra clutch when you’re standing on an elevated train platform in the freezing rain, and can close your eyes and clutch your summer beads while you “go somewhere else.” I also personally love a man in a pearl necklace, and you too can pull one off. Plus, at under 100 bucks, these pieces are as affordable as the are cool.—Becca Blasdel


$68 at Mon Été Studio

$68 at Mon Été Studio

$80 at Mon Été Studio

$80 at Mon Été Studio

$90 at Mon Été Studio

$90 at Mon Été Studio
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A shagadelic bath mat that doesn’t quit

I have now bought three of these bath mats—a white one next to my bath, and two “honey” rugs for my kitchen (there was an unfortunate bleaching incident that merited replacement of the first). It’s super, super soft underfoot—that terry loop shag is no joke when it comes to massaging your tootsies—and quite absorbent, which, to me, is crucial since I hate the feeling of stepping onto a wet floor in bare feet. I also praise jah that you can toss it in the washing machine and dryer whenever it’s looking a little abused, and it comes out looking fresh as a daisy. —Angel Kilmister


$49 at Urban Outfitters

$49 at Urban Outfitters

Lightweight shoes for being a speed demon

When you’re a runner and psycho who also loves to walk endless miles a day, having a great shoe lineup is essential. I recently added Hoka’s Clifton 8 shoes to my collection, and they’re not disappointing—to say the least. They’re lightweight and not bulky whatsoever, which is the perfect recipe for gliding across the road. It’s no surprise they’re viral on TikTok. —Nicolette Accardi 

$140 at Nordstrom
$140 at Hoka
$140 at Nordstrom
$140 at Hoka

Post Malone’s slappin’ wine?

Ah, Post Malone—the voice of a generation. This man can rap and makes an impeccable wine—not a phrase I thought I’d ever say. Branded as Maison No. 9 Rose, it’s lightly sweet with notes of sweet peach. My roommates and I downed the bottle in one sitting on our balcony, and we have zero regrets.—Nicolette Accardi  


$29.99 at Drizly

$29.99 at Drizly
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The elusive perfect short robe

I recently became consumed with a singular desire: to find and purchase the perfect short terrycloth robe for women. Seems simple enough, but my journey was fraught with stumbling blocks. First, it couldn’t be unisex: I’m a size 14/16, so a unisex size that will “fit” me often winds up swallowing my arms while still being a little tight in the hips. I also wanted it to look like a classic bathrobe with a shawl collar (there are a lot of options out there with no collar, which just give me nurse uniform vibes). It also had to be plush, but not so heavy that I couldn’t use it in summer. At long last, I found this robe from Eberjey, which was plush but not suffocatingly so, built for a woman’s frame, and looked timeless, not clinical. My only complaint is that it tops out an an XL—we all deserve a robe that fits our maddening specifications.  —Marshall Bright


$178 at Amazon

$178 at Amazon

A tale of two shorts

Why is it so hard to find shorts that just feel right? IDK, but for some reason it’s trickier than finding a copy of Peter Steele’s cover issue of Playgirl. Huh? Nothing. Anyway, I recently attended Psycho Las Vegas, a Bacchanalian music festival in Las Vegas that required very long days and nights of standing, drinking, and hopping back and forth between a pool, a giant tent, and a dark nightclub to watch a very interesting roster of bands that somehow included both Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Rotting Christ. Also, it was 100+ degrees outside and pants were absolutely not an option. Two days before the festival, I realized that none of the shorts I owned were gonna cut it, and panic-ordered both these fabulously vampy faux-leather drawstring shorts and wildly affordable high-waisted workout shorts—the former for going full Lita Ford energy, and the latter for wearing between our hotel room and the “infinity pool” that looked out on a giant dirt lot full of construction vehicles. I figured that I’d end up smashing that return button on at least one pair, but honestly… they both rock?!?! The faux-leather shorts are shockingly flattering and comfortable—a healthy amount of stretch, and no weird plasticky smell like some fake leather emits—and the BMJL shorts are on par with anything you’d buy at Free People for two or three times the price, plus have a very handy zip pocket for stashing your cash, earplugs, AirPods, or anything else small you might want to keep track of (at the gym, or at a music festival). —Hilary Pollack


$26.98 at Amazon

$26.98 at Amazon

$24.99 at Amazon

$24.99 at Amazon

The GOAT of lint brushes

I have the most beautiful cat in the world, and she is a soft, fluffy cotton ball who acts like a sentient Furby. She also gets her soft, downy, ivory fur all over everything I own, which is not a great combo considering that 80% of the time I’m wearing a black cotton band shirt that moonlights as a fluff magnet. Sticky rollers are OK, but they’ve got nothing on Evercare’s Magic Lint Brushes. I keep one in my entryway table drawer, in my closet, and another in my car for impromptu touch-ups. No wonder it has 8,000+ killer reviews, with many calling it the “best ever” in the wild world of lint and fur removal. —Angel Kilmister


$13.99 at Amazon

$13.99 at Amazon

Catch you next month. 


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter