Delli Aldo Shoes

Delli Aldo and Ferro Aldo shoes are dirt cheap vegan shoes made of fake leather. However, they look exactly like leather shoes costing hundreds of dollars while a pair of Delli/Ferro Aldo shoes cost about $30 on Amazon. What’s more, in my experience, they require no polishing whatsoever, and are very rain resistant. They come in a ton of colors and sizes and styles.

There are 2 downsides: 1) they run large. My normal shoe size is a 10. In Delli/Ferro Aldo, this works out to 8 and a half. So do heed theAamazon warnings to order at least one size down. 2) They smell awful, like plastic, right out of the box. The smell goes away in a few days.

-- Ed Brown  

[Cool Tools reader Michael Rostagno-Lasky points out, "Going to the link provided to Amazon, the lining is described as 'leather,' so these are not vegan."]

Delli Aldo Shoes

Available from Amazon

Seam Ripper

I recently realized that many people are unaware of seam rippers. You can buy one for under 5 bucks. Use it to remove an old hem before sewing a new one, removing scratchy labels, dis-assembling thrift shop clothing to re-purpose the fabric, opening a seam to tailor clothing. Easier and faster than nail scissors. I don’t sew a lot, but I use a seam ripper pretty often.

-- MB Davidson  

Seam Ripper

Available from Amazon

Rowenta garment steamer

I’ve used the steamer for four years, and it’s a godsend for anyone who wants to wear unwrinkled garments and not have to deal with an iron. Eighty percent of the time, the steamer is good enough to keep the iron in the closet, and it has the added benefit of adding some humidity to whatever room you’re using it in.

It helps to de-scale the steamer once in a while. I haven’t found anything else that comes close to matching the convenience and ease of use that this provides.

-- Atul Joshi  

Rowenta IS6200 Compact Valet Full Size Garment Steamer

Available from Amazon

Long Handle Shoe Horn

You can get a long bamboo shoe horn at any Asian market for $3, or the previously reviewed one from IKEA, but I have one I really like that is sturdy and long-lasting and expensive. But it is SO worth it. Because of the spring at the bottom it is more maneuverable than regular long shoe horns, ending a lot of frustration. Over the lifetime of the shoe horn, the price is justified in my book.

-- Olivia M. Brown  

21″ Shoe Horn

Available from Amazon

Architect’s Wallet

Over the past 10 years I have slowly converted to the “small wallet in my front pocket” club. My last was minimal but it fell apart quickly as my other everyday carry items, like my pen, rubbed against the apparently cheaply made wallets I was getting. Four months ago I purchased this Architect’s Wallet after looking at other slim models. The combination of three items I always carry into one package sold me. This wallet holds a Fisher Space Pen (another Cool Tool), a small Moleskine Volant notebook, and about 10 or 11 credit cards, which is more than I carried before I owned this.

The leather is handsome and sturdy and has worn in so that it mimics the shape of my thigh, making it all but invisible in my front pants pocket. The perfect EDC (everyday carry) pocket organizer.

-- Matthew A. Walker  

Manufactured by Form Function Form

Bellroy Note Sleeve Wallet

I’m a thin-wallet fanatic, and have tried several varieties, including the previously reviewed All-Ett. The problem I continually run into, however, is the construction. What good is a wallet if your cards slide around and fall out when you open it? Or when it’s threadbare and falling apart after a few months of regular use? Because of this, my enthusiasm for the latest thin wallet design would eventually cool, and I’d end up throwing the thing out and going back to a regular wallet. Again.

That is, until I discovered the Bellroy Note Sleeve. While not as thin as a wallet made of nylon fabric like the All-Ett, the Bellroy is admirably slim as a result of ingenious product design. This includes nifty little touches like a pull-tab that allows you to easily access seldom-used cards. It even has a tiny pocket where you can stick an extra sim card, for über-nerds.

The greatest thing about the Bellroy, however, is the construction. This wallet, with its stamped blue leather, tastefully contrasting stitching and patterned cloth interior, is a terrifically handsome accessory that brings a smile to my face every time I take it out of my pocket. It exudes quality and durability, and just feels good in my hand. There is no doubt in my mind I will still be using it for many years to come.

Bellroy Note Sleeve Wallet from Bellroy on Vimeo.

-- Glenn Davis  

Bellroy Leather Note Sleeve Wallet

Available from Amazon

Jockey Bras

Every women’s magazine in the world will tell you that you are probably wearing the wrong bra size. Of course, actually going to get fitted is awkward and inconvenient, and your results depend on the skill of the person fitting you. To deal with this problem, Jockey has released a new line of bras with an at-home fit kit. For $20, they mail you a special tape measure and a set of plastic cups in a cute bra washing bag. You get $20 off your first bra as well.

The band sizes are standard; their numbered cups, 1-10, seem to go from about an A cup to an F cup. They do combine smaller band sizes with larger cups, which is very helpful for those of us with small rib cages. They currently only come in black, white, and beige. The bras themselves are comfortable; they have good straps and molded foam cups that help keep everything in place. I’ve worn mine for four months and with daily use they still look good. (Bras’ lifetime varies, but with good care — i.e., hand wash, drip dry hung by bottom, not straps — my bras usually last 12-18 months. Eventually, the elastic wears out, or the underwire escapes. The jockey bras are not showing any signs of stretching yet.)

Most importantly, they have replaced the traditional thin metal underwire with a larger, plastic piece with a broad tip. No more ninja assassin underwire escaping your bra and poking you in the side! That alone is worth the price of admission.

The bras themselves are $60 each, which makes them about mid-range in price: more expensive than a bra from Walmart, less than a specialty bra. Jockey’s marketing for the line is a little overenthusiastic, but the product is solid. I highly recommend them for anyone who is a tough fit or hates traditional underwires.

-- Sylvia Richardson  

Pointer Chore Coat

This simple denim coat has been my everyday jacket for two years. I bought the coat because of the classic aesthetic, reasonable price, and potential utility of those large patch pockets. The pockets have far exceeded my expectations.

As a writer on reporting trips, it helps to travel light. I can comfortably stash a wallet, smartphone, charger, digital voice recorder, small notepad, and pen — plus, the bottom pockets are wide enough to fit an apple and even an 18-ounce stainless steel water bottle. I now routinely leave my shoulder bag in the car or at the hotel.

In San Francisco, where I live, this lightweight 100% cotton denim works year-round. Pointer makes similar, pricier barn coats with heavy blanket lining. Personally, if it’s colder, I find layering with a wool sweater works just fine.

The chore coat I own (pictured) is the cheapest, most basic version. Pointer also offers a range of colors (tan, white), patterns (stripes, camo), as well as a tab vs. standard collar. Their most expensive chore coat costs $112.

Other brands, including Carhartt, make similar chore coats. Pointer is the only brand I’ve found that offers X-Small (I’m 5’8″ 136 lbs.); they also go up to 5X-large.

-- Steven Leckart  

Pointer Chore Coat
Available from Pointer

Breast Shapers

I have a very long torso and always had difficulty finding a comfortable bra.

I’ve used Breast Shapers for over six weeks. They allow me to go completely braless, but with complete breast coverage and support.

I looked for something like this tool, but they were always pasties or similar in size or function. Or designed for only a few wears. Or the materials were cheap and didn’t hold up to sweat. Or they only came in one size (?!)

“Breast Shapers” are a cool tool that allow me to ditch the wire altogether. Saves me laundry money, brassiere-buying money, travel discomfort, and space in my drawer. They’re made of high quality silicone and can be washed and reapplied.

-- Renata Cateline  

Fashion Forms Bring It Up Breast Shapers

Available from Amazon