The Utterly Inessential Shopping List: Headphones for wannabe rock gods, an indoor jungle and notebook nirvana

A renewed sense of optimism and positivity seems to be taking hold of the world this week, as rays of sunshine seem to be peeking through the grey clouds that have shrouded 2020's skies.

Do the coming changes and promising hopes for a more normal 2021 mean that retail therapy will no longer be needed? Will the simple pleasures of life, which we can now openly dream might be restored, remove the need to soothe our cares with things that we don’t really need, but find ourselves desiring anyway?

Maybe, maybe. But let’s not tempt fate just yet  —  especially not when we have ideas like those below, picked out by Toby Keel and Victoria Marston.

Like wearing Jimi Hendrix’s amps on your ears

Headphones in the 2020s seem to be split in to two camps: tiny ones so small that you could lose them in a trouser pocket, or ones so unabashedly enormous that they look like they’ve been designed by Princess Leia’s hairdresser. These are from the latter camp, and rather brilliantly they’re made by (and tastefully branded) by Marshall, the iconic amplifier and speaker company whose gear became as much a part of rock and roll as guitar riffs and groupies.

They can work wirelessly or with a cable, they’ll play non-stop music for more than three days without needing to be charged up, and are comfortable to boot. Frustrated rock wannabes will love them. The only thing they’re missing is the option to turn the volume up to 11 — and if you don’t follow that reference, these may not be the headphones for you.

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Marshall Major IV headphones — £129.99

The circus is in town

From what I’ve witnessed of other people’s children, I’m fairly sure that toys spend very little time tidied away and a huge amount of time distributed all round the house. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a cute (if empty) toy box. I actually really want this for my 35-year-old self. Are shoe boxes a thing? Well obviously they’re a thing, but you know what I mean…

£54.95 from PomPom

Under pressure

A decent barometer was very much utterly essential, rather than utterly inessential, for the mariners of the 19th century — and while you might not need one today, this is a lovely piece that’s a reminder of the pioneers of weather forecasting and the countless lives they saved. This is a replica of the model invented by Admiral Robert Fitzroy, the ill-fated naval officer who captained HMS Beagle during Darwin’s voyage around South America. It works as the crystals within cluster and disperse as the pressure changes — incredibly ingenious, as you’d expect of the man who founded the Met Office.

£20 from Waterstones

It’s a jungle out there in here

Grow your indoor jungle,’ the website suggests, ‘one happy houseplant at a time.’ Personally speaking, I am incapable of keeping a plant alive and I doubt they’re very happy about it. This is part of the reason this houseplant subscription appeals — each time a new plant arrives, I can simply throw the dead one out and pretend it never happened.

From £20 from Leaf Envy

A notebook that’s truly beautiful, even if you only use it for your shopping list

Let’s face facts: Moleskine’s notebooks are the epitome of Utterly Inessential. They’re beautifully made and tactile; and they’ve never been prettier than in this ‘Studio’ series, featuring covers designed by artists from around the world. Yes, you could just as easily jot your shopping list down on the back of an envelope — but where would be the joy in that?

£24.99 from Moleskine

Getting shirty

2020 has been the year of nice shirts worn with shorts and tracksuit bottoms for many of us, mixing the endless Teams / Zoom / Google Chat calls. Maybe that’s what inspired this quirky new idea from across the Atlantic: shirts that have been specifically designed for those who refuse to tuck themselves in. That alone will tell you if this is for you; we can tell you that the shirts themselves are tailored beautifully, and come in wrinkle-free options. Let’s face it: if you’re not one for tucking your shirt in, you’re unlikely to be too keen on ironing said shirt either.

£65 from Untuckit