Productive & Efficient Shopping Trips: Four Rules To Follow

Updated: May 7, 2019

If you like experiments, then you have to read my story. I decided to test what would happen if I sent my husband on a shopping trip to get me clothes. You might ask: do you trust your husband that much? No, I do not. Thankfully, most stores have an easy return policy. While this was a fun exercise, I also learned a few valuable lessons that I will share.

A little bit of a background about my better half: his name is Michael, and he loves Costco store. He does not prefer it, Costco is the ONLY store he is willingly visiting to do groceries, buy appliances, and even get vacation packages.

So as you could have guessed, Michael went to Costco to get me a few things. After the latest trip, he brought home a few tops, shirts, a pair of jeans, a skirt, and a dress. At first glance, everything looked boring. I saw mostly black and white colors except for the sporty blue dress.

I dove into the pile of items to take a closer look. I checked out the material tags that were on the inside; most said polyester or viscose. Immediately, I was disappointed. If you read my latest post, you know how bad these synthetic fibers are for our environment.

After the initial examination, I decided to try them on one by one to see how they feel against my skin and look on my body. I tried each item and noticed overall patterns:

Most garments:

  1. had no shape

  2. were rough against my skin

  3. seemed cheap

On their own, these garments did not stand a chance of being in my closet. I decided to move on to the second stage of my experiment - styling Costco items with my existing garments.


The first look was a classical one: dark wash skinny jeans (Costco) with a white t-shirt (Costco) followed by a light green jacket and a necklace. This outfit is a genuinely timeless combination that every stylist loves. Skinny jeans with a white t-shirt are the must-have items in your closet. If you do not have this look, I suggest you make shopping your priority.

Skinny Jeans & White T (weekend casual)

For the second look, I picked a casual black & white shirt that ties at the front (Costco). I decided to pair it with another black and white item: summery mid-length skirt. In retrospect, the look craved a little bit of color. But regardless, the skirt was fun, and I think this look can be an excellent weekend option.

White & Black Shirt (weekend casual)

For the third look, I thought it would be nice to create a business casual outfit. I pulled another white & black shirt (Costco) and added a pair of wide-leg black pants & red earrings. This combination turned out to be a perfect office casual outfit.

White & Black Shirt (business casual)

There were other items left, but I will not bore you with those. The outfits that I created were O.K. but nothing special.

The quality and price of Costco items reminded me of fast fashion culprits like Zara, Forever21, and H&M stores. Have you ever noticed the piles of clothes that are usually at the front of a Costco store? We all have -- because they are enormous. These piles remind me all too well of the piles I see at H&M stores. Sad to think that most of the clothing will end up in a landfill after a few times of wear.

I do not want to discourage you from shopping at Costco, but be thoughtful when you do. Think whether you need this item, like its material, and will wear it long-term. Do not buy something only to satisfy the desire to get a new thing.

Shopping Rules.

This experience made me think about why would one buy such low-quality items (except for when there is a real need)? I think the answer is most shoppers do not have rules to follow, or they do not think about them when they buy something new. Buyers focus on the act of buying without performing a critical analysis of garments in question.

The problem presents itself much later. Maybe when one arrives home or when he wears an item for the first time. Then it hits him that what he thought to be a great bargain is a colossal waste. He does not like the look, the feel, the material or its quality. And the item gets thrown away or, let's hope, recycled.

I believe RULES are essential. They are important because they affect your finances: you spend less if you are a picky consumer. They transform your carbon footprint: you buy less, you throw out less. Standards improve your wardrobe selection and style: you buy excellent pieces.

I will share some of the RULES that I follow when I shop. Feel free to adopt these.

  1. Design must be exceptional

  2. Item must be comfortable

  3. Item must be timeless (no short-lived trends)

  4. Price must be reasonable (for my budget)

None of the items from Costco satisfied a single requirement. And after a quick chat with Michael, we agreed that all the items should be returned.

I suggest you create your rules whatever they might be and stick to them. They do not have to be what I have; you might have other priorities but do have rules. It will make your shopping trips more productive and efficient.

When you have rules, you do not waste time endlessly analyzing. Your brain knows exactly where to go at crossroads. If an item does not meet your criteria, you are free to move on. No second guessing. No doubts. Just a clear path forward.

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