It’s happened to the best of us. Especially if you live in New York, L.A., and maybe even Miami. The very real and insatiable thirst for material items. You might’ve even experienced the “whatever it takes” kind of emotion which leads into the “I just gotta have it” syndrome. There’s a laundry list of culprits from the past and present in which affairs with these inanimate objects have proven detrimental to our wallets and twisted sense of urgency: the Fendi baguette; any pair of Louboutins or Giuseppes; the Celine Boston tote bag; an Alexander McQueen skull clutch. And for the downtown set, it gets serious for Boy London, Nasty Gal, or Alexander Wang anything, 40 oz. snapbacks, Supreme, Jeremy Scott x Adidas sneakers and Givenchy graphic tees (if you’re lucky). The cheapest item on this aforementioned list is $40, and it only gets worse from there depending on its exclusivity (its ultimate appeal) and demand. So why do we do this to ourselves? Go crazy over shoes and bags? There is something so self-serving in owning these items and it makes us feel accomplished, like “Yeah, I got something that everybody wants”. And this is even more true for items we may see on a celebrity or directly put on the map by one. By owning something also in the closets, of say, Kate Moss or Rihanna, it also makes us feel, “They’re not better than me. Because I have it too”. It’s an issue of entitlement and the good life lust, and it goes right back to the material affair’s core of enticing us with the promise that by tagging them along, we’re that much more prominent and fashion God approved.
We all validate ourselves in some way and another by the things we purchased, and when it’s done so through a consumer mindset, it’s usually perceived as comical. Author Sophie Kinsella’s most popular works remain the Shopaholic series, and the urban legends of glamour puss yore in which women have blew the rent on a fresh off the runway weave or a Valentino hobo still amuse with Lancome mascaraed eyes wide open. Others want an item so bad, they’ll even buy fakes or peruse online in hopes of someone re-selling it. How about Shopaholics Anonymous? Secretly sent your confirmation email to the group session yet? Again, why do we do this?
It’s likely due to a bubbling under the surface desire of being in control, and flaunting an almost there, I’m gonna make it attitude that reaches deep into the dreamer in anyone of us. When we have set our eyes squarely on that bag, those shoes, the It brand, it’s far more attainable and instantly gratifying than say climbing the rigorous ladder at work. When we finally hand over our hard earned cash or swipe that tired credit card, we’re not just believing in the dream, we’re buying it for the world to see. “I’ve finally got it” What else can I get? For all you Sex and The City fans, remember the episode where as a part of Samantha’s story line, she was obsessed with getting a Hermes beyond exclusive Birkin bag? Her character summed up the material affair phenomenon best: “When I’m walking around town with that bag, I know I’ve made it”.
The hard truth about fashion is that those that are the most fanatical about are commonly the ones left to meander on the outskirts of fashion’s heavyweights and elite events, whilst spending major coins on designer everything despite not even being allowed to step foot in a fashion show as a valued customer or student. For every city savvy adult that carries a Bally’s, Gucci, or Philip Lim bag on the train and celebrity ungrateful for the Balmain bag that was just given to them, there’s a “I live for fashion” ingenue, laying on their bed writing the latest post on their blog or observing a W or Glamour magazine because sometimes it all stems from just loving it.
The strongest solution it utter self-control. That little voice of wisdom that tells you, “You don’t need it”. “Put it back”. “Save your money”. Then there’s the other voice, you know, from the devilish one, likely rocking a pair of hard to find Tom Ford knee-highs, in a saucy tone: “Buy the bag”. “You’ve earned it”.
There’s nothing wrong with living life and occasionally enjoying a spree. We do work hard and we all like nice things. Yet when you feel the urge is getting out of control, put yourself out of the situation. Carry less money in your wallet. Remind yourself to be patient and wait for a sale (and sometimes even sales can lead into the doom of temptation, be wary! And don’t say “Sample sale” to a New Yorker. They may forget their original destination), or that you have enough for now. You’ve got what you need. Shopping is fun. But having the option to do so because you’re spending wisely is even better.
–C. Shardae Jobson
Below is a clip from a TV special on a woman who put herself in debt from compulsive shopping, and found her habit too hard to die even after criminal charges: