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How I Permanently Escaped the “It” Item Obsession

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Photo: Kirstin Sinclair / Getty Images

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You know that feeling of full-out obsession you get when there’s a shiny (and usually expensive) new bag, bootie, or dress that you — and everyone else, too — just must have? I recently realized it doesn’t happen to me anymore.

Not that it’s never happened. I’m the proud owner of an elephant-gray, early collection Proenza Schouler PS1 handbag that’s loved and well-worn and still makes an on-arm appearance from time to time. But the most specific memory tied to this item doesn’t involve carrying it to a fun event or dinner with a friend. Instead, it's the many hours — months, really — I spent considering the piece, coveting it, and online researching-slash-stalking it. When I opened the box holding that PS1 as a gift from my husband, I knew it was given 50% out of love and 50% out of hope that he’d never have to discuss that purse with me again.

The recent Vetements craze gifted me with the realization that I’ve lost that "Need-with-a-capital-N" feeling. I saw the tweets, read the stories, and get the infatuation. But my thoughts went no further than, "Huh, that's interesting and I do like those jeans."

To put it bluntly, I realized I’m over "it" — it being a particular bag or coat or pair of shoes that leads me to spend hours drooling, googling, and hemming and hawing over the purchase. Recognizing that fact was like being handed extra free time with a side of a less anxious mind.

Vetements jeans Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Not one, but two fashion girls wearing the Vetements jeans that inspired a millions dupes.

Of course still find plenty of items desirable — I love pretty, high-quality things and always will. And I totally get saving up for something for which you can’t immediately swing. But my shopping has gradually shifted to quick missions to find what I need and speedier decisions when I discover something I love. This laid-back approach came with time, the shift to a more casual wardrobe when I started working from home, and acceptance of the fact that I'm exactly as cool (or not) as I'm going to be, with or without the mini Chloe Faye or Drew or the Vetements jeans.

But before I go giving myself too much credit, there’s something else behind this permanent escape from item fixation: social media. Whereas I used to seek out runway reviews and celebrity what-are-they-wearing pics, now my Twitter and Instagram feeds bring a constant stream of The Bag You Need for Summer! Look What Karlie’s Wearing Today! 15 Off-The-Shoulder Dresses! directly to the palm of my hand. There’s so much the digital fashion world is telling me I must have that I can't focus my desire on any one thing.

Chloe Faye It Bag Photo: Christian Vierig / Getty Images

A green version of the Chloé mini Drew bag.

Already the time we spend shopping online is pretty significant — six hours per week for millennial and Gen Xers, according to a recent study. And I doubt that those self-reporting for the survey were counting the time spent reading fashion sites, scrolling through Twitter, or tapping to explore the luxury brands brands tagged in Instagram photos, especially since four out of 10 young women start thinking about a handbag purchase more than a month before clicking the checkout button.

The deluge of online info and inspiration has aligned my own shopping habits more with the latter group — the six out of 10 women who don’t spend months pondering their next purse. Consider my frequent dose of fashion from Instagram guru Eva Chen. Her taste is flawless, but if I coveted Chen's Mansur Gavriel top-handle with the same intensity I did that PS1, I’d have a mere 24 hours to deep dive into desperate need before my allegiance might switch to the gorgeous Costume National bucket bag she posted the very next morning.

Hooray, it's summer! I shall celebrate by wearing all black

A photo posted by Eva Chen (@evachen212) on

My social media–addled attention span was taken for the full, obsessive shopping roller coaster ride one recent Sunday. I love the sharp look of the ubiquitous white fashion sneakers, and was inspired by my 2 year-old's to keep an eye out for a Velcro pair of my own. That same day, my friend Melissa happened to Snap me her new Alexander McQueen Velcro low tops. "They're perfect. I love them. I shouldn't spend that much. But I want them..." went my internal dialogue.

That full-force pining lasted exactly as long as a Snapchat. And that felt really good.