When To Buy New Clothes

I am back at the park I have visited for the past three years. (From now on I’ll refer to this park as “Creek Park” for easy reference.)

I am back at Creek Park, but there is a big difference: I am wearing new shoes.

They feel a bit tight and uncomfortable. They are too white and I think it’s a bit distracting. I feel as if I am showing off, when really, my old shoes were just worn out, and I needed new ones.

Either way, I take my place at the beginning of the park and I get ready to run.

I’m off, and before I know it, here I am, running in my new shoes. I feel a bit strange and awkward. But still, I move forward, visiting the circular path I had traversed these past three years. But then, I veer off into the spiral path I found this past summer. (The secret path that taught me there was more to life than I had previously imagined.)

As I run, I look at the sky, and the trees, and the clouds, and the butterflies.

I feel strange.

But excited.

Somehow, these new shoes match how I feel inside. For the first time in my life, my new clothes match my new thoughts. The external–material–world is starting to become more like a reflection of my new inner peace.

When To Buy New Clothes

The great American philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said that the only time you should ever buy new clothes is when you have acquired new thoughts.

I used to think it was such an obscure thing for him to say. After all, what do clothes have to do with thoughts?

But I am learning that HDT was right: you should never buy new clothes unless they come with a matching pair of new thoughts.

We are told that it is the clothes that make the man, but it really is the man that makes the clothes.

A man creates his clothes out of the fabric of the way he sees the world.

For women it is no different:

Women are taught that if they just wear the right dress, they will feel more secure about themselves. But security can only come from the inside. No matter what dress you put on, if it doesn’t match a secure thought of yourself in your head, a dress will not help you feel any more secure (no matter how expensive the dress is).

No, there is no point in buying new clothes if they are a mismatch to your thoughts. It is better to wait until your thoughts change so that they fit the new clothes, because it is much easier for the material world to compliment the immaterial world, than the other way around.

New Clothes For New Thoughts

I never really cared that much about clothing, but recently I have come to appreciate clothing as a reflection of my new way of viewing the world:

A new jacket to match my new belief that I am ultimately responsible for my life. A new sweater to match my new idea that new opportunities, no matter how awkward, are meant to be seized. A new shirt to match my new view that I can receive the gifts of this world without fear or hesitation, because I am truly deserving of them. And a new pair of running shoes to match a new vision for my future, a vision that is so much more wider than I previously thought it was.

And in my writer’s room, a similar process is unfolding:

There is a new ink cartridge for the printer. A new stack of blank papers for the ink. A new binder for the novel, to be wrapped around those pages like a new raincoat for the Spring.

And once all 400 pages of the novel get printed out, I lay it down in a neat stack on my writing desk, and I marvel at how tall the stack is.

I stare down at the title on that first page, and I am amazed.

All of that was inside of me these past three years–quiet, dark, lonely and internal–and now it is here, outside of me, materialized.

Ready to greet the noisy, turbulent, bright world outside.

much love,


Today’s Courage Exercise

If you’ve recently acquired better thoughts of yourself (and the world around you) buy yourself new clothes to match those new thoughts.

If you have yet to acquire the new thoughts that would match your new clothes, hold off on the clothes and, instead, save up to buy better thoughts.

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8 comments on “When To Buy New Clothes

  1. YES, Ollin! I will buy myself something new that matches my fresh new thoughts.
    Love this post. It’s funny and wise.

  2. I know what you mean about buying clothes. I’ve been holding off on buying new jeans even though they absolutely sag off me because my head just isn’t in the right place for it. Everything we do and every change we make must be driven internally. Although much of our sense of identity is externally driven, how we respond to such things are completely internal.
    Congrats on printing your book! I’m sure it’s great.

  3. Very interesting post – I enjoyed it!

  4. cynthiamorris says:

    I love this. It does at first seem non-consequential, but as you show, what we wear is actually pretty important.

    Last year, I wrote in one of my journals: never underestimate the power of fashion. I was in Rome when I realized how important clothes are to me.

    I also, for the first of the 29 Ways to Take a Creative Leap, invited people to get a new pair of shoes.

    I’m ready for some new clothes! It’s spring!

    Have you seen this hot and fun video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmbUNF1Q4R8

    Thanks for the great post, Ollin!

  5. It’s amazing how a different mindset can even change our view of ‘old clothes’. It all starts in the way we view things. Confidence starts in the mind. I totally agree. Thanks for the reminder, Ollin=)

  6. charlotterainsdixon says:

    I’ve never heard this before and I love it. I think I’m almost ready to buy some new clothes….as new thoughts are flooding in with the advent of spring.

  7. Neeta says:

    Excellent thoughts, great levity. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ayse ariella says:

    I absolutely love the statement of only buying new clothes when you have new thoughts; I agree completely. It can make you feel like you’re starting a new slate, in a sense.

    I’m a teenage aspiring journalist/writer and I’d be privileged if you could read and possibly even comment on my new article about “a new lease for writers of this generation” at confessionsoftheoutspoken.blogspot.com

    Thank you!

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