My Husband May Be a Coat Hoarder, But I’m The Imelda Marcos of Hats.

by Katy on November 9, 2014 · 36 comments

A few years ago my friend Sasha knitted me a beautiful scarf. The yarn is buttery soft, and the pretty blue colors brighten up Portland’s oppressive grey weather. It’s really long, which makes it super versatile. I’d been admiring the on-trend look of infinity scarves, so I hatched an idea to sew the scarf’s two ends together to create my own one. I figured if I didn’t end up liking it, I could always pick the stitches out.

So I walked over to our bin of outdoor accessories and dumped everything onto the ground. I looked at the gloves, scarves and hats piled into my entry and I had to laugh. Why? Because both of my sisters knit and crochet, which means that I’m the Imelda Marcos of hats. And the funny thing is that while I truly appreciate my sisters’ knit hats, I actually prefer a store-bought fleece hat that I picked up in 1992. (Look, I even added a cute felted flower to it!)

C’mon, you know the hat. I’m wearing it in every freaking winter photo that’s ever graced this blog.

Recognize it?

Bolt bus

A true dyed-in-the-wool minimalist would choose the single hat they wear and donate the excess. But I’ve never claimed to be a minimalist. I live in a big house and actually have the space to hold onto nine (yes nine!) extra hats. I do get rid of meaningless extra stuff, but these hats? My sisters created them for me, and they are knit with meaning.

Since I was in a semi-decluttering groove, I moved onto the closet, where I pulled out the coats and held them up one by one so my husband could make his own decisions.

Here’s how it went down:

  • “That’s the coat I wear when I’m coaching soccer in the rain.”
  • “That’s the coat I wear when I’m waiting in line for Timbers soccer games.”
  • “That’s the coat I wear for cold weather formal occasions.”
  • “That’s the coat I wear when I’m bicycling in the rain.”
  • “That’s the coat I wear for work.”
  • “That’s the coat I wear for watching soccer indoors.”

And on and on . . .

In the end, my husband let go of two coats and kept thirteen. Thirteen coats! I teased him by saying I was going to start a new TV show called “Coat Hoarders,” and that there would be very sad music that played over his segment.

But here’s the thing. He somehow wears all these coats, and we do have space for them.

Me? I have one rain jacket, one decent fleece coat and one scrappy one for when I’m working in the yard and likely to get smeared in mud. Three coats. And when it’s super cold out, I layer one fleece and the rain coat. And to balance my excessive haberdashery, my husband owns just three winter hats. One from when he was a teenager, and then two Timbers knit hats.

Sadly, I was unable to locate the scarf. I doubt I lost it, which means it’s probably hiding in plain sight. Maybe it’s just hidden in one of my husband’s coats.

Coat Hoarder, coming soon to your local TV station!

Just because I work to keep my house decluttered and free from the excesses of life doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to hold onto the nine hats that my sisters knit for me. There are no rules in simple living, and anyone who tells you otherwise is not living in the real world.

Do you keep an minimum of possessions in some areas, yet hold onto a maximum in other areas? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

NMPatricia November 9, 2014 at 11:38 am

I am loving the fact that it is ok in our eyes to hang on to sentimental stuff. Right now, I have an abundance of scarves – nearly all handmade and some by me. I like wearing what I make. They will go sometime, but I like having them now.


Katy November 9, 2014 at 11:44 am

My life is my own, and childless thirty year olds (cough, cough . . .The Minimalists) do not get what it is to set down roots and create home and family.


Carolyn November 9, 2014 at 11:44 am

Simplicity and minimalism comes in many forms. Even being a professional organizer, my home contains too many kids’ toys. Lately, I have been threatening that we need to make room for Santa to come.


A. Marie November 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm

DH and I are in no position to criticize anyone else for coat/hat hoarding, since we have quite the collections ourselves to handle Upstate NY’s Fifty Shades of Winter. I think the key to any accumulation is to peruse it regularly and thoughtfully to see what can really be discarded–which you have done, and which we do.


Katy November 9, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I was able to glean a couple of items from the outdoor gear bin for the Goodwill bag.


surviving and thriving on pennies November 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm

My name is Nancy and I hoard knitted hats, scarves and jackets.


Katy November 9, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Hello, Nancy. 😉


Elizabeth Vega November 9, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I think those of us that aspire to minimalist, non-consumer, and zero-waste lifestyles can be prone to judgment around the number of posessions a person has (and nowhere is the judgement worse than with ourselves!), but I believe it’s not about the quantity of things, but about whether they are useful, or just clutter. Two bowls might be the perfect number for one household, and twenty might still be too few for their neighbor.

If I use it or if I love it, and it has a place, I get to keep it. By that definition, your husband does have “the minimum” number of coats for him, and you have the minimum number of hats for you!


Katy November 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Well said, thank you!


Sara November 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I read an old post of The Frugal Girl’s about this recently, her principle was:
The right amount of stuff = the amount you can fully and regularly use

This is the link to the whole post if anyone is interested:


PoppyEcho November 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm



PoppyEcho November 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm

I’m a childless 30 something (though closer to 40) and I feel that I do know what it means to put down roots. Let’s not lump all childless people together! But also find the minimalists, while perfectly nice and probably inspiring to many, are a bit superficial. For one thing, I’m sure they think their writing is “minimalist” but I find it to be very soundbite, advertisement influenced.

I have a large amount of paintings and pictures. and fabric. And dog toys. And books. I have very few shoes. not necessarily by choice, I just wear them out faster than I can find ones I think are acceptable to pay money for. I also have very little jewelry. I have gotten rid of most of my cds and dvds, only a handful remain.


Katy November 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Didn’t mean you, just meant the minimalist types who think one mug and a single blanket are all a person needs. What about house guests? What about kid sleepovers? What about when hosting exchange students and there’s a sudden snow storm? What about having lots of people to the house for Thanksgiving? What about having enough to be able to loan to friends and neighbors?

I think you get my point. 😉


Rosa November 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm

those people ARE the houseguest who shows up with no coat.

Or they secretly own a whole box of mugs but it’s stored at someone else’s house so they don’t count it.

I may be a little bitter about minimalists at this point.


Cyndi November 9, 2014 at 4:13 pm

I have tons of knitwear and coats. I go through them regularly.

I did get rid of a knit hat recently. I had it on and realized my son was looking at me funny. When asked, he very diplomatically told me it was a strange shape and not at all flattering. I usually don’t care much what people think, but he made such a good, and kind, case that it had to go.


Carla November 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm

*hint, hint* on what is not on your Christmas list? 🙂


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom November 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm

I have probably as many coats as your husband. Casual/formal/cool/windy/rainy/snowy, they add up! I would like to pare down some to have more space in the closet. I don’t have many hats though.


Vickie November 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Same here. I have 2 coats and several jackets, all for different types of weather and a few of the jackets are multi-color that I wear with dress pants.
In order to keep from hoarding more, I’ve decided the ones I’ve kept must fit in the coat closet with my husband’s coat and jacket(s).

I’m not a minimalist, but I am trying to minimize my wardrobe to fit me.


AnnDenee November 9, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I LOVE hats!!! I don’t think anyone can own too many hats!! But coats on the other hand…. now that’s another story. And shoes.. my limit is 3 plus boots now that I’m back in the states.


Anne November 9, 2014 at 6:12 pm

This is a sad tale. I live in So Cal, on the edge of the desert, and have lots of coats, hats and scarves. Today, and almost all month, it was in the 80s. I loooooooong to be able to wear them. And if I go to Europe in the winter I buy more hats and scarves. I lived in Portland for five years and bought a beautiful, calf length, black wool coat in which I looked fantastic. I brought it back to So Cal and it sat in the closet for TEN YEARS. How sad. Last year I visited my sister in Belgium and just left the coat with her. Her friend pounced on it.

I did finally purge winter stuff a few weeks ago because last winter was so warm that I never got into a coat. So basically I’m just whining because I want to dress up for some nice cold weather and I envy you guys.

I do have probably 30 pairs of shorts. 😀


Dawn November 9, 2014 at 6:40 pm

From a childless 41 year old:
I have many coats. I wear each of them.
I have even more pairs of shoes. Cull often but still have MANY.
I have lots of rings. Yeah, I like rings.
But every piece of stuff I keep earns its place in my home –with what it means to me.


Libby November 9, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Funny because I was just looking at our OVERFLOWING coat rack today and thinking I needed to purge some things. And I found ONE single solitary coat to purge. *Sigh* Midwest weather–30-60 in one day which means we are currently using them ALL. 😛 Scarves though, I have more than I can count. As far as infinity scarves….if it’s not a knitted scarf you can probably just tie the two ends together in a knot. Works well with my lightweight scarves. I’m sure there’s some pinterest thing where you can tie/wrap it a certain way….faux infinity?


Sarah November 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

If you extended it to “Outer Wear Hoarders”, my husband would definitely qualify! He has about 12 hats, 6 coats, and I don’t even know how many pairs of gloves and mitts. The worst is that I will occasionally ask if I can toss a lonely mitt and he’ll reply with “but what if we find the other one?”…well then we can toss that one too!


Elaine in Ark November 10, 2014 at 6:34 am

I hate the “what ifs”! I’m single, so I don’t have to answer to anyone else, but I have finally decided to dump “what if”. I’ve been getting rid of stuff left and right. And if I ever do need that “thing” again, I’ll borrow or buy a new one. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Don’t know how you deal with a husband who does this, though.


Rosa November 9, 2014 at 9:19 pm

we keep maximum hats, gloves, and scarves – i do weed, so they fit into the drawers, but we have way more than one apiece.

Mostly this is because they get lost and wear out, and our snow season is way, way longer than stores snow-gear season. I often end up wearing mismatched mittens, especially for biking in because then I wear gloves and mittens at the same time. And of course kiddo always destroys or loses half the last pair of gloves after stores are all done selling them, but before the snow is gone.

Incidentally we’re due for like 8″ of snow in the next few days and I just realized that 1) i haven’t checked if my child’s snow boots fit and 2) half my parent friends are reporting all local stores suddenly sold out of winter boots. Oops.


Monica November 10, 2014 at 5:51 am

My husband has 75 polo shirts. 75. I counted them one afternoon just for kicks and giggles. 75.


Paige November 11, 2014 at 6:45 am

My husband is a firefighter and has a thing for department patches and shirts. It seems like all firefighters have a hoarding problem with those two things. LOL. I’m fixing to start patch frames to get them out of his dresser drawer. As for the tshirts, he wears mainly tshirts everyday he’s off, so I sneak one every now and then and cut it to be put in a tshirt quilt. It’s a slow process cause every time I turn around he gets a new shirt. Plus he’s on his 14th year as a paid firefighter, so he has A LOT of shirts. I have two under the bed containers of shoes I need to weed out this week. I’ll send them to my bonus daughter’s best friend. She wears the same size shoe as I do. My daughter and bonus daughter both have bigger feet then me.


Nancy from Mass November 10, 2014 at 6:43 am

My husband is a tee shirt and polo shirt hoarder. I swear the man has 40 or 50 tee shirts and at least 25 polo shirts from volunteering at golfing events. i try and get him to ‘thin the herd’ but he has a reason to keep each one. oh my.

OH and we wont even get into the 68 baseball/football/hockey hats he has!


Kristin November 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

My husband has so many t-shirts, I sorted them by category in his drawers so he could find the one he wants: hockey in this drawer, superheroes in this one, bands in the third…you get the idea. I was sick of hearing “Where’s my ___________ t-shirt?” Now he knows to look in the correct drawer, and it’s probably there.


Kori November 10, 2014 at 8:50 am

I have realized that I am a sweater hoarder. I have a LOT of sweaters, insufficient space to store them all… and I live in central Texas. I *know* I should get rid of enough of them that they aren’t overflowing into spaces where sweaters don’t belong, but I just can’t seem to do it.


K D November 10, 2014 at 9:08 am

My husband loves coats and hats and gloves, and also has a lot of ties. He was cold as a kid, they lived in New England and really could not afford warm things. Now I suspect he has a dozen coats and at least half a dozen hats – all black fleece. I think it is easier to see “hoarding” in others than in ourselves.

We reorganized the laundry room last weekend and apparently I am a detergent hoarder. When it is very cheap I buy it, but I did not realize how much we have.


JD November 10, 2014 at 9:27 am

When my parents died, we went through their things for insurance purposes. My mother’s sister looked up from going through my mom’s clothes and asked us why my mother had eight white blouses that were exactly the same blouse. And my dad had over 130 pairs of dress socks. He had about 15 suits, and he had been retired for years. They were married during the Depression, and I think that skewed their outlook on possessions. They took very good care of everything, wouldn’t get rid of anything, but kept adding more over the years. From watching them, I learned to purge, purge, purge!


LT November 10, 2014 at 10:37 am

Recently went through a closet that hasn’t been deep cleaned in a couple years. Found out DH had 6 pairs of shoes hoarded in there, and then I remembered he had a box of shoes in the basement too. In all I found 13 or 14 pairs of shoes that 1) don’t fit and 2) are too worn out to fit. That number does not include the 2 pairs he currently wears – one clean pair and one grimy pair. The kicker is that all 14 pairs were the EXACT same shoe style & color. He also hoards everything else, socks, underwear, old computer parts… Its a problem that needs to be addressed ASAP!

Me? I have dress problem, but but they are all so cute! Now to make sure I wear them…


TJ November 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I have a fabric stash that took more boxes in our recent move than anything else we moved in boxes. I have been sewing for 41 years, and I think I am seriously addicted. Ah well.


Donna November 10, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Books. I have let go of many either by giving to friends, family, charity. I have sold a bunch at garage sales, used book stores, and online. But I love books. I don’t buy any longer as I try to borrow or go to the library, but I still have a lot of books from over the course of many years. Little by little I have been paring down.


Ale November 11, 2014 at 8:26 am

I wouldn’t say that I have too many clothes, quite the opposite, but sometimes I feel that I classify my clothes into too many *categories*: nice clothes for work, workout gear for exercising, old-and-shabby-but-comfy clothes that I wear around the house, old-and-comfy-but-not-too-shabby clothes that I will wear for hanging out with friends or family in an informal environment or for doing errands, old-and-shabby workout gear for hiking… Not to mention pyjamas, which may overlap with housewear but also with old workout gear. It is practical for me in the sense that it requires very little shopping (I only buy to restock the first two categories, the others are stocked with the recycled clothing that “trickles down” into them), but, at the same time, just listing the different categories kind of stresses me out. Plus, it can be annoying to put away your laundry when you own four pairs of black yoga pants and five black t-shirts in different states of shabbiness that you may not be able to identify when seen in isolation…


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