Minimalism and winter clothes PLUS How to clean up a “pilly” winter hat

As minimalists, we tend to wear our clothing hard. Even if we’re rotating between a few items, everything gets regular use.

When you live in a place like Vermont, winter gear can be a big space-hog and a passionate point of discussion for many in my area looking to declutter and downsize. Bottom line: we tend to hold on to a LOT of winter items, often “just in case” (and yep, they never get used.)

My daughter has ONE winter hat so that hat gets a lot of wear and tear. We bought it for her a little big so she’s been wearing it since she was a baby, pretty much. She was gifted another hand-me-down hat this year mid-season and I was welcoming of it (“just in case her hat gets wet, it’ll be nice to have this one…”) but I’ll be honest, it was only worn once or twice. That “just in case” reasoning creeps into my head even though I know better.

We find that having ONE of certain things actually works quite well for our family. My daughter also has only one pair of boots and one winter coat.

She has other heavier sweaters that might be used as outerwear on milder days. We switched both her main coat and boots out mid-season to a bigger size this year (toddlers grow FAST – it’s no joke!) and had a bit of overlap where she had two pairs of boots and two coats to choose from but again, we rarely needed to lean on the second item. I think it’s totally valid to continue to tinker and find what works for your kid. Anyway, mid-season, off the duplicate smaller sizes went to storage to wait for our younger daughter to use. Now that the seasons are changing, she wears both her winter boots and the one pair of Spring/Summer/however long they fit her shoes. Soon, though, we’ll put the boots in storage and she’ll wear the same pair of shoes for every situation. Yes, even the (rare) “special occasion” and yes, even for play.

As my girls get older, we might have to update this a bit but my daughter has only had one pair of shoes that fit at any given time. As I mentioned before, I’m happy to tinker and find what works best, but I’ll always air on the side of too few things and add as needed. If it becomes a burden to stick to the “one” rule, I have no problem adding more stuff to our lives.

Minimalism doesn’t work if it makes you miserable or your life harder. Mindfulness is key but other than that, there are no rules for your home. It’s just that: yours.

How one minimalist family deals with winter clothes and gear

My husband and I recently got rid of a few of our “just in case” winter items and now also have one hat each. The baby actually has the most accessories with 3 hats of varying material and warmth. Controlling baby’s temperature is very important, though. Plus baby stuff tends to get dirty or misplaced. Maybe that’s just because of sleep deprivation, though, ha!

I have one winter coat because that’s what works for me. I was hanging on to quite a few coats that never got any wear for “just in case” moments. We’ve lived in areas with harsh winters for a long time and I accumulated a lot of outerwear. Now I have one Patagonia jacket with a waterproof outer and puffy insert. So, technically it’s two jackets. I can wear them together or separately and they cover 99% of the things I do outdoors. My husband bikes to work year-round, so his needs are different and he requires more, but again, he has pared down significantly in the past years. Once you address how you actually dress for the life you have versus the life you want or *might have* or only have 1 day out of 365, you can easily pare down those “maybe” items.

With kids’ winter gear it is definitely nice to have back-ups for things that get wet, like mittens. Switch to the dry pair so they can easily (and safely) keep playing! Or share a pair with a friend who comes over for an impromptu snow play date. One caveat: if you find you’re not actually using the back-ups, consider getting it out of your house.

When it comes to winter sports, it’s tempting to get specialized equipment and outerwear and accessories for every possible activity. However, if you know you actually only go skiing once a year, whatever coat you have is probably fine. I remember seeing a post which I now can’t find on Instagram or maybe a blog where the poster skied a few times a year but didn’t have a “ski coat” so they just wore warm wool layers under their leather motorcycle jacket. Get creative like that and completely avoid buying things you’ll only use once or twice. If you definitely can’t work with your existing wardrobe, see if you can borrow from a family member or friend. Also, most winter sports places from ice skating rinks to cross-country skiing areas offer rentals. At a certain point it makes sense to get your own equipment, but again, be really honest with yourself about your actual expected usage. I know so many people in my area who have a garage filled with equipment and stuff for sports and activities they haven’t touched in years.

I like to assess damage and need for mending or cleaning before we put anything away for future seasons. It’s quite annoying to open up a winter gear box only to find things that are torn or dirty.

As I’m now putting our winter clothing and accessories in storage, I’ve noticed that a few items are a little worse for wear. My daughter’s knit Burton hat was looking particularly dismal after a season of hard wear and a few runs through the wash (#becausetoddlersaremessy.)

In just a few minutes and using tools you likely have around your house, the hat is looking like new!

Taking care of winter clothes before storage, minimalist family tips


  • I mostly used VERY sharp scissors (see tips below on how to sharpen scissors!)
  • I also pulled out my sweater comb for a few areas


  1. I carefully “trimmed” all of the pills using the scissors, pulling them away from the hat and cutting slowly.
  2. I also trimmed around the top of the puff ball as some of the yarn had pulled out to different lengths.

Tips on sharpening scissors:

First, you can pay a professional to sharpen your scissors at a fabric store or craft store.

For DIY options, make sure your scissors are tightened properly first and that the blades are fully in sync so they will hit the material at the same time. Two popular DIY techniques are to cut through aluminum foil (don’t forget to ball it up before you recycle!) a bunch of times. You can also cut through fine- or medium-grit sandpaper a few times. As with any DIY option, you are attempting at your own risk. These techniques have worked for me!

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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