Whether you’re traveling for business or simply want to look sharp during your upcoming vacation, knowing how to properly pack a suit is a must. Unfortunately, you can’t treat your suit like just any item of clothing; otherwise, you’ll arrive at your destination with wrinkles and creases galore. The good news is that there are some tips and tricks you can follow to avoid those dreaded creases when traveling with a suit. Bringing wine with you? Check out our guide on how to pack wine in your suitcase.
Table of Contents
Should You Wear It on the Plane?
This might sound a little unconventional, but before you start packing your suit away, have you thought about actually wearing it on the plane? This may be the best way to get it from point A to point B without wrinkles, especially if you have a short flight and will need to wear the suit shortly after your arrival anyway.
Of course, this option isn’t practical in every situation, but it’s something to consider. Wearing your suit on the plane will also save you room in your luggage, which could in-turn cut down on baggage fees.
See About Hanging It in a Garment Bag
If wearing your suit on the plane isn’t an option, consider checking your airline’s policies for carry-ons and garment bags. Many airlines actually have dedicated “closet” spaces where suits, dresses, and other dry-cleaned clothing can be hung up. If this is something your airline offers, take advantage of it! You’ll be able to hang your suit in its own dry-cleaning bag or garment bag without having to worry about wrinkles. Plus, you won’t have to check your suit, so there will be no worries about it being lost.
If You Have to Pack a Suit in a Suitcase…
- Packing Your Suit Jacket
- Packing Your Dress Pants
- What About Ties and Dress Shirts?
- A Few Extra Trips for Traveling With a Suit
It’s not ideal, but if you have no other options, you may need to pack your suit in a suitcase. If this applies to you, there are some tips worth following to keep your suit looking fresh and clean. Start by making sure you have a quality suitcase (ideally something hard-sided) in which to pack your precious suit. Ideally, you’ll also want to pack your suit in a carry-on suitcase rather than checking it. This way, you won’t want to worry about the possibility of your suit being lost since you’ll be able to keep it with you during your flight.
Packing Your Suit Jacket
Folding your suit jacket properly is key to avoiding creases and wrinkles, even when packed into a suitcase. Start by holding your suit jacket up with your hands inside the shoulders and the jacket’s liner facing you. From there, fold the jacket in half from one shoulder to the other. Carefully turn one of the shoulders inside out over the other; this should leave the jacket liner facing out.
Packing Dress Pants
When packing dress pants for your suit, begin by holding them upside down from the bottom hem. Lay them down along where they naturally crease (this will be different from pair to pair) before folding them in half two more times. You can store your folded pants inside the folds of your suit jacket for added protection and space-saving storage.
What About Ties and Dress Shirts?
When packing dress suits, it’s a good idea to fold them while they’re completely buttoned up (just as you would find them at the department store). You can also roll them instead of folding them, which is a great way to not only prevent wrinkles, but save space in your suitcase as well. Always roll ties and belts rather than folding to prevent creasing.
A Few Extra Tips for Traveling With a Suit
Following these tips should ensure minimal wrinkling and creasing of your suit while it’s packed away. For added protection, it’s always a good idea to store your entire suit inside a dry-cleaning bag or garment bag once it’s folded. When you’re folding up your suit and pants, you may also want to try laying a t-shirt or towel underneath the fold points; this will help to prevent hard crease lines.
If you find that you still have some minor wrinkling after unpacking your suit at your destination, don’t fret. Most hotels will have an iron and ironing board that you can use to remove light creases and wrinkles. You might also consider traveling with a small laundry steamer for this purpose or a bottle of wrinkle-release spray.
Another option to consider is unfolding and hanging your suit up in the hotel bathroom while you run a hot shower. The steam from the shower should be enough to release light wrinkles and creases.
Arriving in Style
Packing an entire suit in a suitcase may not be ideal, but as you can see, there are many ways to go about preventing wrinkles and getting rid of creases if they arise. In a worst-case scenario, many hotels even offer laundering services or you can find a local dry cleaner once you arrive at your destination. So long as you follow these tips and tricks, however, you should be able to pull your suit out of your suitcase and have it look just as fresh and pressed as it did before you packed it. From there, you can show up in style to your next event!
When it comes to airline flights, it just makes sense to pack everything into a carry-on bag and avoid checked luggage completely. Going through baggage claim can add an hour or more to your day and many airlines are now charging $25 or more for each checked bag. Casual clothes are simple to pack, but when it comes to packing a suit in a carry-on, you will need some clever packing tips to arrive unwrinkled and fresh-looking.
Choose the Right Suit
Choosing the correct suit can make the difference between success and failure when packing a carry-on bag. The style really doesn’t matter, but the fabric is crucial. Some fabrics naturally wrinkle more easily than others, while others are naturally more forgiving and allow wrinkles to fall out easily. Men should choose a wool or wool-blend suit, while women can choose from any number of natural or artificial fabrics, depending on the style of their suit. Avoid cottons and linen, as they will wrinkle very easily and need pressing frequently. In general, choose a fabric with more substance and heft to avoid creases, including knits and silk blends.
Pre-Pack the Bag
Heavy items will crush the suit and ruin all of your careful preparations. Pack the bag with your heavy items such as shoes and electronics, leaving a space on top in which to nestle the suit. Always put the shoes toward the bottom of the bag to avoid them shifting around during transport.
Roll It Up
The key to getting a suit through an entire flight without being wrinkled is to roll it rather than fold it. Lay the suit jacket on a large table or bed and fold in half from collar to hem. Allow the arms to fall naturally as they lie. Place a rolled T-shirt against the top of the suit jacket collar and roll the jacket around it, from top to bottom. Smooth the fabric as you roll to prevent creases. Roll the slacks or skirt in the same manner. Place the two suit pieces side by side in the carry-on bag and add more rolled-up softer clothes around them to hold the suit in place.
After You Arrive
There is always a chance of a stray crease or two, no matter how carefully you roll the fabric, so address your suit as soon as you reach your hotel room. Unpack and unroll the suit and hang the jacket and slacks or skirt on separate hangers. Hang the suit pieces in the bathroom and run a steamy shower for 20 minutes. By the time the steam clears up in your bathroom, the wrinkles will have fallen out of the suit, leaving it looking freshly pressed.
About the Author
Working in sunny Florida, Anne Baley has been writing professionally since 2009. Her home and lifestyle articles have been seen on Coldwell Banker and Gardening Know How. Baley has published a series of books teaching how to live a frugal life with style and panache.
Skip the Garment Bag
Some airlines have in-flight hooks for hanging garment bags, but there’s no reason to let your suit take up your personal space. Instead, use a weekender bag or rolling carry-on. When possible, don’t check a bag with a suit; not only will you treat the bag—and therefore the suit—more gently than the luggage handlers will, but you won’t have to wait at the baggage carousel upon arrival.
When you pack a suit, the menswear experts at Brooks Brothers say you should fold your jacket and dress pants into each other by turning the jacket inside out, folding it down, and folding the pants around it.
First, turn the suit jacket inside-out without pulling the sleeves through, so it looks like this:
Leave the collar and arms flat inside the jacket. Then fold it in half horizontally and lay it on top of your dress pants, which should be laid out flat along their front and back pleats, like this:
Save ironing time by placing a sweater or T-shirt inside the horizontal fold of the jacket to prevent hard crease lines. Finally, fold the pants into thirds by pulling the bottoms and then the waist over the jacket to form a bundle:
If you have a plastic dry-cleaning cover lying around, you can use that to wrap your pants before the final fold. Or, you can place it around the final bundle to prevent other damage.
How to Pack Dress Shirts and Ties in Your Carry-On
Place lighter items like dress shirts and ties on top of the suit. Dress shirts can be buttoned and folded as they would have been when you purchased them from the store, or in half vertically (with the sleeves tucked inside) and then rolled from the bottom up. Ties and belts should be rolled up to prevent creasing.
When you arrive, use the hotel iron to steam out any wrinkles and hang the suit up immediately. If the hotel room doesn’t have an iron or ironing board, you can probably request one from the front desk. As a last resort, hanging the garments in the bathroom while you take a hot shower might help release some of the wrinkles.
The head butler at Raffles Singapore shares her technique—and secret weapon—for packing business attire
When packing precious garments, tissue paper is your secret weapon. “You’re always trying to minimize creases,” said Grace Kiong, head butler at Singapore’s storied 132-year-old Raffles Hotel, which reopened this month after a two-year renovation. It’s where the Singapore Sling was first slung, and where butlers have been unpacking and packing guests’ luggage since the days of corsets and morning coats. The Raffles staff includes some 20 butlers, who, beyond folding guests’ unmentionables, provide in-room check-in, run errands (when you anxiously require two backup phone chargers) and memorize guest preferences for everything from vegan snacks to pillow firmness. Ms. Kiong, 34, began her training at Raffles 15 years ago, and is deadly serious about negotiating a suit into a confined space without wrinkles. The keys, she says, are planning, patience and strategic padding.
1. Place the pants in the bottom of the bag first, before any other clothes. Position the waistband toward the wheels. Drape the legs out over the suitcase’s other end. The edge of the suitcase should hit where the knees of the pants are. Do not fold the pants.
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How To Pack It: The Dress Shirt
When you’re packing for travel – whether that’s a weeklong vacation, a weekend getaway, or a quick overnighter – it’s important to make the most of the space you have in your suitcase, carry on, or duffle bag.
And in addition to optimizing space, you also want to do your best to keep your clothing – especially those nice pieces – safe and as wrinkle-free as possible.
Traveling as much as I do every year, I’ve pretty much dialed in a method and routine. And we’re kicking off a brand new How To Pack It series to share those tips with you.
First up: how to fold and pack a dress shirt. Flip through the photos above for the step-by-step play-by-play.
Step 5 of 10. Halfway done! Use the slideshow for the full monte.
And here are a few common questions answered…
Is it possible to pack a dress shirt so it doesn’t wrinkle?
Unfortunately, no. It doesn’t matter what method you use – folding as illustrated above, another way, or rolling – the hard truth is that when you’re stuffing a piece of clothing in a small space against a bunch of other stuff, it’s going to wrinkle. Your only option is to use the iron at the hotel or to invest in a travel steamer.
How long does this method take?
About one minute.
Is it worth the effort?
Absolutely. I used to lamely fold my dress shirts and waste a ton of space in my luggage as a result. This folding method is extremely compact and saves a ton of space. Plus, it’s extremely symmetrical – the resulting small square is very easy to situate in a suitcase, carry-on, or duffle bag.
Chime in: share your dress shirt folding and packing tips below!
Ever wonder how to pack a suit in a carry-on (or “carry on” without the hyphen, whatevs)?
Whether you’re presenting at an important meeting, got invited to a destination wedding or you just don’t like to be caught without a tux, the trick is to make sure your suit still looks like, well, a suit when you take it out again.
Got the gist? We’ll take it step-by-step down below.
There are a number of ways to pack a suit into a carry on, but they all adhere to these basic principles that help keep wrinkles to a minimum:
Packing a suit to reduce wrinkles
1. Wear what you can
If you’re only carrying one suit, consider wearing the jacket.
2. Choose the right suit
Leave the linen behind, those sheep know how to do biznass.
3. Keep it simple
The fewer (gentle) folds you make the fewer opportunities for hard wrinkles to set.
4. Leave it loose
The tighter your suit’s packed, the longer wrinkles will last. At the same time, make sure it doesn’t shift or ball up in transit.
5. Hang it out
Pack your suit last and take it out to hang as soon as you reach your destination. A separate bag or Shirt Protector makes this dead simple.
Let’s get started below.
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Bags can say a lot about the travelers who drag, roll and carry them around.
Inexperienced trekkers may wrestle stubborn trunks or oversized suitcases packed to the brim, dragging them from the parking garage to the check-in counter. More experienced globetrotters zip around with sleek, rolling bags designed to fit neatly in overhead compartments. And we’ve all seen the thrifty traveler who’s packed their belongings in Duct-taped duffel bags that are older than aviation itself.
It’s easy to make snap judgments about travelers from their baggage alone, but it’s not until their luggage is unzipped, unsnapped or the Duct Tape is unwound until we see just how travel savvy they may be. Yes, the proof is in the packing.
While the optimal bag and packing methods differ based on itineraries, budgets and more, there are some near-universal guidelines you can follow to make life convenient in the airport and the hotel room when you’re living out of a suitcase.
1. Pack peace of mind.
No matter how meticulous you are in selecting and sorting just the right wardrobe, you can’t help but listen to that tiny voice in the back of your head: What if your immaculately packed bag is lost, damaged or even delayed? Your first step to packing like a savvy traveler is to select a travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance that offers a Baggage Delay benefit, which can reimburse you for essential items in the event that you’re separated from a minimum amount of time. Also look for a Lost / Damaged Bag benefit, which can reimburse you for repairs and replacements, with the specifics spelled out in your individual travel insurance plan.
You might be surprised just how confidently you stride down the concourse knowing your bases are covered with travel insurance, even if you are toting your kids’ Paw Patrol and Minnie Mouse bags (because their arms started hurting at the airport entrance). 1, 2 Before you keep on reading our packing tips, take a minute to find a travel insurance plan now.
2. It’s in the Bag
It’s time to retire the black suitcase with the broken zipper and frayed edges. Modern luggage designs include divided sections, compression straps, 360-degree wheels and even digital tracking tags. 3
If you’re packing a carry-on, make sure it complies with airline carry-on rules, because airlines are tightening enforcement. (And if you’re feeling extra adventurous — or just want to skip or reduce any applicable baggage fees — try packing everything you need in your carry-on.)
3. Consider Compression Bags
Several companies make plastic travel compression bags that help remove air from bulky clothing by rolling (no vacuum cleaner required). Travelers’ reviews are mixed. 4 Some say they’re the best way to pack a suitcase, because you can pack much more and use the bags to hold dirty clothes on the way back. You can even wash clothes in the bag if you add water and soap and then shake and massage it. Other reviewers warn that compression bags wrinkle thin fabrics, and they can make it easy to pack too much and end up with an overweight bag.
4. Practice the 1-2-3-4-5-6 Rule
Here’s one of the simplest and best suitcase-packing tips we’ve heard. 4 For a week-long trip, pack:
- 1 hat
- 2 pairs of shoes
- 3 pairs of pants or skirts
- 4 shirts
- 5 pairs of socks
- 6 sets of underwear
This list can be modified to suit your needs and the nature of your trip. For example, a business trip requires a different wardrobe than a cruise. And maybe you’re a two-shirts-a-day person, just because. But it’s a good place to start if you’re not sure how much clothing to pack.
5. Check Your Tags
Fabric matters when you’re packing for a trip. Seek out material that resists wrinkling and stains, stays fresh-smelling after several wears and dries quickly. If you’re a sweater, for example, include some moisture-wicking attire. When Tortuga Backpacks asked experts for their best travel packing tips, several mentioned fabric choices: lightweight merino wool for outerwear, quick-dry synthetics for underwear and SmartWool socks.
6. Choose a Travel Palette
To reduce the amount of clothing you pack, stick to a strict color palette: a base of neutrals, like black and gray, and then one accent color, like red or violet. You’ll be able to put together a week’s worth of different outfits from a few basic pieces. Pack shoes that complement every outfit.
7. Perform a Reality Check
Bringing roller blades on cruise chips. Or packing bulky winter gear (including snowshoes) when your itinerary only allows you 45 min to explore the Great Outdoors. We’ve heard it all. And we come to the same conclusion: your travel routine will mirror your home routine, so pack accordingly. This doesn’t mean to nix the bathing suit if you’re anticipating some therapeutic soaking in the hotel hot tub, but it does mean to think twice before slipping items in your bag you don’t use every day.
8. Roll, Baby, Roll
Rolling your clothes is one of the best-known suitcase-packing tips, and for good reason. Rolling clothes conserves space, reduces wrinkling and makes it easier to find clothes in your suitcase. But do you really know how to roll? To turn T-shirts into tidy cotton burritos, try the military roll technique. Travel blogger Michael Tieso goes a step further and puts rubber bands around his clothes. 5
9. Replace the Material with the Digital
Books are bulky, but bytes don’t weigh a thing. If you’re bringing a phone or other mobile device, consider downloading maps, translation apps, travel guides and reading material for your trip. One exception is travel documents. While it’s a good idea to store digital copies of your passport and itinerary on your phone, you should pack a few printed versions as well.
10. Assemble Activity Kits
We’re not talking about Mad Libs and invisible-ink puzzle books (although those are fun). The best way to pack a suitcase and keep it organized while traveling is to use smaller bags to separate clothes by use: one kit for swimming, for instance, and another for exercising.
11. None the Worse for Wear
If you’ve tried all these tips and you still can’t get the zipper on your bag to close, try this: take out your bulkiest clothing — whether it’s a blazer or a raincoat — and wear it onboard your plane, weather permitting. (A wool coat might not be a great idea if you’re departing from Miami.) And don’t forget to fill up those extra pockets, too.
12. Take Your Full Suitcase for a Test Drive
Think you’ve gotten your suitcase as light as possible? Carry your suitcase by the handle for a while. Roll it up and down the street. Try lugging it up and down stairs. This exercise will show you what it feels like to actually travel with your bag. If you find yourself exhausted or frustrated, you need to lighten the load.
Packing may seem simple, but it is a science with rules that travelers often learn the hard way over thousands of miles on the road. Doing it strategically can be the difference between a harried vacation with countless detours to local drugstores and a streamlined one with everything you need at your fingertips. Here’s our shortcut to packing the right way: how to find the best suitcase, minimize your load, pack what you need on a beach trip or a business trip and cut down on wrinkles.
6 Packing Tips
Follow these basic tips to pack efficiently and effectively for any trip.
1. The bigger your suitcase, the more you will put into it: The simplest way to avoid bringing too many things is to buy a hard-sided suitcase, no more than 22 inches tall (so it can work as a carry-on) with a structured shell so you can’t squeeze in any extras.
2. Do the clothing countdown: If you need a mantra to help streamline your wardrobe, use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule for a weeklong trip: Limit yourself to no more than five sets of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one hat. The list should be adjusted to suit your needs. Throw in a swimsuit and exercise gear or a suit jacket and dress if you’ll need them.
3. Lay out what you think you’ll need, then edit ruthlessly: “Think twice about everything you want to put in your bag,” said Ben Nickel-D’Andrea, who writes about flying first-class with his husband, Jon Nickel-D’Andrea, at , part of the BoardingArea blogger network. The jet-setting couple once flew to Morocco for nine days with only carry-on bags and backpacks. “Fully get rid of the ‘just in case I need it’ category,” he said. “If and when you need it, you can buy it.”
4. Think Tetris: The best way to fit everything into one bag: Fill every inch of space. For example, footwear should be stuffed with socks. Then lay your shoes together heel to toe at the bottom of your suitcase in a plastic shopping bag to protect clothes from dirt.How exactly you arrange everything in your suitcase is a matter of personal preference.Here are some popular strategies:
- Roll your clothes. This helps to maximize space and minimize wrinkles.
- Use packing cubes. These smaller bags help you keep your clothes compact and your outfits ordered.
- Try the . Carefully , with underwear and T-shirts at the center, and large tailored items like blazers and dresses as the outer layer.
5. Keep liquids in easy reach: “Toiletries should always be placed on top of your suitcase in a clear bag since you never know when T.S.A. might be interested in looking,” said Matthew Klint, a frequent flier and the award expert at .
6. Never unpack your toiletries: “I recommend keeping a separate toiletry kit for traveling,” said Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Keeping a set of bathroom products already packed also ensures that you don’t forget a toothbrush or contact lens case that you might use the morning of takeoff, she said. “Keep these items in a small pouch or box in the corner of a cabinet or drawer for easy access when packing for a trip.” To streamline what you need, consider all-in-one options like BB creams, which combine foundation, moisturizer and sunblock. To prevent leakage, double up that plastic bag.
For more on packing strategies, read ” ”
The Best Toiletry Bag
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby Small
This bag’s large hook and simple, effective interior organization make it particularly easy to pack, hang and access a week’s worth of toiletries.
Moew Wirecutter toiletry bag picks. Right Arrow Icon
Right Arrow Icon
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How to Pick a Suitcase
Buying a new suitcase? This will make your choice simple.
You don’t need a pile of suitcases to be ready for all types of trips. Luggage essentials can be three key pieces: a carry-on bag, a check-in suitcase and a duffel bag.
This trio, said Anne McAlpin — a travel expert, frequent globetrotter and author of the packing advice book “Pack It Up” — covers the bases for trips ranging from jaunt through multiple cities to a cruise to a nature-themed journey like a safari. “It’s unnecessary and expensive to have a big collection of luggage because most travelers tend to use the same pieces again and again,” she said.
Here’s how to choose within those categories:
How to Pick Your Carry-On and Check-In Luggage
Though most carry-ons and suitcases have boxy proportions and hard or soft shells, they can vary widely. That makes picking the best one more complicated than choosing a duffel bag. There are three basic variables to help guide your decision:
1. Two vs. four wheels: Which is the best way to wheel? Two-wheeled bags require you to drag them behind you in a straight line, and pulling heavy ones can be real chore. Four-wheeled bags, also known as spinners, rotate 360 degrees and are easier to maneuver; they can even be wheeled when they’re upright. But their design means that the wheels are more susceptible to damage.
2. Frequent travelers vs. occasional travelers: Travelers who are on the road several times a month need sturdy luggage that won’t fail even several years down the line. The more durable a bag, the pricier it will be — think $500 and up for a carry-on and $700 and higher for a check-in. But Lyle Saltzman, the director of merchandising for Luggage Factory, a Lambertville, New Jersey company selling more than 60 brands of luggage, said high-end bags come with generous warranties. “Many premium brands have a lifetime warranty policy that protects your investment, so if the bag gets damaged, they will repair or replace it for no charge,” he said.
Since occasional travelers don’t rely on their luggage nearly as often as road warriors, they can get by with a midrange bag, which will last them several years, and may have a limited warranty.
3. Soft- vs. hard-shell suitcase: There are benefits to both hard- and soft-side suitcases; ultimately the decision should be based on personal preference. Hard bags are aesthetically sleeker, said Dan Bettinger, an owner of Altman Luggage, a New York company that sells more than 100 brands of luggage. Hard bags also offer stronger protection than soft to the items inside and are less susceptible to wear and tear. As we mentioned earlier, a hard-shelled suitcase will also strictly limit how much you can stuff into your bag — a benefit if you tend to pack too much. And since the new models are made with lightweight polycarbonate, they don’t scratch easily and aren’t heavy. In fact, some models weigh less than soft suitcases, but be wary of a bag that’s too light: its frame may be flimsy.
The upside to soft bags: They tend to be light and have external pockets, which some travelers use to keep items like books or jackets handy. Many soft bags also have some give, a bonus if you like to cram as much as possible into a bag.