How To Pack Suits For Travel: A Step-By-Step Guide
Traveling with suits can be an arduous task, especially when you want to ensure they arrive at your destination in perfect condition. Wrinkles, creases, and damage can turn your meticulously chosen attire into a fashion disaster. In this detailed guide, we will walk you step by step through the art of how to pack suits for travel so you can arrive with confidence and style.
Successful packing begins with thoughtful preparation. The number one cause of wrinkles and other issues when packing a suit, especially for airline travel, is overpacking. The strict weight limits imposed by airlines often lead us to cram as much as possible into our bags, but this approach is far from ideal for something as valuable as your best suit.
To start, you'll need the right bag. While garment bags are still useful, especially for car travel, they might not be as practical for airline travel, where carry-on luggage is increasingly limited. In this case, opt for a high-quality, spacious suitcase with a hard shell or stiff sides. This choice ensures your suit is shielded from the rigors of travel and arrives in pristine condition.
If you have the space in your luggage allowance, consider investing in a small hand garment steamer. This versatile tool can be a game-changer for removing creases and caring for your garment on the go. However, if you can't fit a steamer in your luggage, many hotels offer ironing services, or you can use the steam from a hot bathroom to freshen up your suit.
Before you start packing, double-check that you have everything you need for your suit ensemble. Imagine landing at your destination only to discover that you're missing a cufflink, a shoe, or a belt. To avoid such a fashion crisis, make a checklist and cross off each item as you pack. Include the jacket, suit pants, dress shirt, belts, shoes, socks, cufflinks, pocket squares, ties or bow ties, and any other accessories you plan to wear. Taking this extra step of organization will bring you peace of mind as you set off on your journey.
Choosing the Right Bag
Selecting the right bag for your journey is crucial to ensure your suits remain in top condition. As mentioned earlier, while garment bags have their merits, they are not always the most practical choice for airline travel, where luggage space is limited.
For airline travel, a hard-shell, high-quality suitcase is your best friend. This type of luggage not only provides sufficient room for your items but also offers protection from the inevitable jostling that occurs in the cargo hold. When choosing a suitcase, ensure that it accommodates your suit without cramping it. An appropriately sized suitcase prevents damage to your garment and pays off when you arrive looking impeccably tailored.
Packing Your Suit Jacket
The suit jacket is the most delicate and challenging part to pack due to its thick fabric and complex construction. The key here is to understand your jacket's structure and how to fold it properly. Knowing your jacket's construction, such as whether it has a full or half canvas, will significantly impact your packing method and how well it holds up during travel.
The classic way of packing a suit jacket is efficient and results in a neat square. However, it involves multiple folds, so keep that in mind if you're aiming to minimize creases. Here's how to do it:
- Lay your jacket face down on a flat surface.
- Fold one shoulder into the midpoint of the back, with the sleeve flat along the back.
- You may need to fold the sleeve back toward the outside.
- Mirror the process with the other side.
- You now have the two sleeves parallel down the center back of the jacket.
- Fold the hem to just under the collar.
- Slide your hand under the folded jacket and flip it, ensuring that the lapels face up and are visible.
- Place the folded jacket on top of the rest of your packed luggage with the lapels up to minimize damage.
- This method also works for packing your suit vest, as there are no sleeves to fold.
An alternative approach to protect your suit fabric better is to use a dry-cleaning bag. This method reduces creasing and results in a slightly larger fold. Whether you choose a traditional suit garment bag or a thin dry-cleaning bag, both work well for this purpose. Here's how to use a dry-cleaning bag to pack your suit jacket:
- Hang the suit inside the garment bag, ensuring that the hanger is in place.
- Position the lapels to face you.
- Gather the bottom hem of the jacket and fold it up to the collar, creating a "taco shell" shape with the lapels and front of the jacket inside and the back outside.
For those with satin or silk-lined jackets, there's another packing method known as the inside-out shoulder method. This approach minimizes creases and is ideal for tuxedos or jackets with delicate linings. Here's how to pack your jacket using the inside-out shoulder method:
- Spread the suit jacket on a flat surface with the lapels facing down.
- Fold one shoulder to the center midline, with the sleeve positioned at the back.
- Fold it back toward the outer edge if necessary.
- Turn the other shoulder inside-out.
- Insert the first shoulder into the "pocket" created by the inside-out shoulder.
- Bring the inside-out sleeve toward the center.
- Fold the jacket in half down the center.
- Fold the bottom section to the top.
If you prefer added protection, encase the folded jacket in a dry-cleaning bag before placing it in your suitcase. This method helps preserve the condition of your jacket, especially if it has delicate linings.
For those traveling with limited space, such as when packing a suit in a backpack or smaller carry-on bag, there's a more compact way to fold your jacket. Here's how to do it:
- Pop both shoulders of the jacket inside out.
- Fold the jacket in half so that the lapels touch with the lining on the outside.
- Fold it again, this time in thirds.
This method is surprisingly easy and effective, making it a convenient choice for travelers with limited space.
Packing Suit Pants and Shirt
With your jacket successfully packed, it's time to move on to your suit pants and shirt. These components require slightly different handling, but with care, they can also stay wrinkle-free.
For your suit pants, follow these steps:
- Lay the suit pants out, folded in half lengthwise so that one full leg is visible.
- Place the folded jacket in the middle, positioned around knee height.
- Fold the cuffs up and over the jacket, followed by the belt section, folding it in thirds.
Now, your jacket and pants are neatly squared and ready to pack.
When it comes to your dress shirt, follow these steps to ensure it remains wrinkle-free:
- Remove your collar stays before packing to prevent them from bending.
- Remove any boutonnieres, collar pins, or other accessories to avoid damage or misplacement.
- Spread out your dress shirt on a hard, flat surface, buttoned up.
- Fold the sleeves toward the center, folding them up the middle, creating a crisscrossed appearance.
- Fold the cuff straight up the back on both sides to meet the collar.
- Fold the shoulder of each side to the centerline, meeting in the middle.
- Finally, fold the hem up to the collar.
This careful folding technique ensures that your dress shirt remains wrinkle-free and ready to wear upon arrival.
Shoes, Belt, and Accessories
Now that your clothing is neatly packed, don't forget about your shoes, belts, and accessories. These items also require special attention to ensure they don't damage your clothing or get misplaced during your journey.
Start by investing in a drawstring shoe bag for your dress shoes. These bags help protect your shoes from wax, polish, and dirt, preventing them from impacting the rest of your luggage. Ideally, use two shoe bags to pack your shoes individually at the bottom of your bag. If necessary, you can pack them together, ensuring that the soles are on the outside and the shoe heel-to-toe. This may cause a bit of compression, but it's a practical way to keep your shoes secure.
To optimize space and keep small accessories organized, you can roll up items like socks, ties, belts, pocket squares, and other accessories and place them inside your shoes. This not only saves space but also ensures that these items don't shift around and cause creases or wrinkles in your clothing.
However, exercise caution when it comes to small, valuable jewelry items such as cufflinks and watches. It's not advisable to store these items in your checked luggage due to the risk of theft. Instead, place them in a small, discreet bag in your carry-on luggage for added safety. There are various jewelry rolls and pouches designed to protect and organize your accessories, making them easy to find when you need them. While a simple drawstring bag or an old sock can work in a pinch, it's best to keep individual pieces separated to prevent scratching or tangling.
Dos and Don'ts
To summarize the key dos and don'ts when packing suits for travel:
- Pack your suit carefully to avoid wrinkles and damage.
- Choose the right bag for your journey, considering luggage space and protection.
- Invest in a hand garment steamer for on-the-go care.
- Double-check that you have all the components of your suit and accessories before you leave.
- Avoid overpacking, as it can lead to unwanted wrinkles.
- Refrain from creating sharp creases when folding your suit jacket.
- Don't store small, valuable jewelry items in checked luggage due to the risk of theft; put them in your travel backpack!
Mastering the art of packing suits for travel involves careful preparation, choosing the right luggage, and employing proper folding techniques. By following the steps outlined in this guide and adhering to the dos and don'ts, you can ensure that your suits arrive at your destination looking sharp and wrinkle-free.
For the ultimate travel companion that complements your well-packed suits, consider Duravo's Expandable International Carry-on Suitcase. Designed for effortless and stylish travel, this suitcase offers the perfect blend of functionality and sophistication, ensuring that your attire stays in impeccable condition throughout your journey.
By following these expert packing tips and investing in the right luggage, you can confidently travel with your suits while preserving their impeccable condition. Say goodbye to wrinkles and creases, and hello to stylish and wrinkle-free travel.