It’s that time of year again, summer weddings, Italian vacations and for some of us, overseas business trips or job interviews. A good suit, – be it a casual linen suit one or a sober navy piece – is essential, but travelling with a suit can be tricky. So let us show you wrinkle-free packing with ease!
Suits are awesome. Packing suits is not. A well fitting suit makes you look dynamite and can fit a lot of different occasions. Be it a job interview, a wedding or god forbid a funeral, chances are you might have to travel with your suit. Making sure the suit arrives in one piece and without wrinkles is top priority if you want to look your best. So let us look at how to pack your suit when travelling, what to do if it wrinkled in transit and how to fold your shirts and trousers.
Best Way to Pack a Suit: How to Fold a Suit
How to Pack a Sports Coat/ How to Fold a Suit Jacket
The most important thing to learn when travelling with tailoring is how to pack a suit, but most importantly, how to pack a suit in a suitcase. If you have a generous enough suitcase, you can take your suit on a hanger, put it in a suit travel bag and fold it half way at the waist, lay it on top of your other items and you’re good to go.
But if you are like most of us and travel with a smaller carry-on suitcase, or even an unstructured weekender style bag, there is not getting around it, you will have to fold your suit. But how do you fold a suit for travel? How to do it without getting suit wrinkles? Can you carry on a garment bag? It may be possible. But how But here’s how to cope if you can’t.
The key is to protect the sleeves and shoulders. You do this by turning one of the sleeves inside out, and tuck the turned out shoulder into the other one by folding the jacket in half. Check out the video above for more direction, it is pretty strange at first, but after you try it, it does make sense. Trousers are much easier. Lay them flat on their sides, so that they are folded by their front crease. Going from the bottom, fold them up three times and you’re good to go.
Make sure you don’t put heavy items like shoes or a laptop on top of your folded suit as they could put pressure on those folds. The best thing to do is to put your folded suit into a bag and lay it in the inside of the lid of your suitcase. Most suitcases have a separate container on the back of their lid specifically for tailoring, use it.
Pro Tip: Once you arrive at your destination, unpack your suit and hang it up on a nice, wide hanger to let it settle back into shape.
Folding an Unstructured Suit
Modern suits take a lot of inspiration from Italian tailoring. One thing they all seem to have in common is a less structured construction. This is especially true to their shoulders. While traditional British tailoring uses thick, roped shoulders that give the wearer a powerful silhouette, the Italians opted for less padding, resulting in a more natural shoulder line.
Since today’s business casual workplace favours laid back yet put together outfits, the unstructured Italian suit reigns supreme. Chances are you also have one. In this case, protecting the construction of the shoulders becomes less important and you can use another method to fold your suit up for travelling. This method will also ensure that your suit will survive the trip without any wrinkles.
First, lay the jacket perfectly flat without buttoning it up, the buttons might create unnecessary tension if it’s done up. Flip the jacket over and carefully fold one side to the center seam running along the middle of the back of the jacket. Flatten the sleeve and then repeat the procedure with the other side of the jacket as well.
How to Fold Trousers
Now come the trousers, nothing special here to be honest, similar to folding a structured suit, just lay the trousers flat on their sides with the center crease running on each side, and fold them up four times. Once you have the trousers folded, put them on top of one side of the folded jacket and fold the jacket in half. Done, now you have a neat little package to put in your bag of choice.
Pro Tip: Put the folded suit in a zippable bag and close it with a little air left inside. The slightly inflated bag will protect your suit from any pressure that could make it wrinkle.
How to Fold a Dress Shirt
Travelling with a suit means you are going for a formal look and that means shirts, several of them. Most suits are made of wool and thus are less prone to wrinkles but shirts are almost exclusively made of cotton, a material that is easy to wrinkle. So folding your shirts the right way can mean the difference between an effortlessly put together look and getting up early to get your shirts pressed in the morning. Here’s to fold a dress shirt for travel.
Start by having your shirts properly ironed, no use in folding up a wrinkled shirt. Fully button up your shirt, you can skip a button or two if you are feeling lazy but make sure the top and bottom ones are done up.
Lay the shirt flat on its front, then fold the right sleeve straight across at the shoulder. Now comes the tricky part. Fold the right sleeve up towards the collar in an L shape (check out the pictures on top to guide you) then fold the cuffs down towards the hem of the shirt. Now do the same thing with the left sleeve. Now fold the right side of the shirt to the middle and repeat with the left side. Now fold the bottom third of the shirt up then fold it again, it should become a neat package. Flip it over and there you have, just like in the department store, a properly folded shirt that will not wrinkle easily.
How to Get Wrinkles out of a Suit
Sometimes there is no getting around it, your suit will get wrinkled. So what to do when this horrible thing happens? Well, if you can, wait a day or two. Wool is an extremely resilient fabric and if only lightly wrinkled it will spring back into place after a night or two. Just hang your suit on a proper hanger with wide shoulders, throw the trousers across the beam in the middle and let gravity do the rest.
Get your suit steamed. You can do this yourself if you happen to have a travel steamer at hand. If you are the type of professional who is always on the road, it might be worth considering investing in one. You can pick up a travel steamer for as low as £50. Most people do not have a travel steamer though, and they do not usually need one, until they do. When this happens, check in your hotel, they should have a steaming service or even provide you with a steamer free of charge or for a nominal fee. Looking sharp is worth spending a couple of pounds on.
There is of course a DIY version of the steamer. Yep, it is your hotel bathroom. Hang your suit on a proper hanger, like we discussed above and hang it up in the bathroom. Turn on the shower and set it to boiling hot, leave it running for some time until the bathroom turns into a sauna. Once your suit is well steamed, get it out and hang it in a dry place, but avoid extreme heat, like hanging it above the radiator.
Ironing your trousers can work out well. Just make sure you put a rag between the iron and the fabric to avoid developing shiny spots. Also, pay extra attention to the composition of your trousers’ fabric and make sure you use the right setting.
Can you iron a suit jacket? The general rule of thumb is that it’s better not to. If you must, you can iron out a couple of nasty wrinkles if you are in a hurry, but do use the steam button generously and always put a rag between the iron and the fabric.
Here’s a great low cost alternative for a wrinkled suit jacket and trouser. A bit of a shady tactic to get wrinkles out of your suit is to sprinkle the jacket with water until moist. Use a spritzer bottle and do not get too close when spraying, you only want to get the fabric damp, not soaking wet. Once you are done spraying, use your hands to smooth out the wrinkles.
There are commercially available anti-wrinkle sprays that have some added chemicals to help this process. But you can also mix up your own batch by adding a dash of fabric softener to the mix.
Avoid Getting your Suit Dry Cleaned
You might think that getting your suit dry cleaned and pressed is the best, if not the cheapest, option out there to remove wrinkles from a suit. Sorry to say, but you are dead wrong. If you can, avoid dry cleaning your tailoring at all cost. Why? Because dry cleaning involves harsh chemicals that can deteriorate the fabric of your suit a lot faster. Think of that beautiful silk-linen-wool mix sport coat, now imagine it in a pool of aggressive detergents. Not a pretty picture is it?
Also, most of the suits available on the high street have a so-called fused construction. This means that the chest canvas of the suit is not floating like on Savile Row suits, but is rather fused to the inside lining and the outside fabric. When a suit is dry cleaned and pressed, the garment is exposed to high levels of heat, something that the glue used between those layers is not designed to take. The result will be little bubbles under the fabric, something that is nearly impossible to get out and can ruin your favorite suit.
Same goes for dry cleaning your shirts. Fused collars and cuffs can also develop those nasty bubbles. Sure, shirts are cheaper than suits, but getting one ruined because you were lazy to wash them yourself is not the way to go.
Linen Suits and Travelling
Linen suits will get wrinkled, a lot. But it’s okay, it gives them their charm, a fully pressed linen suit just looks out of place. You can steam them from time to time to get the roll out of the front of the jacket’s two halves, but other than that, embrace those wrinkles. After all, linen suits are the perfect choice for the summer.
Choose the Right Bag
Make sure you travel with a good suitcase, the rigid frame is imperative to keep your tailoring wrinkle free. And they are called suitcases for a reason. While weekenders and leather duffel bags are stylish and great for a casual weekend getaway, they are not the ideal choice for travelling with a suit.
Another thing to consider is a good suit bag. If you have bought a respectably high end suit, it should come with one. If you do not have one, think about getting one, they are not expensive and can protect your suit from the elements and stains. After all, it would be a shame to get some of that chocolate you brought back from Switzerland to melt on your favourite Prince of Wales suit when you arrive in sunny Cordoba for an important meeting. Sounds silly, right? Something similar did happen to me though, and if I would have had a suit bag, I would still be wearing that beige linen suit throughout the summer.
Wear your Suit to the Plane
There is one way you can cheat a bit on packing your suit. That’s right, not packing it at all, but rather wearing it to the plane. Unless it is an overseas, insanely long flight, consider wearing your suit to the plane. You will look miles better than those who opted for comfortable sweatpants and t-shirts and you might even be treated better thanks to your dashing looks.
It can get cold on the plane, so having a jacket on is never a bad choice and wearing your dress shoes on the flight also means that you don’t have to worry about them getting squashed in your bag.
Your Quick Guide to Travelling with a Suit
- If your suitcase is big enough, keep it in a suit bag to keep it crease free and clean.
- Keep your suit in the area under the lid so there’s no pressure on it creating creases.
- If it does wrinkle, just hang your suit on a proper hanger with wide shoulders, throw the trousers across the beam in the middle and let gravity do the rest.
- Get your suit steamed. You can do this yourself if you happen to have a travel steamer at hand. If you are the type of professional who is always on the road, it might be worth considering investing in one. Check your hotel, they should have a steaming service or even provide you with a steamer free of charge or for a nominal fee. Looking sharp is worth spending a couple of pounds on.
- There is of course a DIY version of the steamer. Hang your suit on a proper hanger. Turn on the shower and set it to boiling hot, leave it running for some time until the bathroom turns into a sauna. Once your suit is well steamed, get it out and hang it in a dry place, but avoid extreme heat, like hanging it above the radiator.
- Wear your suit on the plane to keep it crease free.
So there you have it, now you can pack a suit with confidence and know what to do with wrinkles if they did manage to manifest. Just remember, it’s not the end of the world if it does crease as there’s plenty of nifty ideas to help. So travel with ease with this handy guide.
Feature image from Pinterest