If you travel on business, or even on vacation to a destination requiring formal attire (upscale restaurants, weddings), then you’ve had to deal with the ‘Suit Packing Conundrum’:
A) Wear it on the plane, endure being uncomfortable and possibly fall victim to spills and creases besmirching your best jacket, or
B) Pack it and just plan to iron at your destination, possibly even having to lug your own iron.
Neither of these are ideal. We all know that flight attendant X will be having one of his more clumsy days with circumnavigating the coffee, destination: your suit. And forget about option B, that’s for people who can actually iron a suit without leaving shiny stripes reminiscent of a 1980s Adidas cross-over garment.
How about option C (for Cool): Pack your suit and have it arrive pretty much pristine and ready to wear? Even if you’re the guy who rolls all his clothes because it’s just easier and can’t refold a shirt in a store to save your life, fear not. We’ve got simple techniques fit for the masses.
Three key things to keep in mind before we get down to specifics:
- Pack in a way that leaves a little air to prevent crushing, but without allowing items to shift around a lot. Movement creates creases so keep your packing game tight.
- Have an eye for fabrics because they aren’t all created equal. Linen isn’t a good choice because breathing on it causes it to fold like a bad hand and welcome to wrinkle city. Generally, heavy weight fabrics will crease less than lighter weight ones.
- Unless you fly first class and can have a flight attendant hang your bag – in which case, lucky you and invite us along next time – then garment bags are a waste of money.
On to the step-by-step process to keep you and your suit lookin’ good
- Place suit flat on a large table or your bed. Straighten out the front.
- Hold the bottom section of the suit, including the sleeves, in one hand. Use your other hand at the breast of the suit and flip the whole thing over so it’s still neat.
- Fold one side of the suit (usually the side closest to you works best) over an arm and straighten.
- Repeat with the other side of the suit. Both arms should now be folded in neatly.
- Add the pants. Don’t forget your pants. Basic rule for life. Fold the pants first in thirds, then in half one more time. Place at the top half of the suit.
- Take the bottom of the suit and fold it up to the top, so your pants are contained inside the suit jacket.
- Flip the whole thing over and place into your suitcase. Repeat with any other suits, and even your button-down shirts.
- For shoes, the basic rule is to wear your heaviest pair on the plane – usually your suit shoes – and pack any lighter shoes, like sneakers or sandals. Even if you’re wearing jeans on a plane, don’t worry, you’ll look so much smarter, literally and figuratively, than the guy in flip flops going barefoot through security and the trade-off in the TSA removal time could be an upgrade to first class, looking all ‘dapper but not trying too hard”.
The rest is easy. If you plan to wear cufflinks, just pop ‘em in your suit pocket before your fold it. Roll ties and socks. If you’re bringing a second pair of dress shoes, you can use the ties and socks in the toe of the shoes to prevent them from losing their shape. You could also place your rolled ties and socks into the shoulders of your jacket to keep them from being flattened.
Final piece of advice: if you’re doing a month-long backpacking trip and happen to also be attending a friend’s wedding along the way, don’t bother packing a suit. Plan instead to rent or buy one at your destination and save more room for Hawaiian shirts and souvenirs.