Need to pack a suit for an upcoming trip and you’re not sure how to do it without creasing it? This detailed guide to packing a suit will help you figure that out!
I can’t promise you will suddenly become a pro at packing, but I can give you all my best tips and tricks on how to pack a suitcase without creasing it. I’ll cover everything you need to know about packing these delicate items in a suitcase, including how to fold, where to pack, and all the precautions you can take to avoid arriving at the destination with a wrinkled suit!
Take your dress shirt, iron it, and then place it on a flat surface face down. You’re going to fold the sleeves first, and you want to fold them inward so that the crease follows the collar. Fold the sleeves as few times as possible – twice is usually enough.
Then fold the shirt in thirds lengthwise, and the body of the shirt from the bottom up. If you have tissue paper, you can put some of it on the body before folding to minimize the creasing. It’s usually enough to fold the body twice so you’re left with a crisply folded dress shirt. Place it in a plastic bag, and set it aside because we’ll be packing it along with the suit jacket and pants.
Packing the suit jacket is the trickiest thing because it’s most likely to wrinkle. But there is a way of folding it truly minimizes the appearance of wrinkles, and it’s a method used by tailors worldwide.
Take the jacket off the hanger and hold it in your hand – don’t turn it out or anything. Place your right hand inside the left shoulder, and place your left hand inside the right shoulder. Then bring your hands together, so that the jacket is folding along the seams until you can grab onto the entire jacket with just one hand.
Take out the other hand and use it to turn out the lapel and align the collar and the lapels. Hold the lapel and bring it over the shoulders, so that the jacket is now inside out. Then lay it on a flat surface, fold it in half lengthwise if necessary, and then fold it in half – there will be natural creases that you can follow.
Pants are easier to fold. Take the first two belt loops and hold them together, so that the zipper is folding inwards. You can then hold the trousers straight, and you will see that they’re folding along their natural creases. Then fold them in half two times, and that’s it. Place them on top of the folded jacket when packing, and put the folded suit in a dry-cleaning bag for extra protection in transport.
Packing the dress shoes is the easiest of the bunch. The worse that can happen with the shoes is that they’re flattened or creased because too much pressure is applied to them when the suitcase is closed. But you can easily avoid that by stuffing the shoes so that they don’t lose their shape in the carry-on bag.
I like to stuff all my footwear, casual shoes included, with underwear and socks when traveling. That way I’m making the most of the space in my luggage while preserving their shape at the same time. So, take a plastic bag, fill it up with socks and undies, and stuff it inside the shoes.
Then take another plastic or cotton bag in which you can store the shoes since they’re usually the dirtiest thing in the suitcase and you don’t want them touching your white shirt or anything else really. Pack dress shoes first, so that you can pack the smaller items around (and on top of) them.
Any metal accessories (cufflinks, tie bars) should be packed inside a separate bag or a jewelry case, so they don’t damage anything in the rest of the suitcase. Belts and suspenders can usually be rolled and tucked away into corners, or better yet, you just wear them while flying.
Ties should be folded, ideally into quarters. Take a tie, align the two ends, and push the slimmer end through the loop if there is one. Do that again, until the tie is small enough to fit into the luggage. I recommend placing the tie on top of your packed suit like that – rolling it can cause the tie to retain that rolled shape, which is certainly not ideal.
The best thing you can do to reduce wrinkles in a suit is to put tissue paper between each of the folds. This allows the fabric to move even when folded, and it minimizes the chances of the suit wrinkling and creasing.
If you don’t want to use the folding method described above, the traditional fold is a good alternative. It’s the same process as folding a dress shirt, but it’s recommended to turn at least one shoulder inside out, to create movement within the folds and minimizes the chances of the jacket wrinkling.
Another pro tip is to hang your dress shirt and suit in the bathroom while you’re showering. The steam from the hot water helps get rid of the wrinkles quickly, and it’s very convenient if you don’t have access to an iron. You don’t even have to shower – just let the hot water run for a while until your clothes are wrinkle-free.
Look for an inflatable or foldable hanger for travel. You want a hanger that’s durable and thicker around the edges so that it can still support the suit jacket, but should still be packable so that it doesn’t take up too much space inside your suitcase.
That’s why inflatable hangers are a godsend. Foldable hangers are also pretty good, especially the ones that let you fold their ends inwards, so you have either a slim and long or a thick and short hanger.
In an ideal world it’s not, so if you have the option of traveling with both a garment bag and a carry-on suitcase, do that. But if you need to choose just one, go with a carry-on garment bag. It doesn’t have to be checked (which means less time spent at the airport), it’s absolutely perfect for traveling with a suit, plus it can fit enough items for a short trip, in addition to the suit.
Garment bags also come in the form of carry-on backpacks, which is even better than a suitcase-style garment bag. Traveling with a backpack is super convenient, plus you can easily pack a suit in a backpack without it creasing.
The best suitcase for suits is one with a dedicated suiter section. This feature is usually found in high-end luggage, although many affordable brands are catching onto this trend and including suiter sections inside their mid-priced suitcases.
Travelpro Platinum Elite is an excellent option for a carry-on suitcase with a dedicated suiter section. This softside suitcase is very durable, offers plenty of compartments for easy organization, and promises effortless maneuverability with its smooth spinner wheels and height-adjustable telescopic handle.
Briggs & Riley Baseline is another outstanding carry-on suitcase with a built-in garment folder that’s perfect for suits and dress shirts. The suitcase also boasts a spacious packing compartment with zipperless compression, a durable exterior, and excellent spinner wheels with an adjustable wheel handle.
Tumi Alpha 3 carry-on (or any other Tumi luggage) is a great option for business travelers, but it’s expensive. I think all their bags come with a removable garment sleeve that fits one suit and promises to transport it to the destination wrinkle-free. Their luggage is of excellent quality, they’ve got a program that helps you locate lost luggage, and amazing customer service, but they’re one of the priciest brands on the market.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!