How to dress for success while traveling
If your dress shirts resemble failed origami experiments after you packed them in a suitcase, don't worry. Neatly pressed dress shirts and packing a suitcase might seem to go together like toothpaste and orange juice – but you don't have to give up looking smart and classy just because you're traveling. Take the right type of dress shirt and fold it carefully, and you're well along the smooth-shirted road to success.
How to fold a dress shirt without wrinkling
Shirts made of 100 percent cotton or linen pick up at least a few creases when packed in a suitcase, but non-iron and synthetic-fabric shirts should remain mostly unwrinkled. To minimize the rumpled look, fold your shirt as few times as possible. Here's one trusted method:
- Fasten all the shirt's buttons and place it face-down on a bed.
- Fold the right arm and right-hand side of the shirt across the back, creating a straight line from the right shoulder to the tail.
- Make a diagonal fold in the right arm so that it lies down the back of the shirt with the cuff at the shirt's tail.
- Repeat the process with the left arm and left-hand side of the shirt. You should have a neat rectangle.
- Fold up the bottom third of the shirt, and then the middle third to the top.
- Pack the shirt on the top of your other clothes to reduce crushing.
Rolling the shirt from the bottom to the top when it's at the rectangle stage can also reduce wrinkles, but you must roll the shirt tightly.
In a suitcase vs. suit bag
Dress shirts can stay relatively crease-free in a suitcase, but for that special meeting where you really want to impress the client, you might want to consider a suit bag. Suit bags are usually soft, and they're designed to hold clothes that would hang from a hanger, like dress shirts and suits. When you pack your shirts in a suit bag, you avoid folding them and so you also avoid wrinkles. However, suit bags may be too large to take on board as carry-on luggage, unless you have a folding style bag.
On the other hand, the advantage of suitcases is obvious: you can fit many more clothes than just your shirts and suits inside. And hard suitcases provide your clothes some protection from the knocks and bangs of traveling.
Airplanes often have a small closet for storing motility aids like wheelchairs. An accommodating flight attendant might agree to hang your suit bag in the closet if you ask politely.
Ties and accessory packing tips
Though it might be tempting to put all your ties and other accessories in a pocket of your suitcase at the last minute, if you take the time to pack them with care, you'll notice the benefit at the end of your journey. To keep your ties smooth and presentable, pack them in a tie case, which contains straps to hold them flat. Put your cuff links, tie clip and other small bits and pieces in the tie case pocket if there is one, or stow them in a small container. You don't want to be hunting through the clothes in your suitcase to find the matching pair to your cuff links ten minutes before your business meeting's due to start.
If you don't have a tie case, fold your ties in half, then roll them up, starting at the narrow end. Put the rolled ties inside your shoes.