How to Fold Dress Pants

By Kathryn Walsh; Updated August 11, 2017

Packing tips for sharp-looking trousers when you reach your destination

How to Fold Dress Pants

Hunt down your passport, put a few lamps on timers, coordinate with the petsitter: there's a lot to do in the days and hours before leaving on a trip. So, it's tempting to throw your clothes in your suitcase and iron them when you arrive at your destination. But tossing dress pants into an overstuffed suitcase creates wrinkles so deep and stubborn that no weak hotel iron will do the job. A better plan? Take the time to fold and pack your pants properly. That way, when you arrive in Sydney or Singapore feeling fresh, energized and ready to explore, your clothes will be ready too.

First: prep your pants

If your pants already look rumpled, a day in a suitcase won't help. Send them to be dry cleaned, or wash and press them yourself. Take the time to thoroughly iron in creases, if you want them. Push your fingers into any pockets to smooth them.


The folding and packing technique is the same no matter the fabric of your pants, but know that some fabrics are better for traveling than others. Linen pants, for instance, will typically end up looking wrinkled and sloppy even if you pack them carefully. Wool, flannel and thick fabrics tend to resist wrinkles better than thin cotton.

Next: fold them

Pants that have recently been dry cleaned may already be perfectly folded. But if you're doing it yourself, take them to a bed or table and lay them down in front of you.

With a crease: Pick up the pants from the waist, so you're facing the side of them. Lay them down on the bed or table with the side seam still facing up and the creases on the outer edges. The two pant legs should be layered one on top of the other with the creases lined up neatly. You may need to pick up the pants by the cuffs, shake them slightly and use your fingers to pinch the creases together to make them line up perfectly. You may also need to fold the waistband in near the zipper so the waistband doesn't bulge out at the top of the pants.

Without a crease: Place the pants on the bed or table, back side up. Bring one leg over the other, so the side seams are facing out and the folded crotch of the pants juts out on one side.

For both methods, fold the pants in half, bringing the cuffs up to the waistband. If they won't fit into your suitcase that way, fold them in thirds instead.

Place your dress pants at the top of your suitcase. Better yet, hang them in a garment bag. As soon as your get to your hotel room, pull out the pants and hang them up.

Before wearing: final touches

Some amount of wrinkling may be unavoidable. To make your pants look crisp and neat before wearing them, ask the hotel concierge to recommend a dry cleaner who can press them quickly. Your hotel may even have laundry service so you can get this task done in-house. This is especially useful for pants with a crease. Flat-front pants are more forgiving, so you can try ironing them yourself in the room. If you don't have access to an iron or dry cleaner, dampen a towel with warm water and press it over the pants, then smooth out the wrinkles with your fingers. Hang the pants and let them air dry.

Release wrinkles from thin, natural fabrics by spritzing the pants with water and shaking them vigorously in a side-to-side motion. Let them air dry naturally or point a hair dryer at them to speed up the process.

About the Author

Kathryn Walsh