For many of us, travelling is a regular part of life – whether for business or pleasure, and whether we’re making short journeys or long ones. Transporting clothes around can be a challenge, and doing so without creasing them is even harder! Your clothes will inevitably crease in transit, but there are ways to minimise the effects.
One of the first things to ensure is that you have a decent travel case. If you’re flying and need to check your luggage in, you would be wise to buy a case that has a hard shell. Luggage handlers are notorious for the way they move bags and cases around, but also it will stop any further disruptions to its contents. Also be aware of the restrictions on hand luggage – parameters can change frequently, so ensure you stay up-to-date on these.
Before you pack anything, do two things: check the weather for your destination and draw up a list of the items you will need. This will really help prevent you taking items that you don’t need. When you have them laid out, firstly make sure they are fully dry and put them on your bed so you can see what you are dealing with.
It’s really important to make sure all your fresh laundry for the trip is dry. Leaving washing until the last minute is not a good idea because you don’t want to have to pack damp clothes. Shirts especially should be dried naturally: tumble driers not only cause shrinkage, but can damage the collar tips as they churn round, and make buttons more brittle.
It is worth giving everything you’re about to pack – bar your underwear – a quick iron. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it will minimise any problems once you arrive and unpack.
How do I pack a suit?
If you won’t want creases, the simple truth is not to pack a suit, but to carry it in a suit carrier, kept on a hanger and unfolded. However if it is destined for the suitcase, make sure it is at the bottom of your suitcase to avoid it moving around in transit. Suits should be packed as follows:
Firstly, fold the suit jacket completely inside out so that all the lining is showing and even the shoulders have been popped inside out.
Secondly, fold the jacket in half down the centre back seam.
Finally, fold the jacket again from the collar to the tail.
Press trousers, then roll them. Once you have a crease pressed down the front of them, tightly roll the legs up tightly from the bottoms to the top.
Unpacking your suit
As soon as you are able to, unpack your case. Remove your suit and hang it on a hanger. If you reach the hotel and have a shower on arrival, place the jacket and trousers on separate hangers and put them in the bathroom. The room will be hot and damp, which will help the cloth hang out.
As mentioned, before you travel it is worth giving shirts an iron. They are notoriously the hardest items of clothing to keep crease free, but the best way to give them any chance of surviving is to fold them with dry cleaning bags positioned in between the layers of your folding, making sure that all buttons are done up. The collar should be turned up and not down. When you arrive, again, unpack and hang the shirts out as soon as you can.
If you are making use of hotel laundry facilities, bear in mind that they may not value your shirts to the same degree you do. They will be washed and most likely tumble-dried, which is not good for the cotton. They will then have them pressed on machines that are likely to be on and very hot for the majority of the day, resulting in too much heat being applied to the collar. This can shorten a shirt’s life, so while it may be practical to use laundry services, consider whether it’s always necessary to do so.
These are simple: roll them up and put them inside your shoes. There are various retailers offering very attractive tie cases in leather, but on a practical level that is just another accessory you don’t need to take with you.
When you arrive, unroll the ties and let them hang out. If they need a hand, boil the hotel kettle in your room, and taking care, put some steam into a tie to soften it. When it’s still warm, put it straight on a flat surface and press and tap it flat with your hand. Even better would be to hover the tie over the kettle, softly getting steam into the silk.
Never iron your tie. Doing so will flatten the lustre, making it more shiny up the shaft – helping define the interlining and will lose its plumpness.
Notoriously tricky to keep in good shape, you’re better off carrying – or wearing – a hat. In a suitcase it is better to store it upside down and to pack other items around it to secure it. Then fill the head space with t-shirts and other soft items. This will help a hat travel reasonably well.
When you arrive at your destination, your hat can be rescued by the tools you will find in your hotel room. All you need is the kettle again: simply use the steam to soften the straw, remould it and allow to cool and dry out.
Depending on the purpose of your trip away, consider the shoes you will actually need and ditch the ‘would be nice to haves’. Shoes are not only a difficult shape and size for a suitcase, but too many of them will add more weight to your case.
James Field, Men's style expert and Training Manager at Debrett's
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