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Monday, January 28, 2019

How to Properly Pack a Suit

Words by Ryan Wagner with Bespoke Edge

Traveling for your destination wedding? Discover how to pack your suit for the plane and avoid wrinkling! Is your groom's attire all figured out? Do you or your groom have his suit or tuxedo properly tailored, tie and pocket square purchased, shoes shined? Great. Now you just have to get it all to your destination in one piece, right? For many guys, the sheer thought of somehow cramming that nice new woolen suit into a small suitcase invariably leads to one big question: how is it going to look on the other end? Fortunately, by understanding a little about common suit fabrics and learning some easy packing techniques, your suit or tuxedo should look just fine when you touch down at your destination. And just in case it doesn't, I'm going to explain a few things you can do to help get those wrinkles out. 

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1. What you should know about fabrics 

Most quality suits are going to be made of wool. However, not all wool is the same. Some fine woolens are actually quite wrinkle free, naturally. Whereas, other woolen fibers, not so much. Regardless, your wool suit is probably going to wrinkle a little after being inside your suitcase, and that's okay.

Cotton suits, on the other hand, can be a great option for destination weddings in warm locales. They are quite breathable and tend to have a bit of a vacation feel to them, when compared to a more dressy looking wool. But, the wrinkling in a cotton suit is going to be a little more stubborn than wool. 

And then there's linen. While a suit made in a linen fabric is a beautifully breathable cloth and can feel like you're wearing your vacation, oh boy does it wrinkle! It will probably wrinkle a bit during your photos, let alone the flight out to your destination.

2. How to pack your suit or tuxedo

If you're checking your luggage, then go big! There are a lot of great suitcases on the market today that allow you to hang your jacket and pant on a hanger and then just fold once. This is the way to go, if you're able.

But, I understand that today many of us are more-or-less carry-on only people, wedding or no wedding. So, here's what I recommend you do, and I admit it is a little counter-intuitive, but it works!

  1. Turn the jacket inside out and pop the shoulders out
  2. Fold the jacket in half, lengthwise
  3. Then fold again, the other way
  4. Lightly pack on top of your other items and don't compress

I fully recognize that it doesn't make much sense to be turning your jacket inside out to avoid wrinkling, but it's actually a great way to avoid compressing the shoulder area on a man's jacket, thereby mitigating wrinkling. As we discussed above, all fabrics wrinkle, but using this technique will certainly minimize the wrinkles that you do have.

3. At your destination

After you've checked into your hotel at your beautiful destination and it's time to unzip your bag, take a deep breath and recognize that everything is going to be okay!

Remove your suit jacket and pant, hold them upright and gently shake out. Maybe pat down the sleeves, jacket back, and the pant legs a bit to help work out the big wrinkles. Give your suit or tuxedo plenty of room in the closet and just let it hang there for as long as possible. I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised how over time, gravity will take care of most wrinkling in woolen suits. But, if your wedding is in a few short hours or if your cotton/linen suit is heavily wrinkled, here's what you can do: 

  • When staying at a large resort, there might be a dry cleaning service available. Take advantage of it and request a light steaming.
  • In a pinch, you can always hang your suit inside the bathroom and turn the shower on. While this probably won't alleviate significant wrinkling, it will certainly help. 
  • If you want to take the initiative, you can find a nice hand-held steamer on Amazon for under $30. They are lightweight and smaller than you think; pack one in your bag and you'll be all set!

4. Packing the accessories

Roll your socks up and pack them into your dress shoes, as they can be a lightweight substitute for shoes trees! Smaller accessories like cuff links and tie bars can easily get lost, so be sure to put them in a zippered pocket or zip lock baggie to keep them organized. As for your neck tie or bow tie, roll it up loosely and pack it in a small box. For business travel, I would usually just say pack your tie inside one of your packed dress shoes, but for your wedding, don't take any chances on creasing and use a small box for travel.

Speaking of shoes, if you've shined them to perfection and/or don't plan to do so at your destination, simply wrap a T-shirt around your dress shoes to help keep that shine during travel.

As for your dress shirt, it will wrinkle no matter what you do! But cotton dress shirts are easy. Just give yourself some time to iron it out prior to your ceremony.

Are you still finalizing your own destination wedding day look? Discover expert tips on picking and packing bridal accessories with our article, "5 Tips for Selecting Wedding Attire."

5. Wrap up

Do you feel a little better about packing your suit for your destination wedding now? Once you understand a little bit about how common suit fabrics behave and the practical things you can do to mitigate wrinkling, you can rest easy knowing you're going to look sharp on your big day! Feel free to email me with any specific questions on this topic, I'm here to help!

Ryan co-founded Bespoke Edge, a Denver based custom clothier specializing in custom wedding suits and tuxedos for the modern groom. Follow his work on Instagram (@BespokeEdge) and YouTube for practical tips and style inspiration.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): From the Hip Photo (1st, 2nd & 4th) & Bespoke Edge (3rd).

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