Dear Lifehacker, I will be starting a new job soon which requires me to wear a business suit every day. I want to look immaculate, but the job involves frequent commuting, including air travel. Can you recommend any garment bags that aren’t too expensive? Or is there another anti-wrinkle solution that I haven’t thought of? Thanks, Suits You Sir
Wrinkles suit picture from Shutterstock
As you’ve correctly surmised, apparel of the formal kind usually requires more care and space when packing. This is particularly difficult on trains and aeroplanes where space is limited.
There are plenty of products that will fit the bill; ranging from the super-cheap Alexander Dobell Suit Bag to the ultra-deluxe Tahiti Garment Leather Bag. However, we generally advise against carrying separate suit bags. Simply put, it’s just not very “life hacker”.
We find it’s better to travel as light as possible for work. While you probably won’t want to go to the extremes of our No Luggage challenge, the less stuff you need to lug around, the better. Plus, there’s also the carry-on baggage allowance to think about: a bulky suit bag could lead to additional charges every time you catch a plane.
One solution is to pack your suit in with the rest of your luggage without creasing it. While pants are pretty straightforward, jackets can be trickier. Thankfully, this is a topic we’ve looked at before. As you’d expect, it all comes down to how you fold it. Here is one tried-and-tested method:
- Hold the jacket facing away from you. Then turn one half of the jacket, sleeve and all, inside out.
- Slide the right side sleeve inside the other sleeve and gently pull it all the way through.
- Fold the two sleeves across the rest of the jacket and put a rolled up t-shirt under the shoulder pads so that they hold their shape.
- With the jacket laying flat, straighten the lapels and collar to align.
- Start at the top of the jacket and roll downwards.
The above steps will allow your suit jacket to fit in your carry-on bag while still holding its shape. This video uses a similar method and is also worth a look:
If you’d like to bundle your jacket and pants together, this video explains how to pull off a folding technique used by clothiers prior to shipping. We’ve included the main steps below:
- Lay the suit flat on the table and straighten the front.
- Take all four parts of the fabric at the bottom of the suit in one hand, place your free arm under the breast of the suit, and flip it over.
- Fold the side of the suit closest to you over one arm’s length and straighten the fold.
- Do the same with the other side of the suit.
- With both arms folded in, you can now add the pants. Fold the pants by thirds, then in half again.
- Place the folded pants at the top of the suit
- Fold the bottom of the suit up to the top of the suit, folding the pants into it in one neat package.
- Flip over your fold and you’ll have a very straight, folded suit with pants. Place it in a bag and leave air inside so your suit is resistant to pressure while in transit.
If that’s all too much hassle, a simple coat hanger and plastic dry cleaning bag will get the job done. This is less bulky than a fully-fledged suit bag while still affording your clothes some protection. For added peace of mind, you can line your coat hanger with cardboard tubes — this will help to keep trousers in place and also minimise creasing.
Of course, this doesn’t help you when you’re on a flight with no overhead space. In these situation, your best bet is to ask the flight attendant if they can hang it elsewhere on the plane. On budget airlines, this may require a bit of fibbing — try telling them that you need the suit for an important job interview and you want to make sure it doesn’t wrinkle. (This is slightly dickish behavior; but so is being forced to wear a suit every day.)
Alternatively, you can always hang your jacket from the hook-shaped latch on your tray table. While not ideal, this sure beats wearing your suit throughout the flight. Just remember to remove it before your meal comes.
Where also going to throw this one over to our readers: what’s your favoured method for keeping your suits crease-free during travel? Let SYS know in the comments section below.
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