Monday, January 31, 2011

Fast & Compact Packing for Travel

How to fold a suit / how to pack a suit

 Airline offers passenger dignity, passenger is respectful.

When nothing is offered, nothing is given.*

Packing for a trip (of any duration) can be tricky, but I've found that the shorter trips (1-3 nights away) require particular attention.  For those who pack suits or jackets and pants, the method by which you pack begins with your luggage.  If you carry a garment-fold-style device, you will pack your clothing exactly as they hang in your closet, hangers and all.  If you choose a suitcase or an overnight bag, you can still pack a decent amount that will emerge ready to wear.

Up until about two years ago, I laundered and pressed my own shirts.  Now, I take them to the dry cleaner for the same.  The amount of space required to hang up a number of shirts is deceptively consuming, and the frequency of traveling brought me to a final logical conclusion.  Now, for about a nickle more, I have the dry-cleaners fold each shirt, and they are ready to either be worn, or dropped into a bag for a trip.  For folded shirts, shelves or drawers are the holding method, and not a hanging bar.  They require a fraction of the space that hanging does, and despite what some say, they ARE ready to be worn out of the bag.  They are carefully folded around a rectangle of cardboard, and often in plastic. *** For the record, I save the cardboard and the plastic, and hand them in with the next delivery of shirts, to be used again.***  When it's time to pack, you can throw pre-folded shirts into a bag like soup cans into a grocery basket.

For each shirt, pack in a tie, pocket square, and cuff-links.

Then fold your suit. Start with your jacket.

Turn the jacket face down, and reverse one of the shoulders, as below:

Now, drawing a center line down the rear spine of the jacket, fold the other (unreversed) shoulder into the reversed one.

Next, as shown below, the shoulders are cupped together, and the button and button holes are face-to-face (or "kissing" as many tailors say).  Fold this whole assembly again along the rear spine (half-way mark) of the jacket, which occurs almost automatically.

The jacket can be folded to half horizontally.

Fold the trousers to quarters, and place on top of the jacket.  With the pre-folded shirt package and its contents, and you can use a surprisingly small day bag.

There is no magic to the method.  If you prefer to try it yourself, invest $1.50 - $2 at the local cleaner, and ask for the shirts folded, and dissect and reverse-engineer the exact technique.  Fold them around a similar sized piece of cardboard, and remember that the cardboard can easily be slipped out of the folded assembly... it is not required to accompany the shirt.

Also note that many dry-cleaners fold and box shirts as well.  While this may be a good idea for formal shirts that see only occasional use, a simple cover or paper band will do... don't get too fancy.

*First class cabin. Thanks to theambershow for capturing this.


  1. A good advice on how to pack Things properly...will try it out Next Time...and nevermind the spelling, my iPad is throwing around Capital letters all by itself...

  2. Bravo! Very good tip. I was packed off to boarding school at a young age and before I left, my father showed me how to pack my jackets the same way. It is amazing how much you can stow in a very small area! The down side was that as a small boy I could hardly wrestle the bag between trains. My Aunt Maud (a woman of ample proportions) showed up in late June for the entire summer carrying only a small Gladstone bag and was always smartly dressed. I'd like to hear the distaff version of your techniques if anyone out there has experience with traveling light.


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