care instructions, minimalism, packing

How to Pack a Suit in Your Carry-on Bag

November 30, 2017

Every now and then, your travel plans will require a more formal attire. Typically, one bag and carry-on travel make packing wrinkle-prone formal wear such as suits and dress shirts a challenge.

But with some simple techniques, and a few everyday items, you’ll still be able to skip the luggage-check and carry-on.

Here’s how to get started:

Pick the Right Bag

In this case you’ll want a medium to large size travel bag that will still clear airport guidelines for carry-on size restrictions. About 30-40L should do the trick. Pick a more sturdy and rigid bag that will protect your suit from getting compressed. In our experience, this GORUCK GR2  performed really well on a business conference trip that required formal wear.

Conserve bag space

Your suit will be the bulkiest thing you bring, so maximize space by reducing everything else on your packing list. Unbound Merino antibacterial and odor resistant T-shirts, socks and underwear will let you save a significant amount of bag real-estate by reducing your list down to 2 of each basic item required for travel. Check out our blog post for Ultra Light Packing for even more ways to save on space.

Packing your dress shoes

Pack smarter by stuffing things like socks and underwear in your dress shoes. This will also help your dress shoes hold their shape. Then, make sure to wrap each shoe in a plastic bag to avoid scuffing and keep your other clothing clean and fresh.

Alternatively, you could opt for a more modern take on formal wear by pairing your suit with a crispy pair of Vans or Chucks that you could wear day-to-day while travelling.

Without further adieu, here’s our guide to packing your suit for carry-on travel:

How to fold a suit

Step 1: Lay the suit flat – back side facing up.
Step 2: Fold the left shoulder over the middle seam of the suit.
Step 2: Take the right shoulder and turn it inside out. Take the left shoulder and tuck it into the right.
Step 4: Now, fold the suit in half vertically.
Step 5: Then, fold the suit in half horizontally.
Step 6: Place the folded jacket in one of those big plastic bags you get at the dry cleaner. This will keep the suit jacket fibers from rubbing up against the pant fibers.
Step 7: Fold your pants at the crease lengthwise. Lay them flat. Place the folded suit jacket in the centre.
Step 8: Fold the bottom of the pants over the suit. Then, fold the waist of the pants.
Step 9: Place the entire folded suit in another large plastic bag to keep it fresh and protected.

How to fold a dress shirt

Other things to keep in mind:

Invest in a Garment Folder:

A garment folder designed for travel will keep your dress shirts neatly organized, separated from all your stuff and can minimize wrinkles. We really like this one from Eagle Creek.

Pack Your Suit and Dress Shirt  in the Right Spot.

The best place to pack your suit is where it would lay flat against your back. This is the best way to protect your suit by keeping it flat and uncompressed.

Take a hot shower or borrow a steamer.

Most hotels and hostels will have steamer you can access, or will be happy to press your suit for a reasonable fee. Alternatively, a steamy shower can relax small wrinkles.

Learn how to iron a dress shirt.

A skill every man should know, right up there with tying a tie, or knowing who to call when you find yourself stranded with a flat tire. A wrinkled dress shirt is inevitable, so you’ll need to know how to iron it. Most hotel rooms will come equipped with an iron and ironing board, so watch this tutorial and start practicing.


More details here:

Dress Shirt Tip 1: If you don’t have time to iron your dress shirt, but have access to a tumble dryer, toss your shirt in there for a few minutes and the warm air will relax the appearance of wrinkles.

Dress Shirt Tip 2: Separate each fold with a layer of tissue paper to prevent your shirt’s fibers from rubbing together and creating wrinkles.


Skip the suit for dark jeans and a sport coat.

Nowadays, a pair of tailored, dark denim jeans and a sport coat will is more than appropriate for formal attire. That means you can use your jeans for travel days and simply bring along a blazer.  A well selected pocket square will take up a tiny bit of bag real estate but add a lot of style-cred.

Finally, for a stylish yet understated look, sub in an
Unbound Merino Black V-Neck for your usual dress shirt.  Now you’re a true minimalist.

              Col Forbin
Col Forbin


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