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How to pack a suit in a suitcase

Published 6 months ago

Man in beige overcoat walks down New York street with black suitcase trailing behind

Whether you're travelling abroad and need to wear a suit for business or attending a special occasion like a wedding, knowing how to pack your suit in a suitcase is essential. If it's packed effectively, you'll be able to get it out on the other side in prime condition.

In this article, we'll take a look at how to properly pack a suit in a suitcase, without it looking untidy and creased when you reach your destination.

Brown collared jacket hanging off the handle of a grey hard-shell cabin suitcase

Packing your suit in a suitcase

Let’s get into our guide on how to pack your suit in a suitcase. There are a few methods to choose from.

Traditional method

This method folds the suit horizontally then vertically. It's our favoured technique for neatly transporting a suit.

  1. With the front facing downwards, put the jacket on a flat surface
  2. Fold the jacket's left shoulder inwards, halfway up the back, keeping the sleeves flat. The sleeve will be folded back towards the outside edge 
  3. Repeat the process with the right shoulder, so the sleeves of the jacket are in parallel and are down the centre of the back of the jacket
  4. Fold the jacket in half, so the bottom meets the top, then flip the suit over so the lapel is facing you. The suit should be folded in a square shape that you can pack easily
Illustration highlighting how to fold a suit jacket in the traditional manner

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the traditional method, here are a couple of alternative techniques you can try for folding and packing your suit.

Shoulder inside-out method

  1. Start by turning your jacket inside out, as this will protect the outer fabric
  2. Fold one shoulder inside, halfway up the back, then fold the other should so it sits on top
  3. Next, fold the jacket in half (lengthways) and bring the bottom up to the collar
  4. Place carefully into your suitcase
Illustration highlighting how to fold a suit jacket using the shoulder inside out method

Folding with a dry-cleaning bag

Fold your suit (inside the bag) in half, from the bottom to the collar. As you go, make sure to push any air build-up out of the bag. Place it in your case and you're good to go.

Illustration highlighting how to fold a suit jacket using a dry-clean bag

How to pack suit pants in a suitcase

Now you know the best methods for transporting your suit jacket, it’s time to turn attention to your trousers.


Make sure that your trousers are cleanly pressed before packing, as this will minimise creasing when you reach your destination.

  1. Lay them on a clean, dry and flat surface with the front facing downwards. Smooth them out by brushing with your hand, before folding them in half lengthwise. One leg of the pants should be over the other, so the in-seams are aligned to create a neat fold
  2. Next, fold the trousers in half, width-ways, bringing the waistband down to the hem, which should create a small shape suitable for packing. Make sure they lie flat in your case
  3. You can then place other items that you need to pack on top of the trousers, but make sure they don't weigh too much
  4. Fill any empty spaces around the trousers by packing in underwear, socks or other lightweight items like shirts. This will help to keep the trousers in place as your luggage moves around
  5. Just like your suit jacket, promptly unpack your trousers and hang them up when you arrive at your destination
Illustration showing how to fold dress pants for suitcase travel

Packing your shirt

Being able to fold a shirt into a suitcase is an important travel hack. Don't forget to check out our detailed guide on how to fold a shirt for travel, as there is more than one way to pack a shirt, and what works for one person may not work for another (for instance, are you a roller or a folder?).


In any case, the tried-and-tested way to fold and pack a dress shirt into a suitcase is as follows:

  1. Fasten your buttons (this will help prevent wrinkles)
  2. Flip the shirt over so the front lays down and away from you, and make sure it is smoothed out evenly
  3. Diagonally fold the sleeves by placing your finger near the collar, before folding each sleeve diagonally until it reaches the centre of the shirt. Around a third should be folded across the back
  4. Next, fold the cuffs diagonally to align with the sleeve shoulders. This should create a V-shape
  5. Fold the length of the shirt by bringing the bottom to the collar. If your shirt is very long, you may have to fold it in thirds. Flip it back over, and it should be a small square shape ready for packing, with the front collar and buttons facing you
Illustration highlighting how to fold a shirt for travel

Packing shoes, belts and accessories

The other accessories that are part of your full outfit should be packed either around or under the suit. Belts can be heavy due to the metal buckle, so lay them flat to conserve space and position them away from your folded shirt to avoid interference and possible wrinkles.


Place socks inside your shoes and put shoes in a shoe bag to keep your clothing protected from dirt. Alternatively, you can roll your socks and secure them with a hair elastic or make use of packing cubes.


Make sure to place small, valuable accessories such as cufflinks and jewellery in cases or protective bags to keep them secure and to avoid anything catching the fabric of your suit in transit.

Why do suits get creased when packed in a suitcase?

One of the main causes of suits becoming crumpled in transit is because they are overpacked, with too many items in the suitcase. Because there are often strict limits on how heavy our bags can be or how many bags we can take when we fly, we naturally try to get as much in as possible to get value for money.


This isn't really the right approach when trying to carry something as sensitive as a fine suit.


In days gone by, travellers with suits would use a garment bag to carry their suits onto the plane separately. Nowadays, a garment bag needs to be checked in separately as extra luggage, usually incurring an extra fee. Carry-on luggage, while compact and convenient for light travel, can be too small to transport a suit with enough room to avoid wrinkles.


If you absolutely have to travel with just hand luggage, invest in a small travel iron or steamer. This could be a worthwhile outlay, as you can then fix any wrinkles you get from having to pack your suit into such a small suitcase when you get to your accommodation. 


Hotels often have dry cleaning and ironing services, especially if they're a luxury or business hotel brand. If all else fails, hanging your suit up in a steamy hot bathroom when you arrive at your destination should still do the trick.

What to consider before packing a suit

Don't leave anything behind

Another consideration is making sure you pack every part of your suit. There are a lot of components to a full outfit, and it does happen that travellers forget to pack a cufflink, shoe, tie and so on. You don't want to be that person at the meeting or wedding — so make a list and tick off everything as you pack it.


Never pack your suitcase in a rush, as this could potentially lead to you missing pieces of your outfit. Account for everything — even your socks, underwear and accessories. We'll get into how to pack these smaller items later on.

Pick the right suitcase

Next is choosing the right suitcase for your trip. As you're travelling with a suit, you'll need to make sure that the suitcase you choose is large enough to get the suit in comfortably, without squashing it too much. This will also help to prevent wrinkles. 


Depending on which airline you’re flying with, this may mean spending a little more on a larger baggage allowance, but it might be worth it to avoid a wrinkled suit on arrival. A larger suitcase that has a compartment for hanging space is perfect. Garment bags and packing cubes can also come in handy, especially if you're travelling by car to the airport.


When travelling with a suit, choose a sturdy case that has fixed sides with a hard shell. It's important that this shell isn't made of weak plastic, as this won't protect what is inside effectively enough. Rigid aluminium or polycarbonate luggage is your best bet.

Elegant large black suitcase beside smaller cabin suitcase, shot on New York street

Prepare your suit

Finally, and although this may seem counter-intuitive, make sure that your suit is as finely pressed as it can be before packing. Undo any buttons or fastenings before packing it. You'll be surprised at the difference this makes.

Avoiding suit wrinkles

Here are a few tips on how to avoid wrinkles when choosing (and packing) your suit for a trip.

Opt for wrinkle-resistant fabrics where possible

Depending on how you’re travelling, and especially if you are flying, opt for materials such as wool blends or synthetic materials like polyester when choosing the right suit to pack. These fabrics tend to crease far less, which can help your suit to look less crumpled when you get to your destination.

Layer up with tissue paper

You can use either tissue paper layers or dry cleaning bags for this hack. When packing your garments, place the tissue paper or bags between the layers of the suit jacket and trousers, as this can prevent friction that can build up from the items being jostled around in the case, and also prevent wrinkles.

Roll instead of folding

Instead of folding your suit jacket, another option is to roll it up. Simply turn the jacket inside out and roll it from the shoulders down to the hem — this can lead to fewer fold lines when you reach your destination and get unpacking.

Try not to overpack

Make sure the suit can lay flat in your suitcase without being squeezed too tightly by other objects in the case. If you have objects lying on top of the suit, they can weigh down on it and create wrinkles. Pack the suit last if possible, and on top of other items in your case.

Use a shoe bag if packing shoes

Shoes can cause dirt to fall on your suit and potentially create stains. Place them in a different compartment in your suitcase, or use shoe bags to stop them from coming into contact with your suit and other clothes.

Unpack and hang your suit as soon as possible

Hang up your suit as soon as you get to your accommodation. Make sure it's a well-ventilated area, and if there are any minor wrinkles, place it in a steamy bathroom to smooth them out.

Takeaway

Keeping your suit clean and wrinkle-free during travel takes care and planning. Try some of the tips in this guide when packing your suit in a suitcase for a trip to ensure it’s looking smooth and fresh when you reach your destination.