It's frustrating when you pack your favorite dress shirts in a suitcase, only to discover that they've turned into a wrinkled mess once you arrive at your destination. Whether you're traveling for work or leisure (or both), you should take the time to properly pack your clothes. This is particularly important when bringing a suit or other formal attire. While you can always try to de-wrinkle your clothes with an iron, it's best to avoid getting your clothes wrinkled in the first place. So, how exactly do you prevent dress shirts from wrinkling in a suitcase?
Choose a Wrinkle-Resistant Fabric
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as wrinkle-proof dress shirts. Even if some manufacturers tout their shirts or garments as being "wrinkle free," they may still develop wrinkles. With that said, some fabrics are more susceptible to wrinkles than others. If you're worried about dress shirts developing wrinkles in a suitcase, you should choose shirts made of wrinkle-resistant fabrics. This includes polyester, nylon, rayon, acrylic, microfiber and various blends. A shirt made of cotton and nylon, for instance, is less likely to wrinkle than a similar shirt made of all cotton or linen.
Fold It The Right Way
The most important step to preventing your dress shirts from wrinkling in a suitcase is folding. Simply tossing your shirts into the suitcase without taking the time to fold them is just asking for trouble. Unless they are properly folded, your shirts will develop creases and wrinkles during transit. You can prevent this from happening by folding them the right way.
To fold your dress shirts, lay the shirt on a flat surface like an ironing board and fasten all buttons on the front. next, fold each sleeve halfway from the front of the shirt to the back. You can then fold the sides of the shirt to the middle, bringing the seams from the shoulder to the hem where they meet just under the collar. Finally, fold shirt in half horizontally. When finished, you should have a neatly compact shirt that's ready to be placed in a suitcase. If you're having trouble folding your dress shirts, check out some tutorial videos on YouTube. Searching for "how to fold a dress shirt" will reveal dozens of great how-to videos.
Choose the Right Suitcase
Think all suitcases are the same? Think again. Low-quality suitcases are often made with cheap, subpar materials that don't offer the same protection as their higher quality counterparts. As a result, your dress shirts are more likely to wrinkle when stored inside. This is because the walls of cheap suitcases collapse under pressure. And when this happens, force is exerted upon your dress shirts and other clothes, causing them to wrinkle. For maximum protection from wrinkles, invest in a high-quality suitcase featuring a strong and durable construction. You'll have to pay more for a high-quality suitcase, but most seasoned travelers will agree that it's well worth the investment.
Use a Garment Bag
Alternatively, you can transport your dress shirt in a garment bag instead of a suitcase. Garment bags are the perfect solution for transporting an entire suit. If you have a dress shirt with trousers and a matching suit jacket, you can place them all on hangers and transport them in a garment bags. This eliminates the need for folding your garments, so there's less risk of your clothes developing wrinkles. The only downside to using a garment bag is the fact that it requires more space. If you're traveling via airplane, you may not have the luxury of using a garment bag. But if you're traveling via car, you can usually place your shirt and suit in a garment bag.
Don't Overstuff Your Suitcase
Contrary to what some people believe, overstuffing your suitcase isn't going to protect your shirts or garments from wrinkling. On the contrary, it actually increases the risk of wrinkling because the garments are unable to breathe. When packing your suitcase, try to leave a little space inside. You don't want so much space that your clothes are loose are able to knock around; you just want enough space so they aren't bunched up together. Following this otherwise simple tip will go a long ways in protecting your dress shirts and garments from wrinkling.
Place Plastic Sheets Between Your Shirts
You might be surprised to learn that packing your dress shirts with plastic sheets can protect them from wrinkling. This is because wrinkles are created from friction. When the shirt rubs against the surface of the suitcase, it creates friction -- and this friction leads to wrinkles. By separating your shirts with plastic sheets, you'll reduce friction and minimize wrinkles. This isn't a fool-proof solution to eliminating wrinkles altogether. When used in conjunction with the other tips outlined here, though, you'll have an easier time keeping your dress shirts wrinkle free.
De-Wrinkle Before Packing
I know this probably sounds like common sense, but it's still worth mentioning that you should de-wrinkle your dress shirts before packing them in a suitcase. You can usually remove wrinkles by taking your dress shirts to a dry cleaner. However, it's recommended that you read the care label on your shirts beforehand. This will reveal specific instructions from the manufacturer regarding how to clean and care for the shirt. Using a steamer or hot iron may also remove wrinkles from your dress shirts, but again, you should check the care label to ensure it's allowed.
Bring an Iron
Finally, don't forget to bring an iron when traveling. Most hotels offer in-room irons, but there's always a chance that your room won't have one (or have one that works). This is why it's best to err on the side of caution by bringing your own iron. If your dress shirts are still wrinkled, you can give it a quick press to flatten it out.