A wrinkled suit can ruin an otherwise perfect day. Say, for example, that you rocked it at your last job interview. Your qualifications were solid, you spoke with confidence and conviction, and your potential employer even invited you into another meeting room afterwards to discuss a future company project. In spite of all that, they remembered not your awesome résumé or your quick-witted articulations but your suit that looked like it was packed in an accordion before you got there. In a mad dash to the airport the day before your interview, you had no time to fold your suit properly in your suitcase and the hotel you were staying in was not equipped with an ironing board or a dryer. While a wrinkled suit might not always kill your chances of landing that dream job, a wrinkled suit on a first impression conveys a sense of carelessness that at the very least implies connotations of potential unprofessionalism; if the choice is between you and someone else with nearly identical qualifications and persona, they might make their final hiring decision based on things that otherwise would be considered trivial, and a neatly pressed suit is going to stand out in a positive way as opposed to a wrinkled suit quickly thrown on in a rush, which can come across in a negative manner.
Traveling for business, weddings, or other important events can easily turn a well-tailored custom suit into a lumpy ball of madness, and sometimes this even occurs at no fault of your own. Bags at the airport can get thrown around quite aggressively and neatly folded suits can be knocked loose in a matter of seconds. In this article we'll help you mitigate some of these problems that occur in transit, and we'll make sure that your suit stays crisp and clean so you'll have a leg up on the other guy vying for your potential new job at your next interview.
You've likely come across one or two garment bags at the airport or at a train depot at some point or another. They look like slightly more cumbersome oversized briefcases that fold over themselves. And while they have waned in popularity due to constraints placed upon the size of carry-on bags allowed on an airplane, these bags are still the surefire way to ensure a wrinkle-free set of suits on your next trip that requires air travel. Because a garment bag these days likely requires checking it before the gate due to size limitations, just like with any checked luggage, you may run the risk of having your bag being lost, especially with connecting flights or layovers. Still, this is the preferred method of keeping suits wrinkle-free for the savvy business traveler. The good news is that many garment bags today have strayed away from the traditional style that was commonplace in the 1990s, and newer bags may be designed with utility in mind to meet carry-on standards without putting a single wrinkle into your suits. Many are also relatively inexpensive, and with a bit of your own research you'll be able to find one that best suits your needs.
This option is honestly a little risky, but if you're running late to the airport, this might reduce the number of wrinkles that your suit will undergo. As a custom suit is contoured to your body shape, it will not undergo any folding in a suitcase that might render it functionally useless until its next trip to the dry cleaners. It does, however, leave your suit open to other mishaps at the airport. A wrinkle or two here and there in your suit will be easier to conceal or flatten out as opposed to a massive coffee stain that ends up on your pant legs when someone rushing to catch his flight bumps into you after a brief stop at a Starbucks to get a foam latté and a copy of the daily newspaper. While not ideal, wearing your suit to the airport could save it from becoming a wrinkled mess in transit, and you also won't have to worry about it getting lost (unless of course you step onto the wrong plane). This is a good—albeit less than perfect—option if your flight is short and you won't need to be wearing your suit for very long. But if you are traveling anywhere for any extended length of time, and especially if you need multiple suits, a garment bag is the preferred way to go, even if you have to pay extra to check it.
These days with increased baggage fees, limitations on carry-on luggage, and fewer overhead storage bins, it can be very tempting to cram all of your clothes into a backpack as a way to save time as well as boast about being able to travel "light." Unfortunately for the business traveler, this is possibly one of the worst things you could do. Backpacks tend to be soft and highly malleable, so any movement or pressure applied to the backpack increases the likelihood that your suit—even when packed and folded correctly—will crease and wrinkle. If you must pack your suit this way for whatever reason (even though we highly recommend against doing this), keep it folded neatly in the largest pocket possible and try not to pack any other clothes around it. Inserting a piece of cardboard on either side of the suit may hold it together more effectively than having no barrier at all, but you're still better off using a larger, more appropriate bag.
The Standard Hard-Shell Suitcase
If garment bags really aren't your thing, a normal suitcase with a hard outer shell is the next best thing for packing suits, tuxedos, and other formal attire. The hard casing around the bag will ensure that your suits and other formal garments will not get crushed or wrinkled by outside forces, even if the bag is recklessly tossed around on the baggage carousel. Most suitcases, whether they are of the rolling or standard variety, usually have enough room to fold your suits and tuxedos in a way that will not wrinkle them. Just make sure that if you pack any other items in your suitcase with your formal attire such as toiletries or shampoo, keep those in airtight re-sealable bags and preferably in a separate compartment; as most experienced travelers know, pressure differences from high altitudes can turn normal everyday liquid containers into gigantic puddle generators, so in the event they do leak you want to make sure any spillage is contained and nothing gets on your clothes, especially not your suits and formal garments. If the suitcase is large enough, you may even be able to leave your suit on the hanger, and laying it flat will minimize any creases that would form otherwise.
For short business trips, duffel bags are perhaps the most popular item, as they contain just enough room for everything you need. The only major downside is that the bag is generally soft and collapsible, and this aspect has the potential to wrinkle an otherwise pristine suit with enough time, movement, and rough handling. However, there are a few specific ways that a suit can be folded to minimize any unwanted creases during transit.
If you place your suit jacket face down on a flat surface, you can fold the left or right shoulder over the back of the jacket, just below the visible far end of the lapel.
Then very carefully, you can turn the opposite shoulder inside out and then tuck the other shoulder into it. You can then fold the jacket lengthwise, and after that fold the jacket horizontally. If you have any spare dry cleaning bags laying around, you can use one to cover the jacket, as this will prevent any wrinkling that sometimes occurs from the next step.
With the suit pants fully extended horizontally, you can now place the covered suit jacket in the center. Once you fold both ends of the pants over the folded jacket in the center, your suit is ready to be placed into your bag.
This technique can work no matter what bag you decide to travel with, but as we mentioned earlier, you should be cautious with backpacks or other very small bags.
While all of these tips may seem like basic common-sense pointers, you would be surprised how many working professionals don't know how to properly pack their luggage. Our main goal at Enzo Custom is to give you a tailored custom suit that looks best for your particular body dimensions, but we also want to ensure that wherever you're going, your custom suit will stay sharp, sleek, and clean for your entire trip. As garment bags are the preferred method of taking your suits on the go, our weekender bag functions as more of a hybrid so you don't have to compromise for space. The outer portion of the bag works just like a standard garment bag, but it also folds around an inner portion that functions more like a duffel for all your other items such as shoes, casual wear, belts, socks, and bathroom necessities. You won't need to pay that extra baggage fee either, as the dimensions are well within the acceptable range for carry-on luggage at the airport.
So if you're ready to take on the world and advance your professional life, make sure to do it in style, and keeping our helpful packing tips handy is one small way to get you closer to your goals.