If you’re the kind of man who travels often—whether for business or pleasure—you know what we mean when we say jetsetting in style is no easy feat. Underwear and socks are easy to roll up and tuck away, but more difficult items like button downs, ties, and suits prove near-impossible to keep looking good.
But you have things to do. Conferences, client meetings, weddings, after hour clubs—just because you’re living out of a suitcase for the next few days doesn’t mean anyone is going to cut you any slack for it. You have impressions to make, and you’d better make them count.
Luckily, there are ways to keep that suit wrinkle-free while on the go.
Folding Your Suit
Believe it or not, there is a way to effectively fold a suit into a carry-on-sized bag without destroying it. Brooks Brothers put together an excellent six step guide to packing a suit that’ll stay wrinkle-free wherever you end up, no matter what. The best part is that the instructions are easy to follow, and include pictures to help illustrate the process. Wait, no, the best part is that it actually works.
This other guide from the folks at GQ also works, but is certainly less scientific in its approach. We haven’t had good results with the “fold and go” technique for the bigger bag, but their fold-up technique for smaller weekend bags is excellent.
Dealing With Wrinkles
Sometimes, wrinkles are just unavoidable. You packed and handled with care, but something happened along the way, and boom—you’ve got wrinkles. What can you do?
Your best bet is to pick yourself up a handheld steamer. If looking good on the go is important to you, a handheld steamer is a relatively inexpensive purchase that’ll save your ass more than once—we guarantee it. As usual, Amazon delivers. You’ll find a ton of options in the sub-$20 region, all the way up into the $60 plus area. Either way, there’s a quality steamer for any budget!
If you forgot your steamer or plain don’t want to buy one, you’re not up the creek. Your best option is to hang the suits from the towel shelves above the toilet but the bathroom doorknob can work. Then blast the shower as hot as it’ll go. Leave the suit 15-25 minutes, and it’ll come out looking like a fresh dry clean.
You can also give the suit an old-fashioned ironing board treatment, but only if you’re careful. You’re going to need to adjust your heat level according to the fabric of your suit, and no matter what, you’re going to need to place a protective cloth on top of it (like a bandana, dress shirt, etc.). This tutorial from wikiHow covers everything in detail.
If all else fails, find yourself a laundromat when you land, and toss it in the dryer for a bit on low to help smooth it out.
Wrinkle Free Suits
If you find yourself traveling that often, it might be worth looking at investing in a solid wrinkle-free suit. That might sound a bit on the tacky end of things, but truthfully, there are a lot of options out there that’ll keep you looking sharp.
This case, presented by The New York Times fashion critic Guy Trebay, perfectly explains every fashionable man’s need for a good wrinkle-free suit. In fact, that market has exploded over the last few years, with everyone from Burberry and Brooks Brothers, to Brunello Cucinelli, Bogliolo, Brioni, and a bunch of other suit companies whose names don’t start with the letter “B” offering variations of the wrinkle-free variety.
If you don’t know where to begin (Even though a Google search for something like “[preferred suit brand] AND Wrinkle Free Suit” would probably yield good results), you can check out this comprehensive list from D’Marge.
You can also try to get your hands on some specialized luggage. These bags are typically a little on the pricier side, but they do the job and can usually fit within the recommended carry-on size restrictions. This bag from the Combatant Gentlemen unzips completely to store a full suit and trouser setup. Oh, and it looks gorgeous, too. This Henty Wingman bag offers the same. It looks just OK, but it’ll do the trick.
The Case for the Wrinkled Suit
Finally, when all else fails, we have the wrinkled suit. Now, before you freak out, hear us out…
Enter the linen suit.
Linen is a more fragile fabric that wrinkles very easily. No matter how well you pack it or how heftily you steam, iron, or tumble dry it, it will wrinkle. Fans of the linen suit say those wrinkles are part of its charm, and we certainly don’t disagree.
However, so much of the linen suit’s appeal is dependent on how it’s worn. This guide from GQ is an excellent go-to, but there are plenty of resources and looks out there that make an excellent case for a good linen suit—and you’ll notice that many of them are slightly wrinkled and relaxed looking.