How to keep clothes looking nice while traveling
September 10, 2008 7:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm flying to a wedding this weekend and am bringing my nice clothes. How do I keep them unwrinkled & decent while traveling when all I have are some hangers and a normal suitcase? The clothes are dry cleaned and sitting here on hangers.
posted by jmd82 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The best option is a garment bag, something broad enough to accommodate your clothes without wrinkling them that folds entirely in half, reducing the amount you have to fold them inside the suitcase itself. Those can be pretty expensive (that one is $450, but I'm sure you can do better), but as you don't seem to have one, there are other options.

One is to remove the hangers, put things like socks, boxers, etc. on your jacket, pants, etc. and then fold the dress garment around the non-wrinkleable things to prevent hard creases from developing. Fold your dress shirts like you got them from the store, then put rolled-up socks in the collars to prevent them from getting too-badly crushed. Make sure they lay flat.

I'd also look into whether your destination has an iron available. Doesn't take terribly long, and even a garment bag will still leave your clothes looking a little mussed. A few minutes with an iron is probably required, and not that big of a deal.
posted by valkyryn at 7:40 AM on September 10, 2008

I have not had the need to try this myself yet, but my father (who used to travel often for work) swore by leaving the items in the plastic dry-cleaning bags, and then rolling them in a large pile of underwear/socks/etc as valkyryn said. You want the roll to be as large as possible while still fitting in your suitcase/duffle.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:49 AM on September 10, 2008

In my recent experience, airlines have had no trouble with me flying with my carryon, a personal bag (laptop), and the clothes in my hand. This would officially be 3 carryons I guess, but nobody has said boo to me recently (these were 5-6 different Delta flights).

If you'll be flying on a straight shot (i.e., non-stop) and on a big plane, you can just take them as is. On large planes, there's a closet for the business / first class passengers. If you're nice as you board and say something to the first class flight attendent like "Hi, I'm in a wedding tomorrow and I really don't want to put these clothes in the overhead, can I sneak them into the closet up front?" he or she will probably say yes.

When this doesn't work, I've had good luck just folding the clothes once in the middle and putting it on top of my carry on luggage. If the stuff is pressed and in dry cleaning bags, you'll probably come out okay on the other end.

G'luck. Look sharp!
posted by zpousman at 8:04 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Rock Steady has got the right idea. This does work to some extent. You can go even further though with this. Basically, you want the dry cleaning bags to ensure that no cloth is touching cloth when you fold it. For example, in the dry cleaning bag with your shirt on a hanger, when you lay it down in your garment bag, the sleeves still touch the front of the shirt (when you fold them over). You can't allow this to happen. It's best if you take the clothes out of the bag and try to use two or three bags to lay around the pieces of the clothes and start folding. As you fold, if cloth touches cloth, insert another bag and start folding again.

In addition, rolling is often better than folding especially if you use the dry cleaning bags.

Bottom line is that you're going to need an iron if you're folding a pressed shirt or a suit no matter how well you fold it up.
posted by jonmrich at 8:07 AM on September 10, 2008

Plastic dry cleaning bags, yes. I travel for business way too much, and these bags make a huge difference. For shirts you will have to cross the sleeves in front and hold them with a bobby pin or paper clip. One bag will keep two or three shirts pretty wrinkle free as long as they are well packed in your suitcase or better yet a garment bag. You could get more anal by individually bagging each item of clothing but that really is not needed. Any small wrinkles can be touched up with the iron in the hotel. If the room doesn't come with one just call the front desk and have one delivered. Most decent hotels provide such service.
posted by caddis at 8:30 AM on September 10, 2008

Sounds like a travel steamer would be your best bet.
posted by mogget at 9:19 AM on September 10, 2008

If there's no iron in your room, or you just can't be arsed, hang your stuff up in the bathroom and stick the shower on at the hottest setting. A 10-15min steam is great for removing minor wrinkling. I do this all the time and almost never have to iron stuff when I'm traveling.
posted by Jakey at 9:21 AM on September 10, 2008

Jakey's 10 minute steam protocol is the very first thing I do when I check into a hotel room when traveling on business...always makes a huge improvement.
posted by Exchequer at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2008

I would combine a little bit of what everyone's saying.

1. Keep everything in the dry cleaning plastic.
2. Get a garment bag. (This is mostly to keep things together, so you shouldn't have to spend much. The only feature I would suggest is some sort of closing mechanism (usually velcro) that allows you to secure the thing folded in half and carry it like a briefcase. Note, this should be a *loose* fold, so that your clothes form a u-shape with the handle at the open end.
3. Put everything into the garment bag and make the loose fold suggested in step 2.
4. When you get on the plane, release the closing mechanism.
5. Put a big smile on your face and ask if there's "anywhere I might be able to hang this up, please?"
6. Graciously thank them, and hang it up.
7. Don't forget to grab it on your way out and thank them again!
8. Refold, resecure, and stroll to your destination.
9. If need be, iron or steam. (Though you might be able to avoid this.)

Now, there's no guaranteeing that they'll allow you to use their closet, but I've never had a problem with this. Good luck!
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:51 AM on September 10, 2008

I also use dry cleaning bags as layers between my shirts to reduce wrinkling in my suitcase.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:13 AM on September 10, 2008

« Older Legality of 30 days notice in CA   |   Guitar solos 101 Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.