How to Fold a Suit Jacket When Traveling
April 20, 2013 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Q: I read your “How to Pack for a Weekend in Vegas” post (loved it) and was wondering how you guys get a suit jacket in a carry-on without it coming out like wrinkled tissue paper at the destination. What’s the best way to fold a suit jacket to minimize wrinkles when traveling? – Jason L. A: Hey Jason, here’s the folding method we use when we pack our suit jackets for a trip.
From Ask a Black Lapel Stylist.
posted by Lexica (32 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to attempt to tie that Trinity knot like 22 times before I give up and let my more dexterous SO do it for me, aren't I?
posted by The Whelk at 11:57 AM on April 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you can tie a full windsor, a trinity knot is basically just one more step. It's easy enough that it's pretty much my standard knot now. The eldridge takes more finessing the knot and is more annoying.
posted by yeolcoatl at 12:02 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have this long bag-like thing. Lay it out on a bed, open it up, stick up to three suits (complete with pants and shirt and shoes) inside right on the hanger, and fold it in three (with ten or so clips attaching throughout the process).

Bam, it looks just like a sort of duffel-bag (or really more like an oversized soft-sided briefcase), and the suit(s) make it to their destination wrinkle-free.

Though admittedly, my definition of "wrinkle-free" may differ from yours. I don't tend to stress about it if my collar doesn't look crisp enough to cause paper-cuts. ;)
posted by pla at 12:04 PM on April 20, 2013

It is to my great shame that the only knot I can be reasonably sure of pulling off in one go is that schoolboy quickee one. Anything more complicated gets handed off to another person.
posted by The Whelk at 12:04 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Why did they never tell me this before? This is like eldritch origami suit magic.
posted by arcticseal at 12:18 PM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

We know you’re thinking, “That’s cool Black Lapel, but come on, when would I really ever wear a DB suit?” It’s true that unless you’re a regular on the set of Boardwalk Empire, you probably shouldn’t be wearing a double-breasted suit every single day.

This site makes the dangerous assumption that I don't want to be dressed like a Boardwalk Empire extra all the time.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on April 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

I fold my jackets like this, and it works pretty well. I have a really thin jacket that needs to be ironed at the destination, but it wrinkles when you look sternly at it, so that's not too surprising.

More importantly; why did you post this!!?!! I have papers to read and grading to do!!!!!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:25 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah I have a garment bag but if i have to put my jacket in a bag I roll it up. This way is probably Better. I also have a steamer.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2013

To further avoid wrinkles, and for packing trousers, you can do a delayed folding technique:

1. Most carry-ons have an uneven bottom (because of the handle rails). You stuff that with socks and briefs and cover with a towel in order to get a smooth surface.

2. Now you put in your trousers but leave the legs hanging out. Do the same with the vertically folded jacket, leaving the bottom half hanging out (on the other side)

3. Now you put shirts and stuff in and then fold the trouser legs and the jacket bottom in.

posted by patrick54 at 12:48 PM on April 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

Another reason I love my Rohan Envoy jacket for travel. Just fold it however you like. Or scrunch it up without folding it properly at all, for that matter.
posted by oliverburkeman at 12:59 PM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Why do guys get this, and ladies get Man Repeller?

I want to KNOW STUFF about how my clothes work.
posted by Sara C. at 2:42 PM on April 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

Up here in Vermont we confiscate neckties at the border, but this is neat info. I now intend to graduate from Windsor to Trinity the next time I have a Necktie Occasion. Which means I may have to leave instructions for my undertaker.
posted by beagle at 3:50 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Those knots seem like a terrible thing to do to something as lovely and delicate as a silk necktie.
posted by Apropos of Something at 4:16 PM on April 20, 2013

I want to KNOW STUFF about how my clothes work.

I wonder if it's because in the How To Market To Guys Handbook you have to science-ify and technical-detail-ify something to make it "serious" whereas women are just assumed to be be into these things cause It's A Thing Women Are Supposed To Like.
posted by The Whelk at 4:17 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not a big fan of the rules-ism on display on that site. If your style is dictated from on high, you don't have any. (Assert your individuality, dammit!)

All fashion rules are arbitrary. They push them because they have suits to sell. They change them periodically so you have to keep coming back.

And you're totally going to get a huge horizontal crease if you fold your jacket like that.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:54 PM on April 20, 2013

beagle, come on down to DC. A man isn't allowed to cross the border from Maryland without either a suit or a fanny pack. But not both ... For all that is good, not both...
posted by Skwirl at 4:56 PM on April 20, 2013

Sara C.: "Why do guys get this, and ladies get Man Repeller?

I want to KNOW STUFF about how my clothes work.

Exactly. It's almost like people assume we don't ever wear business suiting.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:03 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't escape the feeling that anyone wearing a trinity or eldritch knot who wasnt in some perfectly coiffed Hollywood prop and costume dept arranged outfit, and all photoshopped for a shoot or something... would look like a neckbeard wearing a fedora.

I can't even imagine the best looking/most put together people I know pulling it off.
posted by emptythought at 5:03 PM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy taught me to put my suit in one of the plastic bags you get from the dry cleaner before folding and packing to avoid wrinkles. I have no idea whether it actually makes a difference since I always do it.
posted by Xalf at 5:59 PM on April 20, 2013

This folding method reminds me of the Aha! moment I had when I came across a youtube video that showed me how to fold a fitted sheet.
posted by fogovonslack at 6:10 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dr. Zira, it's partially that, I guess, but seriously, I just want someone to tell me what to do and how it works and why we do it that way.

I mean, I know there's a degree of condescension present in framing all sartorial conversations about menswear around, like, "These are pants. You put them on the bottom half of your body. You can step into them if you undo the zipper, like so." But I actually need that level of condescension when it comes to women's clothing.

Someone should start a site called CLOTHING FOR MORONS. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd read it.
posted by Sara C. at 6:27 PM on April 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

Also, I need to tell you that the "Eldredge" knot looks like an ant, vomiting.

Try to unsee that.
posted by Sara C. at 6:39 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

One does not simply fold a fitted sheet.
posted by emcat8 at 7:03 PM on April 20, 2013

I think the issue, Sara C., is that women's clothing is much more fashion-driven and the rules are more numerous, more arbitrary, and have more exceptions. It allows for greater freedom of expression (women have a lot more freedom in terms of color and pattern) but can make it more difficult to dress well. Yes, there is a large degree of arbitrariness, authoritarianism, classism, and sexism involved here.

Of course, there's no reason (beyond the prejudice of other people, anyway) that you couldn't start dressing according to male sartorial rules. I for one happen to think that women look absolutely smashing in formal menswear, and I know I'm not alone there. It's certainly A Look, but you see plenty of women pulling it off on a fairly regular basis -- and it's a look that projects power and self-confidence, so that's nice. Women have successfully appropriated men's casualwear, and seeing women in more formal men's clothing is becoming more and more common as well which is a fine thing.
posted by Scientist at 9:19 PM on April 20, 2013

> I have this long bag-like thing. Lay it out on a bed, open it up, stick up to three suits (complete with pants and shirt and shoes) inside right on the hanger, and fold it in three (with ten or so clips attaching throughout the process).

That sounds great, but then you have to check the bag.

I never check a bag, unless I absolutely have to. I've been using this pack it folder for my dress shirts, and luckily I don't have to wear a suit jacket. This folding method looks perfect however (and was discussed in a company email when one of our engineers had to pack a suit the other week).
posted by mrzarquon at 10:22 PM on April 20, 2013

As a woman, my wrinkle–free and space saving solution is rolling clothing. Fold in the arm, fold the long way, and roll as tight as I can. No idea if this works for suits but I've managed to pack an astounding amount of clothes this way, and they're all wrinkle free when I arrive. That combined with shoe tetris and I have a nice full wardrobe. The biggest problem I face is the return trip home, I'm not so motivated, so trying to cram it all back in quickly is. . . Interesting.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:47 PM on April 20, 2013

There is this idea out there that men have to be educated about clothing and tailoring and women just KNOW cause it's part of the Magical Womens Knowledge they all get cause all women are the same and that is bullshit. Lots of women don't know (or care) what an A-line or Princess cut is. Maybe they want to know why things are cut differently! Maybe they want to know the difference in fabrics have on the overall look and feel and feel of things! Women are "expected"* to keep up with fashion and men aren't and that leads to some stupid shit.

I mean, if for one thing women's outfits, even in business settings, are much less tightly worn then a traditional business suit and so it's less about fit and more about how it hangs and moves, which is based more on material construction. Oddly enough this is also true of kilts.

*The famous Chanel Suit, worn so well by Peggy Olson was designed to stop just this. A practical but stylish garment that a woman could wear everyday to the office* and not have to change every six months as fashion dictates, fulfilling the same role as the expensive men's tailored business suit (or shoes) - a costly but life-time long object.

*although I have been told by fashion historians that the middle-class working-lady outfit of the 1870s-1920s was just this, tailored blouse and simple skirt that anyone could put together and offered ease of movement and simplicity while still looking reasonably respectable and even stylish. It was finally killed off after WW2 in the west where it got associated with grandmothers and unmarried aunts right when cheap, ready to wear fashions hit the mainstream.
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 AM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh and the vanishing of the formerly everywhere all the time foundation garments (girdles) was also A Thing.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 AM on April 21, 2013

This linked method does not work reliably because it's dependent upon what else you're packing.

Bundle packing is the way to go. Last link Pepsi Blue

...according to many but not all.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:13 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Part of the problem for us is that women's fashion mags (or at least the ones I peruse; Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle) are focused on the art of fashion and making good editorials and trend reporting instead of practical "'splain it to me like I'm five years old" knowledge on how to dress ourselves.
We do have stuff like "What Not to Wear" and (formerly) "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" which is helpful, but they don't necessarily address very basic fundamental things like how to fold your suits, tie a scarf, or fundamental construction issues.
I think understanding construction is the key to understanding fit. I remember reading Nina Garcia's first book in which she goes on and on about the importance of finding a good tailor, but I wanted to throw the book against the wall because nowhere did she explain how I'm supposed to instruct the tailor once I find one, or how to know whether or not the garment I'm about to buy can even be altered to fit me correctly.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:01 AM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Note to self: upon returning home, check that I have a blazer that still fits.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:56 AM on April 22, 2013

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