Today’s post is sponsored by Colonel Littleton. They have a special going for Masculine Style readers and you will receive a free gift for any purchase from their store.
Over the past years both my travel frequency and the rate at which I travel with a suit have increased.
I remember digging around online trying to find a good guide for how to do so in a way that preserved my clothing as well as possible.
After trying out most of the tips I’ve found, I’ve held onto a bunch, abandoned others, and experimented with some things of my own.
The biggest thing I’ve found is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to traveling with a suit. If I’m going to be gone for two days and only need one suit, I’ll pack and travel much differently than if I’m off for a week and need four with me.
So today I’ll be outlining my three preferred methods and the bags I use to make it possible.
The Wear-It Method
Like many of you, if I’m on a quick trip, I want to pack as little as possible. It saves both time and effort and there’s rarely any reason to overdue it for such a short period of time.
On most trips like this, I’ll wear my suit while I fly. If the flight is fewer than four hours it’s really not a big deal to be in a suit for that long, I can get cold on flights so the jacket helps, and – if I really don’t want to wear it – most flight attendants are happy to hang it up for me.
If it’s made of a material I can split up into separates (stuff that has more texture as opposed to fine weaves) I’ll even pack a pair of jeans for the flight back and wear it as a form of business casual.
When traveling this way I don’t need anything more than a duffle bag and my current go-to is the No. 1 Grip from Colonel Littleton.
Duffle’s are super easy to travel with – especially when they’re well-built and look good. You may not think it’s a big deal, but the bag you carry can either support your overall appearance or it can detract from it. I end up doing a lot of inadvertent networking when I travel because I have a lot of men approach me and ask me where I get my bags or suits. It’s boosted my business and can do the same for any man, even if he’s not in the menswear field. If you’re wearing a great suit and have a cheap-looking duffle or backpack with you, it affects your overall presence and can hurt your networking opportunities.
The Garment-Bag-As-Carryon Method
Most airliners will let you have one carryon and one briefcase. When I’m traveling with one or two suits and don’t want to wear either one of them, I’ll often use a well-made garment bag as a supplement to my duffle.
Over the years I’ve gone through my fair share of garment bags. I’ve used things as flimsy and pathetic as the plastic your shirts are covered in after coming home from the dry cleaner to stronger, thicker plastics to synthetic canvas. Having a garment bag fall apart on a trip is a huge pain. It affects the way your suits hang when you get to the hotel and they’re annoying to replace.
Like a lot of you, I don’t buy cheap suits. I invest money in my clothing and want it to last as long as it can. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that buying nice clothing and not investing equally in the ways in which it’s shipped or stored can lead to irreversible damage. It’s why I have shoe trees for my shoes, cases for my sunglasses, and a heavy-duty garment bag – like the No 7 from Colonel Littleton.
If I’m being extra careful about my suits (and traveling with someone else) I’ll carry it on like a briefcase, then unfold it in the overhead compartment and place my bag and my travel companion’s bag over the top. This lays it out and prevents creasing without taking up extra space either overhead or beneath my seat.
Some flight attendants may give you grief about it. But, if you’re dressed well, have a strong presence, and are polite but firm, they’re usually very happy to accommodate you.
The Garment-Bag-In-Suitcase Method
This is my go-to if I know I’m going to be gone for a few days and need to bring a few suits.
At this point, I’ve embraced the fact that I’m going to check a bag. Yes it may inconvenience me by any extra half an hour of my time and a bit more weight to lug around, but it’s worth it to make sure I both bring enough and that what I bring travels well. As soon as you let go of the idea that any trip should only require a carryon, it becomes infinitely easier to travel and dress well while doing so.
I still use my garment bag while it’s in my suitcase. I like to have it with me in the hotel to protect against anything that may be hiding in the closet and I’ve also experience one too many dopp kit explosions.
There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving in your hotel room and realizing you need to figure out how to get mouthwash out of your shirt.
By having the extra layer of protection with the garment bag, there’s a little safety and redundancy to ensure the clothing isn’t ruined.
I’ll put the garment bag in before anything else and leave half of it out, then I’ll put in the other items I’m bringing with me and fold the garment bag over them. This soft roll prevents any creasing and minimizes wrinkling – making my life so much easier once I arrive at my destination.
As for everything else, I will hang up the shirt I’m wearing its accompanying suit. Pocket squares go in breast pockets, and socks go in hip pockets. That way I know where everything is and what I’m wearing before hand. It makes both packing and getting dressed a more organized process.
Ties are a different story though. I used to just hang them over the hanger and try to keep them flat between suits but it rarely worked and took more time than I wanted to invest.
Now I use a tie case. It keeps them in one place, flat, and organized. I know it can seem a bit silly but finding the right tie case was honestly a game changer for my travel. I no longer have to scramble to find a steamer or worry about speaking to an audience with a creased tie.
Like I said above, if you invest in quality clothing it’s worth it to invest in maintaining it. I’m much happier paying a premium for my bags than either constantly replacing cheap versions or, even worse, having to replace my suits, shirts, or ties because my luggage wasn’t up to the task.
That desire for quality is why I was so excited to work with Colonel Littleton. Not only do they source the best materials for their bags, they use traditional methods and make them here in America.
So go check out their stuff. And, if you pick up a few items before December 31st, they’ll throw in a gift as a thank you to Masculine Style readers.
So sound off in the comments below. I want to hear your own experiences – both good and bad – while traveling with a suit, along with your own tips for doing it better!