Video: How to pack a suitcase

Friday, July 26th 2019
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For most people, the main problem with packing is fitting everything in. If you're carrying a suit, however, you're also faced with the trickier problem of avoiding creasing.

I've long used a technique that involves wrapping jackets and trousers around things in the suitcase, to avoid hard folds.

It's not complicated, but it's also not easy to explain in words. Also not easy to describe is to how to fold a jacket inside out - again to avoid creases, but also to expose the lining of the jacket (which can be replaced) rather than the exterior cloth.

So I decided to create this short video demonstrating these points, as well as a few other little pieces of advice.

 

 

Among key points mentioned are:

  • Put travel shoe tress inside your shoes; or failing that, socks and underwear
  • Turn shoe bags inside out to avoid seams scratching the patina
  • Pack heavy items like shoes at the sides of the case
  • Turn a jacket inside out, to avoid any damage to the outside
  • Place it half inside the case, to fold around everything else at the end
  • Do the same with trousers, protruding from the opposite side of the case
  • Fold shirts simply in thirds; don't bother with stiffening collar bands
  • Carry a thin sweater and scarf to help deal with fluctuations in weather
  • Carry a tie and handkerchief to deal with different events
  • Fold a tie simply into quarters - or place inside a cardboard slip case if delicate

Thank you to Tusting bags for supporting the video and supplying the bags shown.

You can see more videos in this practical series here:

In the video I am wearing:

And I am packing:

  • Belgravia loafers by Edward Green
  • Jacket by Eduardo de Simone in vintage cashmere
  • Trousers from Cerrato in Fox Brothers flannel
  • Shirts in 'Everyday Denim' and Thomas Mason Indiolino
  • 'Finest Knitwear; from Permanent Style
  • Cashmere scarf from Begg & Co
  • Wool knit tie from Bigi via Trunk Clothiers
  • Drake's wool/silk handkerchief
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Alex N.

Dear Simon,
Thank you for the video. Could I get your opinion on the following? Usually I pack a large check-in suitcase and have my suit in a bag just folded in two and filled between the two sides with shirts, sweaters, etc (to avoid a hard crease). I found that this way it creases less than when packed inside out and folded. And since it is in a suit bag (w/ a hanger), I don’t really worry about the cloth being damaged. Do you think if I have the space, it would still better to pack it as in the video? Would it offer any additional benefits apart from taking up less space?
Thank you
Alex

Tim

Who makes that lovely suitcase? I think I missed the name.

VSF

What’s your opinion of the leather quality, workmanship, and design of the Tusting bag? This company is a new one for me.

Anonymous

Your kitchen looks lovely.

Anonymous

good as it goes, but better to put the sweater, scarf etc in first and the shirts on top, rather than as you have done. heavier stuff at the bottom, lighter stuff at the top.

Tim

Hi Simon,
One question, what is your view on packing cubes or shirt cases.

I.T.

This was very helpful. Thank you! Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more videos from you in the future 😉

SC

Very handy info. Would you ever consider using those suit compartments that suitcases have as part of the top cover? Some have padded areas that you fold over, decreasing the severity of a crease. Also, do you always bring the suit in a carry on or sometimes checked luggage? I have this anxiety of checked luggage stacked on top of each other, possibly damaging the shape of the shoulder in bespoke suits.

SC

Still worried about crushing and damaging the structure of the shoulders, and lapel rolls in checked bags with the way airport baggage handlers pile luggage, as such I try to put jackets in carry on if at all possible

Edward Scott-Bleming

This is a great video – although not a very frequent traveller, some of what you’ve advised packing is to avoid creasing ingenious and I shall be applying these techniques in future!

Anonymous

Are you seriously saying that the interior seam of a shoe bag could scratch the patina of your shoes? Seriously? Imagine the damage you risk if you actually wear the shoes!

Anonymous

I use shoe bags when packing to avoid the soles of my shoes coming into contact with my clothes. Not to protect the shoes.

Anonymous

You also use shoe bags to protect the rest from dirt. Which brings me to something that’s always struck me on account of how often you see it in menswear ads and videos: why would you ever put your shoes on your clothes, in this case on your pair of flannels? That’s the best way to stain them.

JB

The only question I would have here, is that this bag at least looks like a hand luggage size, so were does the dop kit fit? Or is it not, given your comment of also keeping a hand luggage with you where you keep toiletries etc.
Curious question: when checking bags, do you make a habit of keeping an extra change of underwear and shirt in your hand luggage, in case of lost luggage? I’ve never had a lost bag thankfully, but if it were to happen on a business trip, I’d find solace in having at least clean underwear and a fresh shirt.

JB

Hi Simon,
Yes, I understood that part, what confused me I guess is the bag used to demo packing here looks to be a hand luggage to me, but I assume the idea would be for this bag to be checked.

Kevin

A three camera shoot? And how long did it take to shoot the entire video?

Also, well done. I didn’t think I’d learn much new about packing, but was happy to be proven wrong.

Jose T

I’m traveling this weekend and your video couldn’t have been better timed for me.

Included with the normal items is 2 suits along with a sportcoat and odd trousers for the trip. This is the first time I’ve had to pack so heavily so wondering if I should wear the sportcoat and trousers on the plane or just dress comfy? I’m doing a redeye from California to Paris so not a short flight.

How do you typically handle your longer flIghts? I can just put one suit in a check in if needed.

Christopher Lee

Personally, I always travel with a sport coat on including on flights between the US to Europe. If it’s well fitted, it’s as comfy as any other jacket, and I get to bring along another sport coat. My system has been to make my second “personal item” a suit bag in which I pack three or more jackets on a lightweight suit hanger. When the bag is zipped in thirds, a laptop is protectively nestled in the middle. I do go on trips of 2+ weeks, so this helps me pack in as many jackets as I can.

Michael

Hello Simon,

Thanks for the informative video. How would you pack a linen suit to minimize creasing? Would you still use this same method?

Ben

I use a similar method with my jackets, but the lapels still always come out misshapen (with worsteds anyway). A press at the destination seems inevitable.

Patrick Truhn

Simon, I pack the jacket as you do, inside out and folded in half around shirts and knitwear to reduce creasing, but I prefer to pack the trousers folded in thirds around the jacket-shirts-knitwear sandwich (creating an even bigger sandwich), to reduce trouser creasing even more (in your video the trousers are folded in on themselves at the end, which is likely to produce a crease). And I agree with you that describing this in words is hellish!

Anonymous

old army trick. trousers, polos, t shirts and knitwear should be rolled gently. no creaseing at all.

Anonymous

sorry but maybe i’m missing your point. formal trousers can be rolled, as can formal sweaters; what has “casual” and “tailoring” got to do with it?

Anonymous

i must be being a bit thick on this one. a trouser is a trouser.

Anonymous

strange. works like a dream for me, although you really need to know what you’re doing to get it right.

Anonymous

hi simon posted a reply to your comment but it seems to have got lost.

never had a problem with creasing no matter the fabric but it is a technique you have to get right if you want it to work. thanks.

Nick Inkster

Interesting. I roll everything with the exception of shirts and jackets. It’s a method I picked up from my father so probably the only way to pack I’ve ever used. The results are always perfect.

On the luggage point, I have used Tumi in the past but would point you to Briggs and Riley. Every bit as well made, durable and reliable, but at about half the price. I have bags of theirs which have survived aircraft holds for years and still look brand new.

SC

I only use Briggs and Riley Baseline…cheaper than Tumi, though not cheap. Durable, looks classic and not fashionable where someone might steal it, and only one out there with lifetime warranty for repair or replacement if damaged, no questions asked.

David

Personally I use Samsonite. The following reasons make them an arguably better choice than Tumi, Briggs, Rimowa and the like: first, they’re very lightweight, sometimes weighing in at less than half the weight of other models. Second, the materials used in the top range are very sturdy and deform rather than break. Finally, they often have 5- or 10-year warranties, which isn’t bad, and more importantly, spare parts are easy to find wherever you are, should anything break. We could argue about style, but I don’t think they’re any worse than the other brands.

Jason

I think these packing ‘videos’ would be more informative if hand baggage for the same trip was analysed at the same time.
Also, keeping luggage as light and as mobile as possible is key.
To this end, I’d never use a ‘leather’ case of any of those retro globetrotter cases. The best travel brand by a country mile is ‘Tumi’ – they lead on technology, durability and mobility.
Last but by no means least, when is anybody going to design a toilet bag for the modern age ?j
All liquids have to be in a see through bag so why carry a traditional, heavy kit ?

Patrick Truhn

Simon (to answer your question), the middle portion of the trousers lies under the sandwich; the cuffs and waistband either touch at the top, or, depending on the thickness of the sandwich, overlap slightly. Btw this isn’t my invention; I found it in an advertising insert by Louis Vuitton (they should know about packing luggage!) in Vogue Hommes about forty years ago.

Luis

Hi Simon,

Thank you for this informative post.
In terms of crease-prevention effectiveness, how does this system compare to the one that you developed with Bennett Winch for the​ir​ Suit Carrier Holdall?

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
thanks for that video. Since you travel with suits quite a lot, what do you think about carrying one by hand in a suit bag?

Max Alexander

Good video, although packing a carry-on for a one- or two-night trip is pretty easy. Much harder to live for a week out of a carry-on. I frequently fly between the US and Europe for a week, and a checked bag these days adds about 150 euros to the RT ticket.

Adding to the problem is that many airlines now put a weight limit on carry-ons, and enforce it with sadistic enthusiasm. (A ridiculous rule on its face, as the airline employees aren’t lifting them.) In winter you need heavier clothes; in summer more shirts (more than one per day lately.) Shoes are my Waterloo.

Joel

Hi Simon,
I’ve been lurking around getting myself a quality umbrella for some time now. I’m looking onto something that can double up as cane, due to some health history (not to mention that I’ve also noticed it’s nice to be able to use as such when the weather’s nice, rather than have it in hand).
I’d like to hear your views about material (both the the tube and canopy) as well as color (I see a lot in black, however would a navy be more versatile?)
As well, could you point me to some places with good value for money?
Thanks

Anonymous

This method is also usefully described in Roetzel’s ‘Gentleman’. However as with Inkster I use a Briggs & Riley (unparalleled for internal space as the rolling handle assembly is external) with a separate suit carrier compartment. I then use packing cubes (items are rolled and placed comfortably inside). Shoes are placed in shoe bags but I use an additional sleeve inside. Worth mentioning that the internal space should be well filled but not tight, otherwise items can move around and add further creasing to garments, particularly if not packed in cubes or a suit carrier. Heavy items such as shoes should always go on the bottom, as with toiletries. Lighter items go higher in the case (from years of traveling for work). N.B. A carry-on suit carrier can be used but given how packed overhead lockers can be suits may be better off in the hold.

David G

A work of reference. He’s sold over 1 million copies. Rolling clothes to pack is by far the easiest way to avoid creasing.

Alexander

Hi Simon,

As someone who will be taking a trip in October (and planning on taking a couple of suits), this is very helpful. I will be going to Spain with my partner of 7 years (neither her or I have been to Europe before, both Los Angeles natives that now work in CA politics/policy in Sacramento). We will be visiting Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris over a 3 day period (I’m very excited to get a shirt made at Cameseria Burgos).

As such I wanted to ask your opinion on something (or any reader’s opinion). Given how things are working out, I can either have a custom suit made (mtm with some customization) by a local clothier (R. Douglas) to take on the trip, or save that same money and put it towards the deposit on a pair of bespoke shoes (this and the shirt would my first bespoke items) from Ramon Cuberta. Which item would you (or readers) advice investing in a custom suit or a bespoke pair of oxfords?

As a general background I work in politics and policy so I tend to be in a suit, tie, and dress shoes most of the year (Monday-Thursday, January – July and August-Mid September). However, it is California so even then the general atmosphere is still a bit more casual (think a lot of loud patterns, more mid to light shades of blue and grey suits, and brogues and derbies.

If I were to get a custom suit it would likely be just a mid-blue 2 or single button with a notch lapel. If I were to get a shoe it would be between an oxford or one his more unique whole-cut options (either shoe in black or a dark navy).

Best,
Alexander

Alexander

Thanks Simon, just for clarification does it make a difference that it is made to measure and not bespoke? Also, thank you for the advice, I really appreciate it.

Best,

Alexander

Rob

Hi Simon, A great video. I used to really enjoy the art of packing, but now travel so much it has become both a chore and a routine. Watching this reminds me how wonderfully personal an activity it is, trying to meet all one’s individual preferences, what needs to be protected most, what needs to be accessible when, how can I make it as much like home as possible, and how to squeeze it all into the smallest and lightest space possible. I find myself endlessly accumulating unnecessary accessories like travel wallets and packing devices, before stripping them all away in the pursuit of lightness and slowly building them up again! I have recently found that I now have an entirely different travel wardrobe built up painstakingly over time to try and balance all of the possible trade offs and occasions involved. But interestingly it is one that is now largely devoid of my bespoke tailoring, although I think this is more a reflection of where I travel to (developing countries).

The inside out shoe bag is a piece of ingenious OCD. I will definitely try this one, although I wonder if I need new shoe bags to avoid the risk of a tiny bit of polish finding its way onto my clothes. My secret to always having a well polished shoe when travelling is to wear textured leather (generally more versatile and less prone to someone rolling a suitcase into your carefully polished toe).

Anonymous

I’ve just checked all my shoebags as this OCD stuff is too much!!
None have anything along the inside seam that is capable of scratching anything!! Soft as anything.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

On the subject of traveling, since you have a lot of valuable clothing, do you know any travel insurance with high single item insurance limit and high total luggage limit ? I’m struggling to find one and surely you’ve been confronted to the problem as well.

Thanks !

Brian

Brilliant!

Michael Hardin

I have some big e levis jackets from 60,s or 70,s at latest,one is black in medium all look brand new have been in storage for 50 years ,i want to sell but do not know where to do so if anyone knows where to sell please let me know i can ship or send pictures. 17312243331 or 1870 375 0270 email [email protected] i live in savannah ,tn. Usa