Traveling -your Wardrobe : Packing-care And The Secrets Of Wrinkle-free Travel Part 1

July 23rd, 2002

The basic objective of packing a suitcase is to get as much in as small a space as possible, while managing to arrive at your destination relatively wrinkle-free. An under packed suitcase leaves too much room for clothes to shift and crunch. Conversely, an over packed one produces hard-to-remove creases. When carefully folded and arranged, the contents of a suitcase should snugly fill its interior with its weight distributed equally throughout the bag for easier carrying.
Before making any other packing decisions, you must first choose the sort of luggage, hand or soft, that best fits your traveling requirements. While a hard suitcase offers your clothes greater protection and can be a terrific makeshift seat if there in nothing else available, its inflexibility can be a hindrance if you are forced to squeeze it intro a tight, awkward storage area. If it is bulky as well as heavy, transporting the hard suitcase can also bang your shins to a fare-thee-well. Luggage made along the lines of the old-world-elegant Vuitton or Asprey’s steamer trunks look exceptionally stylish, but they will also soon look exceptionally battered after being pummeled about in today’s taxi trunks or airport conveyances. Of course, if you travel by limousine to the Concorde or Queen Elizabeth II, such problems will be of little concern. But for those whose mode of transportation to the airport, dock, or train depot usually has a meter in the front seat, the luggage’s vulnerability is an issue.
Softer cases give you greater flexibility around their sides; should you acquire anything during your travels, they can accommodate the additions more easily than harder luggage. They are also more manageable in difficult-to-fit spaces, a fact you’ll appreciate if one ends up jammed beneath your legs. And your shins are in little danger if you have to carry one across a crowded airport. The softer bags range from the ballistic nylon – lightweight, slash proof, and Prada chic if well-designed and black – to the printed canvas and leather-trimmed bags by Etro, Gucci, or Fendi, which last a lot longer than their soft appearance might suggest.
If you opt for the semi-structured luggage, you should consider whether you will travel with suitcase large enough to accommodate a single-folded coat or a garment bag. The idea that your clothing, especially your suits, should hang in your luggage just as they hang in your closet has made the garment bag a popular choice for many travelers.
Since packing and unpacking the garment bag are easy matters, over packing the garment bag is always a temptation. So, when faced with a choice between the three- of four-suiter, give serious thought to the smaller of the two. Garment bags come with several zippered compartments. Designed to hold specific items such as shoes or toiletries. The better ones come with a “wet” bag for damp exercise clothes or laundry and have compartment that are accessible from the inside as well as the outside. Choose one with mesh or clear vinyl compartments, so you can see whatever you are looking for without having to completely unpack. Also, be sure to find a bag that can utilize different types of hangers, so that you are not stuck if you lose or damage one. Garment bags can be heavy and unwieldy, so make sure yours has a wide, padded shoulder strap. Finally, whether you choose the suitcase or the garment bag, there is a technique to packing both.

Packing the suitcase

As a first order you must decide which articles will be packed at the bottom of your bag. Many experts recommend putting trousers in first, leaving the leg out until everything else is in, and then folding them over the top of the pile. I disagree with this on two counts. First, since the trouser would rest against the top and bottom sides of the suitcase, you risk exposing it to any number of hazards, including moisture, that could not only ruin the trouser but effectively the entire suit. Second, travelers often arrive at their destination without enough time to fully unpack before having to keep some business appointment or social engagement. Therefore, the last thing to pack is a suit, since it is the first item that you will want to hang up to air out and dewrinkle. The first things you pack will have to absorb the full weight of the clothes places on top of it. So the garment to place at the bottom of your bag should be some item like a sweater, jogging clothes, jeans, or bulky trousers, anything that can wrinkle or get wet without causing you anxiety.

While packing, place tissue paper or plastic between each layer of clothing. Acid-free, crinkly tissue paper is the butler-approved device, while plastic, which allows your clothes to slide rather than settle and crease, is a close second. As you pack these items, a small moat should form around your island of clothing. This is the place for your footwear. Since packing and unpacking exposes fine leather shoes to scratching, your shoes should be protected by bags. The best shoe bags are made of brushed felt, which shields the shoe’s uppers while maintaining their polish. They also prevent the shoes from leaving polish marks on your suitcase or clothes. Plastic bags will not prevent scratches and scuffs and, if the climate is humid, can stick to the shoe, diminishing its luster. Face the soles of the bagged shoes against the walls of the case so that they are provides with the maximum protection while lending structure to the other packed garment.
Beside being covered, your shoes should be trees. Without travel shoe trees, your footwear may become deformed. Wooden trees are preferable, since they absorb moisture; shoe repair shops sell light plastic ones that will do in a pinch but should otherwise be avoided. If trees, plastic or otherwise, are unavailable, you can provide your shoes with temporary support by stuffing then with socks or underwear. Never separate a pair of shoes; if you pack a left and a right in different container, you double the chances that the pair will not arrive intact. Once the shoes are positioned, soft items such as linen, hosiery, and handkerchiefs should be stuffed in the spaces between them to provide additional cushioning.
Dress shirts can now be added with their collars alternating at each end. A professionally folded dress shirt with collar support in the cleaner’s plastic bag is going to emerge from its casing more wearable than the ones you folded your self. Shirts folded off hangers always need more touching up than shirts folded by the cleaner. However, if you insist on folding them yourself, choose the “long” fold, with the shirt folded below the waistline, ensuring within the collar for additional support.
Everything that is now in your case should be firmly set in place. If the moat between the outside wall and your clothing island is well fortified, the contents should move as a unit while the surrounding items can move independently as the weight of the parcel is redistributed during travel. Your trousers, folded in two with each waistband alternating with the other, should be packed next. In between each trouser, place four or five neckties folded once in half. The trousers will keep them flat and any resulting crease in the tie will come at the back of the neck where it is concealed by your collar. A traveling tie case offers an even safer mode of travel for your neckwear, and it can easily be hung in your closet.
Your jacket is the next article to go in Experienced travelers pack the night before, leaving their tailored clothing out until the very last moment to save unnecessary creasing. Fold your jacket lengthwise in half, inside out, taking care to push the shoulders through while making sure the sleeve meet each other inside and hang down without wrinkling. Place plastic inside the coat’s vertical fold. If your case is not long enough to accommodate single folding, put a layer of plastic or tissue over the folder jacket and fold it a second time between the button nearest the waistline and the top of the inside pocket. This is one place where a recalcitrant fold will easily come out.
One of the final items for packing is the leak proof drop kit, which allows for any last-minute additions. This can be used to plug up any gaps on the perimeter created by the stacking of the trousers and jackets. Just as with your first layer, the last thing to be placed over your suit jacket should be a robe, second coat, or even some plastic, anything that will prevent moisture from reaching the garments below.

From Style and The Man by Alan Flusser


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