Before we go into how to pack a suitcase for a business trip, you have to know what to pack. So what you should pack, honestly, I think you know that best yourself.
What To Pack For A Business Trip
Versatility Is Key
You want a wardrobe that is easy to dress up and down because you have very limited garments with you and you want to get the most out of them.
For a standard business trip, I suggest you pack at least one suit, maybe two, and a navy blazer. In terms of color, I think a grey suit is perfect because you can combine the pants with a blazer and have another business appropriate outfit.
If you want another pair of pants, I think chinos are great or if you need something dressier, of course, you can go with dress pants. Make sure there’s enough contrast and don’t go with something navy that is different than the blazer, or even exactly the same because, it just looks off.
A heavier fabric such as a flannel, wrinkles less than a lightweight high twist fabric. Yes, you can always have your suit pressed when you arrive or just hang up in the bathroom to release the wrinkles with steam, but ideally, you want a suit that wrinkles as little as possible because it makes it easier on you and provides peace of mind because you’ll always look presentable.
When it comes to shirts, I’d bring a white dress shirt with cufflinks, maybe a light blue one, and at least a checked one which is a little more casual that you can wear without a tie, let’s say if you go out at night.
Undershirts may help you to keep your dress shirt fresher all day. If you want other colors, I suggest stick with pastel colors for shirts because they’re easy to combine, very versatile. Don’t go with bolder colors and if you want to add a dash of something special to your outfit, go with colorful accessories such as your tie, your pocket square, or maybe your cufflinks.
How Many Pairs Of Shoes Should You Bring?
When it comes to shoes, it’s actually very different if you have quality men’s shoes because they’re usually a lot heavier than cheaper ones. Personally, I have traveled three or four weeks with just three pairs of shoes, one which I wore on the plane, and two that were packed, and I could do that because I know exactly the kind of events I would go to.
If you know you have lots of formal business events, I suggest to go with a black cap toe oxford, and maybe a pair of burgundy shoes because it always combines well, it always looks presentable, professional, but you can also combine it in a more casual way.
If you don’t have formal events, I would go with a dark brown pair, maybe monk straps, or regular lace-ups, then a pair of burgundy shoes, because it’s so versatile, and another may be light brown or cognac tone, maybe a suede pair of shoes because that browns up your wardrobe, makes you look presentable and dapper no matter where you go.
Most people forget it, but it’s very important to bring at least one pair of shoe trees because it helps your shoes to stay in shape and lasts longer, while plastic ones are really lightweight, I don’t like them because they don’t provide the desired shape and hold I need.
No matter where I travel, I always bring a travel shoehorn because it protects my shoes, it helps me to get into my shoes at security and I never want to miss it because it’s such a small item that can save you a lot of dollars.
Stock Up On Versatile Accessories
In terms of accessories, I usually bring pocket squares, tie, sometimes bow ties, cufflinks, rings, maybe a collar pin, or a collar bar, and also boutonnieres. I actually use the Fort Belvedere gift box to travel with them because that’s perfect and they don’t get damaged that way, that being said, usually, I travel my cufflinks in my carry-on because I don’t want to lose my valuable gold jewelry.
Now Let’s Get Packing!
So how do you pack a suitcase? First of all, I suggest you go to the bedroom because if you have a large enough bed, you can put all of your things out there and you can have your suitcase up on the bed so it’s easier to pack.
The first thing I do is to stuff my socks and underwear into the shoes that don’t have shoe trays. I definitely recommend you use shoe bags or dust bags because they keep the rest of your clothes clean. The remaining t-shirts, polo shirts, or undershirts, and socks go into the bottom of the suitcase and especially on the side where you have the pull mechanism because it’s uneven and those socks help to even everything out.
I add belts or suspenders to it, then my Dopp kit, and ideally, you want something that’s lightweight and not too heavy, sometimes the nicer Dopp kits are really heavy and it just adds bulk so try to pay attention to that.
Folding could have a huge impact on how your clothing wrinkles, dress shirts are delicate and wrinkle very easily, therefore, you should fold them and not roll them. The best way to do that is to put the shirt flat down with buttons facing on the floor or the table. Fold the sides inwards with sleeves on both the sides, and fold over the hem, and fold in half or in thirds, depending on the size of your suitcase.
Do that with other shirts and then stack them with collars opposite from each other. You can use the same folding technique with sweaters, t-shirts, or polo shirts, however, sometimes it may make more sense to simply roll them because it’s quicker, it’s easier, and it saves you on space.
Plastic Hangers & Garment Bags Are Your Friends
Now in terms of a suit, the big advantage of a large spinner suitcase is that you don’t need to really fold your suit heavily. What I do is I use a lightweight plastic hanger with a wide shoulder pad, you want the shoulders to be about two inches wide and you want a trouser bar to not be rubberized because it usually doesn’t stick. You want a form of really grippy foam or anything else that really holds the trousers up. Simply hang your suit and put it in a garment bag.
Personally, I stay clear of the heavier cotton garment bags I use at home and I go with really lightweight cheap ones because they help to prevent wrinkles, at the same time, they don’t add bulk or weight to my suitcase. Never go with more than two garment bags. If you have more than two suits or two jackets, simply double them up in the same garment bag. If you have a vest, which is extremely helpful, because vests are easy to combine, you add it on top of the hanger underneath the jacket.
Once the garment bag is zipped up, you lay it flat in the suitcase then take the other garment bag laid flat as well. You fold them over one on top of each other. That way, the crease in the garment is not strong and it won’t wrinkle. I always try to fold it just at the bottom part of the lapel because that way, you don’t get any creases in it. Sometimes, if I have more pairs of pants, I put them either on the hanger but if it’s too heavy and it would break the plastic hanger, I just put them flat in the bottom of the suitcase first.
How To Keep Your Suits Wrinkle-Free
On top of the suits, I only put very lightweight items such as pocket squares, ties, for that specifically, I use a tie case that my wife made for me when we first dated so it’s very dear to my heart and I use it to this day. I found that rolling up ties usually makes them wrinkle much more easily and just laying them flat in your suitcase means they shift around and that way they wrinkle too so definitely get a tie case.
You don’t want to put any heavy objects on top of your suits because otherwise, it’s much more likely to wrinkle. It’s good for a suitcase to have that zipper on top so you can close up the suit compartment and focus your efforts on the other side. You also want a compartment on the other side because it’s much heavier and you don’t want to push on the suit side.
If you have issues with the size of your shoes, I suggest you wear the heaviest pair when you travel and put the lighter ones in your dust bags. I also suggest to put the sole to sole and pack them that way, because they’re more compact and you get more in your suitcase.
For my belts, I always try to roll them up and either I put them in my shoes or I just fit them on the side of the shirts, or the shoes, because there’s always extra room for little things like that. The same is true for items such as chargers, or maybe your electric shaver, to make sure you don’t overload your Dopp kit, get travel size products or little bottles otherwise, it’s way too heavy.
Finding The Right Suitcase
Over the years, I’ve tried lots of different things and I’ve found that two things are very important. One, you want spinner wheels that are really easy to roll because nothing is as bothersome as having to carry your suitcase for long distances which makes you sweat and uncomfortable at the airport. Also, when you’re outside and the pavement is not always the best, having bad wheels is really a pain in the behind.
Personally, while I love the look of suitcases like Globetrotter, they’re just very impractical and I’ve had good luck with these hardshell suitcases in polycarbonate; they’re lightweight and they have strong corners. I always go for the zippered version because it’s lighter than the metal frame version from brands like for example, the one I’m using here right now is from Samsonite, it’s not sponsored in any way it’s just what I happen to like.
I used to live in Germany and was dating my wife in the US so I was traveling a lot back and forth, and those lightweight suitcases are really the best, they will break eventually but it’s still better than carrying a heavier aluminum suitcase that won’t break as easily but it doesn’t allow you to carry on a lot.
Two, your spinner suitcase has to be wide enough. Ideally, your shoulders should fit in there no problem. Originally, I started with larger, more rectangular suitcases, but I’ve gone to a square shape which works really well for suits because you can fold it nicely, you get the width you want, and they’re very easy to handle. Honestly, if you invest in custom suits, I really urge you to use a larger suitcase because they’re easy on your suits and you will able to wear them for much longer.