Staying sharp on the road

Keep your suits and shirts in good shape with these handy hints.

Watching your fellow passengers climb aboard the plane in oversized T-shirts and trackie daks may fill your heart with mild envy, but chances are they don’t have to hit the ground running once they reach their destination.

But even if you do manage to get to your destination in one dapper piece, you will no doubt find that the baggage handlers seem to have engaged in a wrestling match with your luggage.

With this in mind, here are some handy hints when it comes to travelling with style.

Well suited
The first thing you need to do when travelling with a suit is invest in a garment bag. They can get a little pricey but it’s best to invest in one that you can afford, as there’s no point in splashing out on a nice suit if you’re going to rock up to meetings looking like a shabby work experience kid.

First up, use a padded hanger. This creates space between the layers of fabric, which decreases your chance of creases, as it were. Next up, fold the two arms inward according to the seam and pin them together where they meet.

A good trick is to keep the plastic covers when you get it back from the dry cleaners. Take them off to let the chemicals dry properly, but when packing for air travel slip them back on once you’ve pinned the sleeves.

If you’re flying business or first class, most airlines hang your bags, but if you’re in economy, gently fold the garment bag once and place it above your carry-on. Never fold the garment bag more than once, as all the padded coat hangers and plastic covers in the world won’t be able to stop the wrinkles.

The same applies to any suits you’ve packed in your stowaway – just remember to pack it at the top of your suitcase if it doesn’t have its own inbuilt garment bag.

When you get to your hotel, take off the plastic and hang them up in the bathroom, running the shower as hot as it will go. Close the door and leave for 10 minutes (sorry environment). Then it’s simply a matter of ironing out any little trouble spots.

Get shirty
You can squeeze a few shirts into the garment bag as well, but remember: the more you cram in, the higher the chance of wrinkles. Also, you might be going on a longer trip or be the kind of person who likes to mix it up on the shirt front. Never fear, there are ways to pack so that they look store-fresh at your destination.

The trick to this? Well, make them look as store-fresh as you can before leaving.

First, lay out a towel on a hard surface to do any ironing. When you’re done, make sure to button up, as this reinforces the structure you want to maintain.

Next, fold the shirt like they do in stores. If you’re like me, you’re going to need assistance with this every time you head off on a trip. Luckily, we live in the age of the internet so we don’t have to retain this information and can refer to handy online tutorials like this one.

When packing, don’t place anything heavier on top of them. Having said that, adding a layer of undies or socks evenly above them can help absorb the impact of the luggage straps.

Once you arrive at your hotel, hang them up alongside your suit for some DIY steam cleaning.

On your bike
When you’re hitting the road on two wheels you face slightly different obstacles. For those commuting to work on a bicycle, try your best to find a place at work to hang your suit. That way you can wear whatever you like and clean yourself up in the showers, toilet or office gym.

If you insist on cycling to work in the suit - obviously you must live relatively close and be immune to humidity.

To make sure that your pant legs don’t get stuck in the spokes, you can use Velcro straps to keep them close, as it’s best not to roll them up. Failing this, tuck them into your socks. Not the most fashion forward look but it’ll do in a pinch.

Also, invest in some baby wipes. Even if you try to cycle slowly to avoid sweating, sometimes you can’t avoid it.

If you’ve got nowhere at work to stash a suit and don’t want to ride with it on, panniers are an option but can lead to major creasing. If you have a rear rack and some decent handyman skills you can invest in a Marsee Zipp bag. Normally used for motorbikes, fix it to the rack and you’ll stay smooth.

Do you have any suggestions on how best to stay sharp on the road?