How To Properly Pack Your Collared Dress Shirts

To look good while traveling is one of life’s hardest tasks. Suitcases are way too small and it’s really easy for dress shirts to end up completely wrinkled. Then you’re the weirdo walking around with wrinkled shirts because you found out last minute the place you’re staying doesn’t have an iron. If you’re wondering how to pack dress shirts properly, then this is your lucky day.

Wrinkles are a thing of the past. It’s all in the way you fold your button-up shirts to be put in your suitcase. Let’s get packing!

1. To begin, lay out all the dress shirts you want to pack. They should all be recently ironed and as wrinkle free as possible. Make sure to unbutton the cuffs and collars before starting.

2. Start with the smallest shirt. Turn one sleeve inside out


3. Then take the sleeve you have turned inside out and pull it through the other sleeve. This is easiest to do if you put the sleeve on.


4. After the sleeve is through the other sleeve, lay the finished product out on a flat surface.


5.Repeat the same process for all of the shirts.




6. Of the shirts I’m packing, my blue and white shirt is the smallest. Therefore, it is going to be the innermost shirt when I pack all of the shirts together. Place the folded shirts through each other in much the same manner as they were folded on to themselves.



7. Smooth out any wrinkles between the shirts by moving your hand along each face.




8. With one hand, pull near the shoulder of the shirt and with the other hand, tug gently on the end of the sleeve. This should remove any wrinkles created between the shirts when you put them all together.

9. Because the outermost shirt is the one with the greatest likelihood of wrinkling while in transit, it’s best to pack a shirt that can tolerate wrinkles on the outside. In this case I’m going to use a flannel shirt. Pack your flannel shirt in the same manner as your dress shirts and use it as the outermost shirt.



10. Once you have your big shirt lump, it’s time to pack it! If you’re packing a large duffle or suitcase, you may be able to fit your shirt lump into your bag without any additional folding. However in most cases, you will at the very least need to fold the sleeve over. To do this without causing any more wrinkles, you want to pack softer crushable clothing around it. I’m using athletic shorts and t-shirts.


11. When packing the sleeve, try to think in three dimensions. If you want to prevent wrinkles, folding the sleeve flat doesn’t make much sense. So instead, your shorts and t-shirts are creating a space between the sleeve and the rest of the shirt lump. Place the t-shirts and shorts on the panel of the shirts and then fold the sleeve on top of them.



12. If you cannot fit the shirt lump into your bag without folding it in half or into thirds, you need to go about things a little differently. Rather than placing all of your shorts and shirts on top, you want to pack some inside the shoulder area of the shirt.


13. Then pack several on top and push them up towards the shoulder area of the shirt so they are against the t-shirts and shorts inside.


14. You can then fold up the bottom half of the shirt without creating any wrinkles as the shirts curve over one another instead of folding and making a sharp edge.

15. Lastly, fold the sleeve over the lump of shirts and shorts. You now have a smaller lump to pack.



It just takes a tiny amount of preparation and then you’re all ready for looking incredible wherever you go, which gives you no excuse not to have the best dapper hour ever at A-Camp.

Charlotte is a native of Upstate NY currently going to school in New England. She enjoys falling asleep in public spaces, yelling at the TV machine, woodworking, crossword puzzles and most other activities stereotypical enjoyed by old men. She attended the May 2013 A-Camp and is an avid Autostraddle reader.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Charlotte has written 1 article for us.


  1. Hahaha just sent my girlfriend off on her travels this morning with a suitcase that we had to both sit on to squash everything inside. This would have been a helpful read last night :D Going to forward this to her right now for the return journey!

  2. I thought for sure that whatever method that was going to be described would be something I’d already read about on lifehacker or somewhere, but this surprised me. Well played.

    • Thanks! This is an original process I came up with by trial and error after growing very very tired of having to iron while travelling.

  3. Charlotte, you showed me how to do this in an airport after last camp. But I’m so excited you made pictures, because I forgot most of what you said to do. I was so tired.


  4. Well that is freaking clever…and also a lot of work. Yeah, I’m just gonna bunch everything up in a tight ball and stuff it in to my suitcase like I’ve been doing. It’s a team building activity for the whole family. But it is nice to see what I could be doing.

  5. Can you re-post this as a reminder for me in about 12 months time! I love this but I am bound to forget.

  6. Considering that I’m mild-moderately obsessive about these things, I don’t know if this article is a blessing or a curse.

  7. Also, if you do end up with wrinkles, hang the shirt in a really steamy bathroom and smooth out wrinkles with your hands. It’s not as good as an iron but it makes it much better. This can be used in case you mess up this packing method or your girlfriend has packed 1000 dresses and relentlessly argues that you are a “better ironer”.

  8. I’m going to college soon and I can’t tell you how much I needed this because I have no clue how to pack everything I want in one tiny suitcase without it getting all wrinkly and unattractive.

      • For short sleeve shirts you pack them in the same way, and you can even make them part of the same lump, they just need to be the outermost shirts because otherwise you won’t be able to tug the sleeves (step 8) to make sure the sleeves aren’t wrinkled.

        As for dresses, I have to be honest with you – I’ve never been in a situation where I had to pack one and I was under the impression that dresses don’t wrinkle. However, the basic rules of wrinkle prevention are:

        1. Create as few folds/creases as possible
        2. Roll items together as if they were one item to make the curves of the roll as large/soft as possible
        2. If you must fold, know where the item can tolerate wrinkles and try to fold there.

        I would recommend stacking all your dresses together, making sure there are no wrinkles between them, then put several t-shirt or other crush-able items in the middle and roll. You should then have a dress lump that you can pack in a similar manner to the shirt lump.

  9. I own approximately one dress shirt, but I may have to try this with t-shirts sometime.

    I really hate ironing unless I’m in a theater costume shop (bigger ironing table, assortment of curved pressing hams for ironing all those awkward shoulders and such over, irons that are actually heavy enough to get rid of wrinkles and are hooked up to a water supply so that they STEAM in steam mode… so I’m pretty much spoiled for using a regular consumer iron on a regular wobbly consumer ironing board). I’ve thought about getting a steamer machine, though. Sort of like the steamy bathroom method only more exacting.

      • If only I had money and space, I would cheerfully set about tracking down whoever sells those irons.

        I miss giant, paper-covered tables that I can tack fabric and patterns onto, too.

  10. I read the title wrong and thought the article would be about shirt dresses : / But now I’m (mostly) over my disappointment, this is very cool!

  11. Char! This is the best thing I’ve seen in a month. Need a reason to pack all the button downs now and try this!

  12. My life is now divided into two parts, before I knew how to fold dress shirts for travel and after. Enlightenment!

  13. Step 1: Make a Klein bottle out of your shirt.
    Step 2: Use the other shirts to make a series of nested Klein bottles.
    Step 3: Submit as doctoral thesis in advanced topology.
    Step 4: Look damn good in your wrinkle-free button-up, amazing all your math department friends.

  14. sigh… :( wish Autostraddle had forums so I could ask stuff.

    I live in the UK and just recently started buying more shirts. Does anyone know stores that sell nice dress shirts or button downs?

Comments are closed.