The idea of jetting around the world for business meetings sounds glamorous at first. Then you remember that, whether you’re in First or Economy, all airlines’ bathrooms are iffy, security will give you a headache, and screaming children can be heard from any class.
And then there’s the packing factor. It’s aggravating even when all you need is a few pairs of boardshorts for the beach, but it becomes emergency-level exasperating when it involves your suits. Enter the garment bag, the gentleman’s saving grace for business travel.
The garment bag is a simple piece of luggage that can make a world of difference to your travelling experience. At its most basic, the garment bag is a full-length container with a zipper that opens from top to bottom in the middle of one side. Materials vary – from fabric, to leather, to nylon, to canvas – but are always characterised by flexibility. Ideally they are also lightweight and water resistant.
Inside the garment bag you’ll find a pre-slit hole for hangers, a strap designed to hold the precious cargo in place, and extra storage compartments for accessories. Once your suit is safely inside, the bag can typically be carried via a strap or, in some cases, rolled with small wheels and a retractable handle. Many can also be folded once or twice, allowing them to be placed in an overhead compartment or even below a seat.
All that folding may sound like a dreadful way to treat your tailoring, but years of gentlemanly travel tell a different story. The garment bag prevents wrinkling and protects against the ravages of dust and dirt (not to mention whatever unsavoury in-flight smells may attempt to waft their way into your suits). You may arrive in subpar condition after a red eye, but the contents of your garment bag will be in stellar shape.
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Packing properly is an art form. Begin by laying the garment bag on a large flat surface. Pack your clothes facing the back to further reduce creasing (because of the way most bags fold, this keeps the front of your clothing crinkle-free). Use tissue paper to ensure your suits and jackets hold their shape. Additional items can be packed afterwards if your garment bag has pockets or compartments. While most garment bags expand to accommodate many clothes, resist the urge to over-pack. You could damage the bag by putting undue stress on the seams and your poor suits may arrive full of the wrinkles you tried to prevent.