If you break out in hives when you need to fold a dress shirt for travel, I can sympathize.

All you can imagine is pulling your dress shirt out of your suitcase. It looks like it’s been stuffed at the bottom of your gym bag for a month.

However, it doesn’t need to be that way. With proper packing and folding techniques, you can end up with minimal wrinkles when you arrive.

Button Up the Shirt

The first step to ensuring that your dress shirt stays wrinkle-free when you fold it is to button it up.

buttoning up the dress shirt

Buttoning it up will hold both sections together, reducing opportunities for creasing.

Some people like to cut corners and only button the top, bottom, and middle buttons. But this isn’t going to make your shirt as tight as possible.

In packing, tightness is good for fighting off wrinkles, and buttoning your dress shirt is the first step toward tightness. So don’t skip any buttons.

Don’t also forget to button your collar and cuffs.

Folding the Sleeves Across the Back

Lay your dress shirt facing down on a hard, even surface. Smooth the fabric with your hands, eliminating all bumps and folds.

folding the sleeves across dress shirt's back

Take one sleeve of your dress shirt, and lay it straight out from the body, keeping the arm straight.

Then, starting at the seam where the sleeve joins the body of your shirt, fold it toward the center. It will form a diagonal line across your shirt’s back.

Repeat this with the other sleeve. Smooth the fabric again with your hands.

Fold the Sleeves to Reach the Collar

Starting with the sleeve on top, take it by the cuff and fold it in half over itself, up toward the collar.

folded sleeves should reach the collar

The cuff will rest next to the shirt’s collar. Repeat with the second sleeve.

The arms of your dress shirt will form a V. It’s ok if they overlap at the fold.

Remember to smooth out the fabric as you work, eliminating any creases along the way.

Fold the Dress Shirt Sides

Fold one edge of your dress shirt across the center of the dress shirt’s back, moving one-third of the way across the back.

folding both dress shirt sides

Then fold the other side all the way across to the opposite edge.

Be mindful as you fold each side in to do so cleanly, without creating any crinkles in the fabric.

Your dress shirt is now folded lengthwise into thirds. As a result, you should have a long, narrow strip of dress shirt laying before you.

Fold the Dress Shirt From the Bottom

Grasp your dress shirt with both hands at its hemline. Fold it one-third of the way up toward the collar.

fold dress shirt from the bottom

Take the folded edge and bring it all the way up to the top of your dress shirt. The folded edge will rest just under the collar.

Pack the Dress Shirt Into a Suitcase

Slide one hand under your folded dress shirt and place the other hand on the top. Then, very gently flip it over so that the buttoned side is facing up.

how to pack the dress shirt into a suitcase

Using great care, place your dress shirt inside your suitcase or travel bag. Your dress shirts should be the last thing you pack, keeping them on top.

That way, they are less likely to become wrinkled by something heaving resting on top of them and smooshing the fabric into wrinkles.

If you are packing multiple dress shirts, you can create a bit of extra room by alternating the way you lay them.

The proper way is to stack your dress shirts with the collars at opposite ends each time, making your pile level.

Other Things to Consider

Sometimes space is at a premium when you’re traveling.

If you are using a small bag or a large one but going on a very long trip, you may find that space is tight.

How to fold and pack a dress shirt into suitcase

When this happens, you need to make the most of the room you have.

This might mean that you need to make some sacrifices to stuff more clothing into your bag.

Rolling Your Shirt Saves Space

You want your roll to be very tight; this leaves less opportunity for creasing.

Lay your buttoned shirt on a flat surface, and smooth it out with your hands. Next, fold your shirt lengthwise into thirds, with the sleeves lying long down the back.

Keeping the fabric flat and smooth, grasp the top edge of your dress shirt by the collar and begin to roll toward the hem at the bottom tightly.

Place your rolled dress shirts side-by-side at the bottom of your suitcase. They’ll lay evenly next to each other and create a level layer for your other clothes to rest on top of.

Packing your garments this way makes them very compact, freeing up more area in your suitcase.

When you make your shirts as small as possible, they’ll need less space.

The Wrinkle Debate: Rolled vs. Folded Dress Shirt

Each method for packing your dress shirts has different benefits and drawbacks.

If you fold your dress shirts, they are likely to wind up with fewer wrinkles.

However, this method will take up a good amount of space in your suitcase or travel bag, especially if you are packing multiple dress shirts.

Rolling your dress shirts prioritizes space over arriving at your destination with wrinkle-free dress shirts.

As a result, you can fit more into your suitcase.

Another bonus with this method is that your dress shirts are much easier to see than when they are stacked on top of each other.

Iron Folded Shirts after Unpacking to Avoid Wrinkles

Of course, you should iron your dress shirt before you pack it. But you’ll need to do some spot touches after, too.

Use spray starch when you iron before traveling; this will help cut down on creases.

Your dress shirts will probably have a couple of creases when you unpack them. However, if you fold them properly, you will cut down on how wrinkled your shirt is.

A few wrinkles are much easier to deal with than a crumpled mess.

You’ll most likely need to run an iron over your dress shirt, but your wrinkles should come out pretty easily if you only have a couple of areas you need to focus on.

Alexander Stoicoff

Author: Alexander Stoicoff

Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.