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Men's Dress Shirts -- how to you keep pressed/clean while traveling?

Hi gang,
I'm usually really good at packing light, carrying my luggage on and not taking too much. However, this summer, I am going to the opera festival in Munich as well as attending a performance in Barcelona. That makes a total of about 8 nights out of 2 weeks when I need to wear a nice dress shirt, usually with a tie. (yes, you see all kinds of clothes but the majority of people at these venues dress up a bit and I'm attending parties after).

The weather and the theaters can often be warm, which means my shirts get a bit damp and wrinkled. I'd prefer not to bring too many shirts, but other than taking them to be cleaned and pressed professionally, any ideas? I like the no-wrinkle brands made by J.Crew and Banana Republic but they tend to be too heavy for summer.


Posted by
10510 posts

Bring 2-3 shirts and wash them yourself and borrow an iron from the landlord/hotel and iron it yourself if you do not want to have it done at a cleaners.?

Posted by
7891 posts

I get my shirts, jeans and khaki pants heavily starched at the laundry. And when packing them in my suitcase, I wrap them in the plastic bags they came from the laundry in. That is as good as you can do.
A starched pair of jeans look reasonably decent after a week (or two) if you avoid dirt. But dirt doesn't seem to stick on starched jeans.

Posted by
3500 posts

I use the Stafford® Travel Performance Super Shirt when I need a dress shirt. Wrinkle-free broadcloth so it is as light as you can get. They are even on sale right now half price. I never wash in the sink, but can usually find a laundry or the hotel will do them for me.

Best thing about these shirts is they might come out of the suitcase looking like the worst wrinkled rag, but a couple hours on a hanger and then you put it on and the wrinkles disappear. My experience anyway, yours may vary.

And I avoid starch at all cost. If the time spent in your baggage happens to leave a wrinkle, the starch amplifies it. I roll my clothes to take up less space. Starch is also not compatible with rolled clothes and doesn't always combine well with whatever the wrinkle-free treatment is.

Posted by
8200 posts

Heavy starch. When I travel for business, starch can keep a shirt looking OK for at least a couple of wearings. Of course you can borrow an iron from the hotel, and iron them yourself. Even if they are no-iron shirts, that helps.

Posted by
4429 posts

I don't have the need for men's shirts, but as to laundering, I would try 'sink' washing. Detergent and time is your friend. European bathroom layouts may not be, however. If you take a large zip lock bag, make your own Scrubba type laundry system. If stsins, soap and rub them a bit. Add warm water, detergent and shirt to the bag. Shake around and then leave it....even a few hours. Shake some more, drain, rinse. Don't squeeze out. Hang quite wet in the shower. Take a minute to arrange shirt neatly on the hanger. It will take longer to dry , but wrinkle less. The ziplock bag method accomodates rooms with showers knly, miniscule sinks and finicky plugs that drain in 3 minutes.
Or find the nearest dry cleaner/laundromat with wash and fold services.

Posted by
546 posts

i would just have my Valet wash and press it for me and then pack it away in my Louis Vuitton Steamer Trunk... :)'

Posted by
14140 posts

To deal with wrinkles, I take a small empty spray bottle. The night before I spray plain water on any wrinkles I have and they tend to come out. The shirt dries very quickly. I also hang them up after hand washing and any wrinkles seem to come out.

The other choice is to get a travel size bottle of Downy Wrinkle Remover and spray it on wrinkles.

You could also try packing them in either a packing cube or a shirt folder.

Van Heusen makes some decent dress shirts that are wrinkle free.

Posted by
2086 posts

For travel...either semi-formal or knocking-around-casual, my husband mostly wears the Brooks Brothers no-iron long sleeves shirts. They pack well and stay crisp looking for the entire trip.

The way we pack is to put all the hanging garments (this would include the jacket and trousers, too) in a very light-weight garment bag, then fold that into threes and put it in the RickSteves rollaboard. If we are doing a one-night stay often I will just unzip the bag and fluff items out, but leave them all on the hangers within the bag (hope that makes sense). But, for multi-night stays, we take all the hangers out of the bag and hang them like we would at home.

Brooks Brothers shirts at not inexpensive, but they typically have really good sales at least twice a year (which is when we stock up).

For ties, I told the tie in half and then roll it up in white tissue paper, then put the rolled up result into a round Tupperware type container (and old clean sour cream container would work just as well). We used to hang a tie over the trouser bar on a hanger, but the tie could get smooshed or the roll--up trick, protected by something a bit firm tends to work well.

I would never try to sink wash a dress shirt or even a nicer casual one. The only men's shirts I would consider sink washing are the SPF protection type or a very casual short-sleeve shirt. The Brooks Brothers ones don't do well all balled up and then hung up, no matter how much stretching and smoothing one does. They might do okay if sink-washed and then tossed in a dryer on low for about 4-5 minutes, but wet balls in a sink and hung...I'm thinking not.

Have a fun trip

Posted by
9 posts

Nordstrom sells the best no iron shirt and it is perfect for travel. I have literally put it on right out of my carry on bag after a long flight and it has no wrinkles. They cost $ 39-$59 depending on collar and fit but its the best travel shirt made for the price. No I don't work for Nordstrom nor do I own stock in the company. Check their website.

Posted by
3520 posts

We use eagle creek pack-it garment folder. My husband doesn't wear t-shirts, only button down. We used this our last 2 trips and nothing was wrinkled. Can pack pants also.

Posted by
11065 posts

We drop my husband’s shirts at a local laundry. In by 900 and pick up at 1700, usually. Often we drop off a whole suitcase full and let someone else do the wash/dry/fold for a change.

Posted by
979 posts

When I travel for work I bring 2 non iron dress shirts and 3-4 quick dry under shirts. There are so many options for non iron now that you can easily find lighter weight fabrics (I like the CK ones). If they get some wrinkles I’ll steam them in the shower.

I’ll usually get 2 wearing a out of each shirt then either wash it in the sink or find a laundry.


Posted by
10333 posts

My husband always travels with a couple of travel dress shirts. He has travel dress shirts from both Brooks Brothers outlet and Jos. A. Banks. He uses an Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder and never has wrinkles. I hand wash and hang the shirts to dry as needed. We travel with carry on 22" roll a board bags and he has no trouble fitting the Pack-It Folder in the bag. He has worn these shirts in hot and humid SE Asia as well as all over US and Europe in the summer.

Posted by
254 posts

Thanks, everyone -- there are some really great suggestions and tips here.

I appreciate all of the replies!

Posted by
123 posts

I have stumbled across an unknown cultural difference?!
Isn’t the obvious answer wash, dry, iron and repeat as many times as required?

Posted by
254 posts


It's not a cultural difference -- of course, I could wash and iron it. But if you have ever tried to wash and iron a men's dress shirt, it is difficult to get it as pressed and crisp as the professionals. It usually winds up being fairly wrinkled and kind of an effort and never looks as nice.

Posted by
5697 posts

For Kiwi and Emma -- I don't pretend to speak for "all Americans" or "all Californians" but -- not only do I not BUY things that require ironing, I don't accept them as gifts. Shirts and trousers get worn right out of the dryer when at home; if they come out wrinkled, they do back in the dryer with a dampen towel and get pulled out and hung up as soon as the wrinkles go away. So when traveling, if I can't get access to a tumble dryer I use the hang-in-the-shower method, or the spray-bottle-with-water technique as mentioned above. And in winter, the wear-a-sweater-over-it protocol (can hand-smooth cuffs and collar.) Making notes on the recommended brands of shirts!

Posted by
503 posts

Todd, I understand your concern about shirts being laundered and ironed while travelling just don't seem as crisp. One solution would be to purchase a small can of spray starch when you arrive at your first stop that will require shirt washing. Use it while ironing and you'll be surprised how spiffy you can get that shirt to look! Leave it behind when you depart.

Posted by
24 posts

I only bring minimal amount of clothes then I do laundry at the hotel. This way you could pack more things inside your bag. :) Hope this could help.