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Before you even reach for the bag, ask your self some questions. Outline your days, your objective, and the choreography of your days away from home: What's the climate like where I'm going? What will I be doing? Who am I seeing? How often am I seeing them? (If the meeting tomorrow is not with the same people as the one the next day, why not wear the same suit?). Are there any planned evening activities? If so, what do you need to wear? Will there be any time to yourself? Will you need clothes to exercise? Swim? Indulge in a hobby? Are you seeing old friends? How do you want to be seen? Are you going to check luggage? Or would you rather carry it on? After you have answered those questions, plot what, and how much you need. Now head for the closet. Start with pants. Take the belt out of the loops and make sure the pockets are empty. Fold the pants on the pressed crease as if you were about to hang them up. Lay the first pair of pants lengthwise on the bottom of the suitcase with the waistband at one side leaving the legs hanging over the edge. Lay the next pair of pants the opposite direction with the waistband against the other side of the case. Continue layering pants in this way. Shirts are next. The best option is to professionally launder shirts before the trip and have them folded. If that is not an option, button each shirt completely and fold the sleeves back at the shoulder. Lay the shirt face down in your suitcase with the collar at one end, leaving the tail hanging out of the case. Fold the tail into the case. Turn the shirt over. It is now neatly folded and the crease will be below your waistline. Roll underwear, socks, T-shirts, sweat pants or any other miscellaneous items into small cylinders. Place them on top of the shirts and anywhere to fill up space. Place your toiletries in the case as well. Now you have a pile of clothes in your suitcase, with the ends of your pant legs hanging out the sides. Fold up the legs up over the pile, keeping the pants as straight as possible. Packing your pants in this manner will reduce wrinkles. Rule of thumb: Place hard items on the perimeter or the suitcase, soft items in the center. Place shoes (in bags) and belts around the edge of the suitcase to help keep clothes from shifting. Finally, hold your blazer in front of you placing your hands inside the shoulders. Turn one shoulder inside out. Fold the opposite shoulder inside it so the lining faces out. Now fold the jacket in half and place it on top of the pile of clothes. Now you're ready to go. As soon as you arrive at your destination, unpack and hang your pants, dress shirts, and suit coats to let the wrinkles fall out. Miscellaneous Tips Buy small plastic bottles with screw-on lids for shampoo and lotion. Always pack liquid-filled containers in plastic bags. Plan your outfits carefully. Bring items that you can mix and match. The more solid color items you pack, the more versatile your wardrobe. Save favorite pieces of clothing for your vacation. Lucky items are what they are and make room if you need to. Shoes take up the most room. Choose the most versatile pairs you own. If you've packed more than two pairs, you're doing something wrong. Do not pack too far in advance. You won't remember what you put in there and you'll panic. Put shoes in small plastic or cloth bags. Wear the items on the plane that weigh the most and take up the most room; e.g., your topcoat, boots, wool suit, heavy sweater.
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