How to Pack a Formal Dress

by Melissa J. Bell

Living the glamorous globetrotter dream is all about flair, but failed foresight at the packing stage can halt your jet-setter vision in its tracks. Hastily folded eveningwear packs a not-so-pretty punch on arrival -- instead of effortlessly slipping into a fantasy dress fit to wow your companions, you're stuck with a crumpled mess of wrinkles and creases. Stave off the disappointment of a cargo crush -- and the resulting rush trip to the nearest steam cleaner -- by packing your formal dress like a pro.

Pack a Garment Bag

Stuff the inside of the dress with acid-free tissue paper, filling the bodice and any sleeves and padding out any folds in the skirt so that the fabric does not fold sharply. Fill the bulk of the skirt interior with plastic dry-cleaning bags.

Cover the dress with another plastic dry-cleaning bag for extra padding.

Hang the dress on a padded or fabric hanger, then slip it inside the garment bag and zip the bag closed.

Pack a Large Box

Select a garment box that is big enough to fit the dress. The dress will likely need to fold at least once, so make sure that the inside of the box is roomy.

Line the inside of the box with acid-free tissue paper.

Fold the gown lengthwise only and place it into the box.

Stuff tissue paper into the sleeves and bodice of the dress and pad out the folds in the skirt with extra tissue paper to prevent creasing. Fill the dress out completely, then fill in any extra box space with more tissue paper so that the dress cannot move in transit. Seal up the box.

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Items you will need

  • Garment bag or dress box
  • Acid-free tissue paper
  • Plastic dry-cleaning bags
  • Padded garment hanger


  • A pullman or suiter is also a possible luggage choice for a formal dress, as this style of luggage has padded inserts to help prevent creasing.
  • Select a garment bag that is long enough to fit the whole dress so that no hem folding is necessary, but small enough so that you are comfortable carrying it. The interior space should be as wide as the width of the skirt. A full tulle skirt needs more room than a slim-fit skirt.


  • Fodor's How to Pack; Fodor's
  • Complete Idiot's Guide to Dressing; Karyn Repinski

About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.

Photo Credits

  • NA/ Images