Your Guide to Wrinkle Resistant Clothing for Travel

Shawn Forno

When you travel every weekend, or live out of your travel backpack for months at a time, you need clothes that can handle rolling, folding, and stuffing without getting wrinkled. There’s not always an iron at your Airbnb or hotel (and you should never pack a travel iron!).

Stop looking like you just shuffled off a red eye. Upgrade your travel wardrobe with a few of the pieces from our wrinkle resistant clothing buyer’s guide. Even a few wrinkle proof pieces of gear can change the way you travel. I’m covering the men’s picks. Laura Lopuch is taking on the women’s selections in each section.

Best Wrinkle Resistant Fabrics for Travel

Before you construct your ultimate travel wardrobe, it’s worth noting which fabrics travel well and which ones wrinkle. Here’s a basic overview of the most common travel fabrics ranked from the most wrinkle-resistant to the least:

Merino: 10/10

The ultimate travel fabric. Merino wool insulates, breathes, fights odors, and doesn’t wrinkle.

Wool: 10/10

Other wool blends have the same wrinkle-resistant qualities without the soft texture of Merino. Still great though.

Polyester: 9/10

Polyester isn’t the devil fabric it’s made out to be. Most performance fabrics and travel clothing has at least some mix of this miracle fiber. Which is a good thing, because it’s super wrinkle-resistant.

Lyocel aka “Tencel”8/10

Lyocel or Tencel is a synthetic form of rayon. Rayon normally wrinkles really easily, but Tencel is a huge improvement on the original. It will still wrinkle in your bag, but the wrinkles come out easily—usually just by hanging your clothes up. So, not perfect, but way better than traditional rayon.

Nylon: 7/10

Normally, nylon is part of the blend of travel fabrics that gives elasticity. It’s typically wrinkle-resistant. Look for 5% nylon in travel t-shirts and even travel pants if you want a little extra stretch without the wrinkles.

Denim: 6/10

Yes, denim wrinkles a little bit. But not really. Jeans and jeggings make great travel clothes, and they only get better when you mix in a little spandex. I usually wear travel jeans with about 4% spandex in the blend for that active stretch, but you can get more if you like to really fight wrinkles.

Cashmere: 5/10

If you can’t live without your favorite cashmere sweater, don’t panic. Cashmere usually wrinkles when you pack it, but the creases release if you hang your clothes for a few hours. So, cashmere isn’t great right off the plane, but can still travel fairly well.

Cotton: 2/10 

Cotton wrinkles. It happens. But if you can find a cotton/poly blend (around 60/40), you’ll be in great shape as the polyester helps resist wrinkles. Avoid cotton/rayon blends. That’s the worst.

Linen: 0/10

So, so, SO wrinkly. Linen clothing sucks for travel, especially shirts. You will look like hot garbage if you pack linen for a long trip. Just sayin’.

Wrinkle-Resistant Travel Clothing Packing Guide

Wondering what to pack if you want to arrive wrinkle free? Check out the following as some of the best picks for wrinkle resistant clothing that travels well.

Best Wrinkle Proof Travel Hats

Carhartt Woodside Hat ($19)

This is an easy one since most hats are wrinkle-resistant. I like a nice wool cap since they double as an eye mask on long flights, they keep you warm when the AC is too high on an overnight bus, and you can just tuck it into your backpocket when things heat up.

The Carhartt Woodside Hat is affordable and stylish enough to look at home in the city or around the campfire. The waffle knit acrylic and thinsulate lining will shield you from blustery mornings on your way to a cafe for that Skype call with your boss 8 time zones away. Plus it just looks good.

Rich Cotton Merino Beanie ($16)

Another solid option is the Rich Cotton 100% Merino Wool Beanie. Despite the name (cotton), this beanie is Merino wool, albeit a thicker fiber than super high quality weaves. But you can’t do much better for under $20.

Honestly, for the amount of space they take up, a good wool cap/toque/beanie is a solid inclusion in almost any packing list. Unless you’re going to SE Asia. Then maybe stick with a simple cap

Buff Pack N Run Cap ($32)

I actually kind of love the BUFF Pack N Run Cap. It’s tiny, lightweight, water-resistant, and fully adjustable to fit as snug or as loosely as you like.

I gave one of these to my girlfriend for summer hiking, and she ended up wearing it all throughout Europe as a great day hat. She just stuffed it in her day bag or even her back pocket and put it on when the sun came out. It was a game changer, and a great way to keep a totally wrinkle-resistant hat in your bag without taking up any space. Plus, it’s great for hiking, biking, running, and summer travel. So that’s rad.

Best Wrinkle Proof Jackets and Outer Layers

Bluffworks Wrinkle Resistant Gramercy Travel Blazer ($295)

If you actually have to go to a conference or an important meeting straight from the plane, you need to upgrade to a quality travel blazer. I’m a big fan of Bluffworks because they make travel clothing that doesn’t look like travel clothing. Seriously, I wear Bluffworks gear to meetings in Manhattan all the time.

The best part about a great travel blazer is that it streamlines your packing list. For instance, the Bluffworks Gramercy Travel Blazer features 10 pockets—some with zippers. You can keep your wallet, passport, phone, headphones, and even a snack on you without bringing a cumbersome second carry on bag. Faster check-in and departure means more time to spruce up in the airport bathroom. Just bring your travel blazer on the flight (but don’t wear it), and toss it on when you land. Congratulations, you’re a business traveler with style.

Caslon Knit One-Button Blazer ($59)

Forget about stressing over wrinkles appearing in your blazer. ‘Cause wrinkles happen. Even if you wear your blazer on the plane as recommended.

Instead, opt for the Caslon Knit One-Button Blazer. With all the coziness of your favorite cardigan and the conference room class of a black blazer — minus the wrinkles. You’re welcome.

Columbia Klamath Range Half Zip Travel Fleece ($35)

If a travel blazer is out of your price range, or you just prefer a more casual style, a solid travel fleece is a great option. I’ve had the Columbia Klamath Half-Zip Fleece for a few years, and it just keeps finding its way back into my packing list.

Comfy, incredibly lightweight (seriously, it’s one of the best packable outer layers I own), the polyester micro fleece doesn’t wrinkle. Pass out on the plane in this bad boy and wake up looking like a million bucks.

Wrinkle-Resistant Shackets

And finally, if a fleece is too casual and a blazer is too fancy, try a shacket (shirt-jacket). Shirt jackets are typically very wrinkle-resistant, and they pack better than heavy coats or wilderness-looking trail jackets. If you want to look great right off the plane, invest in a solid shacket.

There are a ton of great shackets (or overshirts) to choose from. It really depends on your personal preference and how casual/workman you want to look. Personally, I go for a more lumberjack style shacket, but that’s just me.

Here are a few good wrinkle-resistant shackets that I like:

Basin and Range Sherpa Shirt Jacket ($98)

I like the heck out of this shirt. The Primaloft lining and acrylic/poly fabric mean this jacket won’t wrinkle. The fit is snug and the style is right. Dig this one.

Faherty Blanket-Lined CPO Jacket ($108)

Technically a jacket, but the blanket lining and 90’s throwback look make it perfect for Fall travel and beach bonfires.

ASOS Denim Overshirt ($24)

If you’re looking for a budget option, ASOS has a few cotton/denim overshirts (with zips or snaps) that look great with minimal wrinkle.

Pendleton Lakeside Shirt Jacket ($70)

Channel your inner lumberjack.

Best Wrinkle Resistant Dress Shirts & Tops

Ministry of Supply Easier Than Silk Shirt ($85)

Get all the beauty of silk without the high-maintenence aspects of it in the Ministry of Supply Easier Than Silk Shirt. This is a wrinkle-resistant and machine washable button-down. The best part? It’s sweat-proof. Yup, a dry day is possible even when you’re running for a flight or speaking at a conference.

Bluffworks Travel Dress Shirt ($198)

Wrinkle-resistant button-up shirts, are a whole other conversation. They’re tough to pack and many of the best wrinkle free shirts—or “non-iron” shirts—are treated with harsh toxic chemicals like formaldehyde. Yeah, you read that right. And wrinkle free shirts that aren’t chemically treated are usually pretty expensive. Look for a good polyblend, and avoid non-iron shirts that don’t tell you which fabrics they use. If you don’t know the breakdown, it’s a good bet they’ve been chemically treated.

I like the Bluffworks Travel Dress Shirt because it’s fitted and comfy, but it’s also machine-washable. That’s a big deal when you’re traveling.

Woolx Women’s Mia Short Sleeve V Neck ($52)

The Woolx Women’s Mia Short Sleeve V Neck is one of the most expensive shirts I own, but definitely the one I reach for whenever I want comfort and style. Fits well, long enough (a must if you have a longer torso, like me!), cool on hot days, and warm on chilly days.

I love this shirt, especially with the flattering, not-too-low v-neck cut.

Bonus: Merino wool is wrinkle-proof.

Athleta Speedlight Tank ($45)

I dug into my tank top drawer and found this beauty. The Athleta Speedlight Tank is made from a polyester and rayon blend. This racerback tank has quickly become one of my favorites. Soft, light and wrinkle-free ‘cause I don’t know how to work an iron. Plus it boasts UPF 50+ and stink-free protection. Did I mention it’s long enough to layer?

This tank is a true team player.

Uniqlo Airism Tank Top ($4)

The Airism Tank Top on sale for $4 right now. $4. But it never costs more than $9, so don’t panic. Whenever you get it, you’ll see that this tank top rules.

It’s easily the lightest piece of clothing in my backpack, and it stands up to hiking, biking, and long plane rides without wrinkling. It’s a great undershirt, works well with layers, and performs great on its own. Pick up a few of these and kickstart your capsule wardrobe like a wrinkle-free boss.

Bonobos Daily Grind Wrinkle Free Dress Shirt

If you want a more casual look, take a peek at Bonobos Daily Grind Wrinkle Free Dress Shirts. Bonobos sells everything online, and they have some of the most stylish shirts on the interweb. So, pop over and pick your favorite pattern.

If you need more info, I’ve written a complete guide for how to pack dress shirts without wrinkling, with a few more options.

Uniqlo Airism Polo Shirt ($6)

I stumbled across this shirt while looking for something to wear to a swing dance event. Dressing for a swing dance event is tough because everyone looks really great, but you get sweaty in about five seconds when you’re dancing in a cramped, crowded room. The Airism Polo Shirt was a lifesaver.

It breathes like a champ while I’m dancing and still looks really sharp. In fact, the collar stays upright unlike other floppy collared imposters. I really, really, like this shirt, and wear it for meetings and calls. And yes, it’s a wrinkle-resistant superhero when I pack it in my backpack for dance events. Pick up a couple for under $20.

Outlier Ultrafine Merino Wool T-Shirt ($110)

Yes, the Outlier Merino T-shirt is the most expensive t-shirt I own. It’s also my favorite shirt, and the shirt I’ve worn the most—both on the trail and while traveling. It’s just so danged perfect.

Merino wool is naturally wrinkle-resistant, but it’s so much more than that. It fights odors, wicks away sweat and moisture, and retains its shape after a bunch of washes. What that means is that this shirt still fits the way it did when I got it over two years ago. It’s the ultimate wrinkle-free travel shirt. Period. If you can afford it, get one.

Silkbody Silkspun Long Camisole ($59)

The Silkbody Silkspun Long Camisole blends silk, cotton, and Merino wool for a superb, sleek camisole. So, it’s breathable and insulating… and wrinkle-free.   

It’s longer than normal, so say buh-bye to stray breezes sneaking up your back. And it feels so luxurious. Despite being stuffed into a tight little ball, this camisole shook free of any wrinkles’ tight grasp and was ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

Best Wrinkle-Resistant Dresses

 The Etsuko Dress, MM. LaFleur ($195)

The Etsuko Dress has been sold out and restocked over 20 times. It’s responsible for $3 million in revenue for MM. LaFleur in just a few years.

Mara at Business Insider says, “Wear it on the plane (it’s comfortable enough) or shake it out of your luggage and wear right away without fear of the wrinkling other fabrics are guaranteed to give you. I actually did exactly that and didn’t need to iron any part before heading into the office. It’s also machine-washable, so you can throw it into the washer and expect it to look exactly the same.”

 

H&M Jersey Dress ($15)

The H&M Jersey Dress is a V-neck, black, rayon and spandex killer combo. This dress hugs your curves like Chris Hemsworth drapes around his wife. Meet my go-to dress.

Ball it up, stuff it in your carry on, and once you arrive at your destination, shake it free, slip it on, and slay ‘em all. I searched everywhere for a link to this dress. Alas, I bought this dress 10 years ago, and H&M has discontinued it. This dress is a close twin.

Best Wrinkle-Resistant Travel Pants

Aella High Waist Skinny ($198)

These classy Aella High Waist Skinny pants remind me of Audrey Hepburn in A Roman Holiday. Flash of sexy ankle thanks to a cropped leg, sleek look through the leg, nicely accentuated bum without any sleaze.

Mara Leighton on Business Insider says: “These are my personal favorite work pants, as they look tailored, flatter most shapes, don’t lose their shape even after continued use, and are unbelievably comfortable to wear. It’s also a huge plus, especially for travelers, that they won’t crease and can be thrown into the washing machine on cold.”

Bonus: they’re wrinkle-free, fade-resistant, and crafted from luxuriously stretchy material.

Bluffworks Tailor Fit Travel Chinos ($125)

I’ll say it again, the Bluffworks Tailor Fit Travel Chinos are my favorite wrinkle-resistant travel pants. They have all the zippers I need to keep my stuff in place when I pass out on long haul flights, and they still look pressed and sharp when I land. It’s a win-win. Snag a pair and you’re already halfway to a great travel wardrobe.

Outlier Slim Dungarees ($198)

These stylish, stretchy, slim fitting travel pants are top of the line. The Workcloth fabric takes a beating from the elements—and from your backpack—and keeps coming back for more. That’s why Tortuga’s Founder and CEO, Fred Perrotta claims they’re his go-to travel pants:

“I have zero regrets about wearing jeans when I travel or even why I fly. When I travel, I want to feel and (hopefully) look good, which means dressing like I do at home. My Outlier Slim Dungarees are the best travel pants that I’ve found. They’re are a modern, technical reinvention of jeans.”

Fred is the epitome of a digital nomad on the go. So if he looks good in these jeans after a 10-hour flight, you can bet you will too.

Your Favorite Jeans

Cop out? Not in the least. In all seriousness, pack your favorite pair of jeans. They’ll be comfy and ready for adventure. More than that? Jeans are made for wrinkles, so embrace the wrinkles and casual look. If you want less of that, get some spandex mixed in and you’ll look fresh straight off the plane.

Shorts

Who cares if your shorts have wrinkles? You’re wearing shorts. You’ve already made a choice about who you’re gonna be today. Enjoy the feel of the sun on your legs and stop worrying about wrinkles, you weirdo.

TL;DR

Wrinkle free clothing doesn’t have to look ridiculous or cost a bundle. In fact, some of the best travel fabrics are already wrinkle-resistant. You just have to know what to look for to create the ultimate travel approved wrinkle free wardrobe.

  • Merino wool is best wrinkle-resistant fabric ever
  • Polyester blends are a good thing, especially if you hate wrinkles
  • Uniqlo makes a few great wrinkle free items for a budget travelers
  • Hurry up and order that Etsuko dress before it’s out of stock, again
  • A nice shacket (shirt-jacket) can replace a wrinkled dress shirt and a bulky jacket in one sleek stylish package
  • Don’t pack linen. It wrinkles. A lot.

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