Butler Duties: Packing Your Principal’s Suitcase

Maintenance and logistics on clothing and outwear is a classic task in the daily life of being a Butler.

All clothes are unique. Cotton, silk, wool and others must be treated differently. It is recommended to note down all specifications before packing; dry-cleaning, washing and company care instructions. Remember that different fabrics and colour specifications can influence each other. It is the companies who make the specifications and it’s the Butlers job to follow the said instructions to the letter on behalf of the principal or guest.

• When packing, always use proper bags for each garment. Remember to use steel hangers at all times.

• Jackets should always hang the right way on the hanger to keep the shape perfect.

• Remember to remove belts before packing trousers.

• Ties: Always untie and roll them nicely.

• Socks: Iron them and pack together by rolling them.

• Packing: Make lists on where and what. Note down all specifics. When packing a suitcase note down all details on where everything is on a list. Make copies of the list.

• Always use acid-free paper when packing a suitcase. This is used for every garment. As layers, as filling, and for rolling.

• Fluid liquids must be packed in sealed bags, article for article. If the packing is for a suitcase, use a suitable toiletry bag.

• Cleaning devices, stain removers and sewing kits must always be available.

• Suitcase packing: Trousers first, waistband inside in the middle, trouser to trouser, and with the legs on the outside of the suitcase for the final closure of the suitcase.

• Acid free paper between each garment layer. The paper is also to be used for shaping inside shirts, jackets and etc.

• Shoes, socks and ties are perfect to put inside «holes» in the suitcase.

• Remember to note down garments which are looking worn. If possible, contact a tailor at next destination.

• A packing list with all notes should always be available for the principal or guest.

• Most garment needs ironing after travel. Always have two irons at hand, one for bright and one for dark clothes.

• Always check pockets before packing. Note down and pack it down separately.

• Packing: Always have correct papers and copies of receipts on all valuables available alongside the packing list.

• The packing list requires a copy. Always leave one copy on top of every suitcase, and one for the principal/guest or the Butler.

• Valuables should always be packed carefully in original boxes and bags. Try to have valuables in one suitcase and bring copies of all papers separate. (Receipts, custom papers.)

• If there is a lot of clothing to be packed, pack units separately. Shirts in one suitcase, trousers in another etc.

• Small objects such as cufflinks, buttons, tie needles, watches should always be packed in original boxes.

• Use tailors, housekeepers, footwear and garment salespersons as consultants, they are specialists in their field and is there to be used.

• Important and not to forget: If the Butler is packing for a principal from the household, find out where and for how long the principal is going, and establish more details about the trip to better prepare the garment selection.

A Butlers job is always full of challenges and different duties. Wardrobe management and caretaking amongst a lot of other duties is a normal daily-life task. Be gentle, careful and use your time. In today’s modern world, maybe use a cell-phone for pictures and documentation? – «Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance», also when it comes to clothes and outwear.

Clothes mean nothing, until someone lives in them…

Written by Tore Berger, who is a fully-qualified butler and hospitality professional. You can reach out to Tore on LinkedIn

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