How to Fold a Shirt Like the Stores Do (Plus 5 More Ingenious Methods to Try!)

published Apr 29, 2024
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Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

Whether you’re packing a suitcase or filling up a drawer or shelf with clean laundry, you might have questioned the efficiency of your shirt-folding technique

While sliding a shirt onto a hanger might seem like the easiest solution, not everyone has enough hangers or closet space to fit them all. But if you want shirts to emerge from drawers and shelves ready to wear (and not looking worse for wear), then you need to perfect one of these wrinkle-free folding techniques. Below, how to fold a shirt six ways.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

How to Fold a T-Shirt (No Wrinkles!)

This is the technique that most people use for T-shirts, both long- and short-sleeve versions. 

  1. Start with the shirt face down on a flat surface. 
  2. Smooth out any wrinkles with your hands so nothing bunches up. (Skip this step, and you will have a wrinkled shirt later.)
  3. Fold one side of the shirt about a third of the way in, bringing the sleeves with it. 
  4. Do the same with the other side. You should now have a long rectangle. If you have a long-sleeve T-shirt, fold the arm up at the elbow and lay it flat within the perimeter of the rectangle.
  5. Take the bottom half of the shirt and fold it up in half so that the hem meets the collar. (Depending on the shirt’s length, it might be better to fold it up a third of the way instead.) 
  6. Fold in half or thirds again. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

How to Fold a T-Shirt Like the Stores

Steal this time-honored trick from retail associates and your shirts will look like they belong on a store shelf.

  1. Place the shirt face down on a surface and smooth out any wrinkles with your hands.
  2. Take a clean magazine or a folder and place it on the shirt between the two sleeves.
  3. Fold in one side of the shirt just like in the previous method, but use the side of the magazine or folder as a guide to keep them neat.
  4. Do the same with the other side. You should now have a long rectangle.
  5. Take the bottom half of the shirt and fold it up in half so that the hem meets the collar.
  6. Slide out the magazine or folder.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

How to Fold Shirts Using the KonMari Method

Home organization expert Marie Kondo likes folding clothes so they can be stacked on end in a drawer or on a shelf. Not only does it save space, but it also let’s you easily access clothing like a file from a drawer. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Start with the shirt face down on a flat surface. 
  2. Smooth out any wrinkles with your hands.
  3. Fold one side of the shirt about a third of the way in, bringing the sleeves with it. 
  4. Do the same with the other side. You should now have a long rectangle.
  5. Fold the shirt in half from the top down, but leave a gap of a few inches between the collar and the hem.
  6. Take the part you just folded and fold it over one-third of the way, then fold it over again.
  7. Stack the shirt standing up against other folded shirts in a drawer.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

How to Fold Shirts Using the Rolling Method

Dara Senders, designer and founder of Dara Senders, says the rolling method is her favorite way to fold a shirt when storage is at a premium. “This will reduce wrinkles and save space in drawers and luggage,” she says.

  1. Lay the shirt flat on a surface and smooth out any wrinkles.
  2. Fold in the arms and neaten the sleeves so that they are in the perimeter of the rectangle that the shirt has now formed.
  3. Starting from the neck or the bottom hem, roll the shirt.
  4. Store in drawers or in luggage if traveling.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

How to Fold Shirts Quickly

My husband blew my mind the first time I saw him fold a T-shirt. When I complimented his technique, he sheepishly admitted an ex-girlfriend had taught him. I am not the jealous type, so I was happy to adopt this method for my clothes:

  1. Start with the T-shirt face down on a flat surface.
  2. Take one side of the T-shirt and fold it in half lengthwise so that the sleeves and edge of the shirt meet one another. It will look like you have exactly half a T-shirt.
  3. Smooth out the sleeves so they are stacked neatly, then fold inward. For long sleeves, fold them across, then back up at the elbow if they don’t fit within the long rectangle of the shirt that you should now have formed. 
  4. Fold the shirt in thirds. 
  5. If it’s a longer shirt, fold it in half, then in half again.

Reader, this method is fast and it works. The only drawback is that if your T-shirt features an image, it’ll be partially hidden instead of staring up at you like in the other methods. But if you’re anything like me, then that’s a small price to pay for wrinkle-free T-shirts.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

How to Fold Dress Shirts

While a hanger is probably best for storing dress shirts at home, this is the way to do it when you’re short on space and need to put them in a drawer or you’re packing for a trip. It starts very similar to how you’d fold a T-shirt, but there’s an alternative when dealing with long dress sleeves:

  1. Start with the shirt face down on a flat surface.
  2. Smooth out any wrinkles or bunched-up areas with your hands. 
  3. Fold one side of the shirt, bringing the sleeves in about a third of the way. 
  4. Fold the sleeve down and across so that the cuff meets the other long side of the shirt.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side. You should now have a long rectangle.
  6. You have two options for finishing the fold: You can take the shirt’s hem and fold it in half to meet the collar, then fold it in half again, or you can fold the hem of the shirt up one-third of the way, then bring the top half of the shirt down and over the fold.