Crease-free packing

Those of us concerned with looking our sartorial best, especially on overseas business trips, have learnt to pay careful attention to packing

Coffee Time challenge May 2002:. Closing a deal successfully often depends on looking right and giving the right impression, since customers often buy the salesperson as much as they do the product. The problem: The trouble is that unless the suitcase is really stuffed with clothes, leaving little space for the duty frees on the return trip, the contents move around in transit. Passengers may bounce around occasionally in airline seats when traversing turbulence, but they do not generally have to put up with being thrown on and off conveyors, assaulted by baggage handlers or falling off baggage trolleys. The only alternative, at present, seems to be the increasingly popular habit of putting suits in suit carriers and attempting to take these on board as hand baggage, cluttering up the increasingly limited space in the cabin and annoying one's fellow passengers. Our challenge this month is to come up with a good way of keeping clothes flat in partially filled suitcases, and preventing the contents from moving about. Some ladies and even some men solve the problem by putting in more and more 'essential' clothes until the suitcase is really full and weighs a ton. The rest of us have a problem. Some manufacturers insert lengths of elastic into their containment products, but these usually tend to add creases, usually in places other than where tailors intended them to be. Another solution might be only to pack clothes which do not crease, but such garments tend not to flatter. A better solution, however, may be seen on page 52. It satisfies all requirements and looks as if it should cost very little to make. Solution to this month's Coffeetime Challenge The answer to our challenge this month is the brainchild of Jim Dimmock of Lair International in Maidenhead. His idea is to have a section of the suitcase which may be lightly inflated. He describes his preferred embodiment as a hinged divider that consists of two panels joined at their perimeters by a concertina of plastic or fabric wall so as to form an expandable box. Inflating it expands the box to fill the available space in the suitcase, stopping the contents from moving about and preventing pressed clothes from becoming creased. He calls his invention the 'Windbag'. We assume that a production version would also incorporate a pressure relief valve, in case of over-inflation accompanied by possible loss of pressure in the hold during transit. Exploding suitcases would not be welcomed by airlines. A manufacturing/marketing licence is available.