When my wife wanted something dressy for an international conference in Japan, she bought a long skirt and matching slacks.
They emerged from her suitcase a few days later without a wrinkle.
The garments were made of Tilleysilk, a microfibre used by Tilley Endurables.
I mention them because they met two of the most important criteria for travel clothing -- wrinkle resistant and quick-drying.
Microfibres can look and even feel like any of several natural fabrics. Acrylic is used to imitate wool, nylon to mimic silk, and Tilley also sells women's clothing made of Tilleylinen.
Polyester is the key ingredient in wrinkle resistance. Most of the clothing I pack is either 100% polyester or a blend of polyester and cotton.
Check the tags on what's hanging in your closet and you'll probably find a lot of items in those categories.
And the polyester is not the stuff widely ridiculed back in the 1970s for being stiff and cheesy looking.
It's been improved and refined to become a versatile and attractive material.
There's Coolmax, for example, which wicks perspiration away from the body and through the fabric, where it evaporates.
Or one of Tilley Endurables' newest fabrics, OUT LAST Pique Knit, which Tilley says was developed for NASA. Tillley describes it as a blend of cotton, polyester and Spandex that "keeps you cool when the temperature gets hot and warm when it cools down; (and) air-dries in about eight hours."
Barbara Rodriguez, Tilley's director of merchandising, explains: "Cotton has natural wicking properties. Polyester gives it durability. Spandex gives it stretch.''
Cotton, too, has changed. Much as I rely on synthetics, I also pack a couple of long-sleeved cotton shirts to change into for supper. Made for L.L. Bean -- I order from their catalogue -- they're advertised as wrinkle-free and are. Take them out of the washer and hang them to dry rather than putting them in the dryer.
Garments that dry quickly are a must if luggage is to be kept to a minimum.
I wash socks and underwear every evening when I'm travelling. It takes five minutes and means I can get by with two or three pair instead of one for every day.
My stuff is polyester or another synthetic, but one reader tells me he finds cotton briefs will dry just as quickly if they're given the Tilley treatment for overnight drying: "Wring out, towel dry for 15 seconds -- twice; hang to dry in a well-ventilated place.''
That last bit can be tricky. I hang things over the shower curtain rod or a towel rack, even though bathrooms aren't exactly well ventilated.
If they're still damp next morning, drape them over a lamp shade or blast them with a hair dryer, something most hotels provide.
The long-sleeved shirts I wear in daytime are either polyester or similar, purchased from Tilley and Mountain Equipment Co-op. Hand washed in a tub, they dry overnight with few, if any, creases.
The trick, I've found, is to rinse them thoroughly and hang them up soaking wet, gently pulling the front from the back if they stick together.
No need to baby these drip-dry things, either. I use hotel hand soap to wash socks and briefs, and add their liquid soap or shampoo to the water in the tub to soak polyester shirts. They may not emerge 100% sanitized but they smell nice.
Quick-drying slacks are a blessing if you spill something -- a habit of mine -- or get caught in a downpour. I've refused to part with an old pair of Tilley polyester and cotton poplin pants, even though the cuffs are frayed, because nothing in my wardrobe will dry as fast.
Doug English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail c/o London Free Press, P.O.E. Box 2280, London, Ont. N6A 4G1.