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FASHION POLICE

Micro-Fibers Breathe New Life Into Travel Wear

November 24, 2000|JEANNINE STEIN

Dear Fashion Police: I am going on a five-week trip and want to pack light, so I'm looking for washable blouses and pants. I find polyester too hot so am thinking about wrinkle-resistant silk clothes, or maybe crinkly material (like seersucker) or prints. I've looked in travel catalogs and department stores, with little success. Any help would be appreciated.

--ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Dear On: We understand your aversion to polyester, but to which polyester are you referring? That shiny bullet-proof stuff circa 1977? Or today's micro-fiber? They're two completely different things, let us assure you, and if you haven't tried the latter, we strongly urge you to do so.

We were staunchly against synthetic fibers until we finally tried micro-fiber and found not only does it not wrinkle, but it also does, in fact, breathe. We didn't feel as if we were encased in a trash bag. The key is in the tight, fluid weave that still allows air in and out. Some micro-fiber is machine-washable, and most air-dry quickly if you're hand-washing while traveling.

You can find micro-fiber clothes suitable for traveling in several catalogs, including L.L. Bean (http://www.llbean.com, or [800] 441-5713), TravelSmith (http://www.travelsmith.com, or [800] 950-1600), Orvis (http://www.orvis.com or [800] 541-3541), Ex Officio (http://www.exofficio.com, or [800] 644-7303), and Magellan's (http://www.magellans.com, or [800] 962-4943).

Let's say you've tried micro-fiber and hated it. Fine. Be that way. Other alternatives are wrinkle-resistant cottons (try Eddie Bauer's khakis for men and women). They're not completely wrinkle-free, but they will crease less than regular khakis.

Knits are great for traveling, and there are lots of choices in pants, skirts, jackets and sweaters in cotton, silk and wool. They hardly wrinkle, but they do take forever to dry if you plan on hand-washing them.

Seersucker wouldn't be such a bad idea, but good luck finding it this time of year, since it's a spring-summer fabric. Even if you do find it, you're going to have to augment your wardrobe with something else. Man and woman do not live by seersucker alone.

*

Dear Fashion Police: My 20-year-old daughter, who is away at a Midwestern college now, will be in London from early January through the end of May. She'll be taking a couple of classes at the University of London and working as an intern in a professional office. She has been requested to dress professionally for the internship.

Her wardrobe now consists of jeans, sweats and T-shirts, and she does not have a wardrobe suitable for London. Taking into account the weather conditions, her age, luggage constraints and the fact that she won't be able to start shopping until she returns home on about Dec. 20, what do you suggest? She will even need an all-purpose coat. We are pretty much starting from scratch here. Your ideas would be most welcome.

--CHEERIO

Dear Cheer: It's bad enough you have to scramble to find your daughter a suitable wardrobe to see her through five months, but you also have to do it around Christmas. Can't say we envy you.

Before you start elbowing your way through the crowds, we'd like your daughter to do a little research. Have her call or e-mail her future employers and ask them what they consider appropriate office attire. Most people never consider doing this, but how else is one supposed to get the information? Psychically?

We'll assume that this is a fairly conservative office where things such as belly rings and spiked green hair are not encouraged. Styles in London aren't much different from styles in major U.S. cities--they're overrun with Gaps, too--so items she finds here should be fine over there.

Think basics, think layers, and think separates. A few pairs of pants, a couple of skirts, a couple of jackets, and a few tops and sweaters should have her covered. The pants shouldn't be too tight, and the skirts shouldn't be too short. Also nix any cropped tops that show skin.

For evenings, she should pack one little black dress, plus an evening sweater or top that can be worn with a nice pair of pants or skirt.

Micro-fiber (see first question) is ideal for traveling and can span a couple of seasons. Wool, cotton and silk are also acceptable--it just depends on what your daughter likes. We'll bet she doesn't like to iron, so avoid fabrics that wrinkle a lot (test them by crunching a small corner of the garment in your hand). During colder months, she should layer sweaters over shirts for warmth.

We suggest choosing one basic color--say, black--and two accent colors that coordinate. She should take two pairs of low-heeled shoes (such as pumps or Mary Janes) and one pair of boots that can be worn with pants and skirts, plus the necessary pantyhose, tights or socks.

Pack some accessories--a favorite scarf, some jewelry--but don't go overboard. Fun, inexpensive items can always be found there.

As for a coat, choose a water-repellent overcoat with a zip-out lining that can be worn in any kind of weather. A hat, gloves and warm scarf are essential for winter. And don't forget the T-shirts and jeans. A girl's got to relax some time.

*

Write to Fashion Police, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles CA 90012, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to socalliving@latimes.com.

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