When I was small, people did not have Steram irons, and in the 50's every man that worked in an office of any kind wore a White Shirt and tie....back then everything was 100% Cotton, women wore house dresses and Aprons, little girls wore dresses ........most women never worked out of the home...so there actually was still a wash day and ironing day in the week...and ironing was very important......so in order to get the wrinkles out, the clothes had to be damp...not wet, just damp. Ths was accomplished by a "Sprinkle Bottle" or a Sprinkler adapter that fit into an emptied pop or beer bottle, that you filled with water and then "sprinkled all of your ironing.....the clothes that had been sprinkled, would then be put into a large Plastic bag and placed in the refridgerator to keep them cool and damp until time to iron...at least this was what my mother did. Then when it was time to iron, she removed the bag and started to iron....the Hot iron "Steamed the clothes, and took out the wrinkles! Then in the late 50's, or early 60's came the wonderful "Steam Iron" making the project much easier...however, white shirts still needed to be sprinkled and starched, and this was improved upon by adding a spray button on the iron so that you could spray the wrinkles in the clothingas you ironed......towards the end of
the 60's came the best thing of all.....the "Shot of Steam" iron with the spray button! This is a must for me! So my answer is as follows: If an item is damp, you do not need steam...however if the item is dry, steam will help give you a wrinkle free garment......I still use a spray bottle on the ironing board, because even with the spray and the "Shot of Steam" it still looks better if the item starts out slightly damp. and the iron water department empties fast! I iron almost daily now instead of a full day.....work clothes for myself mostly! And of course my husbands dress shirts! My son is 24, and he knows the differnce between pressed clothes, and wash and wear, which in my opinion still need to be pressed to look good. He prefers his dress shirts ironed. I almost always use Steam, unless the garment is damp to begin with. Hope this helps.