Hemline Helpline

Dear Annabel Manners, 

I know you’ve given style advice before, and I was wondering if you might be able to help me. I have been living in New York for over a year now, but I’m still continuously stumped by the black tie dilemma: short or long? 
This Friday I am attending a black tie reception for a hedge fund at the Plaza (Champagne Bar, so not one of the more formal rooms, but still…). I am 27 and while I always welcome a chance to hide my thick peasant ankles (!), I tend to feel a bit frumpy in long dresses. Do you have any thoughts on this? 
Thank you — Displaced Virginian 
Dear D.V.,
Oh honey, we can’t have you feeling frumpy even for a second — especially at the Plaza, of all magical places!
Certainly there are grand gala events for which only a long dress will do, but from the sound of your letter, this isn’t one of them. Pour yourself a preparatory glass of bubbly, fling open your closet, and select whatever makes you feel like the belle of the ball!
A few fairy-godmother thoughts:
  • Short doesn’t have to mean unsophisticated. Witness Kiera Knightley looking pretty and posh in less-than-tea-length Chanel.
  • Covered ankles aren’t always matronly. Imagine how chic this Satin Ball Gown Skirt would be paired with, say, a sexy cashmere halter top.
  • Don’t want to drop a bundle on a new outfit? Invigorate a little black dress you already own with a faux-fur capelet or a Luxe Beaded Sash.
  • Still in doubt? Choose clean lines, do something sleek with your hair, and channel Miss Audrey.
Thanks for your letter. I’m sure your instincts are right on the money. Go have a fabulous time!
Graciously yours,
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