Once, when I was about 15, my mother told me I could not leave the house like that because I looked like a tramp.

Yes, she actually said tramp.  And my face immediately crumpled and I could tell that she felt bad, that it was an unfortunate word choice that conveyed a malice she didn’t feel, but I was 15 and angry and wounded and man, I made her feel that regret for DAYS afterwards, such was my fury.

The cause of this dramatic mother-daughter fallout was a jumper.  Yes, a jumper.  As in, the kind of dress you wear over a turtleneck.  I believe this particular jumper even featured an argyle print.  (I know! Trampy!)  Specifically, the jumper was short- miniskirt short- and my mother thought that it was far too short to wear out of the house.  (Dear Mom:  I’ve seen pictures of you in the 60s.  You are fooling NO ONE with your sudden fondness for demure hemlines.)

This is one of the annoying things about being a tall girl- clothes are always too effing short.  (I know, grass is always greener, who am I to complain etc etc, but I say this: short people, you can always have your clothes altered to make them shorter.  Taking them to the tailor to make them longer? Not so much.)  Pants always hover two inches off the ground, prompting flood jokes.  Coat sleeves are too short.  Blouse sleeves are too short.  Skirts are a constant problem, and forget about finding a floor length dress that actually reaches the floor.  It is so, so much better than it used to be- thank you Gap and Jcrew for catching on to tall sizing and saving me from buying all my pants in the mens section like I did in high school- but there has not been the same kind of industry adoption of tall lengths for skirts.  At most stores, there is one length of skirt, and if you are a tall girl, it just means more leg is showing.  Sometimes, this problem is truly ridiculous- I tried on the cutest little dress at Old Navy the other day, then realized that if I even leaned over to scratch my knee the whole world would be able to see my underpants, so back on the rack it went.

After the Dramatic Jumper Incident of 1993, I have always been a little skittish about hemlines.  Yeah, I know, Ally McBeal made the miniskirt suit look normal, but I am very conscious of not wanting to show too much (very very pasty white) leg at the office.  I especially fear rear slits in skirts, since they often seem to toe the line between “nice design element” and “inadvertent peephole into a very private region”.

So help me, internet.  Today was day one million of what I’m calling the “neverending negotiations that will never end ever oh my god” deal at my work, and I have worn all the suits I own at least twice, so today I pulled a black dress out of the closet, threw a gray jacket over it, and called it a suit.  Trouble was, when I got to work, this is what I noticed:

Uh, so that’s, um,  kind of a lot of knee I’m showing there.

I swear, when I stand up, this dress hits just above the kneecap.  I do not know what is going on when I sit down.  (I am choosing not to believe that it has anything to do with the size of my ass when sitting and the resultant displacement of fabric.  I’m not good at physics.)

So I’d ask my mom what she thinks, but (a) I don’t live with her anymore, so she’s not available, and (b) I’m not sure my psyche could take another “tramp” comment, so I ask you, oh wise and wonderful internet:  is this dress, worn with a very conservative jacket, which comes to the knee when standing, too short for the office?

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