"How should I dress for this one? I'd like to hold onto some kind of girlish attractiveness while still looking adult and faintly professional."
First of all, snaps to you for knowing what is appropriate wear in this situation. Now, the key words you mentioned in your comment were "intelligent companionship", and that's the look we're trying to get - smart, womanly, sexy. This is what I loved about Jackie O, who had the unique task of being one of the youngest first ladies in a generation that was just starting to be obsessed with "hip". As you'll see, she pulled it off nicely. The first step is to show skin in the appropriate places, and that includes some neckline and some leg. Pants are an option here, but a skirt is definitely flirtier. You might want to try a traditional suit with some contemporary embellishments. What we love about the outfit at left is that it recognizes the need to look professional, but it adds the flippy skirt and is prime for great accessories - the suit will help you blend in, the accessories will make you stand out. A belt around the waist is completely hot this year, and some glitzy jewelry adds a little glamour. Let's face it, you're going to a political function. You will be surrounded by women in suits who are probably way too serious for their own good. You'll be appealingly different if you add some whimsy to a serious outfit. Try a couple of the accessories below:
Our next reader asked about a few pictures on her blog as for what she should wear to a very important business expo. My advice to you is, I liked your first outfit, with the button down and skirt. The clean, crisp look of a white button down is a timeless classic. However, I think a long skirt on a body like yours is a waste of a good figure. The bright color looks great on you, but you probably have some lovely legs under that skirt. You also mentioned that you have short legs, so the longer your skirt is, the more it will accentuate the shortness. I found the one at right, and I think it would look great on you. It would give you a little curviness, and the length is good for short legs. The pattern is also lovely, but it's still professional. A little colorful jewelry will help you to bring out that funloving side I saw that you have. In any event, I hope I've helped. Of course, the key is, as always, be true to yourself with what you wear. You want your clothes to make a statement about you, and if that statement is best said with a piece that conventional wisdom doesn't like, do it anyway. You are the architect of your own sexiness. Consider it fashion at your owk risk!