1970s Evocative Black and White Elegance

There’s something about this dress that makes me feel as though I’m getting back to my roots of vintage. But the spark of familiarity I felt when I first saw it is only rivaled by the spark of inspiration I feel seeing it now.

See, this dress is a sister of sorts to the very first vintage dress that I bought. That dress, which will be a treasure to showcase someday, has a long peach-colored skirt, a sash, and long sleeves. The neckline is different, but what isn’t is the material–a stretchy, breathable poly-cotton–and the bodice details. I found that dress in Oklahoma and this one in Illinois. Neither has a label, but both called out to me, speaking my language of ease, of fancifulness, of soft glamour.

Finding this dress made me feel a little more at home. It made me believe that perhaps I would be able to find things to appreciate about the new place I’d found myself in. It would be hard. Some days it still is. But I believe there is a natural curiosity in us that wants to see how good things can be.

As a sometimes (read: frequent) pessimist (‘realist’ for my fellow curmudgeons), it can be hard to push back against feelings that tell you that having something to complain about makes you valid, heard, or right. It’s difficult to give up on those things but often necessary. While I know that vintage–or any material thing for that matter–isn’t the cure to these problems, it can help remind me that life is indeed fun, surprising, and interesting.

With every piece I come to know and love, there comes also a new perspective. Take this dress for example. The color-blocked tuxedo tune of black and white, or charcoal and soft cream to be more accurate, delivers a wow factor on its own. The bodice details, though, in my opinion, are what elevate this from fancy to fantastical.

I am utterly charmed by the five black discs of fabric and their delicate wreaths of green and yellow needlework and rhinestones. They make me think of black holes, the cosmic made fairy tale by a few sprigs of greenery. That the rest of the bodice is dotted with additional rhinestones makes it continually spectacular: stars against snow.

The dress has wonderful structure to it as well. The high neck strikes a lovely balance with the large cutout neckline, and the darted bust works similarly with the center seam of the skirt. Without creating a typical empire waist, the dress also has a dramatic ascending point bodice, which, along with the downward facing triangle of the cutout, helps to set up the clean lines of symmetry seen in the discs.

The intrigue of this dress for me isn’t in what it first seems to be. For one, so much of what made it special was that it was so familiar to the dress that, in many ways, launched my love of vintage. It was something I could appreciate uniquely for that reason, and that is a part of the experience I’m very thankful for. Secondly, though, it’s the contrast. Not just in the black and white or the unexpected angles but the darkness offset by the colors of spring. Blankness decorated with the ornate.

Whatever way I’m seeing the world, I must believe, is valid at least to a degree, and not because of my own stubbornness. My own darkness and anxieties, my own black holes can be wreathed with flora themselves. They can exist together. They can be beautiful.

2 thoughts on “1970s Evocative Black and White Elegance

  1. Beautifully written. Your last words said so much Amber. It was a gentle reminder that we can live through dark moments with the love that surrounds us all. Thank you Amber


  2. Yes, I agree with Nancy! Your writting is as beautiful as you! What a great photographer you have too!!! I think this is my favorite!


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