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Darkness and Dazzle: Black and White

Nothing’s more dramatic than a photo that captures the striking contrasts of France. While my other half was meticulously plotting out our recent French vacation, I thought: why not get a photo of me dressed in black and white?

My boyfriend is the kind that plans everything ahead. You know the type. He’s good at it, so I just let him do his thing. After all, it meant less for me to worry about. And I knew exactly what my choices were for a really stunning photo shoot ….

In this shoot, we chose the scenery of Notre Dame de Marseille.

Did you know that in France, every city has a Notre Dame? It was amusing: Notre Dame de Paris, Notre Dame de Marseille, Notre Dame de Laon.

These landmark cathedrals, bearing the name of “our lady,” show up in hundreds of French cities and small towns. I was drawn to the cathedral of Notre Dame de Marseille because of its light stone walls that are marked by dark cracks and crevices.

When I selected the outfit for Notre Dame de Marseille, I remembered that working with monochromatic tones will intensify each color. So I chose a classic European look from the 1940s that plays with the dramatic pull of black and white.

Let’s think about what a black and white color.

When someone mentions the color white, we think about serenity, purity, and innocence. White is the color of milk, freshly-fallen snow, christening gowns and baby shoes. White reflects light and evokes a sense of openness.

Black is the color of darkness: the absence of light. We think of fear, death, and the unknown. But black also protects. And there’s the excitement of knowing that beyond the darkness lies something that is yet to be revealed.

Just as the color white reflects light, black absorbs it. A black and white image gives the sensation of pulling in and reaching out, of secrecy and candor.

From a fashion point of view, the effects of using black and white pieces can be quite strong. There’s nothing more chic than pairing the shades together, and nothing more stylish. When you create a black and white outfit, you make an awesome statement.

Plus, it’s hard to look bad in black and white.

The contrast is stunning. And you can manipulate the placement of each color so that the black slenderizes and the white highlights.

However, you might be getting a little tired of pairing your black blazer with the same white jeans. So I’ve prepared this look to offer some fresh ideas.

Bring out the balance:

If yours is the body type where your lower half is heavier, consider the classic combination of a white top and black skirt or trouser. If your upper half is bigger, just reverse the combination. A black top and white pants or skirt will do the trick.

Back to the outfit:

Although there’s more black than white in this photo, the white seems more dominant. I actually layered an Oxford shirt over my black turtleneck and skirt. I then cinched my waist with a black obi belt to create a clean, form-fitting overlay of white.

The accessories:

For a dramatic flair, I made the headpiece myself. I added gold pins and a netted veil to a simple black headband. Then I pulled my hair back to create a sleek, provocative look. Lastly, we played with the light falling on my face, which remains partially concealed by the veil.

The gold bag and white shoes complement the look and excite the eye. The elegant sling-back shoes are adorned with a simple circle of silver that coordinates nicely with my textured silver ring. The worked gold from the bag adds even more texture and tone to the look.

So styling with black and white doesn’t have to be complicated. Just choose your wardrobe pieces, accent with gold and silver, and play with the contrasts.

Some parting words for now: Bring your own magic when it comes to creating an outfit. Release the brilliance and keep the mystery. And balance darkness with dazzle every time you style with black and white!


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