Monday, 29 October 2012

Black Lace


I started this post wanting to write an ode to black lace.  I wanted to say something about how every woman should have something in her wardrobe fashioned from this most delicate, intricate and beautiful of fabrics, and that it should be in black.  In contrast to the symbolic purity and innocence of white lace used so often in religious ceremonies to mark new beginnings - the baptisms, the holy communions and weddings - black lace was more symbolic of a woman's coming of age.


I wanted to say that there is possibly no other fabric that is so emotionally charged.  Worn as an expression of our sensuality, a siren call to potential lovers, it can also be worn to express loss or grief.  In some cultures it is the mark of the enforced solitude of widows, in others a sign of a woman's maturity.  Unlike any other fabric it is particular in the role it plays in signposting the phases of a woman's life.  This significance was not lost on Miuccia Prada, whose much lauded Autumn/Winter 2008 collection was a celebration of how lace accompanies a woman from birth until death and resulted in a lace revival that has yet to die down.


I wanted to say that my awareness of wanting to wear it marked my passing from being a girl to a young woman, and that I remember starkly the first black lace item I decided to buy and wear when my parents could no longer have any say over what I chose to spend my money on, or indeed about what clothing I chose to wear.  I wanted to say that when the day finally arrived when you were able to wear a black lace dress without feeling self conscious was the day that you were finally a woman.


I wanted to say that I love black lace and that love is reflected in how heavily it features in my wardrobe.  It is there in eyelash borders, fine filigree, floral motifs, dark twisted roses, delicate knots and heavy guipure.  It features as yokes and trims on blouses and tees.  It is fashioned into several cocktail dresses as well as a fur collared three quarter length coat.  It is lined in nude, or grey or black.  It even covers a couple of pairs of shoes.


I wanted to ask - is there a woman who does not feel beautiful wearing black lace?  In a search for answers on the internet I was dismayed to find the following article on the Financial Times with readers thoughts on the "Case for Lace",  most of whom are probably very highly paid City workers who could afford the finest black lace on offer.

While I understand that black lace is not generally office appropriate in high end corporate jobs, I certainly didn't expect so many women to be so down on (and in some cases very anti-) such a gorgeous fabric, as well as so unenthused about the interpretations of black lace that have graced the runways since Prada wove it back into our collective fashion consciousness again.  Only a couple of participants brimmed with a delight in its return to fashion that matched my own.  I began to wonder if maybe I was actually in the minority.

To add insult to injury amongst the comments was this barb from one reader: that in her opinion if you are over thirty lace is a ‘no’ at any time, even as evening wear and that under thirty, lace would only be acceptable if it was "subtle and stylish, à la Julia Roberts at an evening business dinner date in Pretty Woman..."
Surely she was not serious? Pretty Woman? Given such a puritanical tone was she being ironic referring to an evening business dinner date when the business in question was prostitution?

Deflated, I then thought that perhaps I shouldn't say anything about my love of black lace at all.  It suddenly felt like I'd been told I was in love with a tainted thing and that I should keep my passion to myself like some dark, dirty secret.


Troubled, I put the question to Mr V. - why would a woman over thirty want to wear black lace?  He immediately said - "to feel beautiful".  That's my man!

I tried hard to imagine what the life of Ms. "No Lace Over Thirty" must be like.  I could only conjure up the blandest and dullest of existences for her.  A life lived without taking any risks, safely within the confines of others expectations of her, with years of frowning disapprovingly of those who didn't do the same stretching before her.  A life free of any drama, frisson or great passion.  I'm sure she's quite happy.  Frankly I'd rather be dead.


This post is part of the Visible Monday series over at Not Yet Dead Style

Black Lace Top: very old Karen Millen; Silk skirt: Chine

35 comments:

  1. Breathtaking in every way. Visually, intellectually, aesthetically- you've totally knocked the wind out of me. I'm ready to embrace the other side of me now, the one that adores black lace, the history and art of which you've so eloquently brought to my attention. I think my husband will appreciate it, too.

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  2. Oh my dear V, I am so glad you wrote this lyrical tribute to lace! And to the ones who say NO, I say: maybe no for you, but I will choose for me. You look beautiful in all kinds of lace, and at my advanced age I still love to wear a lace blouse. Stay strong!

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  3. This outfit is fantastic. Lace is for those that dare to wear it, no matter the age.

    I saw the most incredible traditional Flamenco dancers and singers in Granada in a cave not too far from Alhambra. It was mesmerizing, like they were in a trance when they were dancing. One of the most memorable experiences we had on that trip. It must be so intoxicating and liberating to be able to dance like that.

    Bisous
    Suzanne
    http://bisous.typepad.com/bisous/

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  4. I cannot imagine a better tribute to black lace than the one you posted. You perfectly captured all of the nuances of its beauty and its meaning in different situations.

    I adore black lace and black in general.
    I can remember the first time I felt absolutely sexy and beautiful; I was attending an elaborate company Christmas party in a 4 star restaurant in the 1980's. I was in my early 20's and had not yet developed a strong sense of womanly self assurance.

    The outfit I chose was a 2 piece skirt and top; the body was black lace over black fabric, the sleeves sheer black lace. The top was peplum style; the pencil skirt below the knee had a deep slit in the back highlighted by sheer black lace inset. There was no deep plunge; it wasn't traditionally sexy or revealing. It was drop dead gorgeous and sexy by virtue of the black lace and the classic womanly shape it created. I felt powerful and beautiful and the response from my coworkers solidified that.

    I will always carry the memory of other's response to m that night and my feelings about it. I will always love black lace. I don't think I can ever recreate THAT dress and that evening...but my deep affection for black lace has been etched on my heart.

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    1. Lisa this was such a beautiful story and more along the lines of what I had expected to hear from women about their first experience of wearing lace. Thanks for sharing this!

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  5. that insurance broker needs to lighten up a bit. geez! ;P I love black lace. It ones of the many black things I could buy forever. My alter ego is a Sicilian widow.

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    1. I know right? I did wonder how old she was to have such a severe point of view.
      I'm totally with you that it's one of the black things I could always buy!

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  6. Me encanta el encaje negro y en tu cuerpo es pura filigrana.
    Te abrazo fuerte y te espero siempre.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  7. What a lovely read! You look absolutely exquisite in black lace and that ruffled skirt is perfection. x

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  8. That no lace after 30 lady probably doesn't wear white after labor day. Ever since I was sent home from high school for wearing jeans (in the winter) I've said to hell with dressing rules. And now that I'm a old bag, I say wear what you want, when you want!

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  9. I think the problem here is not that black lace is anything but gorgeous, but that too many tacky pleather corset-makers have used a cheap rendition of it to garnish their garments, which are viewed by all but certain peripheries of society as "slutty" or "goth." You've managed to prove them wrong, though! The red lips are an especially brilliant accent - it's all the color this outfit needs to really pop.

    http://lasaloperie.blogspot.com

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  10. I love all kinds and colors of lace and think it's appropriate all the way to the grave. Whenever I read narrow minded attitudes like that I feel sad that there are people who can't enjoy the freedom in truly discovering and being who they are, and enjoying it.

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  11. A life without lace? how dreadful ... I cannot comprehend, lol! I actually adore lace in general, the craftsmanship in original lace is timeless! I probably have more lace fabric garments than I care to share. The black lace dress is simply stunning on you. So wear it proudly! xx /Madison

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  12. Wearing Lace is a State of Grace. amen.

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  13. Anyone who worries about wearing lace past a certain age doesn't have anything REAL to worry about. Should I envy her? LOL. Imagine having that little to focus on...

    Anyway, it looks beautiful on you and I can hardly imagine you being past 20 because your skin is so gorgeous!

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  14. There is just nothing like black lace! i rarely wear it,but I love it,and it makes me think of Sicilian women,the type dreamed of by Dolce and Gabbana!
    You look sexacious!
    XXX

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  15. Beautiful outfit! I love black lace but I feel like it has to be approached with caution, a caution which has nothing to do with age. There are some black lace pieces out there that can tend toward the tacky. When it is done right, though, there is nothing that feels more special.

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  16. What a gorgeous outfit, you look stunning. Like you I love black lace, the latin romance of it. It's about finding the right lace, and the right cut to avoid tartiness. Your look strikes just the right balance, being womanly but subtle in the best possible Sophia Loren kinda way!
    p.s. thanks so much for your kind words on my blog post - I've only just started blogging about my clothes and it's lovely to get the encouragement!

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  17. Thank you for this wonderful meditation on black lace. That it elicits such powerful reactions speaks to the cultural weight it carries. Your photos are incredibly beautiful! Your hair with the lace top and cascading tiered ruffled skirt is otherworldly.

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  18. Hi my dear!! What an amazing post and you certainly look so very beautiful in lace. This woman may have a self confidence issue because lace and any other style should be embraced at all ages, so keep up with the lovely outfits, especially the lace ones! xx

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  19. Consider me inspired. I have a black lace blouse that needs some re-construction and modernizing. Perhaps I'll actually get to it.
    You look spectacular.

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  20. And I'm glad that you said all these things as black lace looks absolutely beautiful on you! I've only recently discovered lace at all (waayyy past 30 :) and my only black lace thing is a polyester cheapo item... and strangely I still love it.

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  21. Stop reading those things and follow your heart!!!!

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  22. I think it's fine to wear lace to work... as long as it isn't the cheapo tacky sleazy kind. I would love to wear your top under a jacket into the courtroom!

    Then again... I've also been known to wear fishnet knee-highs with ballet flats and pants at work. so there is just a peek....

    My favorite lace of all time is Battenberg... I have posted pics with my top that has quite a bit of it. Love it!

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  23. I know black lace first entered my wardrobe as lingerie. I now own black lace blouses and it features on a couple of cocktail dresses in the closet. I love how you've paired it with this particular skirt and highlighted the sun--simply beautiful.

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  24. Your beauty in these photos in black lace totally took my breath away. Your writing sublime. Black lace holds a place of significance in my closet, so I don't understand the negative response to it that you described. As I approach 70, black lace will continue to contribute to the joy of my sartorial life.

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  25. Congrats on being featured in IFB's weekly link-up! I love that lace top :)
    -Tori
    www.fashiontrendsmore.com

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  26. Wow! So gorgeous!

    Wonder what the NO lady would say about 50ish woman wearing lace?! Haha

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  27. DUDE...lace rocks and those women need to go on a chill pill bender and calm the eff down. PS- You look HAWT!

    www.PardonMyFashion.com

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  28. I love this post, it was emotive and very well written! I feel sorry for the person who said that lace is for the under-30 etc etc. The first rule of fashion is that there are no rules and no one will and can ever tell me the deadline of wearing for any fabric! I love lace, have always loved lace, wear lace and will forever wear lace till I take my last breadth. I am over 30. I sitll wear my black lace demure prom dress, my 2 red prom dresses that are not so demure, my lace gloves, my black lace cloak, my black lace body... I'm sure everyone is starting to get the picture here...

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    Replies
    1. haha! Good for you! A black lace cloak did you say? You're a lady after my own heart!

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  29. Terrific post. Whoever nixed black lace over 30 has no sense of history nor style. As someone with a wardrobe of black lace, including items purchased after that "expiration date", I may just become like my grandmother, who was very much in black lace traditional clothing until she had no more need of fabric. -- J xxx

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  30. That's it! I'm wearing black lace today.
    A beautiful post and beautiful outfit.

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  31. What a gorgeous ode both visually and verbally to the magic of black lace.

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  32. Omg- LOVE IT!!!! Love that skirt!!!!!!

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