Definition: representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.
A good black-and-white photo covers the whole range of grays from the blackest black to the whitest white creating exciting contrast. Since the image can’t rely on color to lead the eye, adding texture is helpful, too. It will bring out highlights and shadows that will add interest.
While I don’t claim that this photo represents the quintessential example of a study in black-and-white –I’ll leave that to Ansel Adams– it does check the above boxes: strong contrast, a wide range of grays, and texture in the dresses. The blurred background also helps to keep our focus on the subject. We know what this photo is about.
Instead of depending on B/W in post-processing, switch to black-and-white in your camera’s settings and see how different the world looks. How many boxes can you check toward a quintessential image?