In the waning days of the Great Depression, Celeste Riley wonders if life will always be the same: going to work, coming home to keep house for her widowed father, who ignores her. She clings to her married sister and to the recurring dream of a blue velvet curtain and a faceless lover who beckons her beyond it.
Then a blue velvet dress in the window of a local department store seems to promise the change in her life she so desperately longs for. When she dances in the arms of traveling salesman Kent Goddard at the Roof Garden, she is sure she has found the man of her dreams and is crushed when he disappears from her life.
Then, soon after Pearl Harbor propels the United States into war, Kent returns in uniform as a student at the new bombardier training school. Their deepening relationship is threatened by a wartime separation, but not as much as when Celeste realizes that what she doesn't know about the man of her dreams maybe become her worst nightmare.