Was the dress black and blue or gold and white?
Was the dress black and blue or gold and white? The two-tone dress, left, alongside an ivory and black version. In a different photo posted online, half of people saw the blue and black dress as white and gold (AP photo / Tumblr)
Was the dress black and blue or gold and white?
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It's the dress that's beating the Internet black and blue. Or should that be gold and white?

Friends and co-workers worldwide are debating. What are the true hues of a royal blue dress with black lace? To many an eye, the dress transforms in one photograph into gold and white. Optometry experts are calling the photo a one-in-a-million shot. It captures how people's brains perceive color. And how we process contrast in dramatically different ways.

"This photo provides the best test I've ever seen for how the process of color correction works in the brain,'" said Daniel Hardiman-McCartney. He is the clinical adviser to Britain's College of Optometrists. "So many people look at the same photo and see two sets of such dramatically different colors."

The photo was taken in February before a wedding. It was shot on the remote Scottish island of Colonsay. Guests at the wedding were perplexed. In one photo of the dress being worn by the mother of the bride, the clearly blue and black-striped garment transformed into gold and white. But only in that single photo. And only for around half of the viewers.

The debate spread. Soon it hit the Internet.

One such wedding guest was musician and singer Caitlin McNeill. She posted the photo to her Tumblr account.

"Guys please help me. Is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can't agree."

She's consistently seen gold.

One of her friends, Alana MacInnes, saw gold and white for the first hour. Then she saw black and blue.

The website Buzzfeed was among the first to call McNeill. It posted more than a half-dozen stories on the image.

On Twitter, #TheDress and variants surged to the top of trending lists globally within hours.

The entertainment community even chimed in.

Taylor Swift saw the dress was "obviously" blue and black.

"What's the matter with u guys, it's white and gold," countered Julianne Moore.

Kim Kardashian reported she was seeing gold. But to husband Kanye West, it was solidly black and blue. "Who is color blind?" Kardashian asked the twitterati.

The answer, says Hardiman-McCartney, is that every viewer seeing either set of colors is right.

He says the bar-code style of the dress, combined with the strongly yellow-toned backlighting in the one photo, provides the brain a rare chance. The brain can "choose" which of the dress' two primary colors should be seen in detail. Those who subconsciously seek detail in the many horizontal black lines convert them to a golden hue. So the blue disappears into a blown-out white, he said. Others whose brains focus on the blue part of the dress see the photo as the black-and-blue reality.

"There's no correct way to perceive this photograph. It sits right on the cusp, or balance, of how we perceive the color of a subject versus the surrounding area," he said. "It just shows how your brain chooses to see the image."

The photo produced a deluge of media calls to the Tumblr reporter, 21-year-old McNeill. She calls the phone calls "more than I've received in the entirety of the rest of my life combined." She says the photographer is the mother of the bride. The mother never wanted the publicity.

There's one clear winner in the debate. English dress retailer Roman Originals. It reported a million hits on its sales site in the first 18 hours following the photo's worldwide distribution.

"I can officially say that this dress is royal blue with black lace trimming," said Michele Bastock. She is design director at Roman Originals.

The color debate came as a surprise, Bastock said. She said staff members had no idea that the dress, when shot in that singularly peculiar light, might be perceived in a totally different color scheme. Not until they arrived to work. They had to field hundreds of emails, calls and social media posts, They, too, split almost 50-50 on the photo's true colors.

All agreed, however, the dress for the Birmingham, England-based retailer was likely to become their greatest seller. The chain's website headlined its product as "#TheDress now back in stock debate now."

"We went to the computers and had a look. And some members of the team saw ivory and gold. I see a royal blue all the time," she said.

"It's an enigma ...

But we are grateful."

Critical thinking challenge: Why did this dress cause a sensation on social media?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/junior/was-dress-black-and-blue-or-gold-and-white/

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COMMENTS (70)
  • samuelw-Hyl
    3/10/2015 - 12:01 p.m.

    I didn't like this article because i dint like color dresses.

  • GlassieF-Phe
    3/11/2015 - 10:54 a.m.

    I think the dress is black and blue.It could not be white and gold.I think it is black and blue because of the lighting.

  • caitlynnk-Hyl
    3/11/2015 - 12:06 p.m.

    I think it is the lighting in both photos because the one with the pink back round i see it as black and blue but with the one outside i see it was white and gold. So again i think it is the lighting and the person. I was on the inter net and i saw white and gold and so did my mom but my grandmother saw black and blue i want the dress in my size. I could look at this dress all day it is mind blowing. More than that it is amazing. I want it for me and all my dolls.i love this dress.

  • Brayden-Hor
    3/11/2015 - 03:35 p.m.

    Thank you my dad said it was blue and black but I said it was white and yellow..I was right also he is right to

  • 45yearolddog
    3/12/2015 - 09:56 a.m.

    because the some people brain didn't see the color right, i see black and blue but like miles may this it gold. it like that.

  • imthebestaround
    3/12/2015 - 10:00 a.m.

    becus pepel have nothing to do so this is the best thing to do be i do think that the person that took the photo of the dress was amazing

  • ihavenoclue13
    3/12/2015 - 10:00 a.m.

    it was a sensation because they did not know what color it was. the people that the color of the dress was blue and black or goled and white whin looking at the pircher

  • poco10
    3/12/2015 - 10:05 a.m.

    It cause a sensation on social media because people where arguing about what color the dress was.

  • pandoraonly
    3/12/2015 - 10:07 a.m.

    the dress look like it is gold and white. what color do you see?

  • poco10
    3/12/2015 - 10:08 a.m.

    It cause a sensation on social media because people where arguing about what color the dress was.

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