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?
Lexile: 770L

Assign to Google Classroom

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/

Assigned 77 times

  • baseball1919
    3/12/2015 - 10:09 a.m.

    I think the reason people are so obsessed about the dress is because people would start sending back feed back about what color the dress is so people would say its white and gold and other people would say its black and blue and that started making people wondering why cant people agree on what color the dress is so then scientist started to study the dress and what color they think it is then they would start thinking ways that could be making people think differently on the color of the dress and they discovered that it was not a different dress is was the way that the colors where blended and it would make peoples mind react differently rather if its white and gold or black and blue there will never be a right color it only depends on how the minds of people reacts to the dress

  • Noah_pierce2000
    3/12/2015 - 10:29 a.m.

    I think that the dress is such a sensation because it is just so weird to have someone see two different things on a singe picture. I does not even matter if you are colorblind so many people just see it in a different way.

  • CourtneyMahone
    3/12/2015 - 10:30 a.m.

    The dress causes a sensation because people couldn't agree on what color the dress was. So everyone kept talking and arguing about what color it is.

  • lexleigh2018
    3/12/2015 - 10:31 a.m.

    This dress caused a sensation on social media because people cause different colors so it concerned them. I saw blue and black.

  • Cassierusso10
    3/12/2015 - 10:31 a.m.

    Many people are seeing blue and black and others are seeing gold and white. i see gold and white in every picture that i have seen. There are people argueing about what color the dress really is.

  • kenzies15
    3/12/2015 - 10:31 a.m.

    This dress caused a sensation on social media because people were seeing two different colors and wanted to know the real answer. They wanted to know the real answer because some people saw black and blue and others saw white and gold. Knowing the true answer would stop this sensation but there was no right answer so everyone still wanted to know the right answer.

  • ashleighb-Hyl
    3/12/2015 - 12:05 p.m.

    This article was very interesting. Me personally, I thought the dress was gold and white. It was cool to know that Roman Originals made the dress. I saw the real colors on T.V. and they said it was the lighting and different devices that made the dress look different colors. I give this article a thumbs up! :)

  • nolanb-Hyl
    3/12/2015 - 12:08 p.m.

    Interesting very interesting. I can believe people can see one dress so differently. I mean look at the photo it is BLACK AND BLUE where are people saying its white and gold. Well maybe I am color blind? Or maybe there color blind? Who is it?

  • Katelynn_3813
    3/12/2015 - 02:21 p.m.

    This dress caused such a sensation on social media because people couldn't decide if the dress was blue and black, or white and gold so it had sprung a huge debate.

  • SwordArtOnlineKaylee
    3/12/2015 - 02:23 p.m.

    I think this dress caused a sensation on social media because people did not know what the true colors were by just looking at the picture. The dress changes color if you change the lighting and how to take the picture. Also I believe people talked about it a lot because they wanted something to either talk or argue about. These are some reasons of many on why I believe this dress caused sensation on social media.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment