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 the true hues of a royal blue dress with black lace that, to many an eye, transforms in one photograph into gold and white. Optometry experts are calling the photo a one-in-a-million shot that perfectly captures how people's brains perceive color and 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, the clinical adviser to Britain's College of Optometrists. "I've never seen a photo like this before where so many people look at the same photo and see two sets of such dramatically different colors."

The photo, taken in February before a wedding on the remote Scottish island of Colonsay, also illustrates the dynamics of a perfect social-media storm. Guests at the wedding could not understand why, 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 from the wedding to the Internet, initially from friend to perplexed friend on Facebook.

One such wedding guest, musician and singer Caitlin McNeill, posted the photo to her Tumblr account with the question: "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 black and blue.

The website Buzzfeed sensed clickbait heaven and, amid its own newsroom argument, was among the first to call McNeill. It posted more than a half-dozen stories on the image and the tsunami of reaction.

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

The entertainment elite then chimed in, and 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, while Kim Kardashian, never one to miss a trending topic, 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 exceptional bar-code style of the dress, combined with the strongly yellow-toned backlighting in the one photo, provides the brain a rare chance to "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. "And this color consistency illusion that we're experiencing doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your eyes. It just shows how your brain chooses to see the image, to process this luminescence confusion."

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

There's one clear winner, and that is the English dress retailer Roman Originals, which has 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, design director at Roman Originals.

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 to field hundreds of emails, calls and social media posts, which were 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-ever seller. The chain's website headlined its product as "#TheDress now back in stock debate now."

"Straightaway 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/teen/was-dress-black-and-blue-or-gold-and-white/

Assigned 77 times

  • bridgetteg-DiB
    3/06/2015 - 10:29 a.m.

    im kinda confused about this whole dress thing because i keep seeing both black and gold and white and gold. They said that its really black and blue but how do they know that forsure

  • AlmodovarJoshua-DiB
    3/06/2015 - 11:19 a.m.

    I know that people try to put a whole scientific thing behind it, But No. It's Blue and Black! WHERE DO YOU SEE WHITE ANYWHERE ON THE DRESS!! Even if you put the image in Photoshop and use the eye dropper tool and click on the dresses parts. ITS BLUE AND BLACK

  • BolinKatlin-DiB
    3/06/2015 - 11:20 a.m.

    there were two different dresses and they were trying to mess with peoples minds so when the whole dress thing happened everyone at school was asking people if it was white and gold or blue and black and i was like there is two different dresses .

  • trinitymoly2015
    3/06/2015 - 12:08 p.m.

    i see blue and black and ive seen this everywhere on the insternet people say its just maybe 3 dresses together but i really dont know. when i look at this dress i see blue and black i have no clue how people can see gol and white i cant ever soo any white but i have seen gold before.

  • nicholas.jones07
    3/06/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    The dress is obviously blue. I think that this is very interesting. If we had a chance to study the human mind we might figure out how this happened. I also think that it is more than a coincidence that it was 50-50. I think that this is a very cool yet very cool optical illusion. I think that the light and our eyes are very complex that this can not be written off as the light interfering with our eyes.

  • julianr-DiB
    3/06/2015 - 12:53 p.m.

    There reason the dress became a sensation is because it would change color for different people. It would be black and blue or gold and white.

  • johanna.galloway34
    3/06/2015 - 12:57 p.m.

    The blue and black or white and gold is a popular and famous dress. It has been trending on social media. Such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. It depends on your eyes of if you see black and blue or white and gold. I looked up of which eye color is best and green was the best. The brightness is how it changes the dress color.

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    3/06/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

    i've never seen such a massive participation and subsequent argument over a simple color illusion. The internet is blowing up over this dress. Hopefully, by now, the general populace has come to a determination on the color of this dress, because i feel that this fad has run its course.

  • jonnir-war
    3/06/2015 - 01:25 p.m.

    To me the dress is Black and Blue. I don't know how they would see it as white and gold. But I do understand that they may see it like that because of the light.

  • heatherh-war
    3/06/2015 - 01:27 p.m.

    The dress is blue and black no matter what. this caused such a sensation on social media because so many people thought it was different colors. The only reason we all didn't see the same color is because of the lighting. I like this dress but I don't like how much drama was caused over it

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