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A Dress and a Debate

A Dress and a Debate


White and gold or blue and black was the question Thursday night? Ellen DeGeneres tweeted Thursday night, “From this day on, the world will be divided into two people. Blue & black, or white & gold.” This tweet was in reference to the British Roman Originals dress that shook the world via social media. What people thought to be a joke quickly escalated to heated debates around the world. Within a night the image of the dress was literally on every social media from Instagram to Facebook families and friends alike all debated on the color of this dress; even celebrities like Kim Kardashian-West, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber. The craze seemed to have began with a Tumblr posted by Caitlin McNeill, a member of the wedding band, who wanted feedback from followers after the dress was daunted at a Scottish wedding. So which set of colors was the dress, white and gold or blue and black? It was confirmed by the company that the dress was indeed blue and black!

Some were extremely surprised by the confirmation of the dress’ actual color to be blue and black. People wondered how it could be blue and black when they surely saw white and gold while others were for certain the entire time that it was blue and black. The question that everyone did have was HOW?! If the dress was really blue and black how could people possibly see white and gold? Some wondered if it were an optical illusion or were they going color blind? It just didn’t make sense.

The reasoning behind people seeing the dress differently goes to none other than…SCIENCE! It’s all about color perception and brain function with the eyes. When color is perceived there are a total of five different factors that affect the way that one sees color: 1) the material of the dress/the pigments contained/how much light is reflected, 2) the illumination in which the light the dress is seen in, 3) color constancy, 4) the sensor involved in viewing the dress, and the variant that determined how individuals perceived the color 5) each individuals retinal sensors and brains.

Despite the fact that the dress can be viewed either white and gold or blue and black is crazy, but the real incredible phenomena is that it’s not as uncommon as the popularity from social media made it seem. People view colors differently all of the time. It’s like when you and your friend go shopping and you find this sexy red dress, but your friend says it looks coral to her and you look at her and the dress all kinds of crazy thinking no this dress is red! Simple and subtle instances of this “dress distress” happen almost all of the time.


Social media took this dress’ popularity to an entirely different level. Once people actually found the original dress from Roman Originals for 50 pounds it sold out by Friday morning after the post went viral Thursday night. 300 dresses were sold within the first 30 minutes after the debate started. The Creative Director of Roman Originals, Ian Johnson told NBC News that on the #TheDress page of their website selling the original dress alone had about a million views. He even mentioned possible creating an Internet inspired version of the blue and black dress that is white and gold.

If you haven’t seen the original picture of the dress yet, look. Which set of colors do you see? White and gold or blue and black?


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