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Dress launches international debate

Dress launches international debate

Thursday 11 June 2015

Take a look at the dress on the right in the image above. What do you see? Well you may be surprised to hear that some people see the dress as gold and white, while others see it as black and blue. And the debate has gone worldwide…

But you won’t be as surprised as 21-year-old Caitlin McNeil (pictured above) who posted the image on social media site Tumblr. Within hours of innocently posting the image, “The Big Dress Debate” went viral and literally swept the virtual globe. Among those who joined the social media frenzy were mega-star singers Taylor Swift and Kanye West, and media personality Kim Kardashian.

But why the confusion? It’s largely because the human brain has developed a “colour constancy” system to ensure that we all perceive colours in the same way. This perceptive “hard-wiring” dictates how we process the colours we see even when there is a varying amount of light. An example would be looking at a blue car, which appears the same colour whether we view it in full sunlight or in the shade. Scientists tell us that because of this, the surroundings of an object influence our perception of colour.

Which brings us back to the dress. So what colour are its surroundings? Some “see” the dress in a blue-lit room, whilst others perceive it as being photographed in artificial yellow light. If for you the background is blue, your brain removes the blue hue from the image, which leaves it gold and white. Alternatively, if the background is yellow, your brain sees the gold as light catching the texture of the black lace and your eyes will not filter out the blue, leaving you looking at a blue and black dress. Such is the fascinating visual fabric of life…


  1. Mirror: Singer who posted two colour dress picture says it's 'mental' how it went viral.


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