What Color Is This Dress?!: The Viral Dress That Nobody Can Confirm What Color Combination It Is

what color is this dress
 
There is something really weird going on in Tumblr now. There's a huge debate about the colors of the dress pictured above and nobody can confirm the actual color combination of the dress. What colors do you see the dress as?
 
Some see the dress as blue and black, while the other half sees it as white and gold. Me on the other hand, I see it as blue and gold. What is this trippiness?!
 
The picture was posted on Tumblr by a 21-year-old singer named Caitlin McNeill who resides on the tiny Scottish island of Colonsay. McNeill explained that the dress was worn to her friends' wedding by the bride's mother. McNeill and her friends realized that there was something weird about the dress when her friends and her couldn't agree on what color combination it is.
 
“What happened was two of my close friends were actually getting married and the mother of the bride took a photo of the dress to send to her daughter,” McNeill explained. “When my friend showed the dress to her fiancee, they disagreed on the color.”
 
The bride then posted the picture on Facebook and her friends continued to debate the color of the dress.
 
“All of our friends disagreed,” McNeill said.
 
After seeing the Facebook thread, McNeill decided to share the picture on a fan page she has on Tumblr dedicated to a woman named Sarah Weichel (talent manager who represents famous YouTubers) to get answers from the public. That’s where the dress went viral.
 
Some Tumblr responses have even said that the colors of the dress changed in front of their very eyes from gold and white to blue and black and the other way around.
 
OMG SO WHAT COLOR IS IT ALREADY? AND WHY DOES EVERYONE SEE IT DIFFERENTLY? Let's ask science.
 
Wired asked their photo and design team to do a little work with the image in Photoshop, to uncover the actual red-green-blue composition of a few pixels. They figured that that would answer the question of the colors of this dress.
 
what color is this dress
 
The picture above tells us that the places some people see as blue do indeed track as blue. But that probably has more to do with the background than the actual color. “Look at your RGB values. R 93, G 76, B 50. If you just looked at those numbers and tried to predict what color that was, what would you say?” said Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College.
 
So looking at the colors deduced by photoshop, one would say it's kind of orange-y.
 
“Right,” says Conway. “But you’re doing this very bad trick, which is projecting those patches on a white background. Show that same patch on a neutral black background and I bet it would appear orange.” He ran it through Photoshop, too, and now figures that the dress is actually blue and orange.
 
Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colors. The light hits the retina in the back of the eye where pigments fire up neural connections to the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes those signals into an image. Critically, though, that first burst of light is made of whatever wavelengths are illuminating the world, reflecting off whatever you’re looking at. Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what color light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that color from the “real” color of the object. “Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance,” says Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington. “But I’ve studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I’ve ever seen.” (Neitz sees white and gold.) 
 
The thing here is that your brain tries to interpolate a kind of color context for the image and then vomits out an answer for the color of the dress. Neitz who sees the picture as a whole and thinks the dress is white and gold admits that the dress is probably blue.
 
“I actually printed the picture out,” he says. “Then I cut a little piece out and looked at it, and completely out of context it’s about halfway in between, not this dark blue color. My brain attributes the blue to the illuminant. Other people attribute it to the dress.”
 
“I initially thought it was white and gold,” says Neil Harris, Wired's senior photo editor. “When I attempted to white-balance the image based on that idea, though, it didn’t make any sense.” He saw blue in the highlights, telling him that the white he was seeing was blue, and the gold was black. And when Harris reversed the process, balancing to the darkest pixel in the image, the dress popped blue and black. “It became clear that the appropriate point in the image to balance from is the black point,” Harris says.
 
what color is this dress
 
So when context varies, so will people's visual perception. “Most people will see the blue on the white background as blue,” Conway says. “But on the black background some might see it as white.” He even speculated, perhaps jokingly, that the white-gold prejudice favors the idea of seeing the dress under strong daylight. “I bet night owls are more likely to see it as blue-black,” Conway says.
 
Well... that didn't really answer the million-dollar question as to WHAT COLOR THIS DRESS REALLY IS. Some have found the original dress being sold on an online store with the exception of the jacket. BEHOLD:
 
                    what color is this dresswhat color is this dress
The dress on the left is called Royal-Blue Lace Detail Bodycon Dress.
 
The dress is blue with black lace.
 
And the dress comes in three other colors: Ivory and black, red and black, and pink and black.
 
                    what color is this dresswhat color is this dresswhat color is this dress
 
None of which are other color combinations.
 
DEBATE CONCLUDED! …. Or has it? I find it hard to believe that it is blue and black when no matter how hard I look at it, it is still blue and gold.
 
Share this article with your friends to find out what colors they see this dress as! Don't forget to post your answers in the comments below so we can further attempt to deduce the colors of this trippy dress.
 

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