Let’s be honest, you probably know what these colours mean. That dress has had the world at each other’s throats on the discovery that we perceive colour perception differently. Once again, human differences tear us apart. If only this picture had never been shared…. Alas. We move on.

But let’s be real here, regardless if you saw the white-gold it has been confirmed by the dress owner that the garment is, in fact, blue and black. But lets talk about what’s important- that is, why this is important.

But, that doesn’t mean your eyes are suddenly betraying you. Honestly, it’s all to do with retinal cone cells. I’m no biologist, so read this if you’re interested. And, if we were to ask someone who is, which I did, you might get a similar answer.

“Based on the data presented, my suspicion is it’s an example of top-down processing whereby we see what we expect to see – as in optical illusions where two squares of the same colour different due to the colours surrounding them. Depending on the environment you expect the dress is in, you will see it differently. If you thought it was an artificially lit room then you’ll see it as blue and black, as your brain will remove the yellow light of artificial bulbs.”

[Answer courtesy of my brother, who is a medical student]

It’s intensely fascinating to look at the science behind our colour perceptions. Not only has this image brought to attention the fact we do see colours differently, but that we see them so very differently that people are seeing black as gold and blue as white. As someone who saw black-blue immediately, I can’t even imagine the shock for people realising it’s actual colour. Even more, I can’t even imagine how people have felt when seeing the dress change colour before their eyes.

What I really want to know, is if there are other images like this we just aren’t aware of? I would be so excited to discover other images where colours change so dramatically for so many people. There are images of the world through the eyes of people with various types of colour-blindness, imagine seeing images of the world through the eyes of people who see black-blue or white-gold.

The implications of this social awareness is massive and really worth paying attention to. How many of your family members see the same as you? Are people seeing other variations? I’ve heard of at least two people swearing the dress is purple.

Whatever people may be saying about us getting highly excitable about the colour of a dress, I fully enforce exploring who sees what and why this may be.

Let us step forwards into this colour-variant future!


3 thoughts on “White-Black-Gold-Blue!

  1. Kyaru March 1, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    I Googled the dress as soon as I read the first few sentences and saw white and gold >.< That's beside the point though. What's really fascinating is the impact this could have in the fashion world.

    This is a great test. I'll have my (incidentally color-blind) DH take a look at the dress tomorrow.


    • dreamlikeacharm March 1, 2015 / 9:53 pm

      It is amazingly interesting. It’s very much to do with the lighting and I’d like to see how this influences art such as photography and film.
      Incidentally, I have also asked a friend of mine who is colourblind and they replied black-blue as well.


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