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Dress Photo Goes Viral Over Wild Debate About Its Colors

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In just a matter of hours on Thursday, February 26, #TheDress (along with #whiteandgold, #blackandblue, and #dressgate) was the big buzz on Twitter. A photo of an otherwise simple bodycon dress with lace overlay is driving the masses insane — because no one can agree on its actual color. Depending on the viewer, it appears either white with gold lace or blue with black lace. So which is it? And why are we seeing different colors?

This discussion could continue in perpetuity, so Wired broke down the science behind it all: as light reflecting off an object enters the eye, it registers the color of said object by translating the wavelengths (shorter wavelengths appear violet, indigo, and blue, while longer ones appear red, orange, and yellow). However, the light surrounding the object can trick your eye into thinking the object itself is a different color than it really is. This image contains a great amount of backlighting, so it naturally makes the dress appear darker (or brighter) than it really is, depending on how the individual viewer perceives the colors.

According to Wired’s color pigment analysis (and verification by the actual owner of the photo, a 21-year-old Scottish singer named Caitlin McNeill), the dress is — SPOILER ALERT! — blue and black. Wired factored in the background lighting, which plays a significant part in color perception.

Need a better explanation? Comic XKCD.com shows us here:

the dress
What colors do you see?

XKCD Dress Color

So there you have it. Now that you know this dress’s true colors, what do you see? Are you on Team White-and-Gold or Team Blue-and-Black? Sound off in the comments below.

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