Overheard in the CNN newsroom: “Choose your answer wisely. Our friendship hangs in the balance.”
Here and everywhere, people are debating the all-important question that has all but taken over Twitter and the Internet: What color is this dress?
Some see white and gold. Others see blue and black. There’s no middle ground.
The Great Dress Debate of 2015 began when a woman posted a picture of the polarizing garment to Tumblr and asked for help in identifying its colors. The dispute quickly spread Thursday night to Twitter, where people split into two camps: #teamblueandblack and #teamwhiteandgold.
By Friday, everyone seemed to have an opinion on #TheDress.
Even Philadelphia police weighed in, tweeting: “WANTED: This dress to stop appearing in our feed (Even though we’d look simply ravishing in it) #BlueAndBlack.”
Now, before you get in a fistfight and turn someone’s arm black and blue, let’s settle the crucial question: The dress is black and blue. The company that makes it has confirmed its color scheme.
We can blame the Internet for trolling our collective retinas. But science plays a role as well.
“It has to do with the tiny cones in the back of our eyeballs that perceive colors in a slightly different way depending upon our genes,” explains CNN’s Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
“The cones in our retinas —- the fine layer of nerve tissue that lines the back of our eyes —- detect the blue, green, and red in an image. The cones and your brain mix those colors to make other colors.”
SCIENCE BEHIND THE DRESS
Before you strangle your best friend who sees the colors in the now-famous dress differently than you do, please know that there’s a scientific explanation.
It has to do with the tiny cones in the back of our eyeballs that perceive colors in a slightly different way depending upon our genes.
“Why do some people love cilantro and others say it tastes like soap? Why do some people have perfect pitch and others are tone deaf? It’s the same with vision —- our sensory apparatus is fine tuned,” says Dr. Julia Haller, the Opthalmologist-in-Chief at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.
The cones in our retinas —- the fine layer of nerve tissue that lines the back of our eyes —- detect the blue, green, and red in an image. The cones and your brain mix those colors to make other colors.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, we’ll see the same colors,” Haller says. “But the picture of this dress seems to have tints that hit the sweet spot that’s confusing to a lot of people.”
The very top section of the dress appears gold to some people, but black to others.
This makes sense to Haller.
“One of the typical color confusions we see is blue/yellow,” she says. “So perhaps in this dress, the black has a bit of blue and the gold has a bit of yellow.”
For the record, Haller sees the dress as gold and white. But Dr. Anne Hanneken, an opthalmologist at the Scripps Research Institute in in La Jolla, California who’s attending a conference with Haller, sees it as black and blue.
“She’s looking at me right now like I’m nuts,” Haller says. “She says, ‘How could you possibly see it that way?’”
THE DRESS GOES VIRAL, SALES SKYROCKET 347%
A social media frenzy about the color of a dress is bringing fame and fortune for one small British fashion company.
The retailer, Roman, said sales of the outfit that sparked #TheDress debate soared 347% Friday.
Some people were convinced the dress was black and blue; others saw white and gold.
“I can officially confirm the color is royal blue with black trimming,” said Michelle Bastock, Roman’s fashion director, during a television interview with CNN’s Nina dos Santos.
Bastock, who wore the dress during her CNN interview, said she planned to start offering a white and gold version. It would take about six months to make it available.
Roman’s website was quickly changed to feature the hotly debated dress on the front of its homepage.
“We were really surprised and really happy… It’s just amazing,” Bastock said. “We’re really busy. All the team on the website are going crazy.”
Bastock said the website had been coping well with the surge in sales and online attention, and the company still has more dresses in stock.
“We still have plenty in stock,” she said. “Plenty to go around,” noting that the dress is available in other colors as well. It currently sells for £50 ($77).
Roman has 132 stores across the U.K. and has been expanding at a breakneck pace, said Bastock. The company is opening one new store each week.
The debate about dress colors was sparked after a Tumblr user named Swiked asked people for help in figuring out the dress’s true colors.