Blue and Black or White and Gold? Dress Confuses Many; There’s a Possible Explanation

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
February 26, 2015 Updated: February 27, 2015

A dress being shared on social media sites has prompted an intense debate: Is it black and blue or white and gold? Who really cares?

A lot of people do, apparently, as evidenced by the 100 or so tweets per minute on the piece of clothing. If you’re curious, the dress photo originally popped up on Tumblr. According to, more than 76 percent of people thought the dress is white and gold, while 24 percent thought it is blue and black.

There’s an explanation for the madness, according to tweet that’s been circulating. 


Here’s the full text:

“Your eyes have retinas, the things that let you interpret color. There’s rods, round things, and cones that stick out, which is what gives your eye a texture appearance in the colored part. The “cones” see color. The “rods” see shade, like black, white and grey. Cones only work when enough light passes through. So while I see the fabric as white, someone else may see it as blue because my cones aren’t responding to the dim lighting. My rods see it as a shade (white). There’s three cones, small, medium and large. They are blue sensitive, green sensitive, and red sensitive.

As for the black bit (which I see as gold), it’s called additive mixing. Blue, green and red are the main colors for additive mixing. This is where it gets really tricky. Subtractive mixing, such as with paint, means the more colors you add the murkier it gets until its black. ADDITIVE mixing, when you add the three colors the eyes see best, red, green and blue, (not to be confused with primary colors red, blue and yellow) it makes pure white.

—Blue and Black: In conclusion, your retina’s cones are more high functioning, and this results in your eyes doing subtractive mixing.

—White and Gold: our eyes don’t work well in dim light so our retinas rods see white, and this makes them less light sensitive, causing additive mixing, (that of green and red), to make gold.”


Here’s another way to look at the image, according to an Epoch Times designer: “The colors in this photo were very far from a proper white balance. As an explanation, for what it’s worth, colors are by nature sympathetic. When white is next to a bright gold, the grays in the white will appear to lean towards blue, because blue is the compliment of gold. The same way if next to a certain purple, the grays will appear a certain green.”

This is what the dress looks like after it was corrected:


Just to show how much white balance matters, look at this picture of the White House. Or maybe we’ve been calling it by the wrong name all along?  


 This is what Photoshop tells us the color is.

Blue or White dress

  To add to the confusion, here are photos of the original dress in two of the four colors it sells in.

(Courtesy of Roman)
(Courtesy of Roman Originals)

Using Google’s reverse image search it seems like Google thinks the dress is blue.

Google similar images

Here’s a few choice tweets to elaborate on the the confusion:


And here’s the original Tumblr post:


 More Twitter confusion:




Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.