Scientific Explanation Behind The Dress

Interesting facts

Why some people see the dress as blue and black, and some as gold and white?

Unless you have been living under the rock, you heard about “the dress”. It has been a long time since Internet split into two parts and argue over something small as a dress. Either you or someone around said that this dress is white and gold, it is wrong. The dress is blue and black. But why people can see different colours? As usual, science has the answer.

However, there is a good news and also bad news. The good news is – there is nothing wrong with you, if you see the dress as white and gold. Bad news? You will never be able to trust your brain again. Why? Because neuroscience professor Bevil Conway said, that first time we see the object, we tend to think that the color is automatic. But that is not true. Colour, as we see it, depends on whole a lot of contextual factors. 

These factors can be different. Sunlight changes the colour during day, so our brain interpret colours with shadows differently. Take this example – in the early morning you are standing in the kitchen, peeling banana for your breakfast. The banana might appear little bit orangey, because it reflects early sunlight. During a bright day it could adopt an almost blue tinge. Because we need to survive, the brain needs to know that the banana is yellow and ripe, no matter what colour looks like.


Professor Conway also said that the dress has perfect balance between orange and blue. This is the reason why some people see the dress as blue and black and some as white and gold. If your brain focus on the orange side of the dress – you see it as a blue and black. If you ignore that orange side – it is white and gold. 

“Your brain doesn’t like o be told ‘I don’t know what it is’. So instead what your brain says is, ‘Out of all the options, pick one and I’m going to run with it.’ And in this case, both of the options are equally valid,” said professor Conway.

Still confused? This might help you understand better. This is illustration by Randall Munroe, author of the webcomic XKCD.


You need to interpret the picture as a dark dress with bright orangey light, so you wil be able to see it as a black and blue. This is the case, when your brain ignores the orange to see the “true” blue colour of the dress. But if you think, that the dress is under blue light, you will clearly say, that the dress is white and gold.

Wired did analysis, and according to them, the colours on the dress are shades of blue and dark golden brown on the original picture, which is in the centre. The dress on the right side is the closest to the actual, real life colours of the dress. Still not convinced? Check out the original picture of the dress.


Wired analyzed the dress, source

It is possible to bluff you brain with a little bit of concentration. It works similar as spinning dancer animation. What did you see, when you saw that picture of the dress for the first time? Was it blue and black or white and gold?

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Michaela Miklusak

Michaela Miklusak is deputy editor of and big technology enthusiast. Michaela now lives in Singapore, where she studies System Engineering and Informatics.

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