#TheDress, also known as What Color Is This Dress?, refers to a Tumblr post in which viewers were asked to identify the color of a dress, which appeared to be either white and gold or black and blue. The question sparked an Internet-wide debate in late February 2015, launching the competing hashtags "#WhiteAndGold" and "#BlackAndBlue."
On February 25th, 2015, Tumblr user swiked posted a photograph of a dress asking the science side of Tumblr to help identify its colors, noting that her friends were torn between it being white and gold or black and blue. Within 48 hours, the post gained over 400,000 notes.
On February 26th, BuzzFeed posted a poll asking readers to decide what color the dress really was. Within 10 hours the poll received more than 1.8 million votes, with 72% selecting "white and gold" (shown below).
Later that evening, BuzzFeed published a second post revealing that the dress was actually blue after finding it available for purchase on United Kingdom-based online retailer Roman Originals, which listed it as a "Royal-Blue Lace Detail Bodycon Dress" (shown below).
On February 27th, Redditor AskScienceModerator submitted a post about the dress to the /r/AskScience subreddit, where experts from a variety of fields offered explanations of the color perception phenomenon. In the first 12 hours, it gained over 2700 votes (84% upvoted), 3,600 comments and reached the front page of the social news site. Meanwhile, Redditor Sooprman posted an image of the Black and Blue Power Rangers to /r/Funny with the accompanying caption "The White Ranger / and Gold Ranger," garnering upwards of 3,000 votes (86% upvoted) in the first five hours (shown below).
On the same day, XKCD webcomic author, Randall Munroe, used his Friday update to illustrate the differences that background lighting effects had on the perception of the dress' color and included the following statement as the comic's alt-text:
“This white-balance illusion hit so hard because it felt like someone had been playing through the Monty Hall scenario and opened their chosen door, only to find there was unexpectedly disagreement over whether the thing they’d revealed was a goat or a car.”
In the coming days, several news sites published articles about the dress debate, including Gawker, Wired, CNBC, Business Insider, Mashable and Time. Several celebrities also commented on the dress on Twitter including Taylor Swift, Melissa Joan Hart, Kim Kardashian, Anna Kendrick, Ellen DeGeneres and many more.
On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, users chimed in on the color of the garment using the hashtag "#TheDress," with the opposing sides using the accompanying hashtags "#WhiteAndGold" or "#BlackAndBlue." Within 12 hours, #TheDress had reached over 400,000 tweets, and #WhiteAndGold lead with a ratio of 3:1 tweets over #BlackAndBlue. By the end of 24 hours, tweets containing #TheDress had jumped to over 1.2 million while the competing sides maintained a similar ratio.
Many experts have cited the color constancy feature of the human color perception system, which attempts to make colors appear consistent under varying types of illumination, as being responsible for the different colors identified in the photograph. If the viewer assumes a white illuminant, the dress appears blue and black, but if a blue illuminant is assumed, the dress appears white and gold.
#StopAbuseAgainstWomen Twitter Ad
On March 6th, 2015, the Twitter feed for the South African branch of The Salvation Army posted an advertisement made by the creative agency Ireland/Davenport as part a "#StopAbuseAgainstWomen" campaign, which featured a battered woman wearing a white and gold dress with the caption "Why is it so hard / to see black and blue" (shown below). In less than 24 hours, the tweet gained over 7,300 retweets and 3,200 favorites.
That morning, ABC News published an interview with Ireland/Davenport creative director Wihan Meerhloz, who stated that the agency was attempting to use the meme's popularity to raise awareness about abuse against women:
"We wanted to take advantage of the hype of the meme to spread awareness for something important. Our creative team brainstormed ways to send a greater message about overlooked abuse against women using the dress."
Meanwhile, Redditor DavidTheHumanzee posted the tweet to the /r/AdPorn subreddit, where it gathered upwards of 400 votes (87% upvoted) in the first seven hours. In the coming days, several news sites published articles about the ad, including The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and The Daily Dot.
On July 8th, 2015, Twitter user @totallymendes tweeted a photograph of a woman's high-heeled shoe next to two bottles of nail polish in different shades of violet, asking “which color matches the shoe best?” (shown below). Within a week, the tweet gained over 9,000 favorites and 8,200 retweets.
The same day, Twitter users began debating which nail polish color matched the shoe with the hashtag #TheShoe, with many comparing the image to #TheDress (shown below). According to the Twitter analytics site Topsy, the hashtag was mentioned more than 62,500 times over the next week.
On July 10th, the science news blog Inside Science published an article explaining the optical illusion, claiming that people who fail to see two different color bottles lacked "the peripheral color vision to reliably distinguish between the two shades." Additionally, the article contained an analysis of the RGB values in the image, which determined that the shoe's hue was slightly closer to the polish on the right (shown below).
What Color Is This Purse?
Echoes of #TheDress occurred on October 4th, 2016, when @whyofcorso posted a picture of a Kate Spade purse she had just bought.
User @Mr_Bingo_Little commented "White. Daring." to which @whyofcorso replied that the bag was blue, sparking discussion on whether the bag is white or blue. Though the bag is confirmed to be "mystic blue," debate ensued as Twitter users argued and made jokes about the color of the bag. The controversy became a Twitter moment the next day. That day, it was covered by The Daily Dot and Mic.
Yanny or Laurel
Yanny or Laurel refers to the debate surrounding an audio clip of a voice saying a word. Some people claim they hear the word "Yanny" and others the word "Laurel." The debate about the clip spread in a similar fashion to #TheDress.
2023 Twitter Resurgence
On February 26th, 2023, one day after the eight-year anniversary of the original dress post, Twitter user MUNCHRIH tweeted an image of the same dress halfway in the sunlight and half in the shade, showing the two variants discussed in the initial internet debate. Over the course of 24 hours, the tweet received over 21.1 million views, 216,000 likes, 16,000 retweets and 11,000 quote retweets, subsequently going viral and causing a resurgence in "Dressgate" that day (shown below).
 The Guardian – The Dress meme adapted for #StopAbuseAgainstWomen ad
 The Daily Dot – This purse is definitely not white, but don't tell Twitter that