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It's Been Five Years Since #TheDress Divided The Entire Internet

Tom Wood

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It's Been Five Years Since #TheDress Divided The Entire Internet

Five years ago today, the internet became aware of an item of clothing that would forever change the way everyone felt about the information their own eyes were giving them.

We're talking, of course, about the dress.

What started as a simple argument between family on a remote Scottish island ballooned into a worldwide news story that sent the entirety of the internet into a collective s***storm.

Given the nature of the argument, and considering the arguments that occur online on a daily basis nowadays, we could all use a trip back to a simpler time - 26 February 2015.


It begins with a wedding.

Grace and Keir Johnston, a couple from Colonsay, in Scotland's Inner Hebrides, were the lucky couple. Ahead of their nuptials, the mother of the bride, called Cecilia Bleasdale, took a photograph of a dress she was considering wearing for the big day.

Blue and black? Credit: Tumblr
Blue and black? Credit: Tumblr

The problem was, when people looked at it some people thought it was blue and black, and others thought it was white and gold.


Before the argument kicks off again, there is an actual answer - it's blue and black, folks.

One of the couple's friends, a musician called Caitlin McNeill, was responsible for sending the message to Tumblr, where it was noticed by Cates Holderness, a journalist for Buzzfeed.

That's were things started to get out of control.

In modern parlance, it blew up.


According to Tumblr's director of data Tom Christ, it was receiving 840,000 views per minute at the peak of the hysteria.

Or white and gold? Credit: Tumblr
Or white and gold? Credit: Tumblr

That's before we get to the thousands of tweets and Facebook posts about it. ,

After the fact, Holderness wrote: "The most interesting thing to me, is that it travelled.


"It went from New York media circle-jerk Twitter to international. And you could see it in my Twitter notifications because people started having conversations in, like, Spanish and Portuguese and then Japanese and Chinese and Thai and Arabic.

"It was amazing to watch this move from a local thing to, like, a massive international phenomenon."

Inevitably - at least for anyone who has seen Don't F*** With Cats, anyway - the internet sleuths found their answer.

The dress was identified as a royal blue 'Lace Bodycon Dress' made by a company called Roman Originals.


Within hours it had sold out.

It actually comes in a variety of other colours, but - crucially - none of those alternatives are white and gold.

As for a scientific explanation of why different folks were seeing different shades, there actually isn't a specific one. All we have are good theories.

In a WIRED article from exactly five years ago, Bevil Conway - an artist and Harvard-educated neuroscientist specialising in colour perception - said: "What's happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you're trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis.

"So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black."

Anyway, wasn't that a nice journey down memory lane? We could all use more stories like this on the internet today.

Featured Image Credit: Tumblr

Topics: World News, Interesting, Weird

Tom Wood
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