You’ve all probably seen and read about “the dress,” or the color constancy phenomenon than not only launched a viral reaction but promoted a special edition of The Journal of Vision. Of course, we are going to include this in our new editions of Discovering Behavioral Neuroscience and Discovering Psychology: The Science of Mind, right? Well, not so fast! Both permissions teams at Cengage ran into a brick wall. Although people share images all over the Internet, the rules for publishers’ use of images are really strict. We couldn’t get anything, even the advertisement for the dress by its maker, Roman Originals in the UK. Wikipedia has a line art graphic that supposedly illustrates the point, but yuck. So what to do?

Well, enter eBay as our savior! Going online, I found two versions of “the Dress” in what I hoped might be something close to my size. One came with the original labels, so I thought that was a safe bet. When the dress arrived, my first thought was “who would wear this to a wedding,” and my second thought was that I am SO going to wear this thing to WPA this year!

My husband knows his way around photography, having actually taken a very personal interest in ads he developed for Nestle and Mars in the day, and he understood the mission. So we walked around the house trying to recreate the image that caused the illusion. We didn’t want to just Photoshop it–that’s cheating! Finally, Roger took a photo in front of our bookcase in the living room that is flanked by two big windows. Voila! The illusion recreated!

What’s really surprising is how blue and black this dress really is! I still see it at blue and brown–I’m one of apparently about 11% who persist in that view.

I’m not sure that we still won’t get in trouble for our image–it’s that close. I thought it WAS the original image until Roger pointed out “there’s your watch and you hold your fingers in a funny way like that all the time….” I didn’t know about the latter.

We have ended up taking quite a few images for our textbooks. Getting permissions for images is not only difficult, but expensive. So by taking this one for the books, it’s not only free, but we had a bit of fun with it.