The Real Story Behind #TheDress

Trending stories take over your newsfeeds and your life. What's the real story though, behind one of the internet's most popular phenomena, the Dress?

How did it all start?

How did it all start?quinntheislander /

It was supposed to just be dress shopping for Grace Johnston's special day—no one knew what it would eventually become. Her mother, Cecilia Bleasdale, found the now legendary dress at Roman Originals in England's Cheshire Oaks mall. When she purchased the dress, Bleasdale was under the belief that "the Dress" was blue and black. Johnston disagreed, having seen the dress via text, and argued it was gold and white. There the legend began.

Different Views

Different Viewsswiked/Tumblr ; Cecilia Bleasdale

Even though her partner, Paul Jinks, had seen the dress in person and even held it, he also saw the dress in the photo as white and gold. The younger Phoebe agreed with her mother, seeing the dress as blue and black.

Others Weigh In

Others Weigh InStockSnap /

Grace was the first one to share the dress with the world, in a way. She sent it to some of her friends on Facebook, though it was meant to be private.

The Dress Goes Live

The Dress Goes LiveStockSnap /

Though no one referred to the dress on Grace's special day, her friend, Caitlin McNeill, was still mulling over it. It wasn't long before she posted the photo to her Tumblr.

The Day the Virtual World Changed

The Day the Virtual World Changedcuncon /

Feb. 27 is the day that it all became a sensation. Jinks remembers, "That Friday, me and Phoebe were just watching the internet, sitting here looking at each other going, 'This is bizarre, this.'" Bleasdale actually didn't realize the significance of it all until later than most people as she was working.

Showing It to the World

Showing It to the WorldGetty Images

"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" was one of the first to hop on the Dress bandwagon, and by the end of the day, Bleasdale and Jinks were set to appear on her show in Los Angeles. As it was an exclusive, they had to keep it confidential.

It's Buzzing

It's Buzzing@catesish/Twitter

Cates Holderness, BuzzFeed's Tumblr editor, can take credit for bringing the famous photo to mainstream media through an article she wrote almost immediately. History suggests that viral stories ebb and flow. The Dress defied trends though, and has been equated to "a vertical wall" by the site's Chief Technology Officer, Mark Wilkie.

Taking the World By Storm

Taking the World By StormUnsplash /

Between its posting on Thursday, Feb. 26, around 6 p.m. ET, and 11 a.m. the next morning, the BuzzFeed article had garnered 26.5 million views. To date, it's acquired over 37 million.

Living the Life

Living the Lifewebstep /

The trip to DeGeneres' show was essentially an all-expenses-paid vacation in Los Angeles. It was announced that the show would be paying for a hefty second honeymoon for Grace, and the couple was given a few thousand dollars in cash: $10,000 to be exact. The family was also given specially made undergarments: half of which were white and gold, and the other half blue and black.

Pros and Cons

Pros and ConsMeditations /

Even though it wasn't her dress that went viral, Grace and her husband perhaps got the most out of the phenomenon. Roman Originals and the websites associated with the trend, BuzzFeed, Twitter, and Tumblr all benefitted plenty. Bleasdale and Jinks, on the other hand, can't claim the same. They avoided the media frenzy, as people weren't really focusing on them, but what they owned.



Most people probably believe the owner of the original photograph and dress would be knee-deep in money by now. After all, this is "the Dress" we're talking about. Bleasdale does own the copyright to the original photographer, though she was not initially approached, let alone given appropriate credit by McNeill or BuzzFeed. Ironically, it was the latter two who saw the potential of the Dress' appeal.

Losing Money

Losing MoneyOpenRoadPR /

Bleasdale and Jinks have since contacted lawyers so as to help them in getting payments for the royalties. The money they've earned thus far though hasn't really helped them do much other than pay off said lawyers. Bleasdale works in social services and the trip she took time off for actually resulted in her losing money.

The Science Behind It

The Science Behind ItInkuuz /

Why does everyone see a different version of the same dress? Well, it has to do with color perception, which Bleasdale and Jinks have since taken the time to study.

What They Did and Didn't Get

What They Did and Didn't GetSCY /

Even though the dress' internet fame is likely the main reason Roman Originals has sold out of it, the store didn't thank Bleasdale quite in the way she'd hoped. Though they did offer her a dress for free, that was where it ended. Bleasdale and Grace even experienced "a bit of a falling out" and "were both very, very upset about it, because [they're] very close." Though everything has since been repaired between them, they now avoid discussing the phenomenon. The jury is still out on whether BuzzFeed will be lending Bleasdale some of its thanks too; lawyers are still involved.

Where #thedress is Now

Where #thedress is NowPexels /

It's remained virtually untouched since that trip to California, as Bleasdale is still deciding what to do with it now. At one point, there was discussion of an auction, though this has sort of fallen through. Whether it will live out its days in Bleasdale's closet or immortalized somewhere other than the internet, remains to be seen.

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