The Weekly Journal | Health

By Yenia Hernandez Fonseca - April 16, 2022



Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

It’s official: dopamine dressing is the ultimate fashion trend of 2022. 

In essence, this popular trend is based on the idea that certain vibrant sensory inputs—such as colours, textures, and shapes—can fire off high levels of dopamine in our brain. Think of how you feel wearing your favorite leather jacket, your fail-proof Ruby Woo lipstick, or the insane party heels you wore at your best friend’s wedding in Cabo. All things that make the brain zing involve dopamine.

To understand this phenomenon, we must first understand how dopamine works in the body.

What is dopamine?

Known as the “happy hormone,” dopamine is the feel-good chemical that acts as a messenger between the nerve cells in our brain. Dopamine influences our mood, focus, and our willingness to perform any tasks. 

For instance, low levels of dopamine are linked to reduced motivation and decreased enthusiasm, therefore routine activities like work, exercise, or even meeting up with friends can be difficult to take on. On the other hand, high levels of dopamine lead to feelings of happiness and well-being.

While it’s technically impossible to get addicted to dopamine, we can certainly become over-reliant to anything that increases our dopamine levels. 

Dress smart, dress happy

Much like what makes you feel good, clothes have the power to give you an instant dopamine boost. The link between perception and clothing explains the significant role that our wardrobe plays in our lives. The clothes we wear affect our mood, how we act and how we think. 

This apparent “new” approach in dressing is actually older than you think. Fashion psychologists have conducted studies on dopamine dressing as early as 2012 but this mindful practice started to trend en masse post-pandemic. What started as a way to inject some joy into our lives during lockdown, dopamine dressing is predicted to remain atop in the sartorial spectrum.

While research on colour suggests that certain hues have a direct impact on our mood, dopamine dressing doesn't necessarily mean you have to drench yourself in neons and out-there patterns. 

For starters, the context of each colour is ultimately subjective, meaning that we make up individual emotional connections with each colour. Highlight oranges and electric greens may give your extroverted friend a dopamine high, but your introverted self might feel “seen” and uncomfortable—not happy. 

Second, fashion is actually more anecdotal than you think. Dopamine dressing is strictly related to our life experiences. What makes us feel good is as individual as we are and depends on the symbolic associations we’ve given to clothes based on our unique psychological make-up. This is why you feel a little off wearing something you don’t consider your style. 

Simply put, our clothes have mind altering properties. Surely, you’ve heard “dress for the job you want” or “dress for the person you want to be” at some point in your life. And while this is easier said than done, wearing certain outfits loaded with certain meanings can definitely make us see ourselves differently. Wearing a black leather jacket can either make you feel like either Lou Reed or The Weeknd – it’s all up to you! Remember: only self-knowledge and personal style can define your own idea of happiness. 

Green evokes grounded and soothing feelings so adding this colour in places like a living room or the kitchen where many people usually gather together is highly suggested. Deep greens are elegant and mystical. A sophisticated emerald backdrop in the office-slash-workspace in your home will capture the desire for escape and imagination.

Even though retail therapy is a real concept, we don’t suggest buying everything off the rack—look no further than your own wardrobe for happiness and confidence. Remember how the dress you wore on your first date made you feel? Or the Yankees cap you bought on your first trip to NYC? Take notice of which clothes you feel best in and find the common threads to trigger that dopamine hit you’re craving for.
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