Dopamine Dressing: Can Clothes Really Be The Source Of Our Happiness?

Izzy Rodney

You’re probably sitting there wondering: what on earth is dopamine dressing? As a newly predicted trend in 2022, it involves dressing in clothes that will help boost your mood. How true is this? Can clothes really be the source of our happiness? Izzy Rodney discusses.

The term was first coined by Dr Dawn Karen, an American Fashion psychologist, who studies how colour, image, style, shape and beauty can affect human behaviour. Dr Karen has two concepts known as ‘Mood Illustration Dress’ and ‘Mood Enhancement Dress’. They came about after she suffered a sexual assault and as a result was suffering from depression and anxiety.

The Mood Enhancement Dress, aka Dopamine dressing, was a concept that she found when researching opioid addiction. She explains that people are not addicted to opioids themselves but rather the chemical that is released in the brain when taking them: Dopamine. The Mood Illustration Dress known as ‘Serotonin Dressing’ is more for when you are in a calm state of mind.

It has been found through research that brighter colours can elicit more positive emotions

Dopamine is a chemical found naturally in the human body. It is a neurotransmitter, meaning it sends signals from the body to the brain. Dopamine plays a part in controlling the movements a person makes, as well as their emotional responses. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing.’

It was during the pandemic that Dr Karen prescribed one of her clients (who was battling depression after several of her patients died from Covid-19) to wear anything yellow in order to boost levels of dopamine – our pleasure neurotransmitter.

Similar to writing a prescription for medication, this was now a prescription for clothes. As a result of prescribing the colour yellow to her patient, they reported that not only did they feel ‘immensely better but it had lifted her up, out of her depression’. It has been found through research that brighter colours can elicit more positive emotions.

She highlighted that ?“Yellow is the number one colour which represents happiness, joy and hope. I would add that this is based on individuality. One person may be drawn to a colour as a child. What was their happy colour as a child? This could also have been a favourite print or texture.” Other popular colours for Dopamine Dressing include purple, pink, green and blue.

It is not about wearing the next ‘must have’ but rather about one’s individuality and the joy that it brings

Dr Karen suggests that from the moment we wake up, we should do a self-reflection on how we feel whether that be angry, sad, happy or excited. By invoking mindfulness, it will help us determine how we feel and want to feel and allow us to dress according to our mood. She suggests that we should also never wear our pajamas for longer than three days as pajamas are usually worn when one is in a calm, lower intensity mood and so if you are already depressed, they could make your mood even lower!

Demi Colleen, a beauty blogger, highlights that she used to hate anything pink and would only ever dress in black for years. But now her mindset has changed, with pink becoming her favourite colour. With her own trending hashtag #demisdopaminedressing, she has been spreading awareness about this upcoming trend and how everyone should be involved. She said that it is not about wearing the next ‘must have’ but rather about one’s individuality and the joy that it brings to that person.

It is most likely that the majority of us wake up, go to our wardrobes and just grab the easiest or most comfortable piece of clothing – unless going out! I know for myself I will often be unconscious of what I am choosing to wear simply because I am either in a rush or I am not really spending too much time on deciding what I would like to wear. However, there are three essential questions (that Dr Karen tells us to reflect on) that we should ask ourselves when getting to the root of why we wear certain things:

  1. Are you wearing this item to hide yourself, to bury something that you do not want to come to the surface?
  2. Are you wearing something to validate someone else?
  3. Or are you wearing something to validate yourself?

I think that what is most important, which the psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo sums up quite well, is that It is not about the colour per se, but rather what you associate with that colour. So, whilst it is recommended to wear bright colours such as red, orange, yellow and pink, it is all about what makes you comfortable and your personal preference!

Happy Dopamine Dressing everyone!

Izzy Rodney

Featured image courtesy of Charles Etoroma via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @demicolleen via No changes were made to this image.

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