As someone who struggles with mental health issues like depression and anxiety, I often find comfort in color. Not only do I have bright pink hair, but also a vibrant colored wardrobe. Whether that’s with workout clothes or dresses, having a pop of color always makes me feel a bit better.
Well, it seems like I’m not the only one who feels this way. “Dopamine Dressing,” a fashion trend that involves wearing certain colors to boost your mood or feel a certain way, went viral on TikTok. Fashion influencers were quick to hop on the trend, and now you can too.
Since I’m not a psychology expert, I chatted with Shakaila Forbes-Bell, fashion psychologist, consultant and author of Big Dress Energy, and Kimberly Mayhew, professional stylist and CEO of House of Colour to get their expertise on the “Dopamine Dressing” trend, how it works, and why you might want to try it.
What is Dopamine Dressing?
Let’s start with the basics: What is dopamine dressing? Here’s what the experts have to say.
“Dopamine dressing is dressing with bright colors in a way that positively impacts your mood,” says Mayhew. “Once you find a color you love to wear and compliments your natural features, you will start to notice a continued cheerful and confident mood the more you wear it, which in turn draws positive attention from others.”
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As someone who has dopamine dressed before it was a trend, I can say that Mayhew has a point. I’m a pink enthusiast and love the color pink whether that’s with my hair color or activewear. Whenever I wear pink, I feel empowered, happy, and confident.
However, there’s a bit more science to dopamine dressing than that.
“Dopamine dressing incorporates two theories in fashion psychology: what I’ve dubbed ‘wearapy’ and enclothed cognition,” says Forbes-Bell. “Wearapy is the practice of using clothes as a tool to help you boost your mood, confront your feelings and successfully navigate different emotional states. The subsequent emotional experience, mood and behavioral change is a type of enclothed cognition. Enclothed cognition is the finding that we embody the meaning we attach to clothes which in turn, influences our feelings and behavior.”
Forbes-Bell continues by harping on the point that dopamine dressing is the act of using clothing as a tool (wearapy) to help alleviate negative emotions and improve your well-being (enclothed cognition).
“When you wear an outfit and experience a boost, that feeling is linked to the chemical dopamine that mediates pleasure in the brain,” she says. “It takes place in the ventral tegmental area and is then released into the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex.”
What is the Psychology Behind Colors?
You might know in a basic sense that blue and green promote relaxation and red incites energy, but there is a bit more to color psychology than that.
“When you wear long-wavelength colors like red, orange or yellow, your sympathetic system becomes activated. As a result, you feel more sociable, extraverted, and energetic because you’re responding to your body telling you that it’s time to get the party started. That’s why long wavelength colors are linked to more active emotions,” says Forbes-Bell. “On the other hand, short-wavelength colors like blue, purple and certain shades of green have the opposite effect, activating the parasympathetic system which tells you to take it easy.”
Ready to Try Out Dopamine Dressing for Yourself?
While on the subject of dopamine dressing, POPFLEX’s latest Neon Garden collection is full of colorful options with greens, apricots, creams, and navies designed to evoke certain emotions.
Greens: creates a sense of calm, serenity, growth, renewal, soothing
Citrus (apricot): cheerfulness, energizing, bright, creates a warm mood
Navy: confidence, power, security, the most flattering color on all skin types
Cream: pure, provides comfort, encourages new ideas
Shop my “wearapy” active look: I paired POPFLEX’s Green Rose Corset Shorts with the Plié Sports Bralette — a combination of matcha and apricot, for a matching set that’ll help promote feelings of serenity and/or cheerfulness both before, during, and after a workout. This set is great for low-impact exercises like pilates and yoga with its buttery nylon-spandex blend that moves with you and feels like a second layer of skin.
If you’re looking for other pieces to hop on the dopamine dressing trend, here are some of our favorites that you can shop:
Slip on this ravishing red dress as you head out on your summer adventures whether that’s on vacation or date. With an A-line cut and removable belt, this dress provides a flattering silhouette for many body shapes and cinches right at the waist. Plus, its sleeveless design allows for a cool breeze when the heat kicks in.
Activate your parasympathetic system in this Twirl-worthy active dress. A perfect all-in-one ‘fit for a relaxing day on the court!
If bold, vibrant looks are a little intimidating, this skirt is a great piece to ease your way in. Easy to pair, while still boosting a soft green hue to boost extra cheerfulness into your day.
Maybe tinted sunglasses are the ultimate Dopamine Dressing hack — transforming everyone around you into brainwave-activating colors. I love these by Free People, with the soft yellow helping me feel more sociable and energetic.
Forget pre workout when you have these bright, energetic shoes. The Lemon Ice color is the perfect pop of neon, without being too bold.
Rock your cute high pony in this running cap. The lightweight performance fabric will keep you cool on your run, while the lavender shade keeps you grounded.
Dopamine dressing isn’t only for clothes, but the same principle can be applied to makeup. This eyeshadow palette from Anastasia Beverly Hills features 25 vibrant and shimmery shades for your next beauty transformation.