Dopamine Dressing – Can we dress for happiness?

Dopamine Dressing – Can we dress for happiness?

I got really into the idea of having a mix and match capsule wardrobe. A uniform. Although perhaps a bit less Steve Jobs and a bit more Waynetta Slob. For me that has meant plain leggings (in a colour other than black if I was making an effort or feeling wild) and a plain oversized t-shirt. I have worn this pretty much every day for the last two years. My life these days generally involves working from home and doing the school run. If I feel really fancy, I throw on a pair of jeans. But more often than not leggings and a t-shirt do the trick. Partly, it has felt wasteful to have a lot of clothes. Partly, I am at home so there is no expectation to look presentable. Partly, I have gained weight so real clothes are just that bit less comfortable than they used to be.

But is it good for my mental health? Perhaps not. So, I’ve been super interested to see the new trend for Dopamine Dressing sweep over Instagram. After two years of loungewear. Two years of feeling out of control, people are starting to sit up and say they want more joy. I know I do.

Dopamine is commonly known as one of the “happy hormones”, a chemical made in the brain. It strongly affects your mood, attention, and motivation. When your levels of dopamine are low, you feel low. When your levels of dopamine are high, you feel awesome.

Which is where Dopamine Dressing steps up. Dopamine Dressing is a way of dressing that boosts your mood. To you that might mean wearing a favourite colour. But it can also be about pattern, fabric, texture and style. What we wear affects how we feel. Perhaps the monotony of my outfits reflected the monotony of the time. And now it is time for a change.

So how can we dress for happiness?

  • Dopamine dressing is all about making yourself happy – not anyone else. It might mean wearing a dad jumper on a cold day or a bright dress for work another. It isn’t about buying new things or needing more, it is about listening to your needs in the moment.
  • Think about what colours mean to you. Yellow means joy, sunflowers, happiness to some. To others it means illness, it means cowardice, it means excess. Look for the palates of colour that bring you joy. For me, the calming soothing shades of blue, teal, green bring me more joy than orange, red and yellow.
  • It can be about bright colours. But it doesn’t have to be. It could be wearing a texture you love next to the skin like silk pyjamas. It could be a favourite pattern. If you love florals, stripes, polka dots together then you do you.
  • Look back on outfits that have made you feel confident, special, happy and bring them into your daily wear. Abandon the idea of saving it for best – as we know now, best can be a long time coming.
  • Reflect on your mood, know that you are worthy and deserving of happiness. It is not selfish to invest in yourself.

For me, I’m putting on eyeliner. I bought myself the luxury leggings rather than the budget ones. I’ve added a fab floral quilted jacket that makes me feel like a whole person. My wardrobe uniform is there for when I feel overwhelmed by decisions, but doesn’t have to be when I want something different. I’m learning to think about what I need in the morning, and to consider that it is worth investing in how my clothes influence my day.

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Lyndsay Macaulay
Lyndsay Macaulay

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