Dopamine Dressing – How Colour Improves Your Mood
As a Decluttering Consultant as well as a Life Coach I know the importance of regularly going through my wardrobe and keeping it organised and with the pieces of clothing that I love and make me feel great when I wear them. This autumn as I changed over my summer to winter clothing, it struck me how much more colourful my summer wardrobe is. Lot’s of shades of blue, reds, greens and pink. My winter wardrobe on the other hand is very monochrome – black and white and grey. Wearing colour during the winter has popped into my mind occasionally over the years. I wear a faux fur light brown coat in the winter and a bright yellow rain jacket in autumn. And I know I consciously wear both to brighten my mood during the colder, wetter months.
It has always been important to me to wear clothes that I feel good in, but what if I chose to wear more colour in the winter months. Would that improve my mood?
How the pandemic changed our clothes
Dopamine Dressing is set to be a huge trend in 2022. After two years of being at home, how we dress has changed. I have clothes that I bought in the January sales of 2020 and have never worn. We swapped suits for lounge wear, more sports wear and even pyjamas. Coupled with seeing ourselves on zoom day after day we have become more self-conscious and self-critical. It’s time to embrace dressing with confidence and colour.
A few months back I did a brand photoshoot. When my photographer arrived I had so many outfits laid out. I got so excited about what to wear and had so many clothes that I hadn’t had on in 2 years. The biggest thing I noticed, once I had calmed down, was that when we were shooting, I felt more like myself. I felt more like me. And I felt happier and more confident. I realised that some of my identity is connected to the clothes I wear. And I also got a chance to wear my new gold boots!
What is dopamine dressing?
Dopamine dressing is wearing colourful clothing- bold prints, patterns and strong colours – to improve how you feel. It is about using what is in your wardrobe to feel happier, energetic and confident.
The Psychology of Fashion and Colour
Professor Karen Pine in her book Mind What You Wear says that clothes have an impact on what you feel and how you act. This can often be in subtle ways such as how you hold yourselves and how you walk. Think of the difference between sitting at your computer in trousers and a smart blouse versus in your pj’s. Or walking in a skirt and high heels compared to jeans and boots.
There is a connection between your clothes and how you feel. Wearing different colours, bold prints or bright accessories can boost your mood. As a guide, green is relaxing and reduces anxiety, blue is calming and peaceful and reduces stress, yellow is the colour of happiness and uplifting and red is energising.
This colour also translates to your home design too. Lavender, peach, terracotta, green, soft yellow and pale blue all create relaying, calm, peaceful, comforting and happy spaces.
However, it’s more important to wear colours that suit you, the ones you like and which reflect your personality. Several members in the happiness club had had colour consultations done that helped them choose the best colours for them. Many talked about enjoying wearing jewel colours.
Me? I bought a yellow jumper (that looks great with my black leather trousers) and I feel brighter and happier. (you can see it in my youtube video on dopamine dressing). It feels nice and comfortable to wear, I feel bright and happy and I’ve had so many compliments on it.
Dressing as Superman changes how we feel
In 2012, researchers Adam &Galinsky wanted to see if score results on the Shroop Test were affected by what you wear. The Shroop Test is when participants are shown words printed in different colours such as BROWN written in BLUE and GREEN written in RED and they have to name the colour of the ink not say the written word. This is really hard as our brains immediately process the word.
They took 58 students and tested them, half in their own clothes and the other half wearing a white lab coat. What they found was that those in the lab coat were quicker and made fewer mistakes. They named this effect, ‘enclothed cognition. Further, when they were told it was a doctor’s coat, their mental agility increased. It shows that we can take on the identity of the clothes.
They then took it further. They put them into 3 groups. Group 1 wore a Superman t-shirt, group 2 wore a blue t-shirt and group 3 wore normal clothes. The students wearing the superman t-shirt rated themselves superior to their peers, more attractive and more confident. They also perceived themselves to be physically stronger!
Stepping out of your comfort zone
If a fuschia trouser suit seems too big a leap from your yoga pants, try what stylists call ‘high-low dressing’. This is mixing smart and casual clothes together- midi skirt with a jumper, t-shirt and tuxedo jacket (my fav) or jeans and a silk blouse.
Or begin with small pops of colour- I love my bright red and bright pink handbags, my red suede sandals and my purple butterfly scarf.
Or begin with a bold nail colour or a swipe of red lipstick.
9 Tips to embrace dopamine dressing
1. Have a look through your wardrobe and accessories and pull together what you already have.
2. Try adding one item of colour or pattern such as a coat, sweater, t-shirt or blouse to your outfit.
3. Wear a colourful hat (see The Red Hat Society).
4. Scarves are so much fun to dress any outfit.
5. Do you have a box full of unworn jewellery? Start accessorising or look out for fun costume jewellery.
6. Choose colourful tights.
7. Handbags and shoes (matching or not).
8. Hair accessories or even your hair colour.
9. Lipstick and nail varnish- you can find every colour imaginable.
Finally, there are no rules- wear whatever makes you happy. Nothing has to match. But like the poem Warning! says, maybe we should start now.
Dopamine Dressing References
Jenny Joseph (1992). Warning!
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