Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were unable to do the things we enjoy, and many activities were put on hold. Thankfully, however, despite the sudden halt in daily life, we have control over at least one thing that makes many of us happy: clothes. The connection between what we wear and how we feel has received renewed attention as 2022 style publications give way to the “dopamine dressing” trend. As a Boca behavioral health center, we couldn’t help but be curious about this new trend and how it encourages people to dress for their mental health.
What Is Dopamine Dressing?
It’s long been discovered that people have psychological connections to particular colors. Red represents anger, blue represents sadness, yellow represents happiness, and so on. And while that’s part of the dopamine dressing meaning, there’s more to it than colors, patterns, and fabrics.
To better understand the meaning of dopamine dressing, you must first understand what dopamine is and what it does. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that’s released in the brain and used to send messages between nerve cells. It contributes to various functions, such as reward, motivation, memory, and attention. When dopamine is released in large quantities, it creates a feeling of euphoria or intense pleasure and reward, which motivates us to repeat a specific action or behavior.
For these reasons, dopamine and addiction are tightly linked, as most drugs of abuse manipulate this particular chemical. But what does that have to do with clothing? Well, dopamine also plays a big role in our mood and mental health, along with another chemical called serotonin. With all this in mind, dopamine dressing is defined as the euphoria or pleasure experienced from buying or wearing certain clothes.
Researchers refer to the emotional effect of clothing on our thoughts and judgments as “enclothed cognition” and have indeed found that what we wear can have a symbolic meaning that affects our mental health and behavior.1
So How Can Clothes Boost Dopamine?
Right up there with our morning coffee is the feeling that comes from a package that just arrived. Especially when you unbox a new outfit or item of clothing and try it on, the feeling is almost electric. Simply put, the things that attract us to an item of clothing – such as the color, shape, and texture – also activate a release of dopamine in the brain, making you feel good and happy with your choice.
Along with this, as we explore our style and find the things that flatter our body shapes best, dopamine dressing eventually includes the way clothes make you feel. How a blouse or pants hug your body can make you feel confident and invincible. However, dopamine dressing isn’t just about wearing all your favorite items of clothing at once or throwing on a bunch of colors. This trend is gradually becoming an art.
Colors and Moods in Dopamine Dressing
If you ever saw or owned a moon ring when you were younger, then you may recall the correlation between colors and mood. These rings promised to display the color of whatever you were feeling, be that anger, happiness, or even jealousy. And while these rings aren’t recognized for their accuracy, they did represent a significant correlation between mood and colors that’s been recognized by even the greatest artists in history.
Within color psychology, there are strong associations between hues and moods that we develop as a result of our culture, experiences, and unique psychological make-up. This means that what feels good to one person might not feel the same to another. This is where our personal style comes in.
For instance, while color psychology tells us that yellow, orange, and citrus hues present optimism and energy, these colors might seem unappealing or overwhelming to someone with a more introverted personality. While pastel shades might be considered to produce happiness, they might seem too dull to someone with an authoritative personality. For these reasons, the type of clothing, as well as the colors we wear, can have a huge impact on our mood, which can either support or weaken our mental health.
How to Dopamine Dress for Your Mental Health
While we aren’t promising that dopamine dressing can cure depression or anxiety, dressing in clothes that compliment your body type, style, and personality can certainly give you a much-needed emotional boost. If you want to try out dopamine dressing for yourself, here are some ways you can find the optimal dopamine-boosting outfit.
- Scroll through your pictures or social media to make notes of outfits you wore when you felt your absolute best. What did they have in common? Did you follow a particular color palette? Materials? Brands? Find the common denominators between these outfits to find out what new items you can buy or what outfits you can create with the items you already own.
- Pick out outfits you wore when you felt your worst using the method mentioned above. Does that white dress always remind you of that rough day? Donate it or try to repurpose it into an outfit that will boost your mood.
- Find your color, or rather the ones that you least enjoy. Ever had a favorite color that didn’t show up in your closet? Then it’s probably not your favorite color. Explore different colors based on your feelings. Does purple always seem to bring you down? Donate your purple clothing or find ways to add to them.
- Write down what you reach for when searching for an outfit in your closet. Does the oversized hoodie spark feelings of joy and comfort? Find ways to incorporate more items like these into your wardrobe.
With apps like Pinterest and Instagram, dopamine dressing is an easily achievable trend you can utilize in your day-to-day routine to improve your mood and your mental health.
Our Boca Treatment Center Is Here for You
While dopamine dressing is a useful technique that people with mental health problems can use to boost their mood, it’s not a solution. For those who have anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental health disorders, professional treatment is needed.
Our Florida mental health rehab programs include various disorder-specific levels of care, including depression treatment, anxiety treatment, schizophrenia treatment, and more. We also incorporate various psychotherapy methods and both individual and group counseling sessions to help clients become more self-aware and self-confident.
- ScienceDirect – Reflections on enclothed cognition: Commentary on Burns et al.