Dress to Express
How Dopamine Dressing Can Boost Your Mood
With a new year on the horizon, there seems to be a shift in the fashion world that is tangible, exciting, and dare we say….positive. Living through a global pandemic, and the ensuing global recession, has left us all with enough reasons to feel a little blue, if not down right destitute. We haven't seen the end of pandemic drama, the recession is hitting us all where it hurts, and everyone’s mental health has taken a toll. Enter - dopamine dressing. In a nutshell, dopamine dressing is wearing whatever makes you feel good. It’s an anything goes mantra towards fashion, that is all about embracing what makes YOU happy. Dopamine dressing is nothing new. In fact, a study released a decade ago in 2012 found that when participants were asked to wear clothing that held some symbolic meaning, their perceived confidence increased.
This association between brightly coloured clothing and happiness is not new; in fact, the idea of instilling joy through our clothing has long been the subject of psychological research. It is first important to grasp the basics of dopamine, which is a type of neurotransmitter. “Our bodies produce dopamine and our nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells,” says Maria Costantino, a lecturer in cultural and historical studies at the London College of Fashion. “It has many functions: it is involved in reward, motivation, memory, and attention. When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward which motivates us to repeat a specific behaviour.” Spending time with loved ones, exercise, food and sex all release dopamine in our brain. So too, can our fashion choices. Certain fabrics, textures, prints and colours all work to release dopamine in our brain, and the best part is - it’s different for everyone.
While colourful fabrics and prints are usually associated with dopamine dressing, the reality is that it really is a movement about embracing fashion and being true to ourselves. While some women flourish and bloom like a flower while wearing bright colours, others feel best in monochromatic neutrals. Any fashion movement that is about unapologetically honouring our personal style is something we can get behind!
What gets our dopamine flowing is very personal - and very much tied to our personality, culture, style, and lifestyle. Embracing dopamine dressing is as simple as allowing yourself to wear your favourites….all the time. Historically, different cultures have used fashion for a multitude of reasons: religion, expression, art, communication, to show status, or belonging. Beadwork began as a way for Native Americans to express themselves artistically that was compatible with their nomadic lifestyle. Patterns and designs were woven onto practical items, such as clothing, leather goods, and jewelry, that could be easily packed up and moved. In India, Sarees were designed with specific colours to represent beliefs. White represents purity, and red symbolizes courage for example.
There is nothing that makes us feel better than time outside, at the beach with friends and family soaking up some Vitamin D. For too long, swimwear has caused undue anxiety to those wearing it, with the fashion industry preying on women’s insecurities about their very real, very normal body types. Spending time at the beach or pool, and wearing something that makes us look as sexy as we feel is something that we all deserve, and we are HERE for this movement of dopamine dressing!
Currently, the amalgamation of global fashion into quick, bite sized trends that can explode in the matter of hours on TikTok or Instagram has left us with our heads spinning. Staying on top of trends, and looking fashionable is something that most of us want. But how can we stay true to ourselves, our values, and our own personal style, while still keeping up with the latest and greatest? Even in the celebrity world, dopamine dressing is taking hold of some of our favourite fashionistas, who we can't help but follow. Take Bella Hadid for example, whose street style is constantly evolving, creative, and fun. She has foregone fussy, designer wear, and become the queen of the ‘weird girl’ aesthetic, embracing baggy clothes, vintage pieces, and menswear all put together in interesting combinations. She is the living proof that if you wear what you love, you really can pull anything off.
Thankfully, dopamine dressing is the antidote to furiously fast fashion. After a couple challenging years, we are going to be that voice that you need to hear. Wear what makes you feel great - what makes you shine from the inside out - and the rest will follow. Hit the beach or the pool in a bikini or one piece that makes you look as sexy as you feel, and we promise, the rush of dopamine will keep you going this winter. Join the movement by tagging your photos with #BEdresstoexpress and check our Instagram and TikTok for some inspiring looks!