What is Dopamine Dressing? Psychology and Meaning of Dopamine Style

Written by: Zuzanna Sato



Time to read 7 min

What is Dopamine Dressing? Psychology and Meaning of Dopamine Style

What is Dopamine Dressing? Psychology and Meaning of Dopamine Style

Dopamine dressing is a hot trend these days. It's not just about looking nice; it's about feeling great too!

If you're someone who loves fashion and wants to feel a boost of positivity and confidence, then you might be intrested in this terrific style. 

Personally, I've always felt drawn to colorful, sparkling, and glittering things (here is the glimps 😊). 

And as a fashion designer and someone who loves self-expressing through clothes, I would like everyone to learn how to use them to influence our mood.

And the dopamine dressing movement does exactly this: it taps into the power of clothes to influence our feelings!

Read on, but if you are short on time just download our infographic on "Psychology of Dopamine Dressing?" for a quick article summary!😊

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Dopamine dressing infographic, infographic of Psychology of dopamine dressing, infographic of  Dopamine dresssing meaning

Dopamine dressing is about picking clothes that lift our spirits and make us happier.

It's about creativity, fun, and self-expression.

It's also about empowerment, courage, and being yourself in front of other people, no matter the current fashion trends. 

Let’s take a look at what dopamine dressing means, what the psychology behind it is, and whether it really works.

1. Why is it called dopamine dressing?

Before we jump into the fashion talk, let's have a quick look at dopamine and how it affects your mood.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in our brain's reward and pleasure centers.

It's often referred to as the "feel-good" chemical because it's associated with feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward.

Basically, it's responsible for making us feel good when we experience something pleasurable, like eating delicious food, receiving positive feedback, or... drumroll, please – wearing clothes we love.

So, the style is called dopamine dressing because the clothes you like are thought to trigger the release of this feel-good neurotransmitter.

2. What is dopamine dressing ? The Meaning.

Now that we know a bit about dopamine, let's talk about dopamine dressing.

Dopamine dressing means using fashion to make you feel happier and better.

It's about picking colors, patterns, and fabrics that make you feel good and more confident.

It's showing off who you are in clothes that make YOU feel great. 

And that's the important part: thinking more about how YOU feel in your clothes rather than caring about other people's opinions and fashion trends.

This disregard for conformity and embrace of creativity created a signature dopamine look: a mishmash of vibrant colors, textures, patterns, and original use of accessories.

The elements of these striking ensembles are often thrifted or handmade.

With time, the trend evolved to incorporate any look that makes individuals feel good and prioritize their wellbeing – be it darker colors and calmer patterns.

But in its original form, dopamine dressing was all about the color and abundance.

What is Dopamine Dressing? Psychology and Meaning of Dopamine Style
Image from DressYourColor

4. Does Dopamine Dressing Work? The Psychology.

So, does dopamine dressing work? The answer is YES – what we wear can and does affect how we feel. 

There's a wealth of research from psychologists, the fashion industry, and marketers confirming that colors, textures, patterns, and even the fit of our clothes can affect our mood. 

While these studies weren't specifically about dopamine dressing (because, let's face it, who'd fund that?), we have valuable insights from research aimed at understanding and shaping customer preferences, an area where fashion brands invest significant resources. 

The findings are crystal clear: colors have been found to influence mood and emotion through various psychological and physiological mechanisms. 

You can read more about how colors you wear influence your mood, here. 

Here're some research examples:

1. Physiological Responses:

Colors can elicit physiological responses in the body, such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and brain activity.

For example, exposure to warm colors like red and orange may increase arousal levels, whereas cool colors like blue and green may have a calming effect.

Source: Jacobs, K. W., & Hustmyer Jr, F. E. (1974). Effects of four psychological primary colors on GSR, heart rate, and respiration rate. 

2. Psychological Associations:

Colors are often associated with certain emotions or moods based on cultural and personal experiences.

For example, people might associate blue with calmness and serenity, while red may evoke feelings of passion or excitement.

Source: Elliot, A. J., & Maier, M. A. (2014). Color psychology: Effects of perceiving color on psychological functioning in humans.

3. Biological and Evolutionary Factors:

 Some researchers argue that certain color-emotion associations have evolutionary roots.

For instance, humans may have developed a preference for green due to its association with fertile landscapes, leading to feelings of tranquillity and relaxation.

Source: Hurlbert, A. C., & Ling, Y. (2007). Biological components of sex differences in color preference. 


4. Cultural Influences: Cultural background plays a significant role in shaping color-emotion associations.

For instance, in Western cultures, white is often associated with purity and innocence, while in some Eastern cultures, it may symbolize mourning and death.

Click here to find out more about the significance of flower patterns in Japanes culture.

Source: Saito, M. (1996). Creativity and tradition in Japanese arts. *Philosophy East and West, 46*

But it's not just about colors!

Evidence also shows how fabric texture can influence mood and emotion through various sensory and psychological mechanisms.

Here is an example of such study:

Greco, Alberto, et al. "Brain dynamics induced by pleasant/unpleasant tactile stimuli conveyed by different fabrics." IEEE journal of biomedical and health informatics 23.6 (2019): 2417-2427.

And let's not forget about the fit! There's fascinating research on the relationship between clothing fit and mood, indicating that softer, roomier clothes evoke a sense of relaxation.

I'm certain that's one of the driving factors behind the oversized trend craze.

Lindeman, Rins, Pieter Desmet, and Maurizio Filippi. "Wearing Black when feeling Blue: An exploration of the relationship between clothing and mood." 

3. Why does dopamine dressing make you feel good?

Enough with the science!

Lets talk about why exacly dopamine dressing can make you feel great:

1. Because it's fun.

Have you noticed how choosing outfits you love sets a positive tone for the day? You get to mix and match your favorite combinations, play with scarves or earrings to jazz up your look, and add a dash of your signature perfume for that perfect finishing touch. 

Another exciting aspect of dopamine dressing? Treasure hunting in thrift stores! Vintage shops are among the best places to discover unique, bold, and vibrant pieces - especially now, when neutral colors seem to dominate all the major retailers! And boy, isn't it thrilling to plung between coat hangers to find your perfect gem of a dress or necklace?

2. Because it's empowering:

Expressing your personality through your outfits is an empowering act!

Embracing your style and owning it, regardless of trends or others' opinions, can transform your life.

It can help you build the courage to be yourself authentically in other aspects of your life, encouraging you to take risks, pursue your passions, and live your own way.

3. Because it develops creativity:

When you experimenting with mixing and matching different clothes, colors and patterns in unique ways you're engaging in a form of creative expression.

And research clearly shows that engaging in any kind of creative activities increases feelings of happiness, satisfacion and confidence.

So, by incorporating creativity into your daily wardrobe choices, you're not just looking better but also nurturing your overall well-being.

4. Because it improves your relations:

When you wear clothes that match your personal style, you feel more confident. This confidence attracts others to you because people are naturally drawn to those who radiate positivity and assurance.

So, dopamine dressing could enhance your interactions with others!

5. Because its a conversation starter: 

Your outfit isn't just about what you wear; it's also the connections it creates.

When you wear something unique, people notice and want to talk about it. Whether it's a friend who loves your style or a stranger curious about your look, your dopamine outfit sparks conversations!

What is Dopamine Dressing? - The Conclusion

I hope I convinced you that dopamine dressing is not just about clothes.

It's about the feelings they stir within us.

When we consciously choose fashion that brings us joy, we're tapping into something very powerful. It's a way of caring for our  mood and developing self-confidence.

But here's the thing: dopamine dressing isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

What works wonders for one person might not do much for another.

It's all about personal preferences and how our minds are wired. So, while it's definitely worth giving it a shot, keep in mind that the results may vary.

The important thing is to explore and experiment.

Who knows? You might just find your own unique way to harness the magic of dopamine dressing for a brighter, happier you.

Ready to explore some dopamine clothes?

Check out my vibrant collection of bold bags that are guaranteed to spice up your style!

And don't forget to let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Do you follow trends or dress to express yourself?

Are you team neutral or maximal, or does it depend on the day?

Let's talk! 😄

Zuzanna Sato,  blog author, fashion designer
Image from DressYourColor

Zuzanna Sato, fashion designer, founder of DressYourColor

Hi! I'm Zuzanna, the founder of a luxury slow fashion brand based in Japan.

I use vintage Japanese textiles to create sustainable fashion that revels in color and beauty.

I love giving new life to kimonos that can no longer be used in their original form.

In my designs, I use oversized silhouettes to showcase incredible Japanese textiles in all their glory.

I revel in maximal style: bold shapes, patterns, and anything that glitters.

I hope you visit me often and that we can enjoy the beauty of Japanese textiles together! 😊

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