Dopamine Dressing: How To Make A Happy Wardrobe

We spoke to fashion psychologists about the mood-boosting potential of brightly colored clothing.
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Amazon, Lululemon, Wolf & Badger
Curate an uplifting summer wardrobe with this fuchsia wide-legged jumpsuit, electric yellow yoga bra and a pair of neon-orange flared pants.

A number of celebrities wore neon hues and vibrant colors on the red carpet at the the 2022 Grammys and other awards shows this past year. Most notably, Justin Bieber rocked a fuchsia beanie, Billy Porter wore a hot-pink ruffled ensemble and Saweetie sported an electric flamingo two-piece gown.

There could be a subconscious reason for these eye-catching color choices — and it has to do with that feel-good-chemical in our brain called dopamine, said Anabel Maldonado, a fashion psychologist and founder of Psykhe, a software system that helps personalize shopping experiences.

Dopamine dressing is simply dressing in a way that triggers the pleasure-neurotransmitter dopamine for an individual,” Maldonado said.

She said that the deliberate decision to grab something bright and cheerful isn’t really anything new, but may be happening more thanks to a rise in awareness that what we wear really does have an effect of on us.

Dr. Carolyn Mair, a behavioral psychologist and author of “The Psychology of Fashion,” said the production of dopamine is integral to achieving positive outcomes and goals. Combine that with a shared social consensus and studies that say “how I dress affects my mood,” and there becomes an incentive to wear specific items of clothing that will, in effect, increase dopamine levels.

When we have a strong belief, it becomes part of who we are, our identity,” Mair said. “In addition, expectations play an important role in outcomes. When we expect a positive outcome, or a mood boost from our choice of clothing, we are more likely to achieve it. Together, strong beliefs and positive expectations are powerful.”

Mair also pointed out that we are living in some pretty dopamine-starved times, therefore many of us might be trying to get our pleasure-chemical kicks wherever we can, even if it’s in the form of an electric-yellow sports bra.

Billy Porter attends the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images
Billy Porter attends the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“As fashion is an outward expression of who we are, consciously choosing fashion pieces that boost our mood is not only an easy way to feel better about ourselves, it also sends a positive signal to those we interact with. In times of turmoil, fashion can be a wonderful tool for doing good,” Mair said.

Although the type of impact a certain color or print has on a person really boils down to a matter of personal opinion, Mair said some interpretations of colors and the way they make us feel can be universal, largely because of our cultural associations.

In some countries, yellow is associated with summer, happiness; orange with joy. Red with danger and blood, sexiness and risk. Green is associated with nature, and blue with confidence and honesty. White with purity and black with solemnity,” Mair said.

Maldonado mentioned the particularly playful, youthful and escapist associations that we have with colors like fuchsia or lime-green.

Shades that remind us of vacation, exotic landscapes, and childhood have happy, playful, dopamine-triggering associations. Prints that are botanical or geometric can have the same effect,” she said.

To test out the mood-boosting effects of clothing for yourself, you can shop through the following list of bold, flamboyant and brightly-colored clothing below. Find tangerine-hued rompers, satin skirts in shades of Granny Smith apples and cerulean-blue chino pants that are soft and comfy.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

1
A fuchsia pink wide-leg jumpsuit with bow details
Perfect for everyday wear, work or special events, this wide-leg romper has adjustable tie straps and tie belt as well as a V-neck front and back. It's made with soft fabric that has a light stretch and is available in sizes XS-XXL.
2
A maxi shirt dress in a vibrant orchid print
This maxi shirt dress features a poppy-colored orchid print and is made from a soft cotton-sateen fabric. The vintage-inspired silhouette has cuffed sleeves, a shawl collar and integrated side pockets as well as a wrap-tie belt. It’s available in U.S. sizes 4-14.
3
An apple-green satin A-line skirt
This slightly flared A-line skirt falls mid-shin and is made with a breathable satin fabric. The waistband is elastic for a comfortable fit and the skirt is available in sizes S-XL.
4
An off-the-shoulder tiered midress
This flamingo-pink cotton dress falls mid-shin and features a tiered design as well as two side cut-out details for a unique twist on a summer dress. It’s available in sizes XXS-5X.
5
An internet-famous tennis dress with built-in shorts and sports bra
This two-in-one activity dress is the pinnacle of athleisure and is great for errands, lounging and more. It’s made with soft moisture-wicking fabric that allows for a full range of motion and has built-in bike shorts as well as an integrated low-impact sports bra and stretch pockets to hold all of your essentials. Size availability ranges from XS-XL.
6
A billow-sleeve ruffle wrap dress
Constructed from a silky satin fabric, this V-neck cocktail dress has a ruffle hem that falls mid-thigh, billow sleeves and flouncy fit. It’s available in regular, tall and petite options in sizes S-XL.
7
An everyday relaxed-fit button-down in vibrant coral
This casual button-down is lightweight enough for warmer weather and can pair well with jeans, shorts, skirts and more. It has a relaxed fit and cropped hem and is available in sizes S-XL.
8
A pair of electric blue cropped pants
The nipped waist and subtle flared leg gives these mock button-fly pants a flattering fit. They have deep front pockets, sit at the natural waist and are made with a soft chino fabric that has a touch of stretch for comfort. Sizes available are 2-16/18.
9
A relaxed-fit clementine linen jumpsuit
This brightly colored romper fits close to the waist and goes into a more relaxed fit through the cropped legs, which are designed with hidden side pockets. Made from linen with a 100% cotton lining, this jumpsuit is machine-washable and also has a smocked back panel with a slight stretch for easy movement. It’s available in sizes 2-20/22.
10
A chartreuse linen jumpsuit with a corset top
Crafted completely of linen cotton, this jumpsuit in eye-catching chartreuse has a fitted corset bodice and skinny straps with small bow details. It’s available in sizes XS-M/L.
11
A vibrant orange tie-back cotton dress
Made with a low-maintenance soft cotton blend, this simple midi-dress fits like a T-shirt and features a tie-back with a cut-out detail as well as a modest side slit. It’s available in sizes XS-XXL.
12
A neon embroidered tunic dress
This hand-embroidered pull-over dress was made in Greece and features highly detailed neon yellow stitching on a brushed cotton fabric. It has a tiered tunic design, is machine-washable and available in sizes XS-L.
13
A pair of flowy Palazzo pants in a vacation-worthy print
Perfect as a swimsuit coverup or paired with a flowy top, these high-waist Palazzo pants were made for vacation. They feature a functional tie waistband and are made from a recycled charmeuse fabric that is wrinkle-resistant, antimicrobial and anti-static. Sizes XS-XL are available and you can get a matching bikini top and bottom, also at Summersalt.
14
A flamingo pink off-the-shoulder tank in a smoothing fabric
This sleek top is made with a soft double-layered modal that forms to your body and stretches in all directions for a flattering fit. The material is an eco-friendly sourced fiber that is machine-washable, and the top is available in sizes XXS-XXL.
15
A pair of tailored neon-orange flared pants
Created by a Polish luxury designer, these front-pleated flared pants are high-waisted and tailored to make legs look longer and give a flattering fit. They feature a bottom side slit and are available in two different lengths as well as sizes XS-L.
16
An electric-yellow yoga bra and vibrant blue high-rise legging
Designed for low-impact exercise or daily wear, the breathable yoga bra and high-rise legging are made with slick, low-friction fabric that is moisture-wicking and feels cool to the touch. They have four-way stretch for a complete range of motion and an added touch of Lycra to retain shape. The light-support bra, which is available in sizes 2-14, has pockets for the option of removable cups and the yoga pants, available in sizes 0-14, have a hidden waistband pocket for your essentials and come in three different inseam lengths.
17
A pair of mid-rise Palazzo pants in a tropical print
These dreamily draped Palazzo pants pull on for an easy fit, are made with washed rayon and sit mid-rise. The inseam measures 33 inches, and they're available in sizes XXS-XL.
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