Monday, 27 February 2023

Dopamine Dressing: What Is It & How To Try It

I have always loved fashion. Ever since I was about 7 years old, creating catwalk looks for my Barbie's as I watched The Clothes Show on telly - clothes have been something I've really enjoyed. It's a hobby I've never grown out of, but recently I've found myself having a bit of a wobble when it comes to figuring out how to dress.

I've always followed fashion trends, mostly because I shopped in high street stores who would only sell clothing which fitted those trends so it wasn't difficult to keep up - but lately I've found myself doubting the choices I'm making...asking myself whether the trendy and colourful clothes I'm still naturally drawn to are "age appropriate" for me. I even caught myself using the awful term "Mutton dressed as lamb" when discussing potential outfit ideas for an upcoming night out with friends recently! 

Luckily, I realised what I'd said pretty quickly and gave myself a stern talking to. Because I firmly believe that these sorts of phrases, and the beliefs that go along with them which dictate that once a woman is over 40 she should to start to "dress her age" and "tone it down", are nothing but ageism and misogyny in action.

I have no desire to "tone it down"...if anything, I'm more inclined to ramp it up! I feel as though finally, after a lifetime of self doubt and worrying about being "too much" for other people, the last few years have finally brought me closer to figuring out who I actually am underneath all of that external noise. During this period of self discovery, I've made some choices for myself that I previously never thought I would - I got my first tattoo, I've started to dye my hair unnaturally bright colours, I'm even toying with the idea of a nose piercing! - I'm finding so much joy in expressing myself through the style choices I make and I can't explain how freeing it is.

So when I came across the concept of Dopamine Dressing, I was intrigued. As someone who can struggle with low moods, especially during the dark winter months, anything that gives me a dopamine hit sounds appealing - so I spent some time looking into what dopamine dressing actually is.

What is Dopamine Dressing?

Dopamine is also known as "The feel-good hormone" which our body releases when we experience something pleasurable, so Dopamine dressing involves dressing in a way that brings you joy and pleasure. The research supports the theory of dopamine dressing too: wearing an outfit that we love and feel comfortable in can radiate a confidence and glow to those around us, which will often lead to compliments - receiving compliments gives us another dopamine hit, which means that dopamine dressing can put us into a positive feedback loop.

But how exactly can you practice dopamine dressing?

Well it will of course be different for every person, as we all find joy in different things. But the basic rules to follow are:

*Comfort - It's going to be really difficult to feel joy if you're wearing something that's making your body feel physically uncomfortable. Think about how good it feels to slip into nice cosy pjs at the end of a long day - that's the sort of comfort you want to recreate. So perhaps you'll choose loose fitting garments or things that don't cut in to your body uncomfortably, maybe you'll go for soft fabrics or perhaps it's as simple as adding an oversized cardigan or scarf to provide a snuggly, warm sensation to your outfit. You may be someone who loves to wear high heels or you may be more at home in an old pair of sneakers. The key factor has to be comfort. 

It's also worth noting that you emotional comfort is just as important as physical comfort, so there's no sense in wearing something bright and bold if the attention that attracts is going to make you feel awkward and anxious - whole body and mind comfort is the aim here.

*Colour - We are all drawn to certain colours that make us feel good, but often we actively avoid dressing in them because we've internalised a lot of messaging about which colour suit our skin tone or hair colour. The key to dopamine dressing is to experiment with different colours, styles and textures - I personally find that wearing lots of pastel colours makes me feel really good, and I also enjoy brights  and rainbow prints but another person might find joy in blacks or neutral tones. There is no right or wrong way to approach dopamine dressing, it's about finding what brings you the most joy.

*Pay Attention - It can be really helpful to keep a journal of how you feel when wearing different colours and styles, to help you to identify any patterns that emerge. You may find that you experience a mood boost when wearing a certain colour - research actually shows that blue shades tend to have the highest success rate for dopamine dressers. 

I've really enjoyed dipping my toes into the world of dopamine dressing lately, and it's something I'm going to continue to practice. I will certainly not be worrying about "dressing my age" on my upcoming night out - infact I have the perfect orange heels and sequined dress in my baskets ready to go!

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