Fashion has always been a form of self-expression.

But it took on a whole new meaning when many of us traded our everyday styles for loungewear (ahem, the same trusty pair of gray sweats).

Now, with sunnier days on the horizon, people are ready to embrace the joy of dressing up. Called “dopamine dressing,” this happiness-inducing style trend is taking over Pinterest and TikTok.

Fashion psychologist Dr. Dawnn Karen, dubbed “The Dress Doctor” by The New York Times, coined the term in her book, “Dress Your Best Life.” So, what is it exactly? Like the name suggests, dopamine dressing (also called “mood enhancement dressing”) releases a rush of the feel-good neurotransmitter, aka “happy hormones.” 

The connection between clothing and emotional well-being isn’t anything new. A 2012 study published by University of Hertfordshire Press found a strong link between clothing and mood, suggesting that people should wear certain clothes — brightly-colored accessories or pieces with heartwarming backstories, for example — to lift their mood. 

Dopamine dressing isn’t one-size-fits-all, though. Although Karen leans toward purples, leopard prints and bold monochromatics, she makes it clear that colors, patterns and textures elicit different emotions for different people.

Her suggestion for embarking on your own experiment with dopamine dressing: “Think back to your childhood.” Once you can picture a moment when you felt happiest, search your closet for a similar outfit to mimic the feeling.

By Amanda Garrity

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