Can Wearing Bright Colours Actually Make You Happier?

With the winter weather well and truly set in, I'm finding myself increasingly reliant on a wardrobe of staples in black, grey and navy. It's pretty drab, to be frank, and while it might be a literal reflection of the surrounding climate, the habitual routine of layering on muted shade after muted shade has started to feel a little bit tedious. 

Enter Dopamine Dressing. A theory that has been floating around the fashion industry recently which claims that wearing bright colours can actually boost your mood. I'm not sure whether it is because of the rainbow hues we've seen on the runway or the paint-box brights favoured by the street style set, but I've found myself contemplating the validity of this theory of late. And while it might sound a little too much like Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn’t help but wonder: Can wearing brighter colours actually make me happier? 

According to Karen Haller, colour psychologist and author of The Little Book of Colour, the answer is yes.

As Haller explains, "Colour is a great way to lift our spirits and boost our moods in an instant. Our confidence can be boosted when we wear colours that we love and feel good in.” In terms of the science behind it, Haller notes that wearing bright colour "creates physiological changes within us. In psychological terms, it delivers an emotional experience.” 

Elaborating on this, Haller continued, "We instinctively feel and behave differently around colours because of how we take the colour in through our eyes and through to the part of our brain where our emotions reside.” This is why wearing yellow might make you feel cheerful, whereas wearing black can have a different effect. 

So, does Dopamine Dressing actually work? I decided to put the theory into practice, tracking down the brightest hues I could find and testing each for its mood-boosting ability.


As Haller explains, wearing red is "the colour equivalent of an espresso shot!" The shade is set to deliver an instant energy boost, and in this case, certainly felt that way. 


(Image credit: @zoepopi)


Fuchsia is said to inspire confidence, though I'm not sure one would choose to wear this colour without already having confidence in spades. It is a head-turning shade, to say the least, and definitely made me feel like I was making a statement.


(Image credit: @zoepopi)


According to our expert, wearing yellow should brighten your mood, or emulate how you feel when the sun is shining. Given the fact that is such a rarity in London, sometimes it's about making your own sunshine, which is precisely how I felt in this cheery hue. 


(Image credit: @zoepopi)


Light blue is known to soothe the mind, help us relax and promote the feeling of calm. It might just be the perfect way to combat the winter blues. I felt surprisingly comfortable in this bright look. 


(Image credit: @zoepopi)

The Verdict: 

Did wearing bright colours actually make me happier? Honestly, I'm not 100% sure. Though what I have realised is that it’s less dependant on the colour of the clothing and more dependant on how much you love the clothes you’re wearing. 

So often I choose the safe option when it comes to purchases—I'll buy the practical black jacket that goes with everything or the grey jumper that no one will notice I’ve worn 50 times. Though very rarely do I ever choose the fun, exciting option, like the floral yellow dress that lights up a room or the hot pink skirt that will stand out in a crowd. Whether it was actually the colour or not, it was simply nice to be dressed in clothes that I felt excited about. I think this little experiment will certainly change the way I shop in the future. 

Next up, the biggest S/S 20 fashion trends you need to know.