I Tried Dopamine Dressing—and It Made Me Happy

Photo: Collage Vintage

Can I dress myself happy? That’s the question I challenged myself with while still in the throes of first-trimester discomfort, nausea, fatigue, and general not-feeling-so-hot kinda days. So what better to boost my mood than a little dopamine? Dopamine dressing, that is. The general concept is that wearing overtly fun clothes (think bright colors and positive slogan tees) can trigger those happy chemicals in the brain and lift our mood on darker days.

The catwalks have been encouraging. One of the biggest trends to come from the S/S 18 runways are all things vivacious, bright, and beautiful. From Christopher Kane to Stella McCartney, the shows were awash with bold, vibrant hues–enough to get us all smiling for summer.

Photo: Getty Images: Pictured; Tom Ford, Christopher Kane, Sachin & Babi, Stella McCartney.

But can throwing on a yellow frock really be the style equivalent of an antidepressant? I tried it for two weeks (while battling morning sickness). At work, I wore a striking mix of statement colors, like these yellow cropped Madewell pants, a rainbow-striped sweater, and vibrant pink shoes. I also threw some positive-slogan T-shirts such as this Joie de Vivre T-shirt into the mix to channel some optimistic vibes.

Photo: Style du Monde, Sandra Semburg, Collage Vintage.

The conclusion? While it might not have gotten rid of my nausea, the pieces did make me feel good walking into work. A large dose of this elated feeling was the result of the slew of compliments I was receiving. As someone who wears black, white, and neutrals for 360 days of the year, the unexpected douse of color ignited shocking applause from my fellow friends and colleagues. Another cheerful fix came from the grins and smiles of other people looking at my fun and positive T-shirts. How could this Smile T-shirt not make others smile? Smiles are contagious (if you didn’t know), so more often then not, I’d be smiling too.

Dopamine dressing gave me a fresh and upbeat perspective, even if I did occasionally feel a little out of sorts wearing so much color when I typically never do. The key is to feel confident and comfortable in what you’re wearing. And while you don’t need to dress up like Crayola crayons to make you happy, if that red dress or that kitten T-shirt makes you feel comfortable, confident, and good, then you’ll most certainly project that.

Give it a try and shop our favorite happy-making pieces below.