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Dopamine dressing

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I was thrilled to chat with Vita Daily to discuss the embrace of creative layering and wrapping following the pandemic as a way to regain control of our image. Aswell as the latest on NYFW, Wearapy and how these trends can postively impact perceptions.

“The trends to note this season have normalized functional fashion, which takes a maximalist approach to minimalism and a twist on creative layering. Together, these trends combine all the benefits of comfort dressing, dopamine dressing and cocooning. As a pandemic trend, they are now influencing the next generation of streetwear. Colour, comfort and emotion are often intertwined, making these trends an expression of Wearapy, a core theme on the NYFW runways.”

“Wearapy is the practice of using clothes to help boost your mood, confront your feelings and successfully navigate different emotional states. It’s an extension of the dopamine dressing trend, where we saw people embrace dressing as a form of therapy, a way to find comfort in something tangible and improve their mood. Colour, style, and texture can all have psychological associations. In this instance, we are starting to see a desire to showcase moods, memories and selves through clothing style.” 
“Styling tips include marrying non-traditional pieces or even clashing accessories to create a unique look. Regardless of what we want to believe about human perception, it takes only a few moments to make a snap judgment of a person and one of those deciding factors is clothing. With a layered look, dressing appears intentional, denoting a sense of security. Someone who took the time to layer an outfit aesthetically can appear more organized or detail-oriented, efficient and intelligent.”

If you would like to read on, find the article here!

Using clothes as self-improvement

I have moved cities multiple times over the past several years. Each time is equally nerve-racking as it is exciting, but the one thing that makes those moves bearable is the anticipation of figuring out who I’m going to be, aka what I’m going to wear.

Fashion, for me, has always been about finding my place in the world. Blazers in an office? Too stuffy. Writing at home in sweatpants? Too casual. Writing in a boujee coffee shop wearing a hot pink jumpsuit and cat-eye glasses? Just right.

You see, who we are comes out when we’re wearing something that is precisely us. The colors, fabrics, and silhouettes that we’re attracted to end up attracting the life we want. From friends and partners to jobs and hobbies, fashion is a powerful force that pushes and pulls us into the life we crave — IF we dress for it, that is.

Facing The Facts of Fashion

You’ve heard the famous fashion quotes that have given us energy and confidence when we need it most — sayings like “Dress for success,” “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it,” and “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” — all hold serious merit when it comes to figuring ourselves out as we move from one life transition to the next.

More often than not, when we’re feeling low about ourselves, we turn to fashion for answers. It can be difficult to articulate the power of style through the written word, but we all know how special a certain dress makes us feel, or how we are flooded with inspiration and creativity when putting on that one skirt. To that end, I make the argument that fashion is little more than a feeling.

To me, trying on new clothes is like trying on new selves. Of course, there are other factors that play into how we dress, including where we live, what we do for a living, and who we spend our time with. I believe these influences to be the essence of life, giving us permission (or not) to say what we want to say, do what we want to do, and yes, wear what we want to wear.

Straight From The Experts

Colourful and charismatic personal stylist Anna encourages her clients to “dress how they want to feel,” stating that to be yourself you have to get to know yourself, which requires “lots of trying on new clothes to see which ones make you feel most alive.”

Anna does a lot of inner work with her clients on their style personality and style identity claiming, “When you know your style identity, you are free to dress however you want.”

This is something that both takes time and evolves over time, and there is no “right” or “wrong” in the process.

Fashion stylist and image consultant Jenni Lee emphasises that each of us have endless facets of ourselves to explore, noting that clothes are the easiest way to uncover the different personas we want to step into.

“A lot of women have limiting beliefs based on what they have soaked in from living in a patriarchal society and negative ideas passed down from family,” JenniLee says.

“I am continually coaxing and supporting clients to play with clothes, to try things on that are out of their comfort zones so they can physically experience what it feels like in their body to wear other styles and to see themselves in other personas.”

Finding Your Signature Style is a Journey

Whether you’re shopping in a vintage store, luxury boutique or your own closet, I think we can all agree that each item of clothing we put on, a certain feeling is evoked. This, after all, is essentially what we are all dressing for each day, isn’t it? That one feeling we are trying to grasp, may it be pride, professionalism, boldness or contentment.

And those feelings, just like our style preferences, change and evolve over time.

When I lived in Chicago, for example, I was single and childless with the world at my feet. My style, not surprisingly, matched how I felt about being young and carefree in a bustling city. It was fun, loud, playful, and energetic, just like my personality. 

Now, as a married woman and mother of two residing in Connecticut, that fun and playful me is still intact, but I have learned to lean into the chic and elegant flair of the East Coast.

The point is not to blend in, but to appreciate where you’ve been and where you’re headed. And there is no greater measure to do so than with fashion.

I conversed with the lovely Amy De Klerk for Harpers Bazaar about navigating society’s obsession with newness and how we can manage shopping thrills with mindfulness practises.

“The need to avoid losses – or what we might refer to as FOMO (fear of missing out) – combined with our ingrained desire for novelty, causes a rush of adrenaline which contributes to the thrill of shopping experiences. The hits of dopamine and adrenaline create a reward-seeking loop that causes us to reach for our debit card over and over again.”
“Despite the fact that consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about the impact of their purchase decisions, the thrill of shopping is not something that we can magic away. Like with any experience that creates a reward-seeking loop, the thrill of shopping is something that we all have to manage with both education and mindfulness practices.”
“Taking time before you buy something will ensure that you’re not being swayed by that chemical surge that takes place in anticipation of going shopping. Waiting will allow you to think carefully about if you truly want or even like the item that’s sitting in your basket.”

Please read the full article here.

I was delighted to be interviewed by Tara Hejazi for Mimp Mag. We discussed what Fashion Psychology truly means, post-pandemic consumer habits and much more!

“We often think of our clothes as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin helping us navigate our different realities and emotions.”
“We’re seeing more people in this demographic turn to ‘buy now, pay later’ because they can still buy the items they want, but with responsible spending in mind.”
“Pre-COVID, many people were shopping for how they felt they needed to dress based on the environment or occasion. People would typically have separate attire for things like work, going to the gym, going out to dinner and other social functions.”

“We’re seeing Afterpay users purchase items with cozy silhouettes alongside formal attire like bodysuits or pumps. Going forward, people will find themselves getting into the habit of shopping for what makes them feel good rather than what society has deemed conventionally appropriate.”

Click here to enjoy the full interview!

I was delighted to speak with Katherine Singh for Refinery 29 to unpack the latest buying trends, post-pandemic style & Dopamine Dressing.

“People haven’t been able to express that creativity and fun through their wardrobe,” says Forbes-Bell. Because of this, our desire to wear our dressy “outside clothing,” is in high gear — even if it’s just a lunch meeting or, like in my sequinned daydream, a morning coffee with friends.
“We ascribe certain values to things that have sentimental value or things we associate with fun, creativity, and joy. And when we wear those items we embody those traits and then subsequently we get that feel-good hormone.”

If you would like to read further please click here.

‘Dopamine Dressing’ explains how our clothes can make us feel positive. ⁠It was born out of one of the core principles which explains our motivations behind why we dress a certain way and why we buy certain clothing to satisfy our emotional needs. 

People really do use clothing as a tool to help them alleviate certain negative emotions, to improve their wellbeing. When you wear an outfit that makes you feel happy, you get a rush and that rush is linked to the chemical dopamine, which is released in the pre-frontal cortex. 

Set: House of CB Photo: JKG Photography

Colour Psychology and Dopamine Dressing

When our bodies realise dopamine, we feel pleasure which makes us more likely to carry out the behaviour that caused this again (and again). This works when we wear any clothes old or new as long as it has symbolic value to us. Researcher Karen Pine found that items symbolic to the wearer left them feeling much more confident. 

The theory of ‘enclothed cognition’ teaches us that the attributes we associate with specific items of clothing are extremely powerful. When we wear these clothes, the associations have the power to alter the way we feel and even impact the way we act. So, for example, if you associate a yellow dress with joy, then you will embody that feeling of joy when you put it on. 

Researchers found that people wearing black clothing have a larger influence on a group as they come across as more authoritative. If your end goal is to feel confident when wearing black, then feelings of happiness will surely follow. However, it is important to stress that it is all about your personal associations and symbolic value. 

Dress: Kai Collective Photo: JKG Photography

The pandemic and Dopamine Dressing

The pandemic has caused a shift in the way we relate to our clothing, so it’s less about “how does this look” and more about “how does this make me feel”, both psychologically and physically. You might find yourself asking: how can I function in this? Or, how does this signal something specific about me?

In terms of trends when it comes to clothing we are seeing two groups emerging. The kind of people who are going bold vs those who are champions of comfort. The bold dressers are utilising outlandish creative styles as a means of escapism to free themselves of loungewear pieces (that can feel like a uniform). Afterpay’s Global Fashion and Beauty Trend Report found that Millennials purchased 47.8% more vibrant colors and patterns in 2021 than in 2020.

However, comfort has remained an important fixture in our wardrobe and that’s something alot will find hard to relinquish anytime soon, for example, elevated basics are taking centre stage. Therefore, many of us will lie somewhere in the middle of these two groups – wearing clothes that make us feel comfortable, that we can navigate our day in but that can also say something about ourselves and our creativity.

Set: Rouhi Photo: JKG Photography

Sustainability and Dopamine Dressing

Fast fashion and social media mirror each other in how they provide dopamine hits and instant gratification. More sustainable fashion practices like slow fashion, or buying less, almost runs in opposition with everything that social media really is, which is quick, fast, shiny and new.

Although, Afterpay found that Millennials and Gen Z actually purchased more of their items from Enterprise level retailers in 2021 than in 2020 suggesting that big fast fashion companies are progressing off the cards. 

Gen Z have become extra creative in order to remain sustainable whilst fuelling their desire for fresh outfits they are constantly exposed to on the gram. It’s all about making more for less: following TikTok trends to craft and customise their own clothes, hitting the charity shops or earning some cash by selling pieces they no longer love. 

Therefore, it is evident getting dressed in the morning is much more important than you may first think, it can be used as means to elevate positive emotions and bring us joy! 

I spoke with RTE to discuss the shift in what we are wearing post pandemic, most of us are finally able to take a more creative approach by dressing up!

“Over a year spent in loungewear can cause some to experience ‘loungewear fatigue’ due to the way we’re hardwired to be attracted to novelty hence the embracing of bold styles.”
“Similarly, studies have shown that outlandish dressing has a type of tension release dimension because it can act as a form of escapism which will appeal to many after the tumultuous nature of the last 18 months.”

You can find the article here.

I was thrilled to share my insights on Dopamine Dressing and Colour Psychology with Harpers Bazaar. Science has proven that the associations we have with our clothing can influence the way we feel, so, it is extremely important to bear this in mind!

“The link between colour and emotions is tricky because cultural interpretations of colour impact the emotions that arise when wearing them. For example, in Western cultures, white is associated with purity and fresh starts, whereas in Eastern and Asian cultures, white is linked with death and mourning.”

“The theory of ‘enclothed cognition’ teaches us that the attributes we associate with specific clothes are incredibly powerful. When we wear these clothes, the associations have the power to change the way we feel and even change the way we act. So, for example, if you associate a yellow jumper with happiness, then you will embody that feeling of happiness when you wear it.”

“Add more of your favourite colours into your wardrobe – the colours that remind you of a happier time, a place or a person… Figure out what you associate with confidence and joy – and wear it!”

Make sure to read the full article here.