Can Wearing Bright Colours Make Your Happier?

Seasonally, we are faced with the latest ‘What To Wear’ columns. Vogue predicts, runways are walked, trends are set, and there you have it, that’s what every girl in the know will be wearing next. After all, fashion is a form of expression, purely on output, right? As it happens, psychological research suggests there may be more to it… Meet ‘Dopamine Dressing’.

To better understand Dopamine Dressing, what is dopamine?

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. It is produced by our bodies and used by our nervous system to send messages between nerve cells. It contributes towards many different psychological functions including motivation, memory, and mood, in addition to physical functions such as pain processing and heart rate. Dopamine is regularly named the ‘happy hormone’ as it is responsible for allowing you to feel pleasure and satisfaction. When you feel happy after an achievement for example, this is due to a surge of dopamine in the brain.

In theory, dressing in colours that provoke the release of dopamine can cause your outfits to instil happiness.

In 2012, a study from the University of Hertfordshire investigated the idea of domaine dressing where participants wore clothes that had symbolic value to them; their perceived confidence increased. Although this study wasn’t aimed at colour exclusively, the connection association between colour and mood has been talked about for centuries.

As a universal language, many societies can agree certain colours evoke specific feelings, for example cool hues of blue and green promote calmness and quietness, while brighter shades of yellow and orange help you feel energised. However, some cultures interpret colours differently. For instance here in the UK, white symbolises purity and innocence, and is worn traditionally by the bride on her wedding day. Whereas in Chinese cultures, white is the colour of mourning. This shows the connection between colour and emotion isn’t so black and white. 

The key to dressing for happiness is to figure out what works for you.

Since happiness is such an individual emotion, what will take us there is totally unique too. What colours spark confidence and joy in myself may be completely different to you, so there are no strict dos and dont’s. Have a play around and notice how you feel. Does wearing it make you feel happy? Does that colour remind you a person, place, or memory? Do you feel confident? The only person that can decide what dopamine dressing looks like is you! If you feel good in it, you’ve hit the brief. And who knows, you may even give rise to a new trend yourself.