Decoding Dopamine Dressing This Summer

Time for a pop quiz! What is the similarity between the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin?

Answer in the simplest terms: They are both neurotransmitters, aka messengers, in our brains that deliver signals through neurons. Serotonin is known to be a happy neurotransmitter while dopamine is associated with feeling “good.”

What don’t we do to feel that serotonin/dopamine rush? We [try] to eat healthily, sign up for that yoga session, go out with friends, and perhaps even treat ourselves to a little retail therapy. Turns out, the way we dress can also help us achieve that goal quite effortlessly — did someone say dopamine dressing?

[Read Related: 3 Gender-Neutral Fashion Trends That are Blurring the Lines]

I am sure we can all agree that we need a mood booster in 2022 and Brown Girl’s very own Wellness Editor and Mental Health Counselor, Israa Nasir, shares her point of view:

The reason that color and what comes up with color is important is that it’s rooted in our evolutionary biology. It also triggers a specific mood, so once that neurochemical reaction has been activated, that can trigger an emotional state. That’s why our decor and color are so important in managing our mood. Ever notice how repainting our room, usually done with pleasant colors, can make us feel better?

Coming out of the pandemic, people are craving more playfulness in terms of wearing colorful clothes. Think of it as our post-pandemic desire to reclaim being back in the world.

Wellness and fashion go hand in hand. That being said, happiness is definitely subjective. In terms of fashion, many believe dopamine dressing is indeed a real phenomenon. Now, dopamine dressing, or as some might call it serotonin styling, is not about wearing the best clothes, it’s about wearing garments that we choose for ourselves and feel comfortable in. More specifically, wearing bold and bright colors can enhance our mood. Nasir adds:

Color is important because it affects our mood and behavior. It’s not a 100% guarantee, for instance, to see the color red and feel excitement, but studies have shown that the color red increases your heart rate. We know certain colors, like orange and yellow, are warm and are associated with playfulness, sunshine, sunsets, and sunrises…so that creates that energy around you and uplifts your mood if you are feeling a little gray. Take yellow rain boots to combat a gray, rainy day for example!

That explains all the colors on our Instagram feed! After all, color blocking has become all the rage this year. And, rightfully so.

One such influencer that caught my attention, before hot pink shirts and orange pants became an elite combo, is Arushi Mehra. Just hitting the follow button and witnessing her style on a daily basis can result in a dopamine rush in and of itself. Let’s take a peek into Arushi’s authentic vibrant fashion sense.

What inspires you?

My inspiration mainly comes from my travels, as well as the different people and cultures I’ve encountered during them. For me, there is a certain excitement in mixing these cultures through my personal style. It’s probably what has allowed me to develop a distinct social media presence. And of course, I’m also influenced by good old Bollywood — there have been several times I’ve channeled my inner Poo (K3G) and rocked a head-to-toe pink outfit!

Do you wear more colors when you’re feeling under the weather? Do you feel wearing colors has an effect on your mood?

My clothes are my daily shot of dopamine. My personality type is an empath, which means that I visualize and feel my emotions to their full potential, and well, my clothes too. I wake up every day with an urge to try on something new — an unexpected color combination, a fun pair of pants, or a blingy pair of shoes.

Yes, wearing colors such as yellow, pink, and green brings me a lot of happiness because I associate them with mood-boosting things such as warm days, florals, and lush gardens.

What does fashion/styling mean to you?

For me, fashion represents being fun and fearless. It has the power to make a statement. I absolutely love the idea that I can choose to dress girly one day and super edgy the next, and both styles represent a part of me.

You rarely mention wearing black in your stories! Why is that?

I personally find the color black to be a safe, dull and predictable option; which goes against the ethos of my style — it’s playful and unabashed. This doesn’t mean I don’t own any black clothing, but when I do wear it, I like to style with colorful, bold prints and patterns to make the outfit stand out.

If you were to style Desi clothing and add a dash of your touch, what would it look like?

What a fun question! Whenever I wear desi clothing, I like to pair it with an unexpected accessory; mostly it’s handbags that I experiment with — so instead of a traditional potli bag, I would style it with an embellished bucket bag (I love the ones from Lebanese brand Vanina) or a crystal evening bag such as the Rosantica Holli. I also always tend to let my hair down, as opposed to the traditional Indian up-do!

Let’s talk about color-blocking! Any tips/tricks?

Color blocking isn’t for everyone — so I would suggest starting off slow and easy! Pairing a bright-colored accessory such as a handbag, heels or even a hat with a neutral outfit is a great way to immerse yourself in the trend. A tip I always swear by is to mix contrasting tones together — my favorite being red and purple [or] blue and yellow.

The Takeaway on Dopamine Dressing?

An important note that both Arushi and Israa agree with: You do not want to be surrounded by neon at all times because that “can be highly activating, so you definitely want to have accents of brightness with calming tones.”

Serotonin styling/ dopamine dressing is about being creative and exactly in that process, you have to enjoy the process and allow yourself to experiment.

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