Dopamine Dressing: How Colourful Clothing Can Help Your Gloomy Winter Mood

Dopamine Dressing: How Colourful Clothing Can Help Your Gloomy Winter Mood
At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW - prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

The chilly months are here, pals, and that means layers, chunky knits and lots and lots of grey. I’m not sure what it is about winter, but as soon as we’re required to dress warmly, it appears our wardrobes start to mimic the environment around us — all colour tends to disappear. And that’s a bummer because winter already has a tendency to bring our moods down. We know that the presence of colour does something to light up our brains, and certain shades can impact our emotions — which is where the premise of dopamine dressing comes from.

What is dopamine dressing?

If you’re new to the term, dopamine dressing simply refers to wearing pieces of colourful clothing that are likely to give our brains a hit of dopamine (the neurotransmitter connected to feelings of pleasure or reward).

Studies that date back to 2012 indicate that our clothing can have an effect on behaviour or “psychological process”, especially if it has a symbolic meaning for us. The term ‘enclothed cognition’ refers to the power of the associations we make with pieces of clothing. It can hugely impact how we feel and act, which suggests that yes, what we choose to wear each morning is hugely significant.

In Pinterest’s 2022 predictions, it claimed that dopamine dressing would jump up in popularity this year. Its annual report shared that feel-good outfits would be a key trend in 2022 (maybe in part because the world has been on fire of late), writing that “people are heading somewhere over the rainbow this year with vibrant outfits and colourful palettes”.

Specifically, terms like ‘vibrant ouftits,’ ‘rainbow dress women’ and gradient dress have spiked in popularity on the platform, jumping up by as much as 16 times the search volume.

How to get started with feel-good outfits

Well, it’s entirely up to you. But if you’re not feeling up to diving straight into a fuschia shirt, you could dip a toe in the dopamine dressing trend with something simple. Here are some suggestions we think you might enjoy.

Bright socks

dopamine dressing funky socks
Bamboozld funky socks. Image supplied.

Bamboozld has a range of colourful bamboo socks with prints ranging from Pac-Man to flowers. It’s a pretty brilliant way to experiment with funky, colourful clothing without committing to an entire outfit.

Colourful underwear 

colourful clothing
Dopamine dressing ideas. Image: The Iconic.

Just because no one can see it, doesn’t mean it can’t boost your mood. Brighten up your underwear drawer with a splash of colour and see how it makes you feel. These colourful women’s g-strings and men’s boxer briefs by Calvin Klein are a great starting point.


dopamine dressing
Dopamine dressing activewear. Image: PUMA

A fairly easy place to play with colour is in your activewear collection. It also helps to break up the sea of black in your drawers to throw in a few bright items here and there. Some of our favourite examples are PUMA’s Deep Orchid tights and matching sports bra, the Sharp Green men’s box tee and these Wild Rider Pickup sneakers in Urban Red-Puma Red. (If you want more sneaker recommendations, read on here.)


Dopamine dressing accessories. Image: The ICONIC

Play with dopamine dressing by introducing colour through your accessories. This could be a beanie (AERE’s cotton knit beanie is a cute example) or a watch or even a coat or scarf.

Matching PJs with your bedsheets

Dopamine Dressing: How Colourful Clothing Can Help Your Gloomy Winter Mood
Image: Sheet Society

Winter dressing isn’t just limited to what we wear outside the house either, you can get that dopamine hit while feeling cozy and stylish in the comforts of your own home too.

I mean, what’s a better source of dopamine than our beds? What’s even better is that you can now match your PJs to your bedsheets. How iconic.

Sheet Society has matched their top-selling Frankie Flannelette sheets with two limited-edition unisex pyjamas. You can grab your very own matching PJ and bedsheet set from Sheet Society for $95 until they are sold out, so get in quick.

From here, you can build up to bigger, bolder colourful fashion choices that will hopefully have your mood feeling brighter this winter. Enjoy!

Log in to comment on this story!