Instagram @anabelmaldonado

Increased happiness and confidence are closer than you think. In fact, you can hone in on both of these qualities in your wardrobe, with dopamine dressing. It’s a mindfulness practice that started to trend post-pandemic, but fashion psychologists have been researching the topic since 2012. Findings from the first study on dopamine dressing indicate that our clothing alters how we think and act. It’s a testament to how our lives are directed mainly by our perception of ourselves and how great an impact clothing has in influencing that perception.

To break down dopamine dressing, we defer to the fashion psychologist, Anabel Maldonado. Maldonado is the CEO and Founder of PSYKHE, the world’s first-ever AI-driven fashion recommendation platform that matches products to your personality. She believes “dopamine dressing is just about dressing in a way that triggers the feel-good neurotransmitter for you, so it’s not necessarily about swathing yourself in prints or bright colours. An outfit that feels electric on one person won’t necessarily feel the same for someone else, so the notion that there is one way to dress to feel a mood boost, is a misconception.”

Instagram @rodarte

With the subjectivity and self-knowledge involved in defining your idea of happiness, dopamine dressing asks us, “How well do you really know yourself?” This question can be pretty daunting, so we’ve requested Anabel to share her tips on the best practices to receive the benefits of dopamine dressing:

“1. Develop mood-style self-awareness. Much like keeping a food diary, take notice of which clothes you feel best in, and which outfits you like more in theory, but you never feel quite yourself in. Everyone has a general idea of their style, but honing in on exactly which elements brings dopamine will take some more vigilance. Is it the chunky gold hardware on your bag? The extra-bold volume of a dress? The feel of a cashmere hoodie? The sense of sliding your feet into a glittering pair of heels? Or a really great pair of new sneakers? The goal is to know exactly which colour palette, detailing, metal, textures, fabrics, and silhouettes spark joy. Scroll through your IG feed. Historic data – looking at outfits you’ve worn through the years – also provide clues that help you ascertain your own dopamine dressing toolkit. Take note of the outfits you felt best in, and find the common threads.

2. Take a personality test. A greater understanding of your core traits as a person will help you understand why your ideal aesthetic makes you feel the way it does, leading to a greater connection between you and your clothes. The Big 5 test on is the most robust and reliable scientific personality test, and is a good place to start.

3. Invest in your toolkit. The final step is really just to drown out the noise, get rid of the not-you items that are crowding your wardrobe, and put potential new purchases through the dopamine test. Only invest in purchases that give you this electric factor.”

Dopamine dressing is a testament to you knowing what is best for yourself. Incorporating the strategies of this practice into your everyday decision making is a way to be more mindful and in-tune with who you are through self-knowledge. For Anabel, “that means accepting that I always feel my most powerful in monochrome, despite people telling me that I should ‘brighten up.’ Apart from monochrome, I also love punchy shocking hues, like magenta or neon green, but nothing in between. Muted shades or pastels, for example, never feel right, and I think that’s because I have an extreme personality. I also love to wear big gold jewellery or gold hardware, despite it being gaudy to some. Lastly, I have come to terms that I am very very picky about prints. I don’t like florals, they’re usually too saccharine, but I always feel amazing in botanical prints.” We encourage you to follow the steps outlined above to gain a clear picture of what your version of dressing confidently looks like, especially if you’re just starting out. Remember that dopamine dressing is just as pleasurable as it is beneficial, so have fun with your practice and remember to do and wear what you love. Self-knowledge is your greatest compass.

You can learn more about Anabel’s platform PSYKHE, and take your personality test here.