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How to approach colour blocking and dopamine dressing, according to 9 Australian creatives

IMAGE VIA @carbsmakeitokay/INSTAGRAM
WORDS BY EMILY HOLGATE

“What we wear plays an important role in how we feel.”

There’s something about putting on a vibrant outfit that can instantly brighten your day. Especially heading into the colder months, I personally love adding subtle pops of colour to my repertoire – whether it’s a patterned sweater, colourful cardigan, or a unique nail colour. These bursts of colour motivate me on even the dreariest of days.

But can an outfit really affect our mood? Well, research in social psychology has shown that ‘dopamine dressing’ can actually play a role in our emotions. The concept involves choosing clothing items to intentionally boost your mood — whether that’s a bag in Bottega green, a pastel blazer or even just a pair of your favourite earrings. It’s subjective really, but the idea still rings true that what we wear plays an important role in how we feel.


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I know that on a day when I’m working from home and feeling particularly uninspired, it helps to change from my trackies and oversized sweater into a pair of comfy jeans and a brightly coloured baby tee. While dopamine dressing is different for everyone, colour blocking plays a huge role, as bright colours are often associated with uplifting your mood. To assist my research, I asked nine Australian creatives to show me how they dress for dopamine or incorporate colour blocking into everyday outfits.

Tory Price, stylist

I am MAJORLY obsessed with colour. I love mixing prints and really just want to feel hot and happy when I step out the door. I always wear what I want! These pants are my absolute favourites from Etsy and it’s the perfect colour combination for me. I go to the op shop a lot for my job and I couldn’t resist keeping this top for myself! I wear A LOT of jewellery and layering lots of pieces is my trademark. I got the two necklaces in trades with stunning Melbourne designers Dorkus Design and Madalene Roper and the earrings are Sacreflux because I can never say no to pearls. It’s the perfect more is more moment – I am always more is more!

@iamthetreasurehunter

Lara Severino, content creator

For me, clashing colours and experimenting with prints, textures and tones is honestly what gives me a boost of daily serotonin. If I’m having a bad day especially, focusing on making my outfit feel like ‘me’ absolutely alters my mood. I love expressing myself through clothing and fashion and it is such a fun medium to do so. Bonus points when I find amazing small Australian businesses as well that offer fun, bright clothing and accessories. I love High Rack Studios and Poppy Lissiman!

@carbsmakeitokay

Hana Hong, content creator

I love mixing different patterns and colours and this outfit is a great example. I think the patterns and colours represent my personality – bold, fun and quirky. The best tip for the perfect colour blocking outfit is to use colour wheels. Yes, like the ones we used in art class. It’s a great guide if you’re not sure what colours work best together. Another tip is to start with solid colours. Mixing patterns is a lot harder than colours, so start with solid colours and if you feel confident, add more. Once you get into this colour blocking style, you’ll literally wear it everywhere, every day. Would you believe me if I said I also use colour blocking for my pyjamas?

@_youngmadame_

Chelsea Sullivan, founder of Hairdonism

I’ve always loved dressing up. When I feel a lack of inspiration with my wardrobe I like to see how far I can stretch it rather than buying something new. I call this look the ‘dopamine lady in pastels’. Wearing a lavender T-shirt with matching shoes and a Louis Vuitton bag with multicoloured logos is an instant confidence booster.

As an individual who has alopecia and wears wigs, dressing up has always been an outlet for self-expression and finding confidence within myself. Aesthetics is something I gravitate toward. With a design background and a love for fashion/beauty, I take pride in the way I style and express myself.

@lilchel_alopecia_girl

Meghna Sharma, content creator

Dopamine dressing for me is the direct result of letting my creativity loose in the colourful playground of my imagination. Being able to express my emotions and personality through my clothing choices has not only taught me so much about who I am as a person but has helped me grow confident in expressing that.

@_friedegg

May Fox, model and content creator

For me, dopamine dressing doesn’t mean I’ll always wear the brightest of colours to get me feeling sexy and confident. Even cool dark tones, layered from head to toe can make ya girl feel some type of way! So as long as I dress with the intention of looking like that cool bitch on the street, my work here is done.

This look I styled gives me the right amount of fem, masc and edge – a fashion cocktail for a sickening look in my opinion. I styled my Nike ACG cargo skirt with some chunky shoes and layered two different coloured baby tees to break up the greys. Lastly, I added an oversized cropped blazer to give her some structure and to keep this look cohesive. Bonus points when my fit explores my need for form and function. It’s *chef’s kiss*.

@mayfox__

Sienna Barton, model, artist and Fashion Journal contributor

As a visual artist, colour is very important to me. I think that colour has the ability to really shift my mood, and I tend to wear colour more days than I wear black. My favourite colour is pink and I have a real aversion to the colour red, which extends into my artistic practice. Here I am in a Raq Apparel crop top and a pair of Obus trackies, and it might sound a bit loopy but I feel really energised by the colour green. Also currently obsessed with shades of cobalt and ultramarine blue. This outfit is probably the ultimate dopamine hit for me.

@sienbarton

Christina Podolyan, model and influencer

There is something about wearing fluorescent colours that releases serotonin for me: kind of that artistic, edgy feel but it also really makes your face glow. I found this sheer top at a festival store but who said you can’t style it for everyday wear?! I believe that your personal style speaks to your character.

Nothing like a flattering, body-hugging, colourful top to match with a white baggy jean (from Princess Polly) to balance it with, but also to keep the top the centre of attention. For the extra brownie points, adding the red Jordan sneakers to really make the reds link together. Extra EXTRA brownie points for my matching pink Quay reflective sunnies!

@podolyano

Eishi Bandara, content creator

I always say I like wearing colours because it cheers me up, and it seems to cheer other people up too. When I first heard the phrase ‘dopamine dressing’, I thought, ‘Oh, I think that’s what I do!’. Especially going into winter, the vibes can be a bit grey and sad in Melbourne… I tend to double down on the ‘dopamine dressing’ around this time of year, which involves layering lots of silly and fun pieces to stay warm, colourful and cheerful.

@eishib

For more tips on dressing to boost your mental health, try this.

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