Dopamine Dressing – the latest fashion craze

Dr. Robi Ludwig

Dopamine Dressing is the hottest trend on TikTok. It links brightly colored clothing and happiness and has long been the subject of psychological research. But can the colors we wear have an impact on our mood? And is this something we should be thinking about when we get dressed every morning?

Psychologist and Fashionologist Dr. Ania Schwartzman says yes to all.

Dr. Schwartzman is a firm believer that how we look on the outside correlates with how we feel on the inside. She is an expert on the power clothes have over our self-esteem and specializes in helping busy women master how to take control of their mindset with what they see in the mirror.

Why does one’s mental state shift when they like what they see in the mirror and feel confident in their clothes?

Research into how clothing affects our brains shows that when we like what we see in the mirror, we get a spike in the hormone dopamine, one of the feel-good neurotransmitters, which results in a boost in mood which can lead to feeling more confident.

What occurrence or realization prompted you to start your business, “The Fashionologist NYC?”

I was in the dressing room of Lord & Taylor with a friend who asked for my help finding a dress for her daughter’s high school graduation. Her husband had suddenly decided to leave their marriage and she was devastated. The last thing on her mind was buying clothing but she needed an outfit for this occasion and was determined to find the perfect dress. The time I spent with her in the dressing room, helping her through the process, felt therapeutic. It was more than just finding a dress to look pretty. She needed the perfect dress that made her feel confident and powerful so that she showed the world she was unbreakable. I recognized that I was using both my expertise as a therapist along with my passion for clothing to help her in a way no one else could. That evening, I wrote up my business plan for what became The Fashionologist.

What is your go-to outfit for a time when you do not feel as confident?

Everyone needs an outfit in their closet that screams “I’m a rockstar!” I have a pair of leather pants and high heels that I rely on to feel my most confident self.

Do you think it is more difficult for single women exude confidence, especially while living in a big city like NYC or LA?

Not at all. In fact, studies demonstrate that women’s confidence is not tied to being in a relationship.

In fashion, the color black is often associated with mourning and grief. But many wear the hue because it makes them feel chic and glamorous. Why do you think that is?

The history of dressing in black goes back centuries as a symbol of resistance. Over the years, it did not matter which group you belonged to, black symbolized confident, cool, and serious. It does not hurt that black is also a slimming color. Those who wear black for fashion know that they are part of the chic crowd.

Do you think the pandemic has caused more women to become careless about the way they present themselves due to the comfort level of working from home and the lack of in-person interaction?

I would not call it careless. Pandemic dressing became a strategy to survive an unprecedented time of anxiety and fear. People relied on clothing that made them feel safe and secure. What better than a comfortable sweatsuit and fuzzy slippers? These days, women struggle to find a balance between comfortable and professional dress. Not knowing how to dress for the new normal is what many women deal with now.

Tell us about the “dopamine dressing” trend taking over TikTok and if you believe the hype.

Dopamine dressing was introduced by psychologist Karen Pine to explain that when people wear clothes that symbolize something of value to them, they feel more confident. There is something to the hype. I have always known that clothing has power. In fact, when I was a shy and awkward teenager, I intentionally used clothing to connect and belong with others. Research in the field of enclothed cognition demonstrates that what we wear effects how we think and feel and how we manage ourselves in the world.


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