Pathways for positivity: Dopamine Dressing

It had been years since I thoroughly decluttered my wardrobes, drawers and attic storage. With spring finally on the horizon, I decided that an uneventful February weekend was the perfect opportunity to tackle a task I’d been avoiding.

Time to bid farewell to clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories that had been tucked away, untouched, for years taking up valuable storage space.

So there I was, dumping everything onto the bed in the spare room, ready to sort through it all: keep, donate, sell.
About five minutes into the process, regret set in. My room resembled an explosion in a clothes factory. The sheer volume of items was staggering, even to me.

What I thought was just a modest stash turned out to be piles of items that had been hoarded away for ages, kept “just in case,” though I couldn’t quite articulate what for. As I filled bag after bag for donation, I had a moment of clarity: the clothes I once cherished over a decade ago no longer sparked joy.

I’d been holding onto clothing and accessories for years under the assumption that I might wear them “someday”. A mix of sale stuff, charity shop bargains, stuff to slim into … and other items saved for that elusive “special occasion” that never seemed to materialise – no pun intended!

Perhaps you’re familiar with Marie Kondo, a well-known expert in organising, who assists people worldwide in turning their cluttered homes into tranquil, restful spaces. Her philosophy suggests that if you’re unsure whether to keep something you own, if it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s best to part with it.

I decided to adopt that philosophy and I have to say, it really did help to motivate me and speed up the whole process. I only kept items I really liked and was confident I would get around to wearing, albeit years and in some cases almost two decades since I’d first purchased them. I was only going to keep things I felt good in. Items to boost my dopamine levels.

If you’ve not heard of “dopamine dressing” it’s a concept that basically means wearing clothes that empower you.
It’s about choosing outfits that make you feel confident and excited, instead of following what’s popular or trendy. It’s wearing clothes that bring you joy and boost your mood.

Imagine a toddler who wants to wear wellies in the middle of summer, just because they love the colour of them,or a Disney outfit to the corner shop, just because they can and it makes them happy. Well, it’s a bit like that, for adults.

The concept of dopamine dressing originates from the notion that our clothing choices can deeply influence our emotional state and general sense of happiness. Much like dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, dressing in lively and cheerful colours or simply dressing in items that make you feel confident is thought to evoke positive feelings and increase your wellbeing.

It’s not to be confused with vanity or spending hours getting dressed up each day to impress somebody else, it’s about knowing that you deserve to feel good, for you. Not just on special occasions.

That could mean having a spritz of your best fragrance. Wearing your favourite jumper because you like how it feels on your skin. Rocking jazzy socks that make you smile when you look at them, or having a swipe of bright red lippy before you leave the house (that’s my favourite!) Do it today. Not tomorrow or some special occasion far on the horizon. Make today the day you’ve been waiting for.


Shannon Humphrey is a First Aid for Mental Health Instructor working in the business and education sectors.
If you have a suggestion for an article, contact her at

Photo: Shutterstock


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