Dress your way to sweet, sweet dopamine.
The holidays can be an exciting time, but they can feel like a trip to Stressville, USA, population: you. Meeting your partner’s family or seeing yours, traveling home or staying put, and even attending holiday parties can create chaos, stress, and pressure. A great way to find your center and a little bit of pleasure is by embracing TikTok’s fave feel-good style trend: dopamine dressing. Elite Daily tapped Audree Kate López to explain how dopamine dressing for every imaginable holiday scenario can keep you calm, cool, collected, and cute AF this season.
When celebrating the closing out of an impactful year, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by a jam-packed schedule. “Taking a few minutes to yourself to put together an outfit that brings you joy can easily improve your day,” says López. Dopamine dressing takes joyful outfits one step further by zeroing in on what *feels* good, from silhouettes to colors and textures. “If you look good, you’ll feel good too,” adds López.
Given that exclusionary beauty standards can still dictate what “good” looks like, you’d be forgiven for thinking dopamine dressing is all about high heels and cinched waists, but that’s not the case. This mood-boosting styling hack is all about what sparks your inner joy, not gaining approval. “Pieces great for dopamine dressing are usually colorful, uniquely textured, printed, or styled around accessories you love,” says López, who encourages everyone to test out this approach to styling throughout the year, but especially when things feel chaotic. “Dopamine dressing is like playing dress-up in all the clothes that make you happy,” she says. “Have fun with it, and don’t take yourself so seriously.”
What Is Dopamine Dressing?
Dopamine is one of your brain’s feel-good chemicals, associated with the reward center of your brain. Like serotonin and oxytocin, dopamine levels rise when you’re feeling happy and excited. They also drop when you’re dealing with feeling sad or depressed. Wondering what clothes have to do with brain chemistry? López describes dopamine dressing as “the art of wearing an outfit or putting together a look that will boost your mood.”
The feelings-focused trend has been around since 2010, but grew popular on fashion TikTok over the past two years when many people were looking for new ways to combat the blues. Since 2020, dopamine dressing has been a part of a rise in maximalist looks, embellished and expressive makeup trends, and the resurgence of ’80s and Y2K fashion. With the holidays in full swing, giving yourself an extra mood boost via your wardrobe staples is a no-brainer.
Dopamine dressing doesn’t mean you have to shop for a new wardrobe to feel positive about your clothes either. Pull out that sweater that your grandma gifted you a few years ago that makes you feel like a kid again, or slip into your favorite jeans that fit perfectly and make you feel like a million bucks. If retail therapy is your vibe, treat yourself to something that will make you smile amid the holiday chaos. Get that cute sequined dress you have been eyeing or that cozy coat for a cabin getaway with your partner. No matter what this holiday season has in store for you, there’s a ’fit below that’ll trigger the release of some sweet, sweet dopamine.
Your First Office Holiday Party
Company parties are tricky. Theoretically, it’s a time to cut loose — but only to a point. Even with an open bar and festive decorations, you’ve still got to keep things professional. That said, you don’t want to be the new recruit who can’t hang with your co-workers. López has a great solution for nailing the professional side of things while still expressing your personal style. A bold matching suit set and a pair of statement-making, yet comfortable heels say you can rise to any occasion and, if the occasion calls for it, get low too.
Meeting Your Partner’s Parents For The First Time
The pressure that comes with meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time is enough to make you want to hide until the holidays are over. Dopamine dressing can help you keep your cool *and* nail that great first impression. López recommends a loose dress — think a cozy sweater dress or something flowy — or a soft matching set to make you feel put together and like you’re receiving a 24/7 warm hug.
A Night Out In Your Hometown
López says the best way to dopamine dress for a night out in your hometown is with a fun pair of jeans and a stylish jacket. She suggests patchwork or printed denim and a jacket with some personality, like a varsity or biker jacket. These pieces make a statement but won’t leave you feeling uncomfortable.
A Family Gathering At Home
Spending time with your family is the best time to do what you want because you can let your guard down. Wear what makes you feel comfortable, and you’ll find yourself radiating joy around the people you love. López suggests chunky oversize cardigans and colorful sweaters for a hit of dopamine. Reach for cardigans with fun floral appliques, extra fluffy fabrics, or groovy prints with vibrant colors.
A Woodsy Getaway
Whether you are looking to hit the slopes or the trails, you can still inject a bit of dopamine dressing into your outdoor getaway. Your outdoor gear doesn’t have to be neutral and deserves to be as joyous as the memories you are planning to make on your trip. López suggests opting for brightly colored puffers and accessories to bring some extra cheer, but don’t stop there. Instead of your usual muted, brown hiking boots, go for a pair with a pop of color.
A Gift Exchange With Your Besties
Gift exchanges with your squad call for a photo-worthy ’fit. Depending on the occasion, the dress code may vary. If you are exchanging gifts at a cute restaurant, López suggests a mini moment, but if you are looking to do something more intimate indoors with hot cocoa and Home Alone, she recommends a comfy matching lounge set. To dopamine dress this occasion up, look for a set in your favorite color or a dress with some sparkling embellishments.
The holidays are a great time to give back to your community. You may think what you wear won’t matter, but your ’fit can be a great way to spark conversation among other volunteers and those you are giving back to. López suggests a fun sweater or a conversational graphic that will get people talking. This is a great way to dopamine dress for yourself and spread some positivity.
A Tropical Vacation
Not too much extra dopamine is needed if you’re jetting off to the tropics, but if you want that extra boost, López suggests leaning into the beachy theme and choosing vibrant colors and tropical prints. This can be on a cute matching set, a flowy dress, or even your swimwear. Don’t forget to also have fun with your accessories. Bust out your fave shades and those colorful sandals you didn’t get to wear enough of this past summer.
Flying Solo At Home
What better way to get a dopamine hit than being comfy at home? Between holiday travel, going back and forth to your local shopping center, and celebrations left and right, sometimes you need a bit of time to yourself. López says to style an at-home occasion with feathered or printed pajamas, a luxe robe, and some cozy slippers. Whether you are looking to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa or have a self-care moment on your couch, an effortless outfit you can lounge in is a great option.
A Glitzy NYE Party
New Year’s Eve is the time to pull out your favorite dress with all the bells and whistles. López suggests going all out with head-to-toe fur, metallic moments, or embellishments galore. Don’t forget to pair your ’fit with a few major accessories. Opera-length gloves, statement earrings, and necklaces can all boost your mood. Since the new year is a time to celebrate all your accomplishments and embrace the fresh start of another year, you should ring in that moment feeling like a million bucks.