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We know that clothing alters how we feel. It’s why we place so much emphasis on having the perfect outfit for a big presentation or a first date; clothing can manufacture confidence. While we’d like to think we’ve been dressing for joy all along, the fashion industry took the philosophy one step further this spring and summer season with its emphasis on dopamine dressing.
Dopamine dressing looks different across individuals. After all, the outfit that makes you feel great might be another’s worst nightmare. Some feel powerful in monochrome black while others need vivid color to feel bold. Still, psychologists, brands, and trendspotters seemed to settle on one vibrant definition for this year, including popping neons, whimsical shapes, electrified gradients, and maximalist silhouettes. Nix the neutrals.
Below, we’ve picked out some styling picks that reflect the best of the trend – all from our favorite DTC brands.
You Should Add Some Neon Pink.
Certain colorways are more prominent than others this season, and we’ve noticed quite a few dominating the runway and our Instagram feeds. Kelly green, neon orange, electric blue, hot pink…
Start out with the pinstriped The Pool Boy in Flamingo ($145) from AYR. The brand’s Ecosilk blend combines an elegant, silky drape with the loose, boyish vibe of a short-sleeve button down – ideal to take you from the office to the sun on a summer Friday.
Instead of jeans, opt for The Baxter ($88) in Watermelon Juice from Blank NYC. Relaxed denim hits at a flattering point on the waist, while comfort and (surprisingly versatile) color make this pant an instant mood-booster. Should you want to test run, this pair is available via rental service Nuuly, which allows you to rent six pieces monthly for $88. (I’ve rented these twice in a row!)
For shoes, try Sabah Shoes: specifically the Condesa Pink Baba ($170). Handmade in Turkey with fine leather and artistic detailing, these slippers will mold to your feet over time to be über-comfortable – and always eye-catching. For more formal occasions and workwear, they’re the ultimate shoe to elevate any outfit with a necessary pop.
For more casual wear – and long walks – the Mansur Gavriel x VEJA Unisex Sneaker in Rosa ($175) delivers your hit of pink. I adore both these brands independently, so when I discovered this monochromatic low-top sneaker, I literally gasped.
Channel So-Cal Summertime With Tight, Bright, And Retro.
With hot summer nights on the horizon, our wardrobes are taking a turn for the effortless.
Hammies shorts ($70) are an instant pick for high-cut, vintage-y style absolutely made for rollerblading and beach adventures. Popularized in the 1970s in Southern California, these primary-colored corduroy marvels embody all that retro lifeguard and camp counselor style.ﾠ
You could also add a sporty mid-top sneaker, like the LOS ANGELES sneaker ($300) in Pale Lime from ONCEPT. The shoe’s made of entirely sustainable, recycled materials – and its puffer-style fabric and citrus orange detailing add a fresh, elevated take to your everyday style.
If you really just want to throw something on and go, try the many bright rompers from Back Beat Co. A linen version ($158) is light for running around, while the organic cotton jumpsuit ($198) is more utilitarian, able to weather any adventure you desire.
Find Your Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (& The Dress To Match).
We’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss “bright & tight” as it relates to swimwear.
Left on Friday has a dynamite selection of neon swimsuits, so you’re guaranteed to find a shade you love. Try the Weekender Suit ($170) in Neon Green or mix and match this Pool Days Top ($85) and Hi Tide Bottom ($85).
For a coverup, the Luxe Pima Tiered Coverup Mini Dress ($95) from Summersalt is an absolutely vivid shade of electric blue guaranteed to pop against your tan. Meanwhile, Pitusa has a variety of comfy rainbow coverups (of which you can choose between bright or pastel versions) like this Ombre Rainbow V-Back Dress ($160).
Transition to nighttime with a silky dress that slips easily against your sunburn. Try the Tessa Twist Front Dress ($120) from Adelyn Rae, or the variety of resort-worthy rainbow dresses at Farm Rio. Bonus: the brand offers a literal Dress in Happiness t-shirt ($50) to channel its brand motto.
Fame and Partners should be go-to for dresses, always. First, you choose from a variety of flattering styles. Then, you can customize by fabric, color, length, and more. Talk about clothes to make you happy: a dress made literally for you. I’m eyeing the Aileen Dress (starting at $369) in Matte Satin, Petunia.
Knitwear Is It-Wear – Year-Round.
The best part of buying a mood-boosting sweater is that you can wear it year round. Even if you’re in for the day, you can still embrace the dopamine dressing mentality with cozy clothing that makes you happy.
Pair with this Maura Jacquard Sweater (rented from Nuuly, $89 from Urban Outfitters) for a comfy, multicolored sweater perfect for chill on the beach once the sun goes down. With “sunshine state of mind” emblazoned across one sleeve, it couldn’t get more blatant.
Arthur Apparel makes knitwear adorned with whimsical flower print. Wearing the pattern as a set adds immediate polish (and flair) although you still get to feel like you’re wearing pajamas. Shop the Pot Plant Sweater ($190) and Pot Plant Pants ($175).
Or you can combine the breezy lightness of summer dresses with the comfort of knitwear with the Tully Dress ($239) from Winter Muse. Just make sure your pick has thin fabric and cutouts to beat those summer temps.
Combine the best of activewear and knitwear with these form-fitting brights from the Year of Ours Summer ‘22 collection, a (naturally) Los Angeles-based brand paying homage to the city. Does it get any more LA than the vivid pink Sepulveda Short ($118)?
Accessorize What You Already Have.
Lest we forget, a huge part of embracing the dopamine dressing lifestyle involves embracing clothing you associate with good memories. Pulling on a jacket associated with a night you loved achieves a similar effect (and makes your wallet happy). If you’d still like to channel the styles most associated with the trend, you can add in accessories like bags, jewelry, and nails that you could wear everyday.
Remind yourself of an affirmation with a beaded intentions bracelet à la summer camp, like this Blush Hell Yes! Beaded Bracelet ($60) from Hart Hagerty. Or glow in the dark with the Max Pavé Opal Huggies ($56 for pair) from Studs.
We know that alligator claws are all the rage nowadays, so how about this Hibiscus one (40% off at $13.20) from Lisa Says Gah!? If any DTC brand has a chokehold over dopamine dressing, it’s this one. Or try their rounded cat eye glasses ($99), crafted in a collaboration with Crap Eyewear. Better yet, Nuuly just partnered with Lisa Says Gah! for an exclusive spring and summer collaboration titled Nuuly Says Gah! (what else?), featuring a size-inclusive line of to-die-for prints and knits.
All in all, there are plenty of ways to channel the best of this latest trend. Bright colors and patterns are wiring us to experience joy, and it’s frankly exciting to see brands trying to make everyone cheerful. So throw on that neon top, or splurge on that pair of colorblocked shoes. Your brain might thank you for it.