I Tried Dopamine Dressing With Colorful Outfits, And It Transformed My Week

“You should wear bright colors for a week.”

I started to laugh at the text I received from my editor. I was looking in the mirror realizing I was wearing four different shades of gray. This bleak color wasn’t out of the ordinary for me and I was completely unbothered by the lack of joyful colors in my wardrobe. I don’t have a fear of colors, just an aversion to them. If you’ve read one of my previous Markey Tries It articles where I dress differently, I’m mostly drawn to the comfort of black or gray sweatpants paired with a black sports bra.  

So I brushed off the idea of wearing colors for a week thinking it would be impossible, considering I barely had any color in my closet, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. What was the worst that could happen if I got dressed every day in colorful clothes? I had to find out. So this week, I neglected my neutrals to go rainbow all day, every day. 

While wearing my boring black sweatpants make me feel safe and comfortable, wearing bright colors has proven psychological benefits. Dopamine dressing is the colorful trend that fashion designers have run with for the past year. Everyone’s trying to ditch the drab loungewear we’ve been wearing for two years and opt for bright colors to improve our moods and get people out of the house. 

Let me be clear – wearing colorful clothes won’t actually add value to your life or make you magically happier. Trust me, if it did, I’d change my ways. But in the same way that wearing an outfit that we like improves our perceived confidence, so does wearing bright colors. Fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell says that wearing yellow will not necessarily provide you with happiness, but if we associate yellow clothing with happiness, we are more likely to feel that joy.

So, while my colorful wardrobe might not suddenly make my life a Disney movie, it might improve my mood. Constance Hart of Conscious Colors has a lot to say about what colors to wear and why people subconsciously choose to wear them. Hart says that people who wear the color black most often need a ‘security blanket’ in their clothes. She says, “For that reason, we see a lot of black in cities. In my work, I try to help people move away from black because it can have a depressive quality to it…. Color has an effect on our psyche, it’s always affecting us whether we are aware of it or not.”

Hart’s wisdom opened my eyes to what I had been doing with my wardrobe. Black on black, security piled on top of security, and often with nothing fun or interesting mixed in with the scheme — just normal pieces and mundane colors. Not anymore. 

I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this week. To be honest, I always find it difficult to get dressed in the mornings, even when I’m not going out. Working from home has a ton of benefits, and pajamas and no makeup are some of my favorites. But it’s also proven that everyone should get dressed for work in the morning to get in the correct work mindset and to help promote a work/life balance. So this week, I went from completely monochrome colors to all the colors in the rainbow.

Redcolorful outfits

It’s the first day of the challenge and I decided to go for it. I don’t have as much red in my closet as I thought I did (I will find throughout this challenge that I don’t really have many colors in my closet at all). I grab my black turtleneck, black tights, and black heels. I know, I’m adventurous. But I grabbed a red mini skirt and belted it, then added the reddest red lipstick to complete my look. 

Red is an energizing color and I did feel a new sense of energy come over me tonight. It’s also one of the most daring and energetic colors, so I harnessed that energy and went to downtown Nashville. I felt more powerful than usual, and while I might have been a bit overdressed for the burger dive bar we went to, it was so fun! This outfit gave me more confidence than if I had kept with my jeans and sweater norm.

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colorful outfits

I guess I’m going in rainbow order! Orange is said to help the wearer be social and bring them out of their shell. That being said, I chose to wear this color on my night in. I headed to Target and, in the spirit of this week, looked for some of the most colorful clothes. Target just did a brand collaboration with Lego that I am absolutely in love with, so I snagged one of the sweatshirts! I’m not sure how ‘social’ I felt, considering I stayed in today, but I did feel brighter and happier because of the sweatshirt’s many colors.

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Colorblock sweatshirt
Orange Sweatshirt – $24

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Yellow & Burgundy

colorful outfits

One of the main problems of this challenge is getting dressed at all. It got to be about 4 pm today and I was still rocking my pajamas, so I headed out. I put on my yellow jean jacket, some jeans, a green sweater, and burgundy boots. The major color overload was a bit shocking for me, but it was also fun. It was rainy and gloomy and I’d been stuck inside all day and needed something to shock my system into going out.

Yellow is often called a joy color. It also is said to bring the wearer mental clarity and confidence. Burgundy is said to make you feel stable, grounded, and centered. The rich shade will also help you make decisions. These two colors helped me go out with confidence, and they made my gloomy, boring day much less gloomy and boring.

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colorful outfits

Today was a snow day and it worked out perfectly. My partner came over the night before and we were snowed in together. Without being prompted, he brought his pair of green matching pajamas his mom got for us this Christmas. I was already on my green day, so I decided to match him!

The color green helps to create a balance between yourself and others. I think that was perfectly encapsulated in our matching outfits and the close proximity we were in all day. Green is also the color of growth, maturity, and health. All of these elements were perfect for our day together. Side note: I also highly suggest having a matching pajama day with your partner next time you get a chance.

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Plaid Flannel
Plaid Green Pajamas – $30

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Another snow day/work from home day. I’ll admit, these are the days when I find it hardest to wear colorful clothes because they’re the days that I don’t leave my house. But at 5:30pm, it was time to run errands, so I grabbed my blue and headed out the door.

Blue creates calmness and serenity, but it also represents loneliness. I’ve been grappling with loneliness for the past week, so I felt as though it was appropriate to wear something that so easily summed up my nature. On a more positive note, blue is also the color of dependability and security. For some reason, when I run errands, those are exactly my feelings. I feel like I’m taking care of myself and making sure I have all that I need. I wanted to keep up with the confident colors and, while grocery shopping doesn’t exactly require a five-star outfit, I knew that the second this week was over, I’d stop trying. So I used it as an excuse to wear my one-piece denim jumpsuit and my Adidas sneakers. I did a little experimenting with my hair, but everything made me look like Rosie the Riveter, so I left it down.

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Today and tomorrow are going to be the real challenges. I’ve said I don’t have much color in my closet and it’s becoming a problem. I think I have roughly 4 items in my entire closet that have pink and purple in them. So this is going to be interesting. I grabbed my slouchy purple, blue, and green sweater and my fun overalls today. It was such a quirky little outfit that I would never usually wear, but I’m gaining confidence to dress outside of my comfort zone with this challenge! Purple is most often linked with wealth, prosperity, and sophistication. It’s the color most associated with problem-solving and is known as a feminine and romantic color. I did feel more feminine in this outfit than I usually do. That also might be because I don’t usually get dressed for the day. Either way, I loved how the color purple made me feel today. 

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colorful outfits

It’s the last day! I will miss having an excuse to actually get dressed and wear something other than my neutrals all day, but I’m also looking forward to going back inside my comfort cocoon. I grabbed my fuzzy pink and burgundy striped sweater and a pair of high-rise corduroys today. I adore this look and while it’s a little bold compared to what I usually wear, it always makes me feel comfortable and confident. Pink is the color of love, it also opens you up to self-love. I felt that today. I was stretched a little thin, but taking time to wear something warm that I liked made me feel good.

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I wouldn’t say this week magically made me the happiest person in the world. While wearing colorful clothes did improve my mood and confidence, I don’t think the rainbow colors mesh very well with my comfort style. That being said, this week did help me get out of my comfort zone when it came to dressing myself and I know that I’ll be a lot less hesitant to wear colors the next time I want to go out on the town.


Do you wear bright colors all the time? Do they improve your mood? Comment below!

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