We’ve looked at serotonin-bosting food, and happiness workouts, but did you know that the so-called dopamine dressing trend, which is all about fashion choices that make you feel happy, actually has its roots in solid scientific research? – In other words, wearing “happy clothes” genuinely can make you feel happier.
Victoria Beckham has revealed that wearing red gives her an instant ‘feel good’ boost when she needs it: “Now’s a time to be positive and optimistic,” the British fashion mogul says in a recent interview with Elle. “For me, when I wear colour, that’s how I feel. Red is a strong, happy, optimistic colour, and I like having fun with it, you know?”
She adds that whilst to some people, wearing bright primary colours might seem odd, that’s why she chooses them: “I love that strangeness,” the star explains. “You could think of [bright colours] as not particularly nice, but that’s exactly why I’m drawn to them. Just to be different.”
And, according to Angela Wright, who is a world-renowned colour psychologist, and has studied how colour influences people’s mood and behaviour since the 1970s, wearing different colours absolutely can physically change how you feel.
“Red is an uplifting colour and wearing it gives you physical energy,” Angela tells Lumity. “It’s stimulating and raises the pulse rate.”
Angela explains that there are four psychological primary colours – red, blue, yellow and green. “Blue is an intellectual colour, which soothes the mind and has a mental affect, compared to the physical reaction we have to red. Yellow is the strongest colour psychologically and lifts self-esteem; it’s the colour of optimism and self-confidence. And green is the colour of balance, it’s restful and reassuring.”
But Angela warns that picking the wrong shade of any of these four can cause a negative reaction: “If you’re going to a meeting and want to feel happy and confident, you could pick red, but put it on and close your eyes and really notice and feel how you react,” she says. “It’s something that is very individualised so don’t just wear bright acid yellow because it’s in fashion, as in the wrong shade it can cause self-esteem to plummet and make you feel anxious, or even fearful.”
It’s worth noting that if you’ve always worn black, because you feel it is a slimming colour, that Angela’s extensive research has found that other people perceive those wearing black clothes as heavier than they actually are: “It’s a myth I’m afraid,” says Angela. “Black is not a slimming colour in the eyes of others, and it can also have a depressive reaction on the wearer. Brown can actually be a better choice to wear than black because it’s a solid, reassuring colour which people find quietly supportive.”
White can also be tricky, Angela says, because it can be seen as sterile and that concept can be negative. It can also make bright colours seem garish and accentuate space, so she suggests to wear white sparingly when you’re colour co-ordinating your outfits.
Once you’ve mastered dressing and picking colours from the heart, going purely on how they make you feel, we wondered which tones might work best in a home. Angela explains that following an interior design trend like minimalism is unwise as it may not be something which is calming for you personally. She recommends decorating using tones of calming colours like yellows, blues and brown.
Wearing red clothes might make Victoria Beckham feel happy, but if she painted her bedroom in that colour she might never get a decent night’s sleep ever again.
If you’re interested in doing a course in colour, Angela runs workshops for both corporate and private clients. She has also written a book, The Beginner’s Guide to Colour Psychology and later this year will be releasing specialist software to help corporate clients pick colours to suit their product and their client’s needs. You can find out more about her work here.