Photographed by Jill Harrington of Makiyah Jackson, Anna Malonson, Emma Rockwell, Aubrey Macintosj, and Rachael Veasley
Styled by Cheveney Koski
Directed by Jill Harrington
Hair and Makeup by Cheveney Koski
Director Assist: Max Meksymowski
Stylist Assist: Kerrigan Yarbrough & Jhovany Rodriguez
Photography Assist: Sydney Schied
Journalism Asssist: Megan Mearnic & Sa'Riyah Hill
By Cassidy Marshall
“I exist as I am, and that is enough.” -Walt Whitman
Self-care comes in many forms and many methods. From face masks, to treating yourself, to so-called ‘dopamine dressing’, the self-soothing activities and habits that we pick up vary greatly from person to person, as do the ailments in need of soothing. There is no strict definition or set of rules to follow when it comes to caring for your mental well-being; rather, self-care is an umbrella term that encapsulates a wide variety of coping mechanisms that reflect our identity. In fashion, everything that you do is an expression of that same identity. The clothing you wear, how it is styled, what colors you choose, all of it mirrors an internal decision-making process that ultimately defines how you decide to present yourself to the world. In itself, fashion and styling are a form of self-care.
However, not everyone dresses the way that they truly desire to. Be it a product of circumstance or confidence, to some degree or another, the majority of us follow trends and dress to achieve a certain standard, rather than portray our identity for what it truly is. Unless, of course, you partake in dopamine dressing. Dopamine dressing is not specific to any one trend or type of person - in fact, it is intended to achieve just the opposite. ‘The thinking behind dopamine dressing is that wearing clothes you love will boost your mood. There are not studies definitively concluding that everyone releases dopamine when wearing a specific type of clothing, but experts say there’s something to this trend.’ (Ries, 2022) A ‘trend’, dopamine dressing seeks to break trends and embrace identity. Dress for you, dress for your inner child, dress for who you hope to become, just make sure you dress for you and only you.
Following a trend is not a bad thing - nor is it inherently evil to dress for someone other than yourself. Found a cute dress at the store that you just know your girlfriend would love to see you in? Embrace it! Dopamine dressing is not meant to be a rulebook, it is meant to break you from the rulebook. The point behind dopamine dressing is to boost your confidence by removing the element of judgment from others. They cannot knock your confidence if you are not dressing for them to begin with.
In the society we live in today we are constantly being told how to live our lives. How to talk,
how to walk, how to act, even how to dress. The worst part is, so many of us listen. We try to fit in, participate in trends consisting of things we do not even truly enjoy. Wearing those pants that look insane to you because it is what the fashion influencers on social media are wearing. At what point do we stop and realize we should be living for ourselves and not other people?
We are too focused on being liked, being popular, or being monetized that we often forget we
also must be ourselves. Being yourself is not something you should feel like you cannot do, but the more and more we try to fit into today’s standards and trends the more and more we are training our brains to believe that who we are is not already good enough on its own. We lose sight of ourselves little by little every time we sacrifice something we love in favor of something we think others will love about us. The clothing that we choose to wear plays such a huge part in self-expression, but what we wear only has as much meaning and value as we allow it to have.
What’s further, buying clothes solely with others in mind will leave you unhappy with your wardrobe, but even unhappier with yourself. Whether you are buying clothes to fit in or buying them with the explicit purpose of standing out, you are still doing it for anyone but yourself. But others are not spending their hard-earned money on your clothes - only you are, so why let their opinion play into the decision?
Dopamine dressing is not the first trend born of self-care. Rather, self-care-centric trends have been on the rise steadily for the past decade. As we progress towards a society that is not only more accepting of each other, but more accepting of ourselves, everyone has begun to embrace the idea of embracing things. Through trends like dopamine dressing, we heal ourselves, and in turn, become better people to be around. The better you are to be around, the more it heals others to be around you. The more we embrace ourselves, the more we embrace each other.
It is no secret that there has been a massive shift in societal value and human liberty, particularly in America, in the past decade. The people are demanding change, plain and simple. From racial equity to workers’ rights to women’s empowerment, change is being brought upon every societal institution from every direction, and none of us have been absent in the struggle. As our individual power and recognized human rights are increased and reformed, our desire for positive change has bled over into every facet of our lives and identities; this has had a direct and measurable effect on how we express our identities through fashion.
Fashion trends have taken a marked shift in recent years that reflect the impact that societal reform has had on our self-expression. The more body-positive, racially diverse, and overall inclusive we become as a whole; the more encouragement is given to express those parts of ourselves. It drives expression of culture, sexuality, and other distinguishing factors about our lives and experiences that form key parts of who we are as people. Through expressing these parts of ourselves and encouraging others to express them as well, we are able to learn more about each other and ourselves, continually opening our minds further. It makes us more knowledgeable, more authentic, and most importantly, more forgiving. To ourselves and to others.
Maybe you do not put much thought into how you dress, or the clothing that is worn by others. That does not make you exempt from self-expression; in fact, it inhibits your own confidence. Taking pride in yourself in your favorite, ratty old t-shirt is just as important in taking pride in yourself in a tuxedo, and trends such as dopamine dressing seek to encourage that notion. You should wear the colors, styles, fabrics, and accessories that you want to, plain and simple. Whatever it is you choose to wear, dopamine dressing is intended to shift the priority of who you gear your outfits towards. There is no right way to dopamine dress, because you come up with the things that make you happy all on your own. It is an exercise in breaking that people-pleasing habit we all seem to come down with at some point in our lives, something that most of us never grow out of because we never knew that we could.