Earlier this year, Pinterest predicted dopamine dressing as a way to lift our spirits after two long years of dressing in sweats and staying indoors. A quick turn from the soothing tropical blues and calming California beiges, bold pinkish shades popped up on all the runways and red carpet events. You see Dopamine Pink everywhere.
The term, Dopamine Dressing, takes its name from the chemical phenomenon in the brain — the chemistry of reacting to happy things. The name stuck because it aptly describes the need behind the trend. We want to feel happy so we look at (and design and buy and curate), bright and whimsical things. Dopamine Pink is by far the most popular color for this trend.
As a result, bright and happy colors have become powerful for search, social marketing, and merchandizing. In particular, the following search terms are trending:
- rainbow dress women
- fuchsia dress outfit
- electric blue outfit
- vibrant outfits
- gradient dress
- pink shoes
- color blocking outfits
- emerald green dress
I’ve noticed in this mix that some of Pantone’s previous colors of the year are being revived. Just look at those punchy tones!
While it wasn’t a favorite of mine at the time it was selected, Radiant Orchid is a very wearable color. It’s classy and bold — without some of the mania of bright tones. I did grab a lipstick in this shade last summer and it boosted my vibe instantly.
Honeysuckle always strikes me as a wedding tone — probably because it was very hot around the time I got married. People were starting to incorporate color pops into their wedding dresses through embroidery, ribbons and sashes. This color (and teal) were just everywhere.
Another color that I didn’t appreciate the first time around, Tangerine Tango has become the go-to base for color-blocking. You see it with fuchsia, navy, or hunter green. It’s such a powerful shade — bright and happy yet straddling the line between masculine and feminine colors.
Coral is still having a strong moment as it transitioned easily from going with soft tans (making it the pop of color) to becoming an accent alongside brighter tones. Such an interesting shift from being a bright to being a new neutral!
Dopamine Dressing to Dopamine Design
As a result of this sartorial shift, other aesthetic institutions from interior design to graphic design to merchandising are picking up on this literal take on eye-candy. It’s maximalist, bold and irreverent. You find that Dopamine Pink color everywhere.
While color-blocking in clothing has been a mainstay of high fashion, we’re seeing it trickle down to the target crowd. People who would have put a bright top with jeans two years ago are now layering pattern and color with thoughtless abandon.
Many brands are finding themselves dropping single items in these hot shades — instead of building an entire aesthetic around them. I think it’s smart because the tones just won’t be a mainstay for some brands.
On aesthetic social media (think Pinterest and Insta), the softer, white-washed posts have stepped aside for the brightest influencers.
You’re also seeing a trend toward highly-saturated and high-vibrance filters. The resulting images use boost the hues that will remind you of technicolor TV and flash photography.
In general, people have decided that living in a cartoonish rainbow world is a nice break. Walls are being painted or wallpapered in the brightest colors. Vintage clothes are impossible to get from thrift stores. And staid brands are wondering why their engagement is dropping off.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the DIY world picks up neon spray paint to restyle accessories in these crazy, peppy tones. Personally, I’m finding ways to drop unconventional color combinations into playful designs. For example, this designed this wordy poster around a clash of color and pattern.
For my retail clients, color keywords are essential — meaning you need to research the trendy terms for color to ensure they pop up in search.
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