Dopamine Dressing is the latest style trend to sweep across Chinese social media. Netizens consider this splashy styling a whimsical way to lift their mood amid the pressures of life and work. This trend is one tasty treat–rainbow sprinkles on top.
Dopamine is a chemical messenger in the brain that reinforces behaviors that make you feel good; that’s why it’s often called the “feel-good” hormone.
Dopamine Dressing, then, is wearing outfits to lift your mood. The theory behind it being that if we opt for colorful clothing over the drab and dreary, we’ll get a boost of dopamine and feel, well, happier.
Already a TikTok fashion trend in 2022, it took a while to enter the land of China Fashion, but the country’s Gen Z today are all in. 多巴胺穿搭 (duōbā’àn chuāndā| “Dopamine Dressing” in Chinese) is hot to trot.
Characterized by brightly colored hues, the new fashion mania is believed to have first emerged amongst university students deprived of feel-good vibes, according to Dao Insights, a website publishing exclusive articles on and high-value case studies from the Middle Kingdom. A fashion blogger who goes by the name Daytime Bear ( 白昼小熊 | báizhòu xiǎoxióng in Chinese) has carried the trend forward with her more than 3 million followers on Douyin (China’s TikTok), 1.2 million on Chinese Instagram slash e-commerce platform 小红书 ( xiǎohóngshū| Little Red Book (LRB)) and another ca. 280,000 on China’s YouTube equivalent Bilibili (as of June 3).
And fashion-conscious men, too, are getting into the color-sprinkled swing of things. Dopamine Dressing guides on Chinese social media advise dope devotees to pair blue and green hues, considered “smooth” colors, lively turquoise or calming, soothing tea green or grass green palettes with blue jeans. Dressing like the Sun also works.
But what hides beneath all the loud layers? Some LRB users have commented that they are turning to vibrant clothing as a way to balance out their rigid academic or professional lives. Others have described the style as both “relaxing” and a “mood booster.”
There’s always more to the sartorial surface than meets the eye. Plus, the power and pleasure of Dopamine Dressing in China aren’t exclusive to the nation’s younger generations. Behold:
Speaking of “dressing like the Sun”… The pic above presents the wildly popular 86-year-old BiliBili host who goes by the name of “Kang Kang and Grandpa” (康康和爷爷).
The man tries on various styles—from Western suits to casual clothes, from ancient Chinese garb to Japanese and South Korean styles. There seems to be no sartorial splendor he won’t try. He combs through Chinese social media to find out what’s trending in China Fashion and Dopamine Dressing became his latest outside-the-box venture.
“In the 1940s and 50s, the only choice for us was a Chinese tunic suit,” Kang told state media news portal China Daily in 2020. “After the start of reform and opening-up, clothing began to diversify, and now there are thousands of fashion brands. We’ve become more open with rapid development of economy.”
During that same interview, the glampa added clothing not only reflects people’s pursuit of beauty but also their love and hope for life. He wants to narrow the gap with younger people and inspire more senior men to update their wardrobes.
Once confined largely to life insurance and healthcare advertisements, today’s glamorous Chinese seniors, too, cater to the high fashion appetite. The number of fashion brands in China that are marketed to the elderly doubled between 2017 and 2019, according to a South China Morning Post report. But the silver lining here is not just confined to the acknowledgement of their physical “worth;” it marks a new window of opportunity. These seniors are becoming far more than mere brand billboards; they embody new lifestyles.
Just think about the country’s shíshàng nǎinai (时尚奶奶) , literally translating as “fashion(able) grannies,” but occasionally referred to as glammas–the new generation of grandmas who are stylish in the way they live and dress and do not fit the typical cardigan-bearing, permed hair granny stereotype. This quartet of late-aged urbanite women entered the (live)stream of their golden years with gusto, strutting their stuff on catwalks, covers and social media alike.
Presenting the changes in their own blueprint for life, with a sartorial lining, more and more Chinese seniors want to prove to their fellow silver vixens and foxes that with a passion for beauty and good health serving as their dopamine, old-age can still become one’s prime time.
A vivid glow will never become vieux jeu.
FEATURED IMAGE: COLLAGE
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