From the resurgence of patterned wallpaper to the fascination with colorful paints, appliances, and accessories, many of the home trends that are already defining 2022 involve exuberant maximalism. It’s easy to see why: Coming off of two difficult, lonely, and often heartbreaking years of a pandemic, we’re all eager for a little happiness in our homes. This more-is-more attitude has already made its way to runways and red carpets, so much that the fashion world gave it a name: Dopamine Dressing.
Take the perfect shade of Pantone pink developed for Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2022–2023 collection, or the jewel-toned dresses sported by the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Jessica Chastain, and Naomi Scott during the latest awards season: Dopamine Dressing refers to joyful self-expression through vibrant, often loud, clothing. As Harpers Bazaar UK notes, colors that count as “exuberant” vary widely across cultures and locations, but it certainly seems as though many designers—and consumers—are latching onto clothing as a way to express happiness.
“People are seeing fashion as a way to find joy,” explained Elle fashion features director Véronique Hyland in a talk at the Savannah College of Art and Design as part of its SCADStyle forum, where she was interviewed by fashion journalist and SCAD professor Dirk Standen.
“A couple of people have asked me, ‘Is there a post-pandemic look?‘” recalls Hyland, whose debut book, Dress Code, examines the intrinsic relationship between fashion, culture, and self-expression. “And I haven’t really seen any one silhouette, but I think the closesist thing to it is this exuberant expression—which people are calling ‘Dopamine Dressing.'”
For good reason: “Fashion can really bolster your spirit in a challenging time,” says the author. We’d argue that the same is true for interiors. (Notably, 2019’s prairie dress revival instigating a cottagecore/Grandmillennial decor awakening.) Already in 2022, we’ve seen such joyous collaborations as Happy Menocal for Schumacher, Liberty for J.Crew, Mark D. Sikes for Anthropologie, and a Kips Bay showhouse last fall that was awash in color and pattern. (While Hyland doesn’t delve into the world of interior design in Dress Code, the term she coined to describe the banal branding trends of late 2010 startups—”millennial pink”—was eagerly gobbled up by the design industry and used to sell everything from blush paint to pots and pan sets.)
Social media is partially to thank or blame, depending on how you look at it: Platforms like TikTok and Instagram provide us with easy outlets for expressing our personal style and absorbing the adventurous style choices of others. (“You’re going from an audience of people you know personally in your world to potentially a huge audience,” Hyland points out. “You want to keep up.”) While cooped up during the pandemic, many began to eschew blasé home trends in favor of more lively personal expressions. And whether that means we’re going to see more bold prints and patterns or a more subtle approach, the connecting thread is that design can and should make you happy—and what could be more of a dopamine driver than that?
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