How to dress yourself happy, one feelgood outfit at a time | Fashion

Clothes should make you happy. If yours don’t, then you are getting fashion all wrong. I don’t much go in for style diktats, but I’m not budging on this one. Making you feel good about yourself is up there with keeping you warm and dry, and providing pockets to put your stuff in.

To use an on-trend expression: follow the science. It starts with colour. Studies suggest that yellow, pink and red have an uplifting, energising effect on our mood, while blue makes us feel calmer. (I should point out, here, that scientists do not universally agree, and that the data can be interpreted in various ways. But I’m guessing you have clocked that over the course of the past nine months.)

What certainly feels true is that by wearing bright colours you project an energy and warmth into the world that gets reflected back. The sunshine of a yellow cardigan beams back at you, not only from the mirror, but from the faces of people who smile when they see you. The enforced isolation of the past year has made many of us feel we have become invisible beyond our domestic set-up. Wearing a bright red coat next time you go for a walk is one way to combat that.

On days when life feels like heavy going – hello, January! – getting dressed in the morning affirms the fact that today is indeed a new day. This is why putting on clothes you left on the floor when you got into bed, although tempting on cold mornings, doesn’t get your day off to a winning-at-life kind of start. Make tea, turn the radio on and, while the news reminds you of the many things you can’t control, be thankful that you do get to choose to wear a sweater in your favourite colour, or the earrings your best friend gave you, that remind you of her.

Feelgood clothes are partly about confidence, but they are just as much about comfort and contentment. We didn’t embrace tracksuit bottoms in lockdown because we are lazy slobs, we did it to adjust to our environment. Pacing the kitchen between Zoom meetings in a tailored jacket and pencil skirt suit would only aggravate the discomfort of that situation.

In a year without parties or board meetings, we have reoriented how we dress towards comfort. We have discovered the luxury of relaxed silhouettes and good-quality fabrics, and don’t want to give it up. Not only cashmere – which was always as much a status symbol as a personal joy – but silk and organic cotton. A soft sweater instead of a scratchy one can be a comforting arm around your shoulder. Not as good as a hug, but every little helps.

10 dopamine-boosting styles to try, picked by Melanie Wilkinson

1 Earrings, £15,


2 Trousers, £17.99,


3 Dress, £95,


4 Jumpsuit, £69.99,


5 Sweatshirt, £19.99,


6 Polo shirt knit, £160,

Polo shirt

7 Socks, £19,


8 Rain mac, £190,


9 Cap, £35,


10 Cardigan, £99,