Might it be time to wean ourselves off dopamine dressing? Are we ready to graduate from the picture-book cheerfulness of rainbow colours, and slip into something more sophisticated. What do you think? Shall we give it a go? I’m game if you are. I don’t think we are ready to flip into stark black-and-white just yet, though, so a cosy, warm, sepia-toned neutral combo feels about right.
Let’s call it Choco-chrome: monochrome, but sweetened with a syrupy dash of rich brown. You know how a square of dark chocolate hits a sweet spot of being a sugary treat that feels grown up and refined? That is kind of what we are doing here. We are trading up, wardrobe-wise, from bingeing on Haribo-brights to nibbling on a piece of Green & Blacks 85% cocoa.
I don’t think it would serve any purpose to spell out the depressing roll-call of reasons why the world has been so in need of dopamine dressing over the past few years, suffice to say that there are times when Good Vibes Only is a necessary wardrobe prescription.
Life is still a bit rough and bumpy but, fingers crossed, it doesn’t any more feel as though we are fighting fires on every single front 24 hours a day. In fashion terms, that means that we get to be cool again, rather than having to look jolly all the time. In other words, you are hereby released from a civilian duty to do your bit for national morale by wearing Smartie-coloured dresses to meetings.
Choco-chrome is a specific colour palette: black and white and grey, but softened with earthy tones of brown, caramel and cream – but it also very much a vibe. Dopamine dressing was about colours that would cheer us up: a pop of yellow, a flash of cloudless sky blue, a sugar-hit of sweet pink.
Dopamine dressing was fashion to put a much-needed smile on your face and on the faces of the people you met. Choco-chrome dressing, on the other hand, is a bit less about making friends and a bit more about making an impression.
In the latest series of Succession, the sibs are all seen wearing Choco-chrome. No strong colour, but lots of soft browns and tans as well as black and white, echoing the opening credits. Without getting sidetracked into an elaborate dissection of Succession’s sartorial signposting, it seems to me that Shiv, Kendall and Roman’s mother-nature-meets-boardroom shades of caramel and espresso brown reflect that there are family ties enmeshed with financial interest.
The key metric by which I judge the usefulness of any outfit is the ratio of effort to impact. Outfits that look inventive and eye-catching without requiring a lot of thought to put together are what we are all after, I think. I love this sort of clothing as much as I love pieces that look a lot more expensive than they are, which is a lot, because those are my favourite kind of clothes.
Dopamine dressing was a bargain when you were short of time and headspace: pull on a dress and a pair of trainers, and if the dress is apple green or electric blue, you will read as having put together an outfit.
The downside of wearing muted colours is that you do need to put a little more effort in. Black and brown together can look a little smudgy otherwise. The simplest formula is to wear two dark tones with a highlight of something pale – a creamy handbag, as seen here, for instance. Or pearl earrings, or the crisp triangle-flash of a shirt collar, or a flat-white trainer. Or – and yes, I’m channelling Shiv here – lift your earth-tones with a judicious drip of jewellery.
You remember what’s at the end of the rainbow, right? Rainbow dressing may be fading, but the pot of gold is here to stay.
Model: Ana at Body London. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using Living Proof and Skinceuticals. Dress, blazer and bag: all Zara. Sandals: Ivylee