‘Dopamine dressing’ expert wins thousands of online fans championing bright clothing to lift your mood and confidence

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A stylist, mother of three and self-confessed expert on “dopamine dressing” has gained an online following of thousands by encouraging women to dress in bright colours to improve their mood and confidence.When struggling with her mental health in lockdown, Kate Harrison, 42, who lives in Manchester with her husband, Richard, 42, and their three children, Charlie, 14, Will, 12, and Poppy, eight, found that one of the only things she could find joy in was her brightly coloured clothes.So she decided to be a stylist specialising in dopamine dressing, which she defines as influencing your mood positively through the way you dress, and has since posted her fluorescent outfits on Instagram urging her 10,000 followers to try “colour therapy”.Even if Kate is just popping to the shops, she loves to embrace colour – day-to-day, she wears anything from a fluorescent purple dress paired with a bright pink cardigan to a green leopard print dress and matching heels.Kate has sat on panels at assessment centres to advise candidates on personal branding and often helps businesswomen find the perfect power suit – whether that be bright green or a vibrant blue – to help them radiate confidence.Kate describes her Instagram account as a ‘dopamine hit in itself’ (Collect/PA Real Life)“It just makes me so much happier, and I want to help others feel the same,” she said.Kate said she finds that her and her clients’ moods shift depending on the colour they are wearing, adding: “Red is a powerful and strong colour.“It can have different effects on different people, but for me, the positives of red is that it makes me feel very authoritative whereas green is a very caring, nurturing and earthing colour. So that gives me a calming effect.”While studying for her retail marketing degree at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2000, Kate worked in several designer shops as a retail assistant and fell in love with helping people feel more confident.Kate wants to encourage other women to dress in bright colours and improve their confidence (Collect/PA Real Life)“My interactions with women, who were genuinely frustrated by what was in the shops, inspired me,” she said.Story continues“It was either too expensive, or it didn’t fit right.“When I worked in the jeans department at Emporio Armani, when you hit the sweet spot and found people a pair of jeans that fit them, it was such a happy day.”After graduating, she trained to become an image consultant but could not help thinking it felt old-fashioned as the main focus was draping fabric on people to see what palette suited them.She said: “I quickly learned that your styling starts with you, and you’re the core of it.Wearing brightly coloured clothes in lockdown was one of the few things that brought Kate joy (Collect/PA Real Life)“Many people start with what’s in the shops rather than starting with them.“They fit themselves into what’s in fashion at the time, or what celebrities are wearing, rather than starting with what suits them.”Kate quickly realised she wanted to style everyday women rather than models for fashion magazines, saying: “I didn’t like that side of it because that is really just fake.“You can create this look that looks amazing, making people want to buy that outfit, but when you turn that model around, she’s got a load of bulldog clips on her back because it doesn’t fit.“The clothes don’t actually sit like that and are just positioned to make her legs look longer.Kate has more than 20 years of experience as a stylist and is now embracing elements of self-care into her work (Collect/PA Real Life)“I want it to be about people, clothes and building confidence.”Kate’s focus on dopamine dressing came to a head during the pandemic when she began focusing on self-care.She realised that putting more colour into her outfit, rather than wearing grey jogging bottoms all the time, made a difference to her mood.She said: “I was homeschooling three children, so we were trying to work out how to do that.“It just felt really heavy and dark.Kate’s favourite part of being a Saturday retail assistant in Manchester was helping women feel more confident (Collect/PA Real Life)“I knew that other people felt like that as well, and I just thought, what can I control here?“The only thing I could control was what could give me a bit of joy.“The one thing that I know intrinsically, that gives me joy, is getting into my wardrobe and having a bit of an experiment and almost getting back to myself.”When feeling low, Kate began practising mindfulness, listening to self-help podcasts and craved a community that loved fashion and self-care.She said: “That’s where this idea came from, really.Kate wears bright colours on a daily basis, even to just pop to the shops (Collect/PA Real Life)“I know that when you wear something that makes you feel great, it elevates your mood and brings the dopamine forward, and you can achieve great things.“I’ve seen it before when I’ve styled clients in different colours, and they’ve gone out on that day and had so much confidence.“I wanted to bring stuff that I’ve learned along the way, like colour therapy, the different healing properties of different colours.“So that’s what I did. I just went in and ignited this Instagram account.”Kate’s Instagram has nearly 10,000 followers, and she began getting messages from friends, which eventually snowballed.Kate quickly discovered that she wanted to help ‘everyday women’ rather than models for fashion magazines (Collect/PA Real Life)She said: “I started getting messages from my friends, saying ‘thanks for the reminder, I’ll wash my hair today.’“And I had messages from strangers saying, ‘Oh, this is giving me life’.“I guess it’s my way of building a community.”Kate described her Instagram account: “It’s a dopamine hit in itself and like a little stylist in your pocket, giving you all the secrets”.One of her most memorable clients was an accountant, to whom she gave the ultimate power suit.Kate says that wearing green can have a calming effect on her mood (Collect/PA Real Life)Kate said: “She was an absolute ace accountant, she had a first-class honours degree, but no confidence in how she looked at all.“She had red hair, and we went with a teal suit, mustard shoes and a bag.“She just looked absolutely effortlessly awesome, just because the colours loved her, which made her radiate this sort of confidence.“It was brilliant because people were attracted to her, not because of her suit, but because that suit was a part of her and everything worked together.”Kate is also a confidence coach and mixes that expertise into her consultations, saying: “I always say comparison is the thief of joy.“So it’s about sitting down and understanding what’s important for them, what their values are, what they want out of this. That’s so important because the colours will have a real transformational effect.“You can often see the shoulders relax, and their head come up.”

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