Colourful kids’ clothes: Can they really affect your child’s mood?

Have you ever heard of dopamine dressing? Sunny Wallis, mum of two, and founder of It’s Just a Phrase takes a look at how different colours can affect your child’s mood and behaviour. Spoiler alert: it might come as no surprise that pinks, purples and yellows are winning when it comes to boosting our mood.

Can the clothes we wear really affect our mood?

According to a recent article by The stylist* ‘Dopamine dressing’ is a thing. After a week of wearing colourful clothes one of their writers, Katrina Mirpuri, noted: “By the weekend, I was already seeking out my next colourful purchase on Vinted. Not only did it successfully lift my mood, but I felt I had become more fashionable throughout this process. The Moral? Clothing is far more functional than aesthetics. A chic monochromatic outfit might be the favoured choice, but that fun jumper you neglect holds far more power.” 

So what exactly is dopamine dressing? 

The theory behind dopamine dressing is that the clothes you wear can affect your mood. In short, you can boost your mood and feel good through the clothes you wear. According to Jo Joynes, Colour, Style and Makeup Consultant at Colour with Confidence “The colour we wear has a huge impact on our daily lives, how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us.” She continues: “Injecting the right colours and combinations can have a huge psychological impact which goes way beyond simply 'looking nice'.” Indeed, Jo says “Being kind to ourselves, giving ourselves the permission to wear and surround ourselves with the colours and items we love, provides support, comfort and a marked increase in confidence and mental health.”  

Comfy leggings with that snuggly jumper

Jo is in no doubt that our clothes (and their colours) can reflect our mood. Have you ever felt low and wanted to chuck on a grey jumper to match those favourite black leggings? Or popped on your best top for a night out and felt absolutely fabulous? We use our clothes as a tool to portray our personality and current state of mind. Well, this is also the case for our children.

Our introduction to colour

As babies develop their senses, colour becomes one of the biggest stimuli to help them navigate their way through life. While newborn colour perception remains limited to shades of white and black, babies love to look at high-contrast black-and-white patterns, which stand out in their blurry world, attracting their attention and helping them focus and learn. From about 4 months your baby can see in a full range of glorious colour, and this is where Ducky Zebra’s colourful unisex clothes can really come into their own and brighten your little one's world!

How colour can affect your child’s behaviour

A famous study conducted in 1993 by Boyatzis & Varghese (Children’s emotional associations with colour) proved that colour can have a physical impact on children. As light enters the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that controls nerve centres, it makes changes to our heart rate and respiratory rate, all of which can alter a child's level of attention, stress and emotional state. Each colour will produce a different wavelength of energy and will affect each child differently.

Which colours trigger which behaviours?

An article from Colour Meanings found that each colour had an individual impact on a child’s learning ability and behaviour:
    • Blue: Blue enhances creativity and stimulates a cool and relaxing environment 
    • Red: Red is the colour of passion and strong feelings of threat, love, or excess stimulus. In school rooms it can be used in combination with other colours as it can help in detail oriented or repetitive tasks
    • Yellow: The colour of happiness and sunshine for children. Yellow stimulates intelligence and is ideal for use in kids’ rooms, study rooms and play areas. Ducky Zebra LOVES the colour yellow, and we do our best to incorporate it through our designs
    • Green: The colour of abundance can relax and contribute to better health in kids
    • Pink: This is a calming colour and can lower heart rate
    • Purple: This colour is ideal for kids as it is attention grabbing
    • Orange: Many educational institutes use this colour as it enhances critical thinking and memory. Test rooms in this colour are known to enhance performance in exams.

Why limit kids’ clothes to just pink and blue?

Step into any high-street kids’ clothing store and you’ll be met by a wave of pinks, purples and pastels in the girls' section and dark greens, greys and blues for the boys'. Why limit children to such a narrow range of colours, especially if these colours impact how they’ll feel and behave? And why restrict the colours for boys’ clothing, in particular, to sludgy dark tones?

Here’s why we have a problem with this:

    • Dark colours can spark negative emotions in children
    • These emotions can include feelings of loneliness, sadness and isolation
    • The lack of colour in boys’ clothes removes the opportunity for that positive ‘mood boost’ you get from brighter colours.

Dopamine dressing for all kids

In a recent Ducky Zebra survey one parent mentioned “I believe happy cheery clothes make my boys smile more.” At Ducky Zebra we believe every child should have the opportunity to wear happy, cheery clothes, to access the full-range of colours, and to be able to express themselves through the clothes they wear.

Pinks and purples shouldn’t just be for the girls, nor blues and greens for boys. Instead they should be enjoyed by all children and celebrated in their everyday wardrobe. Take a look at our range of rompers and dungarees to get a taste of our rainbow of colours!

Fancy reading further? Here are some of the resources we used for this article:

*A big thank you to Holly Tucker, who shared the Stylist article in one of her Holly and Co. Newsletters. 

About the author, Sunny Wallis

Sunny Wallis is a marketing manager and copywriter for a children's holiday camp and childcare business. She is also founder of It’s Just a Phrase, which supports small, parent-facing businesses with their content. She absolutely loves writing, and has enjoyed incorporating her own experience of being a parent of two into her copy. 

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