Ditching the heels: Holly Tucker's guide to dopamine dressing

living creatively
by hollY TUCKER


Find out what (exactly) made me ditch the heels and choose dopamine dressing instead. Spoiler alert: my Spanx have gone now too...

Dopamine dressing: wearing clothes you love and dressing for yourself

For me, ditching the high heels was a revelation. It wasn’t just the discomfort (although, honestly, I look back now and wonder how on earth I ever wore them — and more to the point, why), it was the ‘me’ they represented. One that was trying so hard to be a power player and fit in. It made me miserable. Expressing myself through fashion wasn’t a priority at all (and here I mean, ‘slow fashion’, ‘kind fashion’, ‘fashion that makes you feel like you’, not the ‘in fashion’ sort). But now I believe wholeheartedly in dopamine dressing.

If dopamine dressing is all about boosting your mood by wearing clothes you love, I think the more we feel as if we’re being our authentic selves — and dressing for our personalities, not our expected roles, ages or figures — the happier we’ll all be. I love finding unique women’s clothing and women’s accessories that are packed full of colour and creativity, and are designed for all bodies and people. Because you CAN wear whatever you want, however you want, whenever you want. It doesn’t matter if you’re 40, 63 or 82, there is just one rule you need to follow to pull this off… and that’s that your clothes should feel like ‘you’ (if you need inspiration, try my Holly's clothing picks.

What was Iris Apfel’s advice?

Iris Apfel said, “When you don’t dress like everyone else, you don’t have to think like everyone else.” And I wholeheartedly agree. When I left notonthehighstreet in 2014, I also left behind an era of a certain Holly that had been created — and it wasn’t one I ever thought I would become. I was a Daily Mail, carbon cut out of a ‘female executive’ — and I felt so far away from the Holly I really am. I know some women love that look, and feel that heels give them a Beyoncé type strength in the boardroom, but I don’t. They made me feel like something I’m very much not. So I made a decision to change.

Discovering your own uniform: freeing yourself from expectation

As I was setting up Holly & Co, I was just too busy not to be comfortable (and Bobbi Brown covers this brilliantly in her Conversations of Inspiration podcast episode too). That’s why I created my own uniform. I ditched the heels, the body con dresses and the Spanx (ok, double Spanx!), and I really bloody liked feeling like I was rebelling. Plus in western society, our success as women is largely based on looks, so I think I enjoyed the juxtaposition of being a successful businesswoman wearing glitter trainers too (ok, and a headpiece made of butterflies maybe)... but it worked. I turned up to No. 10 Downing Street wearing them, to Claridges, and I even met the King in them. Finally after many years, I was putting two fingers up at expectation and starting to feel more myself.

Time to break the fashion rules: what would you really love to wear?

The fashion rules make me feel a bit sick. Not so much the rules themselves, but the fact that I have stuck to them for so long. “Long sleeves hide bingo wings” — yes and make you bloody hot in summer. “If you’re over 40, you should never show your knees” — why not? They’re only knees?! “Black is slimming” — it’s also worn to funerals. Like all women, I’ve spent most of my adult life worrying about these things. Yet these statements so clearly restrict us. Also if women magically become invisible once we hit middle age anyway, let’s make the most of it and simply wear what we want!

Invest in sustainable fashion pieces

I do think it’s worth investing in ethical clothing or accessories that won’t end up in landfill. I like the idea that the clothes I buy have helped someone else and have been made to last, to be passed on and enjoyed afresh. That way, it doesn’t just make me happy, but others too.

Style is all about self-expression

So what’s your version of glitter trainers? Which colours change your mood for the better? If you love Dolly Parton and all things ‘country’, could you bring out more of your inner cowgirl? Or if you’re passionate about poetry, have it embroidered onto your clothes perhaps? Great style is all about self-expression, so surely the easiest way to look and feel wonderful is by simply being yourself. The world has enough conformity and discomfort already. Dress for you, that’s what I say. We need all the joy we can get.

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