What Do Shopping & Sex Have In Common?

That’s right… Sex and buying that special pair of shoes you really love actually do have something in common. And honestly, it’s not that hard to understand if you think about it. They both trigger the pleasure centers in our brains! I recently came across an interesting magazine article detailing the psychology of fashion and the science behind it, and I was so intrigued that I just had to do some research of my own. Why is it that we love it so much, even when it’s beyond our budgets or physically uncomfortable (aka every pair of stilettos ever)? Here are the science-backed answers, and how you can use them to make smarter shopping decisions.

Fashion & Society
Whether or not you consider yourself a “fashionable” person, we all wear clothes (for the most part at least!). The way we dress and groom ourselves is a nonverbal cue to other people about who we are. Whether we realize it or not, we’re communicating to others what we might do for work, what activities or event we’ve just come from or are on our way to, and even our personalities. Studies show that people who are dressed in more elegant, tailored clothing are perceived to be more confident and successful. While that certainly doesn’t mean that you need to drop your entire paycheck on a couture gown (so many great high street brands like Zara offer beautiful and affordable options), it does go to show that shopping smarter and putting effort into your look is proven to give better first impressions, which is important in both your career and personal life.

Why Do We Love It So Much?
Really, it’s simple. We receive a huge mental payoff from the act of searching for and purchasing something that we really desire, because our brains are being flooded with dopamine (which is the neurotransmitter that gives us pleasure). Along with these intensely pleasurable feelings come our expectations of how others will perceive us, and this is shown to be equally as satisfying. Just think about how much fun it is to be complimented on an item you really love wearing!

The Power Of Fashion
Shopping and fashion not only lift our moods through the extra dose of dopamine we receive, but we can also use them as a way to boost our own confidence. As someone who hosted a makeover show for 5 years, I really can attest to the transformative power of a good haircut and killer new dress when it comes to your self esteem. Of course, there are so many other deeper factors that go into feeling confident, but just as our body language can influence our thoughts, so too can our clothes. Motivational speaker Amy Cuddy’s research on body language shows that you really can “fake it ’till you make it”, and that by displaying confident body postures you can actually trick your brain into feeling higher self esteem. I believe that clothes can have the same effect – a great outfit makes you feel more put together, and can potentially help you perform better at work or in social situations.

Fashion & Sex
With shoes being one of the most booming categories in the fashion industry, it’s clear that we ladies just love them. Studies have found that a woman’s intentions behind wearing sky-high stilettos can often be – you guessed it – sexytime 🙊. More specifically, attracting a potential mate (or flirting with our current mate!). Heels are known to make a woman walk in a more seductive way and appear more attractive to men and women alike. And again, both activities trigger higher dopamine levels in our brains – so there seems to be a correlation between shoes and sex! As Christian Louboutin said, “When a woman puts on a heel, she has a different posture, a different attitude. She really stands up and has a consciousness of her body.”

My Moral Of The Story
Though fashion is meant to be enjoyed, use this knowledge to try to be more aware of your impulse buying. Because people who enjoy shopping (like me!) are receiving such a big dose of dopamine through the act, it can be hard to be logical (i.e. can I even afford this? Don’t I already have something almost identical?). No pair of shoes is worth going broke over (though Carrie Bradshaw might disagree), so try to sit with the idea of a big purchase for a while before pulling the trigger. Do research, shop around for low prices, and see how you feel about the desired item in a few days (or even weeks). Don’t be pressured by items going out of stock – there will always be something new and fabulous that you want to own. But I get it! At the end of the day, fashion is just plain fun – so if there’s an item that you just have to have every so often (without missing rent over and making a bad habit of it), do it!

Shop The Look:

Louise Roe on the psychology of fashion wearing a white shirt dress
Louise Roe on the psychology of fashion wearing a white shirt dress
Louise Roe on the psychology of fashion wearing a white shirt dress
Louise Roe on the psychology of fashion wearing a white shirt dress
Louise Roe on the psychology of fashion wearing a white shirt dress


Louise Loves

3 responses to “What Do Shopping & Sex Have In Common?”

  1. Yvonne Smets says:

    Hi Louise , interesting article , especially seeing I have made this month of November “ no clothes buying” month .
    No impulses, not getting triggered in Insta & Fb . Why do I need something new? I have a closet full of clothes .. I hope many people read your article and get inspired to re think their behavior .
    Thank you for yiur research, for me it comes at the right time . I wonder how I feel at the end of this month ? Will I feel better . Have I missed shopping ?
    Greetings from Holland

  2. Bee says:

    Louboutin also said that women’s feet take the same position when wearing high heels and when they are having an orgasm. Shoes and sex.

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