Dark Academia Aesthetic Outfits | How to Replicate Popular Trends

Gen-Z Fall Trend You Fall in Love with — Dark Academia

The Dark Academy is a Zoomer aesthetic based on European culture and the pursuit of knowledge. Adherents of this current read the classics, try to look like Oxford University students and spend their evenings in philosophical conversations – in general, they try to be like the students of a university novel in an era when studies have mostly gone online. It is easy to recognize a representative of the “dark academy” by dark academia aesthetic outfits with cardigans, tweed pants, and vintage briefcase.

The Beginning of a New

So, if somebody asks: “what is dark academia?” You know the answer. But it is impossible to say exactly how the subculture originated. One of the heroines of The New York Times piece claims that she first noticed this dark academia aesthetic on Tumblr back in 2014, where users recommended books under noir-style photos.

fall mood
fall cape

“Academia”, which can be found on TikTok, is interested in a broad period of art history: from the 18th century through the 1940s. Members of the preppy subculture have probably reviewed the movie more than once, and you can find “Harry Potter” on their bookshelf.

The world conceived by Joan Rowling is perhaps the clearest example of a “dark academy with its reading aesthetic.

The young people are immersed in a special, closed student world, wearing black clothes aesthetic uniforms and living in almost gothic interiors.

Over the years, dark academia developed from an intellectually inclined community into a fully-fledged lifestyle concept, spurred on by the emergence of other social media platforms. Self-discovery and visual expression gained relevance, which in turn can be seen in the TikTok videos and Instagram posts.

How to Dress in Dark Academia Aesthetic?

Dark academia stylistics comes from the European school uniform of the 40s with the dark aesthetic clothing:

  • turtlenecks, 
  • closed one-color shirts, 
  • dark and stylish polo shirts, 
  • knitted sweaters, 
  • sweaters, 
  • shorts-bermuda length below the knees, 
  • straight pants of high fit, 
  • plaid school uniform pants,
  • plaid mini skirt pleated,
  • strict sundresses, 
  • jackets,
  • double-breasted trench coat aesthetic or victorian coat, 
  • oxfords or brogues, 
  • moccasins and espadrilles look great here.

A fashion brand that is particularly associated with the dark academy is Ralph Lauren. In the fashion world, no one does preppy style quite like Ralph Lauren. The designer always manages to skillfully combine the glamour and glamour of the American upper class with a certain carefree attitude. A perfect example is a Ready-to-Wear collection. 

fall outfit

Choosing a look in the spirit of the dark academia, stick to the dark fashion palette, choose such shades as:

  • black, 
  • rich green, 
  • maroon, 

and combine them with:

  • white, 
  • gray,
  • ivory, 
  • soft yellow.

Do not forget that dark academia implies the desire for glamour and perfection, so the fabrics for the outfits must be appropriate. 

  • Cashmere, 
  • tweed, 
  • wool, 
  • 100 percent cotton and natural linen fit perfectly into the melancholy aesthetic.
skirt and book

Elements of the American “preppy” style in fall aesthetic clothes of the 1950s are often present, such as sweater vests or sweaters thrown over the shoulders. Autumn is the most common and coveted season, as Academia’s dark outfits often overlap.

You can see the list of additions to the image below:


  • Oxfords/brogues
  • Loafers
  • Wingtips
  • Boat shoes
  • Dr. Martens
  • Mary Janes
  • Chelsea Boots


dark outfit
  • Silver or gold jewelry
  • Broaches
  • Simple rings
  • Satchel
  • Wire-frame glasses
  • Short, neat fingernails
  • Belts that match your shoes
  • Knee-high socks
  • Watches
  • Sweaters tied over the shoulders
  • Undone or loosely tied ties
  • Dark-colored umbrellas
  • Kerchiefs/bandanas

The majority of these accessories have a Gothic look to them. Some people may consider dark academia to be gothic, but it’s important to remember that gothic isn’t always black and dark.

Where to Look for Inspiration?

There are so many great scholarly films, from the original silent films to modern movies that play on the dark academia aesthetic.

The most vividly represented in such films and TV series as:

  • “Dead Poets Society” 
  • “Dorian Gray” (2009), 
  • “Only Lovers Survive”,
  • “Sherlock” from the BBC, 
  • “Sharp Visors”, 
  • “Twin Peaks”, 
  • “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”,

Looking for insights in books?

Check out book aesthetic:

  • “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert, 
  • “Kazuo Ishiguro, Don’t Let Me Go”, 
  • “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, 
  • “Miss Peregrine’s House of Strange Children” by Ransom Riggs
  • “Jane Eyre”,
  • “Persuasion”,
  • “Ovid’s Metamorphoses”,
  • “Frankenstein”,
  • “Catherine House”,
  • “The Mary Shelley Club”,
  • “The Lion”, “The Witch”, and “The Wardrobe” (or anything else by C.S. Lewis)
  • The Collected Poems Of Oscar Wilde.
plaid coat
dark academia outfit
dark academy fall outfit

All of these dark academic books create an atmosphere of scholarship and coziness!

Any classics are always appropriate, too. The goal is to discover something new about yourself or the world at large, so you can study anything from classical philosophy to new age spirituality and stay within the “bounds” of that aesthetic.

The pursuit of knowledge should last a lifetime, so don’t go crazy and try to cram in a bunch of books this year. This atmosphere involves learning for fun, in the comfort of your own home, not because someone else thinks you should learn.

No argument, the list itself is very different. What matters here, however, is not so much the time period as the spirit of the narrative-the works listed are moderately drab, somber, and majestic.

The opposite of these aesthetic ideas is light academia, which suggests a reference to lighter colors and positive mood works like Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, Shakespeare’s plays, and Pablo Neruda’s poems. It is also popular among social network users.

What Are the Top Places to Visit in This Trend?

england dark academia
dark academia aesthetics city

If you want to follow in the footsteps of dark academics or perhaps want to be part of this trend yourself, there are certain places you should visit. Museums, libraries, coffee shops, and university campuses are good places to start. Those who prefer something more unusual might plan a trip to a baroque palace, a Victorian street or even an English country estate.

Many enthusiasts of this trend have already found themselves abroad at Ivy League universities. Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge aren’t reposted most online for nothing. But it wouldn’t be a dystopian academy if cemeteries weren’t among the hotspots. All in the spirit of memento mori.

For or Against Dark Academy?

The subculture has already been condemned for being elitist and classist. Allegedly, the “academy” instills the need for a closed society of snobs with a quality education, which is not available to everyone. The followers respond to the attacks that the desire for knowledge can be expressed in a free self-education, and you can dress in a certain style in a second-hand shop.

The Aestheticization of Unhealthy Behavior

The Dark Academy has been criticized for explicitly encouraging unhealthy behavior in pursuit of aesthetics and academic achievement. Stress and procrastination, depression and its symptoms, unhealthy sleep habits including sleep deprivation and oversleeping, and excessive coffee consumption are often mentioned and discussed in dark academia.

Western Eurocentrism

dark academia city

Dark academia focuses primarily on languages, literature, architecture, art, poetry, and fashion originating in Western Europe and is therefore criticized as Eurocentrism. 

Lack of True Academic Thinking

Another criticism of the Dark Academy is not its socio-political problems, but rather that Dark Academic chic is not necessarily intellectual, and overemphasize aesthetics rather than actually engaging in academic work.

Another argument is the use of books as inspiration for fashion and lifestyle without much emphasis on critical thinking. 

asthetics outfit
girl with book

In addition, many critics argue that The Dark Academy is more concerned with visual aesthetics than with studies and academia per se.

Now you know it’s an aesthetic that romanticizes academia, books, and education with an emphasis on the classic European style of great writers. It’s what you would put on to write a 20th-century novel or the library aesthetic closet you would work in at Harvard in 1919.

And while this phenomenon is currently being led by Generation Z, it’s also very appealing to millennials. 
And when it comes to incorporating Dark Academy into all aesthetic outfits, it’s really a no-brainer. Think simple, pieces with lots of texture and maybe a little mystery.

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