It’s just about that time of year when the dazzle of summer begins to dull and is replaced with the desire to swap sunny days and floral frocks for a crisp chill in the air, cabincore, and impending holidays galore. Plus, moving away from a mostly digital year, many are finally returning to campus or the office this season. So we’re taking the beloved dark academia aesthetic and its outfits with us as we transition back to IRL.
Nothing says back-to-school style like dark academia. This style revolves around the pursuit of knowledge with a gothic twist; think Greek mythology, the arts, and existential poetry, for example. Although dark, this aesthetic has an unconventional romantic influence, too, per Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf novels, and ranges to the novelty of heritage schooling a la Dead Poets Society and an Ivy League influence. (Though, if you’re looking for a something a little more bright and cheery, might we suggest its polar opposite, light academia?)
When it comes to social media, the aesthetic has driven over 1.2 billion views on TikTok under the hashtag #darkacademia and 22.2 million views on #darkacademiaoutfits, specifically. Over on Pinterest, which has become a source for outfit inspiration among Gen Z, the image-based platform has noticed its Pinners swapping comfy, WFH-friendly clothing for dressier ensembles. Searches for “academia fashion” have skyrocketed by seven times on Pinterest ahead of the school year and fall season.
There are plenty of ways to channel the look in a modern and stylish way. Most notably, dark academia outfits are being driven by classic pieces, like tailored trousers, pleated skirts reminiscent of a prep school uniform, plaid or tweed separates and a sharp pair loafers — just to name a few. Plus, a moody color palette in dark neutrals and deepened shades of red, olive, and navy is key.
So, while you’re beginning to compile your fall shopping list, scroll through for outfit inspiration and the fashion items to stock up on, ahead.
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Dark Academia Aesthetic Outfit No. 1: Romantic Blouse And Trousers
To embody the moody yet romantic side of the dark academia aesthetic, choose two juxtaposing pieces like a puffy-sleeved blouse and tailored trousers. Punctuate the look with gothic-feeling jewelry, like a pendant necklace that doubles as a talisman.
Dark Academia Aesthetic Outfit No. 2: Prep-Inspired Accessories
In true academic fashion, don’t forget about the details. Highlight classic prep-inspired pieces in dark hues, such as black tights, chunky leather boots, and a nostalgic beret in a bold red.
Dark Academia Aesthetic Outfit No. 3: Tailored Vest And Plaid Skirt
Whether you wear it as a top or layering piece, nothing says Ivy League like a tailored vest. Plus, a plaid skirt and loafers is an automatic A+ when it comes to styling this aesthetic.
Dark Academia Aesthetic Outfit No. 4: Plaid Suit Set
Suiting separates — preferably in plaid, tweed, or a dark neutral shade — are the ultimate way to channel the dark academia aesthetic. Wear them together for a literal approach or style them on their own with pieces that fit to your personal style. Achieve the look by teaming your suit with a structured handbag to store all of your thought-provoking reading and writing materials.
Dark Academia Aesthetic Outfit No. 5: Sweater Vest And A Button-Down
For the utmost classic approach to academia, start with a staple white button-down and layer it under a sweater vest. Whether the sweater vest is fitted or oversized, it lends collegiate a feel to any outfit. Feeling extra bookish? Add a blazer and a pair of smart frames.