Author: Shafira Nur Azizah
Reading Time: 8 minutes
Have you ever imagined yourself walking aimlessly around a colossal old library? Just delight in the presence of knowledge waiting to be found and a stack of books as a comforting weight in your hands?
Sounds like your kind of fun? Well, good news for you! You can stop imagining it and start living with that kind of aesthetic. You can finally channel your mysterious, brooding, academic self into your everyday outfits.
Dark academia itself is an aesthetic revolving around literature, art, and mystery. Motivates by the passionate pursuit of knowledge and, sometimes, even touching the darker side of it, this aesthetic is easy to find its place in some groups of people.
The best example of the dark academia aesthetic in outfit may be the traditional European boarding school style. It revolves around sweater vests, collar shirts, tailored trousers, and Oxford loafers. Sometimes even long trench coats and expensive-looking blazers. The combination of those gives a look to 1940s scholars in October when the weather is starting to get chilly.
This dark academia aesthetic is also fast at finding its way to becoming a trend on social media. Timeless, genderfluid, and rich with nostalgia, this trend is very much deserving to be the favorite of many. With these simple guides, you can completely nail the dark academia aesthetic in your everyday.
But, before we jump to the main menu, let’s get to know our dear aesthetic Dark Academia.
What is Dark Academia?
First, let’s start our dig into the term underlying it. The term ‘academia’ is describing a group of aesthetics connected to learning. For example, the activities that become the staple of it are reading, writing, and intensive research of something.
Dark Academia is a subculture deriving from the romanticization of knowledge, literature, history, and art. If you make little time to browse the internet, you will find some films in this aesthetic set around the 1920s to 1950s. The themes will center around murder, intrigue, or a journey to self-actualization and self-discovery. Often, these are set in the halls of Ivy League or Oxbridge universities with their old and earthy atmosphere surrounding the air of mystery.
As the name suggests, it teeters on the darker side of these references. Think about dark old halls, and empty museums on a rainy and gloomy day. In addition, the darker topic also become one of those things that tied the knowledge pursuit in it, such as death and morbidity.
The Inspiration behind Dark Academia
European cultures have had the most impact on dark academia. Popular epochs such as Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanticism are a few that becomes the object of learning in this cult. Especially when their paintings or sculptures deal with anatomical research and ancient also Christian mythology, which represents the transience of existence.
A significant theme of the movement is literature. Reading authors like Lord Byron and Percy Shelley is vital, but so is writing. With fountain pens, one tries out complex calligraphy. While another will do experiments with linguistics and sits down to create letters by hand.
The Origin of Dark Academia
Although there’s no exact certainty, the root of dark academia as an aesthetic might be from a late nineties book. It is The Secret History by American Pulitzer winner Donna Tartt. The book told a story of a murder within a group of students at an elite college in New England. The group, together with their professor, isolate themselves from the rest of their society to engage in intellectual discussion. With only a few of them in the circle, the discussion was easy to stir from the normal line.
The debut book of Tartt quickly became a sensation. Later, in the year 2015, the inspiration from the book makes its existence known on the Tumblr as an aesthetic, with old knowledge and gloom as its drive.
Over the years, dark academia is developing slowly from an intellectually inclined group of people into a lifestyle concept. It becomes so because of its popularity on the internet.
Simple Guides to Dark Academia Outfit
The dark academia outfit is all about muted tones. This is not the place where you can find pop color. The color palette that radiates dark academia consist of earthy and natural tones. It usually involves darker colors like black, grey, dark brown, maroon, and forest green. Yet, some people like to balance it out with lighter colors like white and shades of beige. However, in order for this aesthetic not to get confused by its sibling – light academia – better play it safe and go with darker colors.
The Wardrobe Staple
The trademark of the dark academia aesthetic is the allusion to a uniform, which includes tweed blazer. These pieces are very versatile, meaning you can wear them in a variety of ways. They can be oversized, rolled at the cuff, or fitted to fit you properly. They are usually worn with a button-down shirt, either with a cable-knit sweater or on their own.
Wear it with a dark or neutral turtleneck, a pair of checked pants, or a mid-length skirt as an alternative. Emulate the hues commonly seen in school or university settings for a more realistic look.
Dark Wool Coats
At least one scene in the Dark Academia films and TV shows takes place during the winter. Layering is not really a new concept, but it is practically mandatory in this aesthetic. Dark wool coats will enhance the earthy tones you are wearing. As a bonus point, it will certainly keep you from the cold.
The length of the outerwear is not particularly important, but it depends on the subculture of the aesthetic you are trying to emulate. For instance, choose a coat that cuts at the shin if you want to emulate something from the 1959 film The Dead Poets Society.
Turtlenecks with Long Skirts
While the overall aesthetic of Dark Academia leans to the genderfluid side, there are lots of different ways to give the style a feminine twist. For example, this style is timeless, elegant, and classic, making it ideal for a dinner party with friends or a family gathering.
For those who enjoy staying true to the aesthetic, wear a black rolled neck with a plaid full-length skirt and end with an oversized coat and Chelsea boots or loafers for a finishing touch.
If you prefer the look of Modern Dark Academia, however, combine the past with present in a monochrome ensemble. The complementing colors will produce a multi-dimensional and sophisticated ensemble that will surely stand the test of time.
Whether you are at a library or dashing through the halls of a museum, the Dark Academia style demands a literary reference. This can be accomplished by wearing white shirts. This shape is timeless and goes wonderful with a variety of styles, from ruffled blouses to button-downs.
Pair it with a thick sweater and checkered trousers for a relaxed and modern twist on the trend. In addition to that, just swap out the bottoms for a pinafore and you’ve perfected an alternative yet chic outfit.
Take inspiration from everywhere, whether it’s TikTok or images you saw earlier today while scrolling through Instagram. The possibilities are endless with this one.
Just like the movies, books, and TV shows that influenced the dark academia aesthetic, tailored trousers are a must-have item for everyone. Especially those who take interest in this aesthetic.
They are versatile and flattering on all body shapes. Moreover, they are also a great alternative for gender nonconformists. Wear them with a turtleneck, a cardigan, or a white or blue button-down.
The layering and color palette you chose is important to making this outfit appear intellectual. Stick to darker colors for the lower half of your body; this allows you to wear shirts, coats, and accessories in any color you like.
Don’t forget to add boots or loafers to complete the look. They are ideal for cold and rainy days spent in a cafe or beside a fire.
Dark and Formal-Looking Shoes
The shoes you wear are often one of the most underestimated but crucial aspects of dressing for this aesthetic. Brogues, oxfords, loafers, and ankle boots are the most typical styles. For a more feminine look, Mary Jane shoes can be the alternative.
Because of their utilitarian designs, they are familiar with the academic world, leaving you looking polished and well-groomed. Brown and black are the best colors for this footwear because they go with almost any outfit. It can also be worn in almost any weather.
If you are going to wear a skirt, choose ankle-baring shoes to give the impression of longer legs. With tailored trousers, you can wear almost any type of shoes. But, if you want to show off your new shoes, pull up and fold a little bit the bottoms of your pants.
That’s all the tips and a little bit of information to quench your thirst for knowledge.
So, after our little journey, are you ready to be the embodiment of the trendy Dark Academia yet? Let me know in the comment section!