how to style dark academia aesthetic Inspired outfits

Last Updated on 04/08/2022 by Rashi

For the sake of familiarity with the dark academia aesthetic, before getting into styling and outfits, let’s start with-

What is Dark Academia aesthetic?

Dark Academia is an unofficial gothic novel genre-based aesthetic romanticizing a thirst for knowledge and passion for art with a heavy emphasis on classic literature, tragedies, and arts. It was generated somewhere deep on the internet and became popular on TikTok last year.

Dark Academia aesthetic can be further visualized as 19th-century private European boarding school vibes. Everyone in their preppy uniform while moving from a class to another, clutching hardcovers.

an infographic describing the dark academia aesthetic from tiktok, its outfit inspo and wardrobe and style staples

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In addition to that, think of ancient Greek mythologies, classic literature, poetry, Shakespeare plays, Latin, and other dead languages. The 18-19th century wardrobe in a dark and gloomy color palette; chai, coffee, and wine; Intricate ancestral jewelry against modern pieces of clothing; chilling but comforting winds of fall; visits to museums and ancient abandoned temples and Harry Potter and Dead Poet’s Society.

It’s also basically the ‘darker’ version of the Light Academia aesthetic -that in contrast to DA’s gothic and tragic approach, holds generally positive themes, focusing on optimism, sensitivity, joy, gratitude, friendship, hope, and happy endings.

Dark Academia Fashion essentials for outfits

1. Sweaters

Go for dark and muted tones. Green, brown, black, rust, deep red, beige, white, grey. This also goes for the rest of the essentials and other pieces.

2. Turtlenecks

From a trip to a museum, running late to language class to a casual dinner date, a turtleneck will support all your Dark Academia aesthetic outfits.

A dark academia aesthetic outfit with grey turtleneck styled under a beige shirt with blue denim by a fashion blogger.
A dark academia aesthetic inspired outfit consisting of a grey turtleneck and a black skirt.

3. Blouses

In order to ensure preppy look, look for blouses that give off vintage vibes; collared ones, blouses with a mock neck, ruffles, lace detailing, or classic embellishments. These are must-haves for cute museum and picnic date outfits!

4. Cardigans

This cozy outerwear, just like sweaters and turtlenecks, is a must-have for the dark academia aesthetic as well as cute outfits in 2022. If you like cropped skin-fit cardigans, pair them with structured and loose pants and reading glasses to maintain academia vibes. If you prefer chunkier ones, you can still go for trendy looks by tucking them into pleated skirts or over slip-dresses.

5. Button ups

THE layering piece for dark academia aesthetic clothes. I’m sure you already know the justified hype around button-ups – especially white ones so let’s not expand on here.

4. Skirt (mini or midi)

  • Tweed
  • Plaid
  • Ribbed (for a modern touch)
  • Pleated

5. Tailored pants

Whether you prefer straight leg or wide fit, whatever you decide to go for, make sure it’s not skinny (let’s stay trendy, in DA feels and comfy) yet tailored to perfection. You can go with dark and muted tones or opt for plaid ones. Plus points if you can style a monochrome outfit with the bottom and top in the same color!

6. Coats

Woolen, velvet, or tweed ones are recommended but you can opt for lighter fabric like linen for trench coats if the weather isn’t suitable. If you’re into prints, consider checks, plaid, and houndstooth your best friends. Also, go for ones with shoulder pads. Not only do they give major off dark academic vibes but clothes with padding and corsets are also among the top trends of 2022.

An all black dark academia aesthetic with black coat, black blazer styled by a fashion blogger with slicked black hair.

7. Blazers

  • Tweed
  • Oversized
  • plaid
  • houndstooth

If you tend to prefer on-trend outfits, you can also style a cropped blazer with dark academia essentials. Pair slouchy trousers and a turtleneck with the cropped blazer so that it fits well within the aesthetic.

An indian influencer wearing all black outfit consisting of black long coat, black blazer and leather pants -inspired by dark academia aesthetic.

Dark Academia staple clothes for Modern outfits

1. Suit sets

Whether you prefer pantsuits or skirt suits, as long as the color palette stays dark and gloomy, you’re good to go. To add more academic charms, add Victorian-style blouses or turtlenecks underneath. For styling suits, you can accessorize the outfit with the accessories mentioned further below. (towards the end)

2. Ribbed tops and dresses

Ribbed tops and dresses are the new trendy wardrobe basics -that also fit in perfectly with the Dark Academia aesthetic if your style is more feminine.

The ribbed trend is not just an investment piece for all minimalism lovers but also, for every single person who strives towards chicness, in general. These lightweight basics are the perfect transitional pieces for when you want to wear something less casual than a turtleneck. They are super cozy and trendy for minimal outfits, yet peak Dark Academia!

3. Slip dress aka staple for dark academia outfits

Colder days don’t mean goodbye to your slip dresses and dainty dresses. Slip dresses over solids such as button-ups and turtleneck is the more ‘dressed up’ combination that you can try for DA-inspired modern looks. Other than that, you can also just layer a blazer over a slip dress If you want to go simple. You can merge also try monochrome pairing for more creative styling.

4. Sweater vests

Through sources (read- Instagram feeds), we already know that this grandpa-inspired trendy piece is not going away anytime soon now that it has turned into a staple. And if you haven’t yet adopted this one, consider it your sign 😉

Accessorizing for Dark Academia aesthetic Outfits

  • Beret– What says chic academic students more than a beret?
  • Scarves – Avoid colorful patterns as well as bold prints at all costs. (Feel free to follow this tip for the rest of the outfit as well) Instead, you can add a pastel one for a pop of color.
  • Reading glasses – We’re romanticizing knowledge and learning after all.
  • Tights – Not only are they super DA but, knee-high socks are making a comeback.
  • Retro belts – opt for thick leather ones (faux leather obviously). In addition to that, try to match the belt with your shoes. Also, avoid designer logos.


If you ask me, a traditional heirloom would be best. But if don’t have those, vintage gold ones can be your staple jewelry.

  • Collar pins and classic brooches – Apart from classic vintage-looking jewelry, you can also add other accessories such as collar pins or brooches to dress up an outfit.
  • Leather watches – The older it looks, the better it is. You can probably get one from your parents or grandparents. +1 if you can get a pocket watch instead.
  • Chains– dainty ones. chains are a must-have accessory for dark academia aesthetic fashion.
  • Pearl jewelry– If you prefer more trendy pieces, try baroque pearls. If not, you always have classic pearls.
  • Tennis bracelet– simple, timeless, and versatile to be styled with whatever
  • Pendant– romantic engraved ones or minimalist coin ones.

Dark Academia shoes

  • Oxford shoes– The OG Dark Academia obviously.
  • Chunky boots– If you want a modern take on dark academia footwear style, grunge style boots such as Doc Marten is the answer.
  • chic loafers– depending on your style or preference, you can pick chunky or flats.
  • platform ankle-strap heels– for days you want to dress up.
  • Chunky wedge slip-on– if you wanna dress up but not with heels. Or if you prefer shoes from among top trends.
  • Mary Jane heels– Now, they are signature shoes suitable with most dark academia outfits.
  • square-toe ankle boots– dressy, street-style friendly, minimal; it all depends on how you style these versatile shoes.

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