Fashion, Style guides

How to dress Light Academia aesthetic in 2021

Last Updated on 20/10/2021 by Rashi

After Dark Academia taking over fall 2020, I say fall 2021 is a runway for Light Academia aesthetic.

If you’re not sure what it is, Light Academia is a subculture of “academia aesthetic” that romanticizes academic life, art, culture, music, history and is inspired by European aesthetics. The concept, however, is now being expanded to include academic pieces, music, and clothing from non-western and European cultures and works by non-white, and non-English-speaking artists, writers, poets.

The difference between light academia and dark Academia is that, as the name suggests LA is the ‘lighter’ version of DA. While Dark Academia typically involves intense and often negative concepts, like literary tragedy, contemplating the existence of life, heartbreak, oppression, escapism, and death. In contrast, Light Academia holds generally positive themes, focusing on optimism, sensitivity, joy, gratitude, friendship, hope, and happy endings.

Check out: Dark Academia aesthetic fashion: a complete guide

A good example to distinguish between the two would be, the shows ‘How to get away with a murder‘ for DA and ‘Anne with an E‘ for LA.

Light academia aesthetic clothing pieces styled in outfits

LA usually includes lighter shades like white, tan, cream, gold, and soft pastel colors.

Let’s start with staples for this aesthetic.

1. Oversized sweaters

This is your excuse to hoard cozy cable knit, crewnecks. Not only do they rarely ever go out of trend but they are always in your closet.

For LA, you can style the sweaters over collared shirts or blouses for academia feels. You can also get a turtleneck one and pair it under a chunky cardigan when it gets colder.

A light academia aesthetic outfit on a brown blogger consisting of a white sweater, beige shirt and white jeans.

2. Blazers

Go for a relaxed style or oversized single and double-breasted blazers. Checked or any print that feels vintage is +1.

If you tend to prefer more on-trend outfits, you can also style a cropped blazer (that’s a major AW trend). You can pair slouchy trousers and a turtleneck with the cropped blazer to maintain the academia vibes.

3. Cardigans

Just like oversized sweaters, this comfy outerwear is a must-have for the light academia aesthetic. If you prefer skin-fit cropped ones, try structured and loose trousers with reading glasses to maintain the academic charm. And if you prefer chunky ones, you can tuck them in cute skirts (ex- tennis skirt) to still look trendy.

4. Turtlenecks

Talking about any Academia aesthetic and not including turtleneck is a sin I refuse to commit.

For light academia, use turtlenecks in lighter shades to layer under chunky cardigans, blazers, button-ups, coats, and strappy dresses.

A light academia aesthetic outfit consisting of grey turtleneck paired with black skirt and black belt with a black blazer hanging from hand.

5. Coats

Trench coats and long coats are the next staples for LA -that again, you can easily find in any closet.

6. Blouses

Look for blouses that give off vintage vibes. It shouldn’t be hard given the number of trends that are inspired by old gems. Collared ones, cropped blouses with a mock neck, puff-sleeved ones, milkmaid tops, or ones with lace detailing, or classic embellishments, in particular, are perfect for this aesthetic.

An outfit styled by a brown style blogger consisting of a white milkmaid top and white pants for light academia aesthetic vibes.

7. Button-ups

Do I even need to expand on here? You most likely already have two-three in your closet (or someone else’s closet in your house).

Other than being a Light Academia aesthetic essential, this one can single-handedly save you from the “I have nothing to wear” situation.

8. Pleated skirts

With tennis skirts being on top of the whole internet throughout spring and summer, I don’t think it will be ghosted anytime soon. And this tennis skirt trend has definitely made all pleated skirts more trendy.

9. Slightly flared or straight leg trousers and jeans

A more covered-up option for bottoms for the colder days. Or if you simply do not prefer skirts.

Now, trendy pieces that fit well in the aesthetic.

Check Out: Trendy outfits to try in Fall 2021

10. Ribbed tops

These lightweight basics are not only super on point with the aesthetic (I recommend layering them under blazers and cardigans) but are also the best transitional pieces. They also aren’t going off trend any time soon.

A pastel polo top used in a light academia aesthetic outfit with white jeans and cream sweater hanging from shoulder.

Check out: list of 14 new trendy basics that are here to stay

11. Sweater vests

Yep. The grandpa trend that has been booming since fall 2020 is gracefully moving to fall 2021. While spring and summer saw pastel and cropped sweater vests, for transitioning to fall, all neutrals in an outfit will match better the somber vibes of light academia.

13. Slip dresses

Slip dresses are one of the most versatile pieces you can add in your closet and not just for the light academia aesthetic. They are easy to dress up or down according to situation and can be paired with many pieces. In addition to that, they look super sophisticated.

14. Knit dress

For the days you are not in the mood for cropped, fitted cardigans and pretty blouses but still wanna look cute as a button.

In addition to being perfect minimal pieces for light academia aesthetic, they are warm AND trendy enough to be your AW staple piece this year.

16. Tweed

What’s says old-fashioned and academia more than tweed? Not only is it the best basic outfit topper but it also adds chicness to ANY outfit. You can style an outfit with light academia basics and then add a tweed jacket. Or you can style a stylish yet cozy fit with a tweed skirt or top -make sure your other pieces are not that fancy though. We are going for light academia aesthetic not old money aesthetic.

16. Ribbed sets

Ribbed sets are comfortable, effortlessly chic, cute, and super versatile. Other than being perfect loungewear, they can be worn as separate pieces for trendy Light Academia aesthetic fits.

modern academia aesthetic outfit with a cardigan-tank knit set paired with checked pants

17. Waistcoats

Androgynous fashion and light academia style are pretty good friends you see. And with so many fits by fashion people and runway looks including this piece in 2021, waistcoats are guaranteed AW major trend.


  1. Chains– Whether you prefer chunky ones or dainty ones. chains are a must-have accessory for light academia aesthetic fashion.
  2. Pearl jewelry– If your prefer more trendy pieces, try baroque pearls. If not, you always have classic pearls.
  3. Bucket hats– So just because light academia has vintage vibes doesn’t mean you can’t wear the cutest accessory trend at the moment.
  4. vintage jewelry– locket necklaces, coin necklaces, pendants, cuffed bracelets and dainty dangling earrings, for example.
  5. Reading glasses– we’re romanticizing knowledge and learning after all.
  6. Knee-high socks
  7. classic brooches– antique looking ones, such as locket ones.
  8. Leather watches
  9. Chunky boots and loafers– classic pieces for aesthetic, and thick soles for the sake of trends.
  10. Thick leather (or similar) belts

Related: Soft girl aesthetic fashion: a complete guide