How to Wear the Dark Academia Aesthetic | Ultimate Style Guide

How to Wear the Dark Academia Aesthetic _ Ultimate Style Guide
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Break out your long black coat, somber tweeds, and dark oxfords, because the latest style craze is all about dark academia outfits. 

True dark academia is actually much “darker” with a heavier gothic influence, but to your average street styler, merely selecting darker shades of academic-inspired clothing is enough to capture this fashion trend. (Contrast this with light academia, which I covered in depth in my Light Academia Outfit Ideas post.)

The one must-have piece to channel this moody aesthetic is an oversized long black vegan wool coat (think Sandra Bullock in the ‘90s rom-com While You Were Sleeping, Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle, or Jeanne Tripplehorn in Sliding Doors). 

And no need to worry about splurging on this investment buy, as a long coat is trend proof, and such a coat will pull all your dark academia fits together. (See my curated selection of wool-free coats here.)

Let the styling ideas and tips below serve as inspiration.

Style Tip #1 | Channel Edgar Allan Poe’s dark and moody aesthetic

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For dark academia, the darker and moodier the aesthetic the better.

While an all-black fit is certainly somber, try to incorporate some of the other nightly shades into your look, so as not to appear too funereal.

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Navy blue slacks are a great option, as is a charcoal grey or hunter green blazer styled under a long wool-free coat.

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Keep the jewelry simple and style your dress pants with tall black stomper boots for an unexpected addition.

Book of Edgar Allan Poe poems, optional. 🪦

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

LONG COAT | Jan ’n June (use discount code HARMFREEFASHION5 for 5% off)

CHUNKY BOOTS | Lovjoi

BELT | Peta + Jain (current styles by Peta + Jain)

PURSE | Sans Beast (current styles by Sans Beast)

Style Tip #2 | Focus on academic-inspired fabrics (think plaids, tweeds, houndstooth, pinstripes, etc.)

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Professor-approved prints (in a dark color palette) are a surefire way to nail this aesthetic.

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Plaid is always a safe bet, as is tweed and anything in corduroy.

Layer your v-neck collegiate sweater (in hunter green, navy, charcoal grey, or black) over a plaid button-up and men’s tie as an ode to The Dead Poets Society.

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To pull the look together, you can never go wrong with a schoolboy backpack or faux leather briefcase.

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

LONG COAT | Jan ’n June (use discount code HARMFREEFASHION5 for 5% off)

SCHOOLBOY BACKPACK | Will’s Vegan Store

OXFORDS | Melissa Shoes (current styles by Melissa Shoes)

SUNGLASSES | Prada (current styles by Prada)

Style Tip #3 | Keep the details scholarly (think granddad ties, wing tips, vintage bookbag, etc.)

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Now that you’ve mastered the shades and the fabrics, let’s focus on the details.

Wire-framed glasses or small sunnies add a nice studious touch (bonus points for a delicate eyeglasses chain).

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For footwear, loafers, wing tips, oxfords, and even ankle boots are all a go.

And select a bag with a schoolboy vibe, such as a vintage-style bookbag, satchel bag, or professor-style briefcase.

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Another detail that helps to encapsulate the masculinity of this aesthetic is neckties.

The men’s section of your local thrift store is the best place to score some cool granddad ties. (Just check to make sure they’re made of cotton or polyester rather than the typical silk.)

Style yours under a vest or v-neck sweater for a subtle pop of borrowed-from-the-boys.

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

LONG COAT | Jan ’n June (use discount code HARMFREEFASHION5 for 5% off)

WING TIPS | Melissa Shoes (current styles by Melissa Shoes)

PURSE | Veganologie

Final Thoughts

Whether your aesthetic is darker shades or lighter tones, there’s a style of academia for you.

If dark academia is a bit “too dark” for you (or you’re hungry for more styling tips), head over to my post showing you how to channel the light academia aesthetic.

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As always, happy styling!

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Michelle Rothenburger

Michelle Rothenburger is a vegan fashion blogger whose work has been featured in such publications as Marie Claire, InStyle, Woman & Home, and Vilda. Find out more by reading Michelle’s full story (from bullied to fashion influencer) and feel free to send her a personal message.


FAQs

What is dark academia?

Dark academia is a sub-genre within the academia aesthetic (think school girl/boy attire). It differs from light academia because dark academia focuses on a dark color palette.

What are some must-have pieces for the dark academia fashion trend?

Must-haves for the dark academia aesthetic include dark-colored button-ups (men’s shirts work great for this), dress pants (think grandpa style, cuffed and high-waisted), prints and patterns (especially tweeds, plaids, corduroy, houndstooth, etc), sweater vests and cardigans, blazers, men’s ties, overcoats (trench coat or long vegan wool coat), and loafers, oxfords, or Mary Janes.

What’s the difference between dark academia and light academia?

The main difference between dark academia and light academia fashion is the color palette. For dark academia think dark tones (black, grey, dark browns, navy blue, etc.), whereas for light academia you’ll want pale tones (white, beige, light browns, pale yellow, etc.).

What are dark academia colors?

The main colors for the dark academia fashion trend are black, charcoal grey, navy blue, dark brown, and dark green.

What shoes do you wear with dark academia?

The best shoe styles for the dark academia aesthetic are loafers, oxfords, Mary Janes, brogues, black sneakers, wing tips, block-heeled pumps, and ankle boots.

Which academia movies should I watch for dark academia fashion inspiration?

For dark academia outfit ideas be sure to watch The Dead Poets Society, With Honors, Good Will Hunting, An Education, The Theory of Everything, IQ, The Imitation Game, and Mona Lisa Smile.

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