Light Academia Outfit Ideas + All the Essentials You’ll Need

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Break out your sweater vests, men’s ties, grandpa knits, tweeds, corduroys, and plaids because it’s time to embrace all things academia style. And armed with these essentials, you’ll be able to master the trend effortlessly.

Academia-inspired fashion is such a popular aesthetic that it’s been broken into two main subgenres: light academia (so named because the color palette is kept pale) and dark academia (a moodier take on the trend that focuses around darker shades). 

Are you ready to be schooled (pun intended) in light academia fashion?

Below you’ll learn how to channel the light academia aesthetic with five cute outfit ideas that are easy to recreate.

Fit Idea #1 | Plaid Blazer + Tie + Corduroy Midi Skirt

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Academia style is all about channeling your inner school girl/boy or emulating your favorite college professor.

The “light” part of light academia just means keeping your color tones soft and pale.

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Pairing a blazer (boarding school style or plaid are great options) with a men’s tie and a Manchester cord skirt is a simple way to embrace the aesthetic.

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And a schoolboy satchel bag or backpack is a must-have accessory for the academic trend.

If you’re still searching for the perfect one, you have to check out this vegan leather version that can be worn as a backpack or messenger style.

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

OXFORDS | Melissa Shoes (current styles by Melissa Shoes)

SCHOOLBOY BACKPACK | Will’s Vegan Store

SUNGLASSES | Georgio Armani (similar by Georgio Armani)

Fit Idea #2 | Sweater Vest + Button-up + Leggings

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Peasant blouses are to cottagecore as sweater vests are to academia style, so be sure to add a knitted gilet to your wardrobe if it’s something you don’t already own.

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Make yours oversized and in a light color (think: cream, vanilla, or off-white) for a modern take that will also work for the vanilla girl trend.

Style it over a men’s button-up shirt for instant light academia charm.

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Pair these masculine pieces with jeans or even leggings in a fun professor-approved print, like houndstooth, for some Blair Waldorf influence.

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

CHUNKY BOOTS | Lovjoi

PURSE | Sans Beast (current styles by Sans Beast)

Fit Idea #3 | Oversized Blazer + Cardigan + Jeans

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An oversized blazer (in any iteration of plaid) and cropped ankle jeans are also essentials for this aesthetic.

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These pieces alone are enough to channel the trend, but you can bring it all together with the help of some academia-esque accessories (bookbag, academia glasses, loafers with white socks, etc).

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Visible white socks and oxfords might have screamed nerdy in years past but now you can use them to master this aesthetic.

Style yours with cropped jeans, ankle-length trousers, or a midi skirt.

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

OXFORDS | Da Quy (similar by Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather use code HARMFREEFASHION for 20% off)

PURSE | THEMOIRè

SUNGLASSES | vintage Valentino (current styles by Valentino)

Fit Idea #4 | Grandpa-style Pants + Oversized Sweater

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A pair of men’s dress pants (they can easily be found at your local thrift shop) will have you dressing the part in no time.

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These grandpa-style pants not only bump up the cool factor of your fit, but they’re also another must-have for the academia trend.

Select a pair in grey, cream, or khaki, and ones in tweed or plaid will have you capturing the aesthetic best.

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Styling them with dad sneakers and multiple layers on top makes for ultimate wearability, especially when transitioning between seasons.

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

WHITE CHUNKY SNEAKERS | Rombaut

CLUTCH | Sans Beast (current styles by Sans Beast)

SUNGLASSES | Georgio Armani (similar by Georgio Armani)

Fit Idea #5 | Trench Coat + Jeans + Mules

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A trench coat is such a closet essential that your wardrobe isn’t really complete without one.

The trench is a must-have, not only for the clean girl aesthetic (check out all the other clean-girl essentials here) but also for your light academia outfits.

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It instantly adds a reporter/college professor vibe to your fit (see Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile), that’s sure to level up all your academic styles.

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Opt for one in a less common color (such as army green) for that Scandinavian it-girl factor.

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– OUTFIT DETAILS –

PURSE | Ashoka Paris

MULES | Matt & Nat (current styles by Matt & Nat)

Final Thoughts

With just a few key pieces (namely plaids, blazers, and sweater vests in light shades), you’ll be able to easily master the light academia trend like a street styler.

If you leave the house feeling like a college professor from the ’50s, you’ve nailed the aesthetic.

For more academia styling ideas and tips, check out my ultimate guide to dark academia.

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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 light academia?

Light academia is a subgenre within the academia aesthetic (think school girl/boy and college professor attire). It differs from dark academia because light academia focuses on a pale color palette.

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

Must-haves for the light academia trend include light-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 light academia and dark academia?

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

What are light academia colors?

The main colors for the light academia fashion trend are tan, beige, khaki, vanilla, cream, off-white, light browns, and light grey.

What shoes do you wear with light academia?

The best shoe styles for the light academia aesthetic are loafers, oxfords, Mary Janes, brogues, white sneakers, block-heeled pumps, and ankle boots. While light academia is focused on lighter shades, your footwear doesn’t need to be.

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

For light academia outfit ideas be sure to watch Mona Lisa Smile (pay particular attention to Julia Stiles’ character), An Education, The Theory of Everything, The Dead Poets Society, With Honors, Good Will Hunting, IQ, and The Imitation Game.

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