Categories: Fashion

How To Perfect The Dark Academia Aesthetic

As fall creeps into the air, I find myself reflecting the gloomy weather in my style. Dark academia, a popular aesthetic, is perfect for autumn. When I think dark academia, I think old books, leather blazers, and platform oxfords. But you don’t necessarily need any of those things to nail the dark academia aesthetic. If you want to give your style a scholarly-chic twist, here’s what you can incorporate into your wardrobe. 

1. Oversize coats

Want to dress like you stepped right out of The Secret History? To get started, you’ll need an oversize coat. The darker the colors you wear, the better. I love the look of a black trench coat, like the one above. I thrifted a black leather jacket from Goodwill that I’m obsessed with. Oversize brown leather coats are also adorable and fit the dark academia aesthetic to a T. For this style, you’ll want to look sharp, polished, and somewhat mysterious. Layering with a large coat will bring you one step closer to perfecting dark academia.

2. Hair accessories

A fun hairstyle can enhance any outfit. For dark academia, you’ll want to incorporate hair accessories, but keep it relatively simple. A dainty bow works well with this aesthetic, creating a crossover between dark academia and coquette. You can use a big bow, as shown in the picture above, or you can decorate your braids with smaller ribbons. Headbands are another great option for accessorizing. If you have a pattern going on in your clothes, throw on a simple matte headband. I wear my black one from Brandy Melville everywhere

3. Vintage jewelry

Dark academia demands you shop vintage. Check out your nearest thrift store or antique shop for some classy, old-fashioned jewelry. If you can find a way to involve pearls in your outfit, then by all means, go for it. Pearls evoke a sense of refinery, which fits well with the aesthetic. I have a pair of pearl drop earrings that I like to style with a puff sleeve dress. I also treasure my Vivienne Westwood gold heart necklace, which I found on Depop. If you don’t have any antique stores close to you, Depop is a great backup plan. Also search on Vinted and Etsy for some antique-looking pieces. 

4. Beige trousers

Ditch your everyday pair of jeans for some beige trousers. Trust me, these will become a wardrobe staple. For dark academia outfits, you’ll want to gravitate more towards neutral tones. Browns, blacks, and beiges should be the central color schemes for each outfit, though in the end, it’s your choice what you wear. I plan a lot of my outfits around my pair of tan Princess Polly pants. They’re satin, so they instantly make any outfit ten times fancier. The wide leg also looks amazing with loafers and Doc Martens. I like to style mine with a black turtleneck, tote bag, and hair ribbon. I would one hundred percent wear—and probably have already worn—the outfit above.

5. Skirts with tights

I know what you’re thinking: I haven’t worn tights since kindergarten. And now, I’m expected to think they’re stylish?? I, too, had my doubts. But in all honesty, I love wearing sheer tights with my mini skirts. Recently, I’ve expanded beyond wearing plain tights to wearing patterned ones. Black lace tights and transparent striped tights are must-haves for dark academia outfits. Target has a ton to choose from, all at a low price. Even when tights go over my feet, I still like to wear them with frilly white socks. I try to add different colors and textures to my outfits whenever I can—that’s one way you can do so, too.

6. Corset tops

Elegant and a little bit mysterious, corset tops are essential for dark academia. Corset tops, which have risen in fame these past few years, can be styled many ways. If you want a grunge take on dark academia, find a leather or dark lace corset top. Layer with black leather pants and a leather jacket, as seen in the picture above. For a softer, more light academia influenced look, search online or in stores for a peasant sleeve corset top. Urban Outfitters has a few cute ones, as does Princess Polly. A more sustainable choice would be to look on Etsy or Depop!

7. Berets

Ooh la la! As summer turns into fall, you’ll need a hat to keep you warm. To put a dark academia spin on your normal fall attire, sport a beret. As I mentioned before, neutral colors work best for dark academia. Black and tan are my preferred colors when it comes to hats, but if you want to switch it up, try navy or white. Dark red and dark brown would also work well in the fall. What says “studious and stylish” better than a beret? 

See Also

8. Maxi skirts

This year, I’ve developed an affinity for maxi skirts. I can’t explain why, but they’re just far superior to mini skirts. Plus, they give off huge dark academia vibes. Spice up your outfit with a patterned maxi skirt. Dark academia is all about school-chic, so plaid is one of the best patterns to wear. Again, the choice is yours to make. Newspaper skirts are also big right now—feel free to incorporate that piece in your outfit. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a basic black skirt either. Abercrombie has the most incredible maxi slit skirts—I highly recommend you check out their selection.

9. Sweaters galore

Cardigans, turtlenecks, sweater vests…any type of sweater you choose is bound to be adorable. For dark academia, sweater vests are my favorites. They add a splash of preppiness to whatever outfit they’re a part of. Sweater vests are also great for transitional periods, like summer to fall. Turtlenecks are important closet staples, too. If you’re feeling extra dark academia-y, layer your turtleneck with a sweater vest on top. 

Aside from being stylish, dark academia also requires you to seek knowledge. Hit the books and study hard the semester. Prove to everyone that style and school can coexist. 

Like this article? Share it with your friends for some outfit inspiration!

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Jill Schuck

Hi everyone! My name is Jill, and I'm a senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. There, I'm studying creative writing and sociology, with plans to work in publishing. Aside from reading and writing, I enjoy traveling and practicing self-care. If you want to connect, follow my Instagram @jillschuck!

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