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Dark Academia Aesthetic Guide for Men to Nail the Intellectual-inspired Look

What is Dark Academia?

Dark Academia is a modern aesthetic inspired by classic European literature and art, Greek mythology, Gothic architecture, and modern academic life and used as a unique sartorial statement.

What is Dark Academia

With roots in the 19th-century British and European upper-class and the Ivy League preparatory school aesthetics, the style has an old-money look but in dark and muted colours.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the essence of the Dark Academia style, its key components, and how stylish gentlemen can use this aesthetic to create an intellectually inspired look.

Dark Academia Origins and Influences

The aesthetic draws inspiration from the gothic architecture of old European cities, the academic lifestyle at heritage institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, and the works of authors such as Evelyn Waugh, Donna Tartt, and Oscar Wilde.

Dark Academia definition

The 19th-century Romantic and Gothic movements, emphasising emotion, introspection, and celebration of the past, have also shaped the Dark Academia aesthetic.

But beyond aesthetics, the fashion style takes cues from the preppy looks of Ivy League, which originated in the 1920s and 1930s at prestigious American universities like Harvard and Yale.

Equally, the Sloane Ranger look, popularised by the British upper class in the 1980s, contributes to the Dark Academia aesthetic.

The Dark Academia Colour Palette

Compared to Preppy and Sloane Ranger styles, the Dark Academia style stands out thanks to its rich colour palette of deep shades of maroon, burgundy, brown, and forest green.

Dark Academia Colour Palette

Reminiscent of the warm hues of fall and the sombre tones of old libraries, these colours evoke a sense of mystery and intellect, aligning with the aesthetic’s reflective nature.

Dark Academia Wardrobe Essentials

Here are the must-have wardrobe essentials – garments, footwear, and accessories – you need to master the Dark Academia look:

Tweed Blazers

Dark Academia Tweed Blazer

Tweed blazers in herringbone or houndstooth patterns are a quintessential aesthetic required to create an air of academic-inspired Old Money refinement.

Sloane Ranger Style Tweed Blazers
Drake’s Tweed Blazers

The structured silhouette of a blazer also lends an air of formality, aligning with the sophisticated nature of the aesthetic.

On a related topic, here is how to wear a blazer for an old-money look.

Oxford Button-Down Shirts

Dark Academia Oxford Button-Down Shirts

The button-down collar and the subtle texture of the Oxford cloth contribute to the refined, scholarly appearance associated with Dark Academia.

The design allows for dressing up or down, making this shirt an essential component of any Dark Academia ensemble.

Sweater Vests

Dark Academia Sweater Vests
Image courtesy: @michaelzusolms

Sweater vests are a key layering piece in the Dark Academia wardrobe.

Vests over Oxford shirts create a classic, preppy look that encapsulates the academic essence of the style.

Beige, navy, or dark green are ideal for sweater vests, complementing the earthy tones of the Dark Academia colour palette.

Corduroy or Wool Trousers

Dark Academia Wool Trousers
Image courtesy: @kitblake_trousers

Trousers in rich, autumnal shades like camel, brown, or olive green are a must-have for the Dark Academia aesthetic.

Corduroy and wool fabrics are favoured for their unique textures, which add depth and interest to your outfits.

Dark Academia Wool Trousers
Image courtesy: @kitblake_trousers

The subtle ribbing of corduroy or the soft, brushed surface of wool trousers embodies the tactile, sensory appeal of the Dark Academia style.

Classic Shoes

Dark Academia Classic Shoes

Well-crafted leather shoes, such as brogues or penny loafers, are essential for completing your Dark Academia look.

The polished leather and the intricate detailing of brogues, with their perforated patterns, add a touch of sophistication and old-world charm.

On the other hand, the sleek silhouette of penny loafers offers a more streamlined look that still maintains the refined elegance of the aesthetic.

Dark brown or oxblood hues are perfect for leather shoes, as they complement the rich, warm tones of the Dark Academia colour palette.

Dark Academia Accessories

Accessories are a must to elevating your Dark Academia look, and here are some important accessories to consider:

Leather Satchels

Dark Academia Leather Satchel Bags

The rich, warm leather tones and the classic design of satchels and messenger bags align with the aesthetic’s emphasis on timeless elegance.

The structured shape of a satchel embodies the academic essence of the Dark Academia style, making it an ideal choice for completing your look.

Vintage Watches

Dark Academia Vintage Watches

Timepieces with intricate designs and Roman numeral dials capture the old-world charm and sophistication of the aesthetic.

Dark Academia Vintage Watches

The patina of the leather strap adds a sense of history and character, while the watch’s overall design confers an intellectual appeal that complements the overall outfit.

Knit Ties

Dark Academia Knit Ties

The unique texture of knit ties, with their subtle ribbing and matte finish, creates a sense of depth and richness that echoes the tactile nature of the aesthetic.

Deep, rich colours like burgundy or forest green blend with the warm, earthy tones of the colour palette, making them perfect for adding visual interest to outfits.

Scarves

Dark Academia Scarves

Wool or cashmere scarves in muted tones like navy, charcoal, or forest green complement the wardrobe’s rich, sombre colours.

The materials’ soft, luxurious texture confers refined elegance, while the subtle patterns or fringed edges contribute to the overall sense of timeless sophistication.

Dark Academia Style Icons

To help you visualize the Dark Academia aesthetic, let’s take a look at some real-life style icons who embody this look:

Matt Smith

Matt Smith Dark Academia Style

The British actor’s choice of tweed blazers, Oxford shirts, and well-tailored trousers perfectly encapsulates the essence of the Dark Academia style.

Timothee Chalamet Dark Academia Style

Matt’s outfits feature a mix of rich, warm tones and classic patterns, such as herringbone or houndstooth, which are synonymous with the aesthetic.

Timothee Chalamet

Timothee Chalamet Dark Academia

The young actor’s Dark Academia-inspired looks during the promotional tours for the film “Little Women,” showcases key aesthetic elements in his wardrobe.

Timothee Chalamet Dark Academia

Timothee’s choice of tweed blazers and high-waisted trousers, combined with trendy tailored clothes, shows how to adapt the Dark Academia style to a modern look.

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne Dark Academia style

The actor’s portrayal of Newt Scamander in the “Fantastic Beasts” series is a prime example of Dark Academia style.

His character’s wardrobe, consisting of tweed jackets, tailored trousers, and leather accessories, perfectly embodies the aesthetic’s emphasis on classic, scholarly elements.

Eddie Redmayne Dark Academia

Redmayne’s ability to bring these pieces to life on screen showcases the timeless appeal and sophistication of the Dark Academia look.

Tom Hughes

Tom Hughes Dark Academia Style

The British actor’s style in “Victoria” is a perfect example of how the Dark Academia aesthetic can be adapted to period dramas.

Tom’s use of tweed suits, Oxford shirts, and polished brogues nods to the style’s classic, scholarly elements.

At the same time, his character’s position as a prominent figure in Victorian society reinforces the association between Dark Academia and the pursuit of knowledge and intellectual sophistication.

Ezra Miller

Ezra Miller Daark Academia Style

The actor’s bold and unique interpretation of the Dark Academia style demonstrates how the aesthetic can be subverted and adapted for a more dramatic, edgy look.

Miller’s gothic-inspired coats, jewellery, turtlenecks, and tailored trousers create an intellectually sophisticated and avant-garde look, pushing the boundaries of Dark Academia style.

By studying how these individuals combine different elements of the Dark Academia style, you can gain inspiration for incorporating the aesthetic into your capsule wardrobe.

Dark Academia Styling by Season

The Dark Academia style can be adapted to suit different seasons while maintaining its rich, intellectual appeal.

Here’s a guide to the most representative garments, materials, and colours for each season:

Spring and Summer

Spring and Summer Dark Academia Outfit Idea Spring and Summer Dark Academia Outfit Idea
Spring and Summer Dark Academia Outfit Idea Spring and Summer Dark Academia Outfit Idea

In this season, prioritise lightweight garments from linen and cotton, such as:

  • Linen blazers in shades of beige, khaki, or light grey
  • Cotton Oxford shirts in white, light blue, or pale pink
  • Lightweight chinos in tan, olive green, or navy
  • Suede or leather loafers in brown or tan
  • Lightweight knit sweaters in shades of cream, pale yellow, or light green

For summer, prioritise garments from breathable cotton and linen:

  • Short-sleeved Oxford shirts in white, light blue, or pale stripes
  • Linen trousers in dark shades brown or grey
  • Lightweight blazers in tan or dark khaki shades
  • Canvas or leather espadrilles in neutral colours
  • Lightweight cotton or linen scarves in pale shades

Autumn and Winter

Autumn and Winter Dark Academia Outfit Idea Autumn and Winter Dark Academia Outfit Idea
Autumn and Winter Dark Academia Outfit Idea Autumn and Winter Dark Academia Outfit Idea

Autumn is the perfect season for the rich colours and textures that define the Dark Academia aesthetic:

  • Tweed blazers in shades of brown, olive green, or burgundy
  • Wool or cashmere sweaters in deep, earthy tones like forest green, burnt orange, or mustard yellow
  • Corduroy trousers in shades of camel, brown, or rust
  • Leather brogues or boots in dark brown or oxblood
  • Wool scarves in rich, autumnal hues

Focus on wool, tweed, and cashmere to stay warm while maintaining the Dark Academia style:

  • Thick wool or tweed overcoats in shades of charcoal, navy, or black
  • Chunky cable-knit sweaters in cream, oatmeal, or dark green
  • Wool trousers in shades of black, navy, or dark grey
  • Leather boots in black or dark brown
  • Cashmere scarves in deep, rich colours like burgundy, forest green, or navy

Dark Academia Dressing by Occasion

The Dark Academia style must adapted for various occasions, and here are four outfit ideas to cover you for several events and occasions:

Casual Campus Attire

For a relaxed day on campus, opt for comfortable yet stylish pieces that embody the Dark Academia aesthetic:

  • Tweed or corduroy blazers in shades of brown, olive green, or navy
  • Oxford shirts in white, light blue, or pale stripes
  • Dark wash jeans or chinos in shades of khaki, olive green, or navy
  • Leather or suede sneakers in brown, tan, or white
  • Knit sweaters or cardigans in shades of cream, oatmeal, or dark green

Literary Events and Lectures

When attending a literary event or a lecture, choose garments that ooze intellectual sophistication:

  • Tweed or wool suits in shades of brown, grey, or navy
  • Crisp white or light blue Oxford shirts
  • Silk or knit ties in deep, rich colours like burgundy, forest green, or navy
  • Leather brogues or oxford shoes in dark brown or black
  • Dress socks in subtle patterns or solid colours that complement the suit

Museum Visits and Art Exhibitions

For a day exploring museums or art galleries, select pieces that combine comfort and elegance:

  • Corduroy or tweed blazers in shades of brown, olive green, or burgundy
  • Turtleneck sweaters in dark colours like black, navy, or forest green
  • Wool trousers in shades of camel, brown, or grey
  • Leather loafers or ankle boots in dark brown or oxblood
  • Lightweight scarves in muted tones that complement the outfit

Formal Academic Events

For formal events like a thesis defence or a university dinner, choose garments that convey professionalism and refinement:

  • Well-tailored wool or tweed suits in shades of charcoal, navy, or black
  • White dress shirts
  • Silk ties in solid colours or subtle patterns
  • Leather oxford shoes in black or dark brown
  • Dress socks in solid colours that match the suit
  • Pocket squares in colours that complement the tie

Conclusion

The Dark Academia style is a testament to the enduring appeal of timeless elegance and the pursuit of knowledge.

Only by understanding the aesthetic’s history, main garments, footwear, accessories, and style icons can you turn Dark Academia into your unique Old Money style.

Whether you’re attending a lecture, browsing a library, or exploring a museum, the Dark Academia look will set you apart as a sophisticated, cultured individual with a passion for learning and style.

Remember, the key to mastering the Dark Academia aesthetic lies in the details – the rich textures of tweed and corduroy, the warm tones of leather, and the intricate designs of vintage accessories.

With over twenty years of front-row fashion and styling events, collabs with haute-couture houses, and a PhD in Luxury Fashion, Laurenti is an expert in crafting personalized looks that depict old-money sophistication.

With years of expertise in high-end fashion collabs and a PhD in Sustainable Fashion, Ru specializes in curating eco-luxe wardrobes for the modern gentleman seeking understated refinement.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Softcore for me. I think most of the outfits in these pictures are just preppy or just too mainstream. Where’s the hardcore dark academia, with gothic s..it and stuff?

    • I tend to agree, I also feel that the looks presented here are a bit too preppy and light-colored, at least for my taste. As a former 80s hardcore goth, I have a view of what the “Dark” aesthetic of “Dark Academia” should look like. I wouldn’t be caught dead (pun?) in any of the clothes shown here. 😉

  2. I’m a guy (24), but since the available articles on fashion – and especially subculture fashion like this – are very sparse, I rely on sources like this.

    And, am very thankful for them! (I am actually writing a bachelor thesis on “the Edwardian fashion in current popular culture”, so to me, reading this article is TECHNICALLY my schoolwork, lol)

    I personally love my waistcoats, I have 2 from thrift stores and one from my grandfather (talk about true vintage!), also double-breasted blazers, and TWEED FOREVER!

    I can HEAVILY relate to the trouble with summer, even before dressing like this I hated summer, nowadays it’s a nightmare.

    I personally try to solve it by wearing 100% linen stuff.

    It lacks the gothic vibe, but at least you don’t sweat so much.

    Good luck to everyone, especially during these tough times!

    • Hey, any chance you’re done your thesis by now? I’d love to give it a read if that’s possible! Sounds like a super interesting topic!

  3. This was a very interesting read.

    For summer, I found that the (minimalistic) Mediterranean/Provençal fashion style fits well with Dark Academia.

    Think: (off-)white linen shirts, blouses, and dresses. Brown leather shoes, sandals, and heels. Brown leather handbags or a woven straw bag. A dark linen pants, sand colored trousers, and straw hats, etc.

    It also fits thematically because for one it draws further on the classical, Greek influences, and two because in Art History I’ve learned that a lot of great artists moved or traveled to the South of France for various reasons.

    There was even a moment in British history where the people were sort of cut off from mainland Europe and because they couldn’t travel to France anymore they started to go on vacation to the south of the UK. Apparently, there is a place there that sort of looks Mediterranean and people could pretend they were in France.

    Anyway, I’m getting off-topic… The Provençal style also uses a lot of natural fabrics like linen, silk organic cotton, and wool.

    So you can have pieces in your wardrobe that works for both seasons.

    I recommend looking on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration for this summer style. That’s how I found out about it.

    PS: English isn’t my first language so I apologize for any spelling mistakes.

  4. Putting on checkered pants and a shint doesn’t mean its dark academia. I’ll politely tell you to stop.Ps. Not gatekeeping, this is embarrassing and a bad look for the actual genre.

  5. I run a leather jacket company and I put my link in lots of blogs and after looking at the pics (can’t read for too long) and seeing you don’t have l;either jackets I wonder if there’s leather jackets designed for this style, and if I can help you to improve the article by sending over some of our jackets? Let me kmnow

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