Dark Academia Fashion Style Guide for an ‘Intellectual’ Look

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Inspired by classic literature, philosophy, Gothic architecture, and Greek arts, Dark Academia fashion is packed with mystery and intellectualism.

With vintage cardigans, tweed blazers, and Preppy-style loafers, the style showcases a melancholic love for learning and an inclination for occult and dark, tragic fashion themes.

Whether you’re a philosopher fashionista or a stylish bookworm, this Dark Academia fashion guide will teach you how to style best to add scholarly sophistication to your wardrobe.

What is Dark Academia?

Dark academia is a new fashion style that draws aesthetic influences from the classic Greek arts, writing, Gothic architecture, and concepts of death.

Dark Academia fashion reflects a subculture interested in education, learning, reading, and writing, hence the ‘academic’ touch.

However, the’ dark’ gothic influence confers Dark Academia fashion with a look distinct from the classic academic style.

Dark academia fashion
A simple Dark Academia – vintage look.

Also, the Dark Academia subculture aims to recreate the vibes of the 19th century of private English boarding schools and Ivy League colleges in New England.

The Dark Academia fashion aesthetic draws inspiration from Greek culture and arts, Gothic architecture, and even the Harry Potter films.

Posting pictures on social media wearing Harry Potter series-made wool sweaters, cardigans, and chocolate brown pants, Dark Academia fashion is popular with teenagers.

Dark Academia vs Preppy

To fashion critics, the Dark Academia way of dressing resembles the classic Preppy style.

While both styles use chinos, argyle, and crewneck sweaters, Dark Academia is more ‘autumnesque,’ with duller and darker colors.

Moreover, the Goth style influences confer Dark Academia fashion with a darker note, away from Preppy’s colorful and leisure-inspired feel.

Dark Academia Outfits

To put together relevant Dark Academia outfits, you must respect certain rules:

First, the garments, footwear, and accessories must be vintage, from thrift stores or online websites selling secondhand fashion, ideally with a Gothic touch.

Dark academia plus size shopping
Dark Academia capsule wardrobe.

Second, the overall outfit must showcase an intellectual look.

Accessorize your outfit with leather-bound books, handwritten notes, and rolled maps in your handbag.

Third, certain garments, footwear, and accessories are more recommended than others to create a perfect Dark Academic look.

Blouses & Tops

Dark Academia top and blouse

Blouses with cuffed sleeves are best to create that British heritage look.

Blouses with oversized bell sleeves are great for achieving the academic look.

For a more sophisticated Dark Academia look, go for tops you can button up and wrap tops made of silk.

Silk is cool and breathable in the summertime, and distressed silk tops have a rebellious touch.

Skirts & Trousers

Dark Academia Skirt and Trousers

Wool and corduroy skirts and trousers are preferred to create a refined, Dark Academia look.

I also wear trousers, and I often cut them at ankle height for an extra bit of a nonconformist look.

But, if you don’t know how to cut and sew back trousers, cuff them up to create that kind of sailor, tapered look.


Dark Academia blazers, jackets and coats

The glorified tweed blazer of the 50s fashion is the best outerwear for the Dark Academia look.

You can also wear it over the shoulders without the sleeves on.

The tweed blazer also goes great with dark, straight-leg jeans.


Dark Academia Shoes

The opinions are split regarding which shoes are best for the Dark Academia aesthetic.

Some prefer open shoes, just like the ancient Romans and Greeks.

Others argue that no sandals exist in Harry Potter movies and insist on boots and low chunky heels.

I prefer boots as they allow me to emphasize the Gothic look I love.

Dark academia on Tumblr
Tumblr searches for #darkacademia show a massive interest in the new style.

1. Intelectual Look

The idea behind the Dark Academia style is to construct a look that reflects and accentuates your ‘cultural self.’

Rocking this style does not require a countryside mansion with a big kitchen for baking and a field of flowers.

Some of the best representatives of the Dark Academia style are students such as Laura Piszczatowska, a history graduate from Norway.

“My favourite academia outfits consists of tweed pants, black turtlenecks, elegant boots, and long thrift coats,” she said.

Laura also runs ‘Geminnorum,’ a Dark Academia Instagram account with over 28,000 followers.

2. Gender Free

Dark Academia fashion styles suit the LGBTQ+ community as well

says Evelyn Meyer, a supporter of Dark Academia male looks and creator of ‘Dark Academia Check Sound.’

Dilara Scholz, a researcher in fashion history at Royal Holloway, University of London, reinforces Evelyn’s views:

Androgynous vintage blazers are representative for the Dark Academia aesthetic”

explains Dilara.

Dilara considers herself an adherent of the Dark Academia subculture.

“Most Dark Academia silhouettes remind of the 1940s men’s look. It is a style that can be worn by anyone who does not fit into any gender definition,”

completes Dilara.

The style’s success with the LGBTQ+ community is partly credited to books featuring LGBTQ+ characters, such as ‘If We Were Villains’ by M.L. Rio and ‘Kill Your Darlings’ by Allen Ginsberg.

“A good part of Dark Academia is aesthetics. But, the more you explore the styles, the more you connect to other people like you. The main point here is a common desire to learn”

said Declan Lyman, 15, who posts Dark Academia videos on TikTok.

Even though it’s about classics and styles, Dark Academia is a very open community,” said Lucien K, 21, who posts about Dark Academia styles on TikToks, or about himself reading books and doing makeups. “It’s also about breaking stereotypes regardless of gender or sexuality”

3. Body Inclusivity

The Dark Academia subculture has shown the same openness toward plus-size people.

“I was afraid to wear anything that would accentuate my body shapes and weight. However, after falling in love with the style I’ve realised that if I wear clothes that make me feel happy and confident, any fear goes away,”

told us Helen Belfort, a University of Oxford, UK student.

However, finding suitable Dark Academia outfits for plus size remains challenging.

And, just like Helen, I am also falling into this category.

In the past, I’ve tried to find complete Dark Academia outfits.

It was so hard; my struggle to find suitable garments is one of the main reasons I am writing and sharing this article with you.

I’ve discovered that it is much easier to buy individual pieces than whole outfits.

Moreover, I love creating unique looks as I put the parts together one by one.

Here are the best places to shop Dark Academia plus size right now:

Online Thrift Stores are the best places to shop Dark Academia for plus size, especially if you’re looking for rare pieces. Also, buying from vintage and online thrift shops is the most sustainable fashion to shop for clothing right now.

Cato is one of my favorite places to find pleated dress pants. They also have button-down shirts, vintage blazers, and pencil skirts. I also like Cato because they have special offers very often, and I never spent more than $20 on any piece.

Everlane is my other favorite, particularly for blazers. More expensive than Cato, but the quality is excellent.

Torrid is the best for its excellent corduroy creations and pants.

H&M+ is known for some rare plus-size gothic pieces.

Target is worth visiting for their Ava + Viv line.

Amazon is the best shop for cheap Dark Academia clothes and bargains.

Other similar aesthetics are Light Academia and Cottagecore, which are taking over the internet, particularly TikTok and Instagram.

Professional Styling Advice

Are you looking to improve your fashion style and would like to try Haute-Couture creations?

Contact The VOU’s Style Experts to receive your free and personalized styling advice based on your current way of dressing, preferred outfits, colors, aesthetics, age, gender, body shape, location, and event you seek to attend.

Your dedicated stylist will meticulously select essential garments, footwear, and accessories to craft a wardrobe that complements and enhances your style.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience a transformative fashion adventure, all at no cost to you.

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A University of Oxford graduate in Design History, Katherine Saxon is researching arising TikTok cultures from a consumer psychology perspective while covering emerging aesthetics in fashion and beauty for TheVOU, Forbes, Business Insider, and more.

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  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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