Dark Academia Outfits Are Trending Again – But What Do They Look Like?

It's still sweeping social media.

Dark academia

by Natalie Hammond |

The life of your typical student used to involve a balanced diet of lectures, disco naps, fridge-raid dinners and copious amounts of cheap wine. But after the pandemic - and the forced closures of schools and universities - the student experience has become even more angst-ridden in reality. With everything played out on social media, this gave rise to a new movement: dark academia. And if you need outfit ideas for the moodier seasons of autumn and winter, you've come to the right place.

If the past few summers have belonged to #cottagecore - the social media trend for posting about the pastoral; an escape into the countryside idyll of agas and apple picking - then winter, and its moodier characteristics, is primed for #darkacademia, a term which is well on its way to having 2 million tags on Instagram.

What Is Dark Academia?

Dark academia is about idealising the experience of learning - think libraries full of cloth-bound books, lush (and perfectly groomed) quadrangles, wire-rimmed spectacles, polished loafers and chalk cursive on blackboards. This isn’t the student experience documented on Clueless, Gossip Girl or Fresh Meat. The #darkcademia mood is more along the lines of Donna Tartt's The Secret History - a gothic-style campus drama set in Vermont, it tells the story of an elite classics class - while films and shows like Dear White People, Rushmore and A Beautiful Mind provide a good visual of its aesthetic.

While unmistakably tech-literate, you can just imagine its users falling asleep reading Edgar Allan Poe, typewriting their essays, sewing their own clothes and watching films with subtitles.

Some posts document the dark academia fashion aesthetic with outfit pictures - think cable-knit socks paired with penny loafers, berets, white blouses and pea coats - while others are more of a mood board (books, opticals, autumn leaves, that kind of thing).

A trip to your local independent book shop's website will soon sort the latter, and for the former, you’ll want to major in tartan, natty knitwear and organza hair bows. (Rowing Blazers has a brilliant pair of patchwork trousers that are made-to-order out of what looks like scraps of autumnal tweed.) Finally, #darkacademia doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re 18 or 48, everyone should watch Dead Poet’s Society, while wearing Mary-Janes, this weekend.

SHOP: The Dark Academia Outfits Trend

H&M, Textured-knit cardigan
Price: £44.99



This textured knit cardigan is a timeless addition to your wardrobe, but still very much ticks the


Everyone will be asking where you got these from!


Whether you need them or not, tortoiseshell glasses will instantly amp up your look.


The satchel: a versatile sidekick that carries more than just belongings. This green one weaves


Team your loafers with ribbed socks then pair the combo with a mini skirt or some cropped trousers

READ MORE: Autumn Work Outfits That Will Make You Look Forward To Getting Back To The Office

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