Dark Academia style may have originated in the 2000s, but it's blowing up in popularity right now. In fact, Google reported a 4750% increase in searches for "dark academia" since the beginning of 2021. This trend also gained a lot of traction on TikTok and Instagram, making its ins and outs accessible to Gen Z'ers.
But what exactly is the Dark Academia clothing aesthetic? Why is it so en vogue in 2022 and why will it likely stay popular throughout the rest of the decade? Read on to learn the basics of Academia fashion and learn how you can start rocking this trend ASAP.
What Is the Academia Clothing Aesthetic?
Understanding gothic fashion is the best way to learn the basics of Dark Academia. Gothcore is a moody and dark aesthetic that takes a lot of inspiration from metal music and punk culture. It involves a lot of PVC outfits, short skirts, corsets, and punk accessories such as metal chokers and giant crucifixes.
Dark Academia is similar to Gothcore because it incorporates tons of dark colors and a "darker" aesthetic (for the lack of a better word). However, it's more... school-appropriate. You can wear Dark Academia outfits to your classes and look cool without teachers or professors batting an eye.
This is because Dark Academia is a sort of blend between Gothcore and preppy fashion. There are fewer vampy elements that make you look less like you've leapt off the pages of Dracula or a corset-and-cogs-fueled steampunk novel. Dark Academia basically makes you look like you're headed to a Victorian prep school or an Ivy League university in the 1800s.
Does That Mean Long Dresses and Cravats?
It can if you want it to! But in most cases, no. That's not what Dark Academia means.
These styles draw on vintage aesthetics, but they've definitely got a modern flair. Dark Academia Fashion female apparel does feature office-style pants as well as checkered jeans. Short skirts and peacoats are also staples that would never have flown in the 1800s.
For men, Dark Academia styles include dark suits and khakis. They're often paired with vintage-look vests, though sweater vests are a common modern substitute. Guys aren't going to be wearing cravats pretty much ever but instead relying on asymmetrical button-down shirts and occasional flat neckties.
Simple sweatshirts in dark hues also work well for Dark Academia fans. You can pair them with dark scarves and black khakis to complete your aesthetic. Dark blue and black scarves are an ideal replacement for whenever Victorian men would have worn a cravat, but they also look awesome on women.
Nonbinary folks stay winning and can wear whatever they want! (Not that binary genders can't. You should wear anything that you want to rock.)
All genders tend to incorporate a lot of floral patterns and vines into Dark Academia outfits. Many Dark Academia male outfits incorporate embroidered floral patterns onto suit jackets and in the form of subtle cufflinks. Those who want to wear dresses have tons of floral lace opportunities on dresses, blouses, and stockings.
Patterns like plaid are extremely common for Academia fashion enthusiasts. It looks great on long coats and short skirts alike. Just make sure that you're sticking with brown, black, and gray- otherwise, you'll veer into the territory of Light Academia!
What's the Inspiration Behind Dark Academia Fashion?
In a word? Intellectualism.
Dark Academia's classic European vibes stem back to both romantic and tragic classic literature. Some examples might include the Bronte sister's works, especially books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Authors like Shakespeare, Byron, and Oscar Wilde also provide particular inspiration for Dark Academia outfits.
Modern literature also can give off Dark Academia vibes. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare is quintessential Dark Academia, as is The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Since Academia culture is in large part a pushback against the decline of literature and the humanities, it draws a lot of bookish fans.
But if you're not a reader, Dark Academia is still for you. The Sherlock Holmes adaptations (including BBC's Sherlock) are great visual examples of the aesthetic. A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix is also a great show to emulate the costumes of.
Music also can be a Dark Academia inspiration. Lots of classical artists (and modern-day classical musicians) look to create Academia vibes with their music, but modern punk musicians can do the same.
Panic! At the Disco's first album- A Fever You Can't Sweat Out- feels like it comes from the Dark Academia handbook. All you need to do is watch the "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" music video and you'll see what we mean.
Light Academia: How Is It Different From Dark Academia?
There's also another type of Academia that we briefly glossed over earlier: Light Academia. While Dark Academia draws on romantic tragedies, Light Academia drops the "tragedy" and focuses on light, airy romantic vibes.
This means pastel blues, lavender hues, yellows, and mint-greens. Light Academia outfits tend to use the same clothing styles, cuts, and materials that Dark Academia boasts, but the colors and patterns are much brighter with less of an edge.
Florals are still common, but you'll see delicate pink carnations rather than black roses with thorns. You'll also see a lot of Alice-in-Wonderland-esque patterns such as clocks, organic patterns, and swirls.
If Dark Academia is Byronic tragedy, light Academia is Jane Austen. It's reading books in a garden on a summer day. It's delicate tea in china cups.
It's intellectualism, but only the romantic parts of it.
Why Do People Love Dark and Light Academia Fashion?
There are tons of reasons that Academia fashion is awesome. It's punk-rock and edgy, but it's also completely appropriate for teens and young adults to wear to school. This lets you express yourself anytime, anywhere.
In short, it's stylish and fun to wear!
An Homage to the Humanities
In fact, school is one of the reasons that Academia fashion- specifically Dark Academia fashion- is popular. These styles are generally meant for those who love to read and learn, especially those who love language and literature. The style is highly influenced by Oxbridge as well as the American Ivy League and provides intellectual escapism.
It's the perfect style for those who would love to be lifelong students of literature and the arts. It's escapism for those who'd love to be in school for the rest of their lives if they had the time and money to do so.
Joining a Niche Literary Subculture
Speaking of literature and art, enthusiasts love Dark Academia in part because it's a pushback against a decline in studying the humanities. Lots of older adults look down on these fields, which is... wrong, to say the least. If you rock Dark Academia (or Light Academia) designs, you're declaring that you're proud to love novels, creative writing, classical music, or historical architecture and events.
You also will have more chances to foster connections with those similar interests! Like most aesthetics, wearing Dark Academia lets you join a rich subculture.
Dark Academia is also especially great for those who love British history, literature, and architecture. It's an homage to Oxford and Cambridge as well as to the literary greats that made a name for themselves in the UK.
If you're an Anglophile, you can rock a London hoodie, a scarf, and some checked pants over boots to showcase your affinity for all things English.
Note, though, that Dark Academia isn't just Anglocentric- it's Eurocentric more generally. Northern European countries inspired the bulk of these styles. You might draw on styles from a historical Paris or Amsterdam as well.
What Celebs Are Rocking Academia Fashion in 2022?
We brushed on the fact that tons of people are loving the Dark Academia clothing aesthetic right now, and your favorite celebs? Absolutely no exception.
In fact, a lot of celebrities inspired the expansion of Academia trends on TikTok. Zoomers saw the people they followed wearing the styles and made videos about it. They then expanded their wardrobe to follow some of the coolest styles.
Amy Schumer's Met Gala tuxedo dress has all the marks of Dark Academia. Asymmetrical buttons, lace accents, and a funky collar were the perfect look for her. Plus, the Low-V neckline gave it a modern twist that 2022 literary enthusiasts are sure to appreciate.
Phoebe Dynevor also wore a Dark Academia outfit at the Met Gala... that you could wear, too, if you tweaked a few aspects of the design.
The sheer organic lace patterns were gorgeous, and you could wear them out assuming that you put an off-black or gray camisole under them rather than exposing your stomach. You also could wear black leggings under the sheer skirt to cover some skin while still looking great.
Taylor Swift's Evermore peacoat, which you can see on the album cover and promotional pictures, teeters on the precipice between Light and Dark Academia. Its length and button-down style definitely have the intellectual inspiration needed for the aesthetic, as does the checked pattern. The braid and boots that complete the look also scream "Academia."
Dark Academia fashion male outfits are also en vogue right now, and Henry Cavill got to rock some of the best in Millie Bobby Brown's Netflix movie Enola Holmes.
A button-down vest completed his awesome look as he portrayed Sherlock in many scenes, and its dotted/checked pattern contributed to the Academia aesthetic. The collars of his suit jackets in other scenes also looked awesome with their corduroy-like patterns also took his Dark Academia game up a notch.
Academia Fashion: Where to Buy Punk-Rock Styles
So, where can you buy Academia styles and rock your inner punk-rock lit nerd?
There are tons of places where you can find cool outfits. Hot Topic is an eternal favorite, but you can also get some less-edgy stuff at Forever 21, British retailer ASOS, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, and American Eagle. The only problem is that these places are way outside the budget of many adults, so you need to get crafty.
Buy some accessories at these stores and pair them with outfits from other venues. Subtle Flight offers tons of preppy sweatshirts that you can wear with checked pants, plaid skirts, sweater vests, peacoats, and more. They also look awesome with scarves and other layered shirts, which is important for Dark Academia vibes.
One of the coolest things about our outfits is that most of them feature a city name in a subtle font. This lets you make a statement about what nation or city you're trying to channel with your outfit. Pairing them with accessories that look like historically-inspired pieces from the city you're boasting is a great way to get a cohesive look.
You can also spruce up any one of our outfits with Dark Academia makeup. This means bright red lipstick, heavy eyeliner, and mascara. Makeup styles are going to be in the gothic vein without being nearly as heavy as Gothcore enthusiasts prefer.
Start Shopping for Your New Favorite Fit
While there are hundreds of interesting and eye-grabbing aesthetics out there, Dark Academia is one of the best. It's versatile and gives you a lot of options when considering what to wear. Plus, since it's trending right now, it gives you an in with a huge subculture that will let you make friends with similar tastes and interests.
Now that you know the basics of the Academia clothing aesthetic, it's time to start shopping for outfits that fall into this category. We offer lots of awesome hoodies, sweatshirts, and tees that you can pair with Dark Academia-inspired makeup and jewelry. Contact us with any questions that you have and get pointers on how you can look amazing this year and beyond.