The Ultimate Dark Academia Style Guide: Fashion Tips & Outfit Ideas

Fab Sakker
by Fab Sakker

Welcome to this dark academia style guide! Here, we are going to be talking about the dark academia aesthetic and how you can incorporate it into your wardrobe. First, we'll discuss what dark academia fashion is, then I will show you a few dark academia outfits to inspire your own style!

What are dark academia clothes?

What are dark academia clothes?

How I would describe the dark academic aesthetic is taking really the two elements of the name.

First, you’ve got the academia. This look definitely romanticizes those ideas of academia like professors and school uniforms. Also, university life, in particular those very old and very traditional British universities with their libraries. 

Dark academia aesthetic

The city of Edinburgh in Scotland, in particular, seems to be a big inspiration for this aesthetic.

Dark academia fashion

For me, in terms of dressing and fashion, dark academia is very similar to preppy fashion. Preppy fashion’s root is definitely in American prep schools and Ivy League schools and taking elements of those school uniforms. So it’s definitely similar in that regard.

Dark academia colors

The difference, I think, is it is darker and not as colorful, and that is where that dark element comes in.

It comes to play in the color scheme. You’ve got grays, browns, deep reds and maroons, burgundy, black, mustardy colors, emerald colors, fawn colors, rust. Fabrics and patterns that are really prominent in the dark academia aesthetic include tweed, heritage check, and plaid.

Dark academia lookbook

In my mind, dark academia incorporates aspects of Harry Potter - mystical and magical elements. They go to Hogwarts, which is a castle in Scotland, so there is a connection there.

Dark academia lookbook

Now, let’s talk about how you can incorporate the dark academia aesthetic into your own wardrobe.

Dark academia outfit with a shirt

1. Shirt

The first way to incorporate it is going for that school uniform look. You want to incorporate elements of a school uniform, but not make it look like you are wearing a school uniform.

You can take elements of school uniforms and make them fashionable. A really easy way to do this is with a classic white button-down shirt. I like the crisp white, but you could go for darker colors too.

How to create a dark academia wardrobe

Your shirt doesn’t have to have a traditional collar. I think that the rounded Peter Pan collars are so cute and very in keeping with dark academia fashion. 

Dark academia outfit with a pleated skirt

2. Pleated skirt

The next way to add to the school uniform look is with a pleated skirt. It is quite fun to do this little tennis skirt style. The one I’ve gone for is a chocolate brown color.

Dark academia outfit with a sweater vest

3. Sweater vests

A fun trend that is coming in at the moment is knitted vests or sweater vests. The one I’m wearing here has those old-timey, gray school uniform vibes, but it also has a fun ruffle on the sleeves, making it fashionable.

Dark academia outfit with a tie

4. Tie

Another cute thing that you can add to your dark academia outfits is a tie around the neck. This could be a menswear tie or a school uniform tie, but a fabric tie or a ribbon in a little bow at the neck also looks great. A tie adds some academic spice to the whole outfit.

Dark academia outfit with an oversized blazer

5. Blazer

Next, let's incorporate that dark academia professor vibe. I think this really starts with using those traditional fabrics and patterns like the tweed, the heritage chic, the plaid, and specifically in those brown and fawn colors.

In my mind, when I think of a professor, they're wearing brown. The blazer I'm wearing here was actually my dad's oversized blazer, and I took it in so that it fits me. It has these really strong dark academia vibes with the plaid print, and it also has elbow patches!

We need more elbow patches in fashion. They immediately give that old-timey, university professor look!

Dark academia outfit with a knit sweater

6. Knit sweater

Here I'm wearing my favorite knit sweater in those beautiful rust colors, which looks great in the dark academia aesthetic, and, drumroll please, it has elbow patches too!

Dark academia outfit with a cardigan

7. Cardigan

I think that another fun thing to play with is cardigans. I have this little beige cardigan, but instead of wearing it properly, I like to drape it over my shoulders. Maybe I'll just hold some books as well and look like I'm off to class. I think that it's such a cute look.

Dark academia outfit with a plaid coat

8. Plaid

Now I do want to talk about plaid, and of course, plaid in that dark academia color scheme looks gorgeous. Here I'm wearing a beautiful red plaid coat. Does this coat not scream Gryffindor vibes? 

Dark academia style guide

There you go, that is my take on the dark academia aesthetic. I hope you enjoyed the dark academic lookbook that I put together and you’re more clued up about what this style of dressing is all about. I really enjoy dark academia fashion and I hope you’ll give it a go too!

You can also learn about light academia, a similar aesthetic, in my Light Academia Style Guide.

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation