Dark Academia Vs Light Academia Styling Tutorial

Dark and moody, the dark academia aesthetic is all about classic literature and the pursuit of knowledge about yourself and the world.

Light academia, on the other hand, consists of lighter themes and visuals. It includes an interest in literature, music, art, and history.

In this style guide, I’m going to show you some dark academia vs. light academia outfits.

Light academic outfit

For the light academic outfit, I am wearing a white shirt with vertical detailing on the front which I really like. I also have on a great basic neutral pair of dress pants that would style well with many different pieces.

The pieces on their own are a good start but the outfit needed just a little bit more styling to really lean into the light academia aesthetic. I popped on my tan oxfords, a dainty gold chain necklace, some little gold hoop earrings, and some tortoiseshell glasses. I rolled up the sleeves and put my hair in a soft half updo with a scrunchie. 

Adding hats and outerwear

I also tried out some hats and outerwear pieces from my wardrobe that I thought would match the light academia aesthetic. A trench coat and a chunky beanie were my favorite accompaniments to the outfit.

Light academia aesthetic

I enjoy the light academia aesthetic but after wearing the previous outfit for the whole day, I started questioning whether it suits me. While wearing it I just feel a little masculine and not myself. I wasn’t sure if it was the whole aesthetic or just that outfit so I decided to try and create another light academia outfit and see what I thought. 

This time I went for a skirt to combat the masculine feeling I was getting. I styled a brown button-front mini skirt with a white collared crop top and a grandpa cardigan over the top. I used the same tortoiseshell glasses, gold hoop earrings, and tan oxfords but added some white thigh-high socks. This outfit felt suitably academic while also feeling cozy and feminine.  

Dark academic look

Onto the dark academic look, I’m wearing a dark green sweater and a black skirt with a little brown bag to accessorize. To style the outfit up a little more, I added a black turtleneck underneath the sweater and chucked on my shiny black oxfords.

Since my hair is quite light, I thought I would hide the blonde tips a little by putting it in a loose low ponytail. This time I have black glasses on and a black knitted beret to top it off. 

Adding blazers and coats

I could stop there as the outfit is complete but I wanted to see how double layering some blazers and coats would look. I tried out various different outerwear pieces and decided to go with a gray grid-patterned blazer.

I felt the outfit needed a pattern in there to give it more interest and I also like how the light gray shade complements the darker colors in the outfit. When wearing this outfit for work, I left my purse at home and tried out the extremely tiny bag for the day and it was totally okay.

Another take on Dark Academia

I do feel like I prefer the more brown-based Dark Academia outfits, so for another take on Dark Academia, I went with brown wide-leg pants, with a black belt and a black turtleneck. Once again reusing a lot of the same accessories. I tried out a range of outerwear pieces with this outfit too but my favorite was actually the grandpa cardigan again even though it's more on the light academia spectrum. 

This leads me to believe that I'm not solely on either the dark or light side when it comes to this aesthetic and I'm instead somewhere in the middle or a mixture of both which after doing some research I found out is known as Classic Academia. I enjoy the contrast of pairing the lighter colors with the darker colors so mixing all the other Academia aesthetics together sounds right to me.

Dark academia vs light academia

Dark academia vs light academia

I hope you enjoyed the dark and light academia outfits that I’ve styled. Let me know which outfit and which aesthetic is your favorite in the comments below!

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