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This Is Why Dark Academia Fashion Is Booming

Dark Academia Fashion

Dark Academia has become one of the trendiest fashion topics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Right now, there are over 150,000 #darkacademia posts on Instagram and a million posts on Tumblr.

The topic is growing fast on Reddit as well.

However, the most significant wave of interest comes from the TikTok generation, with almost 20 million views to date.

But what is Dark Academia, and why is it booming right now? Here is everything you need to know!

What Is Dark Academia?

Dark Academia refers to a new aesthetic style that draws inspiration from the classic Greek arts, writing, and architecture, deeply infused with Gothic elements and concepts of death.

Dark Academia fashion style is designed to reflect a subculture that emphasizes on education, learning, reading, writing, and hence the ‘academic’ touch.

However, what makes Dark Academia fashion look so distinct from the classic academic fashion style is the ‘dark’, gothic aesthetic influence.

To best picture the ‘dark academia fashion’, imagine someone wearing a pair of vintage tweed pants.

Add to that image a slubby thick yarn cardigan and a worn satchel packed with academic papers and books.

The DA style is filled with nostalgic vibes.

The Dark Academia subculture revives the 19th century of private English boarding schools and Ivy League colleges in New England.

The Dark Academia Aesthetic

Right now, the Dark Academia aesthetic draws a lot from the Greek culture and arts but also from the Harry Potter films.

Popular with teenagers posting on social media, the Harry Potter series made wool sweaters, rich textured cardigans, and chocolate brown pants fashionable again.

To fashion critics, the Dark Academia aesthetic is similar to the classic preppy style.

Preppy became famous for its chinos, argyle, and crewneck sweaters.

Also, for its grosgrain and woven leather belts, madras, and button-down Oxford cloth shirts.

In that sense, the Dark Academia aesthetic is very similar.

Yet, it is more Autumn-Esque, with duller and darker color palettes.

Why Is Dark Academia Booming Now?

Dark Academia spring outfit comprising of a brown check blazer and a white top, paired with boots, dress, and bag, all black.

This spring saw schools from all over the world come to a halt.

There aren’t any more classes or studies abroad.

There are no more graduations, proms, or fashion show-offs.

Moreover, what’s going to happen in September remains somehow unknown.

However, teenagers missing school – because of the Coronavirus lockdown – have chosen a style that keeps them somehow connected.

True, the concept of Dark Academia fashion precedes the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it was during the lockdown when the 14 to 24 years old have started to flood social media platforms with school-like outfits.

And the gloomy feel of COVID-19 brought the Gothic vibe out, and people started to tag pics with the ‘Dark Academia’ moniker.

However, the subculture is most popular among three groups in particular:

1. Students

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

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

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

“My favorite academia outfits consist 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’.

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

“Androgynous vintage blazers are representative of the Dark Academia aesthetic,” said 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,” she completes.

The success of the style with the LGBTQ+ community is, in part, credited to books and films that feature LGBTQ+ characters.

“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.”

3. Plus size

To date, the Dark Academia subculture has shown the same openness toward plus-size people.

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

Told us Helen Belfort, a student at the University of Oxford, UK.

However, it still remains difficult to find suitable dark academia outfits for plus size.

Just like Helen, I am also falling into this category.

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

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

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

Moreover, I love the process of creating my special looks as I put the parts together one by one.

Here are some of the best places to shop Dark Academia plus size :

Thrift shops -The best places to shop Dark Academia Plus size are the vintage and thrift shops! There you’ll find unique garments for a good price. Above all, right now, this is the most sustainable way of shopping.

  • 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 (and sustainability) is great.
  • Torrid for their excellent corduroy creations and pants.
  • H&M+ for some rare gothic pieces.
  • Target for their Ava + Viv line.

The Dark Academia Style

Some of the most popular Dark Academia styles right now are built on three core things:

  • First, the garments you put together must be vintage, from thrift stores or online websites selling secondhand fashion, with a gothic vibe.
  • Second, the overall style must augment the intellectual look. For that, try to complement the leather-bound books, handwritten notes, and rolled maps coming out of your handbag.
  • Third, each popular Dark Academia style relies on some of the staples I enumerate below.

Blouses & Tops

Choose blouses that have cuffed sleeves – it helps to create that extra touch of British heritage.

You should also choose blouses with large bell sleeves to achieve that unique academic look.

For a more sophisticated Dark Academia look, go for tops that you can button up.

I personally wear a lot of versatile wrap tops made of silk.

Not only is silk super cool and breathable in the summertime, but distressed silk tops confer me with a rebellious, unique style.

Skirts & Trousers

For a super stylish and refined Dark Academia look, I recommend you to go for long skirts.

Easier and more comfortable when compared to trousers.

Also, if you live in a hot country, long skirts are preferable to trousers.

Why? Because skirts protect your legs from the sun while allowing ventilation at the same time.

However, if you decide to wear trousers, remember that wool blends and corduroy materials are best for this style.

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.


Remember the glorified tweed blazer of the 50s?

The tweed blazer is by far the best outerwear for the Dark Academia look.

Just make sure you put it over your shoulders without the sleeves on.


When it comes to which shoes are best for the Dark Academia look, the opinions are split.

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

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

Personally, I prefer boots as it allows me to emphasize the Gothic look that I love so much.

Yet, regardless of what shoes you choose, make sure you do not wear flip-flops with the Dark Academia style.

Seriously now, don’t ever do that!

Dark Academia Summer Looks

Given their apparent heavy and Gothic constructs, the Dark Academia fashion styles are not that suitable for countries with long summers and hot weather all year round.

However, Dark Academia styles are great for cities with colder climates.

The same applies to places that have four regular seasons, during autumn and winter seasons.

Nevertheless, some of you insist on wearing this style in the summer as well.

If that’s your case, there are some ways around as I’m going to explain below.

To start with, you must pick only all-natural fabrics.

Avoid polyester and plastic blends at all costs.

Compared to blends, natural fibers absorb moisture fast.

Especially if you sweat a lot, these organic fabrics will let your body ventilate with ease.

From all-natural fibers, these are the top 4 you should wear:

  • Linen offers excellent ventilation, and it is much better for the environment as well.
  • Organic cotton is a light material that’s also easy to wear. Moreover, organic cotton has minimal impact on the environment.
  • Silk is something magical about vintage silk. It is light, cool, and easy to wear. Preferably, if you buy new garments, go for cruelty-free silk.
  • Wool, apart from being very suitable in the colder days of winter, is an excellent alternative to cotton in the summer as well, thanks to its increased breathable capability.