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From Instagram to TikTok, and thanks to fictional characters like "Euphoria"'s Lexi and shows like "Gossip Girl," the dark-academia aesthetic has emerged from the fringes to bring a host of preppy pieces to the mainstream. With over a million hashtags on Instagram and more than one billion views on TikTok, the trend has evolved from a niche intellectual community into a fully developed lifestyle. Look it up on any of these platforms, and you'll be immersed in a world of multidisciplinary knowledge and sartorial self-expression.
Burberry's fall 2022 collection featured many looks that exemplify the aesthetic, most visible in the pleated skirt and plaid jacket ensembles. Dark academia modernizes university-inspired outfits and extends to accessories, from brooches and glasses to watches and ties. Put on an argyle sweater, pleated skirt, and finish with knee-high socks and loafers, and you may start to feel like a scholar on their way to the library. Slip into a black turtleneck that's tucked into gray dress pants, accessorized with round glasses and finished with a forest green trench coat, and you'll embody the Ivy League student who's always early to class. Or layer a cardigan over a collared dress, and you're ready to nail that work presentation. That's exactly what the niche fashion trend seeks to achieve: a polished, smart look popularized by brands like Ralph Lauren and J.Crew. Most pieces will easily pass the school dress code, while conveying an edgy attitude combined with a sense of effortless cool.
What Is the Dark-Academia Aesthetic?
Tracing back to Tumblr in 2015, dark academia embraces a classic collegiate look that's often described as preppy, with staples like Oxford shirts, blazers, trench coats, and duffel bags. Spanning several disciplines — such as classical literature, roman languages, art, architecture, and poetry — dark academia draws from a time when upper classes encouraged liberal education. Members of the subculture find joy in the pursuit of education, which they perceive as a noble goal. Dark-academia outfits usually consist of plaid separates, turtlenecks, and tweed suiting in a moody palette of black, gray, blue, or dark brown.
If the aesthetic speaks to you, channel your inner moody student with these seriously cool pieces. If you aren't convinced, start slow by incorporating one of the staples into your everyday wardrobe; you'll find endless styling possibilities in the selection ahead.