Imagine Rory Gilmore trudging across Yale’s campus in an oversized, chunky-knit sweater and loafers; or Beth Harmon from The Queen's Gambit dominating in chess wearing a Peter Pan-collared cardigan layered over a dress and tights. You can almost feel the chilly breeze and hear the leaves crunching under your feet, right?
This is Dark Academia, a popular style aesthetic for the colder months that has blown up on TikTok and beyond. The hashtag #DarkAcademia has over 5 billion views on the social media platform, and according to fashion retailer BooHoo, the search for “Rory Gilmore wardrobe” has skyrocketed 455 percent in the past six months.
The dark academia aesthetic is all about the romanticization of studying and returning to university. In terms of fashion, TikTok users put together outfits that they could picture themselves sneaking down the halls of Hogwarts in or brainstorming storybook ideas with Jo March. This look involves elements of classic fall and winter tones, like maroon and brown, and the classic schoolgirl style, like plaid skirts and tights. Here is how you can achieve it.
@caitlinbea how to dress like a dark academia main character what bookish character or style should i do next?! #darkacademia #darkacademiabooks #fallbookrecs #darkacademiaaesthetic #fallreads #autumnbooks #thesecrethistory #gothicromance #booktok #bookaesthetic #bookishaesthetic #howto #howtodress #pinterestaesthetic #pinterestgirl #darkacademiabooks #ifwewerevillains #darkacademiareads #darkacademiafashion #darkacademiaoutfits original sound - caitlin bea | book recs
When we say layers, we mean at least three—a turtleneck layered with a vest and a trench coat on top, or a button-up shirt with a sweater over top and finished with a blazer. Dark Academia is all about layering, as well as using interesting textures and fabrics to make the outfit more dimensional. Adding fun patterns like tartan, houndstooth or plaid is quintessential to this look. According to the study done by BooHoo, searches for “plaid skirts” have increased 138 percent in the past three months. In the example from this TikTok, a lacy white button-up shirt is paired with a thick plaid trench coat over top, and for even more layers, a sweater or sweater vest could be added into the mix. A perfect first layer for this look could be this Free People top, with a fun collar and neckline, as well as a lacy white detail that makes it more interesting than a classic white button-up. The next layer is the sweater layer. Try one like this GAP Sweater; the v-neck cut pairs perfectly with the collar of the undershirt, and the soft brown color is perfect for the Dark Academia look. Finally, a top layer. A vintage and worn leather jacket screams dark academic almost as much as a trench coat like this one from JCrew.
@bellamanfredi7 #rorygilmore #fallfashion #rorygilmoresweater #cozyfallvibes #fallaesthetic #cableknitsweater rory -
Chunky knits are on everyone’s mind right now, and for months, the internet has been on the hunt for Rory Gilmore’s perfect cream sweater. But you don’t need that exact sweater to achieve a Dark Academia look. Cardigans, quarter-zips, sweater vests and non-Rory-Gilmore sweaters all fall under the knits category—a cornerstone of Dark Academia. This Neiman Marcus turtleneck sweater vest is perfect, the pattern on the knit stands out and will add texture to any outfit, and the green-gray color fits right into the aesthetic. Pinterest searches for a “sweater vest” have risen 117 percent in the past three months, so sweater vests are perfectly on-trend. Layer this trench from Urban Outfitters on top and pair the vest with some black trousers to complete the look.
@dressrelief My fave shoes to wear with #darkacademia outfits #shoecollection #darkacademiaaesthetic #darkacademiafashion #academiaaesthetic bad guy - Vitamin String Quartet
Sometimes, it’s the shoes that make the outfit. While you can dress like you belong in the Harry Potter series, a pair of sneakers will throw off the look entirely. Dark Academia shoes are mostly—you guessed it—black. But a pair of brown, maroon, or even fun plaid shoes can still fit the aesthetic and add a pop of color or texture to any outfit. According to the internet, Dark Academia shoes include loafers, Mary Janes, Doc Martens, boots and ballet flats.
@cosyacademia Dark Academia Gift Guide! #giftideas #giftguide #darkacademia #darkacademiaaesthetic #darkacademiaoutfits #cottagecore original sound - ale ϟ
Accessories are important, especially when it comes to Dark Academia. Items like leather satchels, dark gemstone jewelry, lacy socks and chunky vintage-looking rings can level up your outfit and help you commit to the Dark Academia aesthetic. Searching for jewelry at places like vintage shops and flea markets is a surefire way to nail the aesthetic, or you could go for something like this gorgeous deep-red David Yurman pendant. Pair it with this brown leather satchel from Fossil, and you’ll look like you just strolled out of the halls of a chilly Ivy League school. The key is in the details, like the color palette. In the past three months alone, searches on Pinterest for "brown outfit" have risen 92 percent, according to BooHoo.
Whether you live a lifestyle of academia or not, the aesthetic of crunchy leaves, knit sweaters and a deep winter color palette are for everyone to enjoy. This winter season, embrace your inner Hermione Granger, and embrace the Dark Academia aesthetic.
Photography by: Oleh Slobodeniuk / Getty