What Is The TikTok Dark Academia Aesthetic? How You Can Achieve It

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Over the last few years, TikTok has become a platform where trends and aesthetics are ‘born’ and become immensely popular amongst Gen-Z particularly.

We’ve previously discussed the anti-minimalist interiors trend ‘Cluttercore’, but now we’ll be focusing on the thriving subculture that is the dark academia aesthetic.

This trend focuses on gothic studies, classical literature, poetry, arts, architecture, music, and all things higher education.

It’s been making the rounds on social-media platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr for the past few years, however, it’s grown increasingly popular on TikTok, with the hashtag #Darkacademia currently at 3B views.

You will have likely seen some dark academia videos on your for you page at some point!

So, if you’re interested to know more about the dark academia aesthetic and how you can achieve it, take a read of our post.

dark academia aesthetic

What Is The Dark Academia Aesthetic?

The dark academia aesthetic is a traditional academic style with a gothic and vintage edge, just think Hogwarts and Kill Your Darlings vibes and you’ll be on the right track.

Ironic how both these films feature Daniel Radcliffe, eh?

The trend started getting popular on TikTok during 2020, in the height of the pandemic when students yearned for the normality of returning to classes and being part of higher education life.

The trend grew popular as people romanticised a mysterious style they’d only seen in films or imagined from books, but even two years on, it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Dark Academia romanticises the idea that knowledge is power, with a focus on moody candle lit libraries, dark hallways, tweed blazers, classical music, gothic architecture and the literature works of writers like Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen.

The aesthetic has a lot to do with glamorising classic literature and being knowledgeable but with a moodier emphasis.

If you’re trying to imagine what the dark academia aesthetic looks like, think upper class higher education institutes like Oxford and Cambridge, but in the 20th century!

This trend has really grabbed the attention of Gen-Z and we can certainly understand why, it sheds a positive light on academia and a passion for art and literature, creating an idealised version of campus life.

It’s especially a great trend during a time when studying humanities subjects such as art, history and philosophy are often more frowned upon or looked down as being ‘less valuable’ within higher education.

Now you know more about this sub culture, read on to gain some fashion inspiration to achieve a dark academia look!

Dark academia aesthetic

How You Can Achieve A Dark Academia Aesthetic

So, how can you live the life as a dark academic? Nerdy is certainly in with this trend and we’re living for it, and it’s perfect for the Autumn months with dark colour palettes!

There are loads of big brand names selling student budget-friendly dark academia-style clothes, but we’d recommend taking a trip to some vintage stores or charity shops to get some second-hand pieces.

You can even search online on sites like Vinted and Depop for some style pieces.

If you don’t know where to begin, that’s where we come in handy.

Find out how you can dress the part and mix up your wardrobe to achieve this vintage and gothic fashion trend below.


Vintage Blazer

A vintage blazer is a staple piece for the dark academia aesthetic.

Of course, if you’re going for a gothic look, make sure you choose a dark neutral colour like black, brown or grey.

We think a tweed blazer with a pair of dark trousers and dark patterned tights (or knee-high socks) will certainly make you look the part!

If blazers aren’t for you, another good outerwear piece which embodies the trend is a trench coat.

Vintage blazer

Plaid Patterns

A Dark Academia wardrobe wouldn’t be complete without featuring some plaid patterns, after all we’re focusing on education.

So, to build your style invest in a piece of plaid clothing, like a brown plaid pattern skirt or a pair of plaid trousers.

It’ll look super moody in all the best ways.

Plaid patterns dark academia aesthetic


Another way to achieve the dark academia look is wearing a black turtleneck shirt, which are great for wearing by themselves or layering with another clothing piece.

Complete the fit with a long scarf, over-the-shoulder leather bag and some vintage inspired jewellery!

If you really wanted to, add in a dark umbrella for those rainy days which are on the rise at the minute.


Tailored Trousers

Incorporate a pair of tailored trousers into your wardrobe and you’ll look sophisticated in no time.

It doesn’t matter too much if their wide leg, high waist, or midrise, just make sure you opt for a dark colour like a black, brown, navy blue or off green!

To jazz up your outfit wear a blouse or a collared shirt with your fave leather belt and you’ll be all set.

Tailored trousers

Cosy Cardigans

One of the easiest ways to adopt a dark academia aesthetic is through wearing a cosy cardigan, which we all have anyway and they’re so easy to style!

You’ll be giving both cosy and classic vibes with a knit oversized cardigan paired with a turtleneck top.

A simple search on Depop and you’ll find loads of cardigans to get that gothic feel.

cosy cardigans

Collared Shirts

To fully master this aesthetic, add a white shirt to your wardrobe if you don’t already have one.

If you want to add more colour you could go for a collared shirt in dark brown, burgundy, or forest green – they’re essential when it comes to all thing’s academia!

You could also pair it with a hair bow or necktie to really bring together your overall look.

Collared shirts dark academia

Sweater Vests

To truly channel dark academia feels, get yourself a chic sweater vest whether it’s a v neck or an oversized knitted vest.

A hounds-tooth sweater vest could be a strong choice and you can wear them by themselves or layer them with a shirt or blouse underneath!

Pair your vest with a gothic inspired necklace to make a statement.

Sweater vest

Chunky Loafers Or Boots

To really pull together your fit you need some preppy style shoes.

A pair of chunky platform loafers would look effortlessly stylish, or even a pair of Chelsea boots or Dr. Martens as they go with so much.

With these shoe choices you’ll be head-to-toe in dark academia, we’re not saying they’ll be the comfiest of footwear but still.

Chunky loafers dark academia

There you have it, now you know a bit more about the aesthetic that is dark academia, and you know how to achieve the look yourself for university – get dressing!

Whilst we’ve discussed some general outfit ideas and clothing items for you to style, providing you with some fashion inspo, it’s up to you to create your own personal fashion choices based on your taste.

If this isn’t the aesthetic for you, there’s plenty of other popular aesthetics on TikTok such as light academia, cottagecore, barbiecore, or you could even create a unique style of your own!

Above all, fashion is subjective, and you should wear what you want to, and what you personally identify with.

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