Dark Academia Outfits

Dark Academia outfits embody a preppy, English Ivy league aesthetic, conveying intellectualism, privilege, mystery, and sophistication, while reflecting the aesthetic’s theme of academic and literary pursuits.

Dark Academia outfits draw inspiration from elements of Gothic, Romantic, and Classicist movements, as well as the styles of the British aristocracy and the Scottish countryside.

They are detailed, layered, and feature clothing items such as high-neck collared blouses, wool blazers, tweed jackets, sweaters, plaid skirts, knee-high socks, and oxford shoes.

Aside from crisp white button downs hidden under vests, cardigans and blazers, the Dark Academia color palette leans toward black and includes shades of green, burgundy, brown, navy, and gray.

Photo Rugby by Ralph Lauren Fall/Winter Collection

Dark Academia outfits are styled to evoke a sense of esoteric elegance that can only be appreciated by the circle of elites knowledgeable enough to appreciate each item’s rarity, exclusivity, and attention to detail.

Dark Academia Fashion Photography of Teen wearing white silk and black sport coat
Dark Academia Aesthetic Sweater with Black Pants

Photo: Ralph Lauren Turtleneck, Earth-Toned Wool Coat, and High-Rise Pants with Thick Leather Belt

Six Dark Academia Fashion Models Wearing Tweed Outfits by Ralph Lauren Walking with Dog

Ralph Lauren Collection

High, conservative necklines in the form of collared shirts, ruffle neck blouses, crew necks, mock necks, and turtlenecks are all essential to the first layer of a dark academia outfit.

Better yet, throw a mock neck bodysuit under your polo neck, and cover them with a crew neck sweater and an oversized blazer.

Ballet Body Black Turtleneck Bodysuit

Photo: Tweed & Plaid Layered Outfits by Ralph Lauren

Tweed is a unique woolen fabric that originated in the Scottish countryside. It is associated with the British aristocracy as well as the outdoor pursuits of hunting and fishing.

Initially used only for outerwear such as jackets, coats, and skirts, tweed is a rough, structured wool style that can both keep you warm and add shape to your style.

Women's Double Breasted Angled Jacket

Women's Knit Tweed Turtleneck32 Dress

Historically, tweed’s weight, structure, and outdoorsy-ness, make it an edgier and more masculine fabric option that highlights the elite European origins of the Dark Academia aesthetic.

Tweed is associated with a traditional, academic look and is frequently used to evoke a sense of intellectual sophistication.

Coco Chanel

In Dark Academia fashion, tweed is often paired with other items in a neutral palette such as black, white, gray or brown to create a classic, sophisticated look.

Plaid is a pattern of intersecting stripes or bands of color that cross each other at right angles to form a checkerboard-like design.

Burberry, 2019

Plaid is often associated with Scotland and is sometimes called tartan, although tartan refers specifically to a type of plaid that is associated with a particular Scottish clan or region.

An homage to the darker side of the preppy aesthetic, Dark Academia plaid is a refined, yet casual option that’s perfect for daytime scholarly events.

American Apparel
Pleated Green
Tennis Skirt

Plaid can add a pop of refined, academic, and within-the-rules excitement to any outfit.

Theory Women's Plaid Piazza Wool Jacket

Incorporating Tweed and Plaid

To incorporate tweed and plaid into your Dark Academia outfits, try the following:

  • Wear a tweed jacket or blazer over a simple t-shirt and pants for a smart casual look.
  • Pair a tweed skirt with a sweater and ankle boots for a preppy, academic vibe.
  • Layer a plaid shirt over a turtleneck and wear with a tweed blazer for a cozy, layered look.
  • Try a tweed or plaid scarf or hat to add texture and pattern to your outfit.

En Saison

Play around with different textures, patterns and colors to create a unique Dark Academia look which reflects your personal style.

Something Navy
Women's Plaid High Waisted Wide Leg Pants

Tweed and plaid became associated with the Ivy League and academia in the United States largely due to the influence of the Ivy League universities themselves.

The Ivy League universities, which include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania, have a long tradition of academic excellence and intellectual rigor. They are also known for their distinctive campus culture, which values tradition, scholarship, and a certain level of formality and elegance.

Tweed and plaid fit in well with this culture. Tweed, with its association with the British aristocracy and the outdoor pursuits of hunting and fishing, was seen as an appropriate fabric for the scholarly, outdoorsy pursuits of Ivy League students. Plaid, with its association with Scottish heritage and tradition, was seen as a fitting pattern for the scholarly, tradition-bound Ivy League culture.

In addition, Ivy League students and alumni have long been seen as tastemakers and trendsetters in American fashion. The adoption of tweed and plaid by Ivy League students in the mid-20th century helped to popularize these fabrics and patterns among a wider audience, cementing their association with academic and intellectual culture.

Today, tweed and plaid are still closely associated with the Ivy League and academia, and are often used in preppy or classic styles of dress that emphasize tradition, elegance, and intellectual sophistication.

Dark and earthy colors like burgundy, forest green, and navy blue are popular in Dark Academia fashion as they evoke a sense of timelessness, sophistication and elegance.

These colors are often used to create a moody and atmospheric look, which is in line with the themes of knowledge, mystery, and history that are central to the Dark Academia aesthetic.
Dark Academia Fashion Model on Bench wearing tophat, blazer, wool trousers, leather belt, and cardigan by Polo Ralph Lauren 2022

Ralph Lauren

To mix and match different colors in a cohesive way, you can use color theory to guide your choices.

For example:

  • Pair burgundy with forest green as they are warm colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel to create a rich, harmonious look.
  • Mix cool Navy blue with calming forest green for a classic combination.
  • Burgundy and navy blue can also be paired to create a deep, dark sophisticated look, with a lot of edgy contrast.
In addition to using color theory, also consider the proportion of different colors in your outfit to create a balanced look.
Preppy Aesthetic Dark Academia Outfits from Rugby by Ralph Lauren Collection
For example, if you’re wearing a burgundy sweater, you could balance it out with navy blue pants and forest green shoes.

Ellie Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater

Preppy Dark Academia Outfit by Ralph Lauren with neutral skirt, high neck button down, and hat

Ralph Lauren

Another tip for creating a cohesive look is to choose items in similar materials and textures. For example, you could wear a velvet burgundy dress with a forest green suede jacket to create a rich, cohesive look.
Dark Academia Fashion Photography of Teen wearing Vintage Black Sweater
Dark Academia Fashion Photography of Teen wearing Vintage Flower Coat

Dark Academia accessories add texture, color, pattern, and bling to an outfit, while reflecting one’s personal style and interests within the rules of the academic aesthetic.

Dark Academia Aesthetic Black Collared Button down Shirt with Trousers and Blazer
  • Glasses: A pair of round or rectangular glasses can add a touch of intellectual sophistication to your look and help to frame your face.
  • Scarves: Scarves are a versatile accessory that can be used to add texture and color to your outfit. Try a wool or cashmere scarf in a neutral color like gray or navy to add warmth and texture, or opt for a patterned scarf to add some visual interest.
  • Satchels: A leather satchel or messenger bag is the perfect accessory for carrying books, notes, or other essentials in a stylish and practical way.
  • Jewelry: Jewelry can add a touch of elegance to your look. Consider wearing a simple chain necklace or stud earrings for a understated, classic look.
  • Hats: Hats are a great way to add a touch of sophistication to your outfit. Try a beret, fedora, or woolen cap to keep your head warm and complete your look.

Incorporating Accessories

To incorporate accessories into your outfits for a complete look, try the following:
Dark Academia Outfit with Leather Bag, Blazer, and Tie
  • Choose one or two key accessories that you love and that reflect your personal style.
  • Consider the overall color scheme of your outfit and choose accessories that complement your colors.
  • Mix and match different textures and patterns. For example, try pairing a patterned scarf with a leather satchel.
  • Use accessories to add visual interest and to break up an outfit that consists mainly of neutral colors.
  • Be mindful of the proportion of accessories you’re wearing. Too many accessories can be overwhelming, so aim for a balanced look.
Women's Preppy Dark Academia Aesthetic Navy Blue Polka Dot Dress with White Collar
Here are some popular figures and fictional characters associated with the Dark Academia style:
    1. Morticia Addams from “The Addams Family” – Morticia’s gothic, elegant, and sophisticated style could be a great inspiration for dark academia fashion.
    2. Ophelia from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” – The melancholic and romantic character of Ophelia, along with her delicate and flowing gowns, could be a source of inspiration for a dark academia outfit.
    3. Hermione Granger from the “Harry Potter” series – Hermione’s studious and intelligent personality, combined with her signature sweater vest and skirt ensemble, could be a great reference for a dark academia look.
    4. Elizabeth Bathory from Hungarian history – Also known as the “Blood Countess,” Elizabeth Bathory’s dark and mysterious reputation could inspire a dramatic dark academia outfit.
    5. The Phantom of the Opera – The iconic and mysterious character of the Phantom, with his formalwear and cape, could inspire a more theatrical and dramatic dark academia look.
To draw inspiration from these figures for your Dark Academia outfits, you can consider their costumes, accessories, and distinctive style elements. Key elements of Dark Academia style include:
      • Tailored jackets and coats, such as tweed or plaid
      • Knitwear, such as turtlenecks or cardigans
      • Button-up shirts
      • Loafers or oxford shoes
      • Reading glasses
Remember, the goal is to create a look that feels scholarly, sophisticated, and slightly eerie.

Dark Academia
Mini Cocktail Dress

Free People
Be My Baby Ruched Mock Neck Flutter Sleeve Mini Dress

French Connection
Womens Boza Mock
Neck Ruffled Blouse

Free People
Free People Midnight
Hour Mini


Blazers play a crucial role in Dark Academia fashion as they bring a touch of sophistication and elegance to any outfit.

They serve as a versatile piece that can elevate a casual look or complete a more formal one.


90s Double

Relaxed Crop

90s Jacket

There are several styles of blazers to choose from, including single-breasted, double-breasted, and cropped blazers.

Single-breasted blazers are the most common and tend to have one row of buttons, while double-breasted blazers have two rows of buttons and a more formal look.

Cropped blazers are shorter and stop at the waist, giving a more relaxed and casual vibe.

When choosing a blazer for your body type, consider the fit. A well-fitted blazer will accentuate your best features and hide any flaws. A blazer that is too tight can be uncomfortable, while one that is too loose can overwhelm your figure.

Additionally, consider the material and color, as these factors can impact the overall look and feel of the blazer.

To style a blazer for a complete Dark Academia look, consider pairing it with a collared shirt, trousers, and leather shoes for a classic and refined look.

You can also mix and match different textures and patterns to create a more eclectic and personalized style. Accessorize with a scarf, a leather bag, and a pair of glasses to complete the look.

Oxford Shoes

Oxford shoes play a crucial role in Dark Academia fashion as they bring a touch of sophistication and elegance to any outfit. They are a versatile type of shoe that can be worn with a variety of outfits, from casual to formal.

There are several styles of oxford shoes to choose from, including plain-toe, cap-toe, and wingtip.

Plain-toe oxfords are the most basic style and are versatile for any occasion.

Cap-toe oxfords have a decorative layer of leather on the toe, giving a more formal look.

Wingtip oxfords have a decorative design on the toe, which can range from simple to elaborate.

When choosing oxford shoes, consider the occasion and the overall look you are trying to achieve. Additionally, consider the color, material, and design of the shoes, as these factors can impact the overall look and feel of the shoes.

To care for and maintain oxford shoes, it is important to clean them regularly and protect them from moisture and damage. Use a soft cloth to wipe away dirt and stains, and apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather soft and supple. Store your shoes in a cool, dry place when not in use, and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures or moisture.

Additionally, consider investing in a good quality pair of shoe trees to help maintain the shape of the shoes and prevent creasing.

Free People
Denson Cable Vest
Black Raisin

Foundation Rib
Mock Neck

Mock Neck
Easy Elbow Sleeves

Shaker Rib

Alice + Olivia
Sleeveless Jeremy
Tank Plus Cardigan

Land's End
Lightweight Fitted Turtleneck


Knitwear plays an important role in Dark Academia fashion, providing warmth and comfort while also adding a touch of style and sophistication to any outfit.

There are several styles of knitwear to choose from, including sweaters, cardigans, turtlenecks, and pullovers.

Sweaters can be either fitted or loose and come in a variety of styles, including crewneck, V-neck, and cable knit.

Cardigans are a versatile option that can be styled open or closed and come in a range of styles, including button-front and shawl collar.

Turtlenecks provide extra warmth around the neck and come in a variety of materials and styles.

Pullovers are a classic and simple option, available in a range of styles, materials, and colors.

When choosing knitwear, consider the occasion and the overall look you are trying to achieve. Additionally, consider the material and color, as these factors can impact the overall look and feel of the knitwear. For a Dark Academia look, choose neutral colors such as black, navy, grey, or forest green, and opt for high-quality materials such as wool, cashmere, or silk.

To style knitwear for a complete Dark Academia look, consider pairing it with a collared shirt, trousers, and oxford shoes for a classic and refined look. You can also layer knitwear with a blazer or jacket for added warmth and style.

Accessorize with a scarf, a leather bag, and a pair of glasses to complete the look.

Dark Academia Casual clothing is comfortable, relaxed, and appropriate for everyday wear.

It is typically worn in informal settings, such as at home, running errands, or meeting friends, and is less formal than dressy attire.

French Connection
Babysoft Turtle
Neck Jumper

Urban Outfitters
100% Cotton
Classic Turtleneck

Land's End
Lightweight Fitted Long Sleeve Turtleneck

American Apparel
Pleated Gabardine
Tennis Skirt

Casual clothing can include items such as leggings, t-shirts, oversized sweaters, sneakers, and loafers.

The key to Dark Academia casual attire is comfort and ease, so it often incorporates practical and versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits.

A casual Dark Academia outfit can be put together with everyday clothing items such as a turtleneck sweater, corduroys, and boots.

Dark Academia often incorporates earthy tones, so pairing brown or green with black or gray can create a casual, yet darkly romantic look.

Layering with a wool, denim or corduroy jacket can add extra texture and dimension to the outfit.

Additionally, accessories such as leather bags, scarves, and statement jewelry can enhance the dark academia aesthetic.

The key to a casual dark academia outfit is to strike a balance between comfort and sophistication, and to incorporate elements that suggest a love for learning and the natural world.

Dark Academia Velvet
Mayde Cutout Dress

Needle & Thread
Primrose Black
Lace Gown

Formal attire typically refers to clothing items that are worn for special occasions, such as weddings, black-tie events, or other formal events, and are more dressed up and polished than casual clothing.

Formal outfits often consist of items such as tuxedos, ball gowns, suits, and ties, and may feature more luxurious fabrics, such as silk or satin, and more intricate designs.

The goal of formal attire is to create a sophisticated, elegant, and polished appearance.

A formal or dressy dark academia outfit typically features more elegant and sophisticated clothing items, such as a floor-length gown, a tailored suit, or a collared shirt paired with dress pants.

The color palette remains similar to casual dark academia, with a focus on earthy and jewel tones, such as forest green, burgundy, navy, and gray.

Alice + Olivia
Dark Academia Jem
Vegan Leather Dress

Alice + Olivia
Gin Pointelle Lace
Knit Dress with Bow

Alice + Olivia
Rowen Green
Bow Dress

Dark Academia Fashion Couture Black Dress

The fabric choices may be more luxurious, such as velvet, silk, or satin, and the outfits may feature intricate details, such as lace or ruffles.

Accessories, such as gloves, a top hat, or a cane, can add extra sophistication to the look.

The goal is to evoke a sense of academic sophistication and elegance, while incorporating elements of mystery and vintage charm.

Needle & Thread
Marilla Green
Ruffle Gown

Alice + Olivia
Black Mini

Physical Stores

Here is a list of physical stores you can check out in person for Dark Academia fashion:

  1. American Apparel: American Apparel is a clothing brand that specializes in basic, versatile pieces that are perfect for creating a dark academia look. They offer a range of clothing options, from solid-color pieces to patterned items, and their quality is high.
  2. Uniqlo: Uniqlo is a Japanese fast-fashion brand that offers a range of clothing options, including cozy knitwear and classic blazers, which are perfect for creating a dark academia look.
  3. Zara: Zara is a Spanish fast-fashion brand that is well-known for its trendy and stylish clothing options. They offer a range of pieces, from tailored jackets to plaid skirts, that are perfect for creating a dark academia look.
  4. H&M: H&M is a Swedish fast-fashion brand that offers a range of clothing options, from basic pieces to more elaborate items. They offer a range of pieces, from knitwear to blazers, that are perfect for creating a dark academia look.

Benefits of shopping at physical stores:

  1. Try Before You Buy: Shopping at a physical store allows you to try on clothing before you purchase it, which can be a huge advantage over shopping online. You can see how a piece of clothing fits and feels on you, and you can make a more informed decision about whether or not to buy it.
  2. Immediate Gratification: Shopping at a physical store also allows you to take your purchases home with you right away. You won’t have to wait for your items to be shipped to you, which can be a big benefit if you’re in a rush or need to have a specific item right away.
  3. Customer Service: Shopping at a physical store also provides an opportunity to interact with sales associates and receive personal customer service. This can be especially helpful if you have questions about a specific product or need help choosing the right items for your look.

To find a physical store near you, you can use search engines such as Google, or websites such as Yelp, to search for stores in your area. You can also use store locators on individual brand websites to find a physical store near you.

Online Stores

Here is a list of online shops you can check out for Dark Academia fashion:

  1. ASOS: ASOS is a UK-based online fashion and beauty retailer that offers a wide range of clothing options, including pieces perfect for creating a dark academia look.
  2. Urban Outfitters: Urban Outfitters is a popular online retailer that offers a mix of vintage and contemporary clothing options. They offer a range of pieces, from cozy knitwear to tailored jackets, that are perfect for creating a dark academia look.
  3. Nordstrom: Nordstrom is a high-end department store that offers a wide range of clothing options, including pieces perfect for creating a dark academia look. They offer a range of clothing options, from high-end designer pieces to more affordable options.
  4. ModCloth: ModCloth is an online retailer that specializes in vintage-inspired clothing and accessories. They offer a range of pieces, from vintage-inspired blazers to plaid skirts, that are perfect for creating a dark academia look.


Benefits of shopping at online stores:

  1. Convenient and Time-Saving: Shopping online is a convenient and time-saving way to purchase clothing. You can shop from the comfort of your own home, and you won’t have to waste time traveling to a physical store or waiting in line.
  2. Wider Selection: Online stores typically have a wider selection of clothing options than physical stores. This can be especially beneficial if you’re looking for a specific item or style.
  3. Comparative Shopping: Shopping online also allows you to easily compare prices and styles from different retailers, making it easier to find the best deal on the items you’re looking for.



To find the right online shop for your needs, consider the following tips:

  1. Research the retailer: Research the retailer’s reputation and customer reviews to make sure they have a good track record of providing quality products and customer service.
  2. Check their product offerings: Look at the product offerings of the online store to see if they offer the styles and items you’re looking for.
  3. Look for reviews: Look for customer reviews and ratings of specific products to get a better idea of their quality and fit.
  4. Compare prices: Compare prices of similar items across different online stores to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  5. Check the return policy: Make sure the online store has a clear and fair return policy in case you need to return an item.
Dark Academia Aesthetic Sweater with Black Pants

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