Dark Academia is an aesthetic that revolves around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery, and a general passion for knowledge and learning. It is one out of several variations, each with their own unique historical focus. Dark Academia visually stems from european cultures, as with its most well known variations.

Notes

  1. While this aesthetic is not inherently negative, it has come under scrutiny as of late due to its seeming encouragement of classist/elitist attitudes (menial work being 'inferior' to mental work) and unhealthy behaviour (sacrificing sleep, relationships, mental health, and hygiene for study). If you are interested in this aesthetic, please be sure to embrace the positive aspects and regulate the ones which can be very easily twisted into negative things.
  2. While the aesthetic lends itself to being extremely Eurocentric, let it be known that every culture is welcome and you are encouraged to find ways to blend your heritage with this aesthetic. Do not feel as if you are not Dark Academic enough because of where you are from. (feel free to share POC book recs in the comments or in the main list)
  3. The Style Guide is first and foremost a guide, not a uniform. It is meant to inspire, not hold you back. You should not feel inadequate if you cannot wear everything featured on the list, those are mere suggestions and what you wear is up to you. If you prefer following the aesthetic to a 'T' good for you; if you prefer taking inspiration and wearing bits and pieces, congrats.
  4. There is no place for any type of shaming or bullying within the community. Be it racism, social status, homophobia, education, ability, or body shaming, etc. it is not welcome. The academic community is here for anyone who holds an appreciation for learning.

Variations

Art Academia: Based in classical art movements.

Classic Academia: A mix of the Academia family of aesthetics.

Darkest Academia Similar to Dark Academia, but with darker, even sinister visuals and more serious themes.

Fairy Academia: Based in the visual aesthetics of Victorian and Edwardian childhood.

Grey Academia: A deliberate push back against the elitest attitudes, Eurocentric view, and exclusion of neurodivergent, pic, and queer people from some (not all) academia spaces. There is a trend towards more diverse styles of dress, tools used, and a focus on activism and social issues.

Light Academia: Similar to Dark Academia, but with a distinctly lighter color palette and overall aesthetic.

Pagano-Lovecore: A hybrid of Academia aesthetics and Lovecore, based in love in Greco-Roman mythology.

Romantic Academia: Closer to Light Academia, with a focus on romance and elements of Baroque.

Scholarly Academia: impeccable notes in class. leather bound bags crammed with textbooks and pens. lots of coffee with scones, and even more late nights. a wide vocabulary (that people constantly comment on). lives in the library.

Theatre Academia: Based in plays, operas and other musically inclined types of art

Witchy Academia: Similar to Dark Academia, but with themes of Witchcraft.

Inspirations

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Books

  • The Magus by John Fowles
  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Maurice by E. M. Forster
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • The Truants by Kate Weinberg
  • The Death of Ivan Illyich by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  • The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt
  • Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Books of Blood by Clieve Barker
  • The Wild Girls by Path Murphy
  • The Lessons by Naomi Alderman
  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (tangentially related)
  • Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • All for the Game by Nora Sakavic
  • The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
  • The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
  • Oleanna by David Mamet
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The Bacchae by Euripides
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Antigone by Sophocles
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris
  • The Likeness by Tana French
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • The Glass Essay by Anne Carson
  • The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Vicious by Victoria Schwab
  • Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  • The Satyricon by Petronius
  • In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Bunny by Mona Awad
  • Memoirs of a Woman Doctor by Nawal El Saadawi
  • The Women in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe
  • Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Montague Siblings Series by Mackenzi Lee
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • The Shakespeare Secret by Jennifer Lee Carrell
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
  • I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • Harry Potter series (do not buy these books new; author supports transphobic causes)

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Authors/Writing Styles

  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Sappho
  • Greek Tragedies
  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Homer
  • Virgil
  • Dante Alighieri
  • Vladimir Nabokov
  • Alexander Pushkin
  • Sophocles
  • Lemony Snicket (pen name)
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Jane Austen
  • Beat Generation (post-war literary movement)
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Virigina Woolf
  • James Baldwin
  • Milton
  • William Shakespeare
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Walt Whitman
  • Emily Dickinson
  • John Keats
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Arthur Rimbaud
  • Count Lautréamont
  • V.E. Schwab
  • Maya Angelou
  • Albert Camus
  • Friedrich Nietzche
  • Franz Kafka
  • Nicolai Gogol

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Movies

  • Phantom Thread (2017)
  • Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
  • The Goldfinch (2019)
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
  • Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • Testament of Youth (2014)
  • Carol (2015)
  • Call Me By Your Name (2017)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
  • Kill Your Darlings (2013)
  • Rope (1948)
  • Dial M for Murder (1954)
  • If... (1968)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
  • Suspiria (1977 or 2018)
  • Another Country (1984)
  • Maurice (1987)
  • Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • School Ties (1992)
  • Peter's Friends (1992)
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
  • Heavenly Creatures (1994)
  • Se7en (1995)
  • Wilde (1997)
  • The Emperor's Club (2002)
  • Bright Young Things (2003)
  • Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
  • The Dreamers (2003)
  • Jane Eyre (2006)
  • The Great Debaters (2007)
  • Northanger Abbey (2007)
  • Brideshead Revisited (2008)
  • Cracks (2009)
  • Dorian Gray (2009)
  • Black Swan (2010)
  • The Riot Club (2014)
  • The Theory of Everything (2014)
  • Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden (2016)
  • Indignation (2016)
  • Yesterday Once More (2016)
  • The Beguiled (2017)
  • Colette (2018)
  • Postcards From London (2018)
  • Vita & Virginia (2018)
  • Tolkien (2018)
  • Knives Out (2019)

TV Shows:

  • Brideshead Revisited (1981)
  • Sherlock (BBC)
  • How To Get Away With Murder
  • The Magicians
  • Peaky Blinders
  • The Alienist
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • Deadly Class
  • House of Anubis
  • Gravity Falls
  • Carnival Row
  • Hannibal
  • Mindhunter

Plays

  • Archie's Weird Fantasy
  • Spring Awakening
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Othello

Artists

  • Claude Monet
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Rembrandt
  • Sofonisba Anguissola
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Caravaggio
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Michelangelo
  • Camille Claudel
  • Roberto Ferri
  • Trevor Henderson
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Jenny Holzer
  • Raphaël
  • Frida Kahlo

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Music

Anime/Manga

  • Black Butler (especially the Public School Arc)
  • Beastars
  • Whisper of the Heart (and other Studio Ghibli films)
  • From Up on Poppy Hill
  • The Garden of Words
  • Your Name
  • Colorful (2010)
  • Bungou Stray Dogs
  • Violet Evergarden
  • Code Geass

Comics

  • Morning Glories
  • Gotham Academy
  • Mother Panic
  • Deadly Class
  • Strange Academy
  • Unwritten
  • Sandman
  • Promethea

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Playlists

Activities

This list is adapted from Snookersneek's Tumblr post

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Sports

  • Rowing
  • Fencing
  • Tennis
  • Badminton
  • Cricket
  • Rugby
  • Golf
  • Swimming
  • Polo
  • Water Polo
  • Equestrian
  • Figure/Ice Skating
  • Running (to prepare for chasing after your lover, or maybe for after your act of civil disobedience and the cops are after you)
  • Boxing
  • Javelin, discus, wrestling while covered in oil (ancient Grecian Olympics)
  • Archery
  • Ballet, ballroom dancing, any traditional dance works
  • Snooker/Pool/Billiards
  • Oscar Wilde approach (aka no sports)

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Games

  • Chess
  • Croquet
  • Backgammon
  • Checkers
  • Cards: rummy, poker, blackjack, speed, whist, etc.
  • Cluedo/Clue (for the murder of course)

Video Games

Crafts

  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Embroidery
  • Weaving
  • Lacemaking
  • Gardening
  • Realistic Drawing
  • Cooking
  • Sewing
  • Calligraphy
  • Painting
  • Needlepoint
  • Bookbinding

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Outings

  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Places of historical interest
  • Pubs/Bars/Cafes (bonus points for sketching people around you)
  • Parks and gardens
  • Churches/Synagogues/Temples/Mosques/Quaker meeting houses (these are quiet places to think, most will be welcoming as long as you are respectful, and remember to not take pictures.)
  • Graveyards (be respectful and leave if there is a funeral happening, don't use grave markers as props for photoshoots)
  • The theatre
  • The opera
  • Concerts
  • Libraries
  • Art stores
  • Sporting Events
  • Special events (tours of local schools/universities, open houses, etc. It's an opportunity to learn and spark local intrigue because of your dark, mysterious, and alluring demeanor.)
  • Searching for small independent bookstores

Things to do When Bored

  • Write essays (doesn't have to be intellectual, just about something you are passionate about)
  • Research
  • Daydream (about preventing the burning of the Library of Alexandria)
  • Write about a murder/heist.
  • Read something light (suggestions above)
  • Read aloud
  • Dress up
  • Perform a play alone or to a pet
  • Play or practice an instrument
  • Take a bath
  • Fake your death (murder perhaps?)
  • Draw or paint something (it doesn't have to be good, it just has to be yours)
  • Write a narrative piece
  • Watch a movie
  • Write a movie review
  • Reflect back on the past
  • Journal
  • Read philosophy
  • Admire cityscape/nature (wherever you're at)
  • Read a physical book
  • Write poems for compilation
  • Practice calligraphy
  • Learn bookbinding

Fashion

The main inspiration for Dark Academic style comes from 1940's prep school uniforms. The main color scheme is black, grey, beige, brown, cream, ivory, dark green, burgundy, a soft yellow. Usual fabric choices are more upscale, like cashmere, wool, and tweed, but linen and cotton are also very common. Accessories are usually minimal, like bracelets, rings, pendants, watches, cuff-links, and other dapper add-on pieces.

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Tops

  • Turtlenecks
  • Oxford shirts 
  • Fisherman's sweaters 
  • Sweater vests 
  • Light blouses 
  • Large polo necks
  • Cable knit jumpers

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Bottoms

  • Dress pants
  • Ankle pants
  • High rise pants
  • Trousers
  • Cigarette pants
  • Linen shorts
  • Tweed trousers
  • Plaid skirts
  • Mid-length/long skirts
  • Pinafore

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Outerwear

  • Cardigans
  • Blazers
  • Waistcoats
  • Pea coats
  • Suit jackets
  • Trench coats
  • Overcoats
  • Duffle coats
  • Chesterfield coat
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Shoes

  • Oxfords/brogues
  • Loafers
  • Wingtips
  • Boat shoes
  • Dr. Martens
  • Mary Janes

Accessories

  • Silver or gold jewelry
  • Broaches
  • Simple rings
  • Satchel
  • Wire-frame glasses
  • Short neat fingernails
  • Belts that match your shoes
  • Knee-high socks
  • Watches
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Images

Resources

LitCrit: Dark Academia

LitCrit: Dark Academia Revisited

Vice: Dark Academia is the witchy literary aesthetic sweeping TikTok

Wikipedia: Dark Academia

Vox: This week in TikTok: Are you cottagecore or more “dark academia”?

New York Times: Academia Lives — on TikTok


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