Dark Academia is an aesthetic that revolves around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery, and a general passion for knowledge and learning. Common themes within this aesthetic include books, poetry, friendship, prep/private schools, classical music, coming of age, existentialism, death/murder, social class, and romance. Writing poetry in notebooks, reading the classics, going to local coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, and museums also fuel this aesthetic.

Subcategories Edit

This list comes from Cordurose on Tumblr.

Classic Academia: beige trench coats, wool sweaters. plaid skirts. think femme fatale, but educated. sobbing in bed late at night over the secret history or dead poets society. tea with milk and sugar. subsequent tea stains.

Darkest Academia: running through the rain, dimly lit by streetlights. brown tweed jackets, dress shoes. cold fingers and colder gazes. french-pressed black coffee, piping hot. dark, candlelit rooms with ancient wood floors/walls. 

Light Academia: white cable-knit sweaters, sparkly eyes and foggy glasses. going to art museums and falling in love with every portrait, every sculpture. caressing the petals of a rose, hearing the crinkle of leaves underfoot.

Witchy Academia: burning candles while reading or doing homework. black turtlenecks, velvet skirts. walking through the forest in autumn. passing a graveyard and feeling a greyish presence. waiting anxiously for samhain.

Romantic Academia: writing flowery poetry about someone you’ll never speak to (guilty oops). a cozy alizarin sweater, pleated skirts. slow dancing around your room to the beatles. curling up with warm, pallid cups of tea and a book.

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: Shakespeare, all the time - quoting, reading, praying for a school production of a Midsummer Night's Dream or the Crucible. Memorizing lines in the wings. taking on your character’s traits, even outside the theater. Reciting poetry on a dark night, all alone in a room. Hands filled with quotes from poems.

Additional verified spins on Dark Academia:

  • Fairy Academia, a feminine version with pretty visuals - think Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • Art Academia, a cross between this and Art Hoe
  • Pagano-Lovecore, a clash between Lovecore and Dark Academia. Focuses on love in Greco-Roman mythology - think beautiful statues, doves, old jewellery, ancient love poetry, etc.

You can easily modify your take on  -Academia for any subject you study, or any other aesthetic you're into.



Books Edit

  • Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante
  • Books of Blood by Clieve Barker
  • The Wild Girls by Path Murphy
  • Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire
  • The Lessons by Naomi Alderman
  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
  • Maurice by E. M. Forster
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Truants by Kate Weinberg
  • 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 Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris
  • The Likeness by Tana French
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Belle de Seigneur by Albert Cohen
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • 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
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • 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 Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
  • 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
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Authors/Writing Styles Edit

  • Ayn Rand
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Sappho
  • Greek Tragedies
  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Homer
  • Virgil
  • Dante Alighieri
  • Vladimir Nabokov
  • Alexander Pushkin
  • Sophocles
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Lemony Snicket (pen name)
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Jane Austen
  • Beat Generation (post-war literary movement)
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Virigina Woolf
  • Shakespeare
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Walt Whitman
  • Emily Dickinson
  • John Keats
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Rimbaud
  • Lautréamont
  • V.E. Schwab
  • Maya Angelou

Movies Edit

  • Rope (1948)
  • If... (1968)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
  • Suspiria (1977 or 2018)
  • Maurice (1987)
  • Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • School Ties (1992)
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
  • Heavenly Creatures (1994)
  • Wilde (1997)
  • Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
  • The Dreamers (2003)
  • The Notebook (2004)
  • Jane Eyre (2006)
  • The Great Debaters (2007)
  • Northanger Abbey (2007)
  • Brideshead Revisited (1981 television series, 2008 movie)
  • Cracks (2009)
  • Dorian Gray (2009)
  • Black Swan (2010)
  • Kill Your Darlings (2013)
  • The Riot Club (2014)
  • Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden (2016)
  • Indignation (2016)
  • Call Me By Your Name (2017)
  • Colette (2018)
  • Postcards From London (2018)
  • Vita & Virginia (2018)
  • The Goldfinch (2019)
  • Season 4 of Riverdale

Artists Edit

  • 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

Music Edit

Games Edit

  • Danganronpa
  • Fire Emblem:Three Houses
  • Doki Doki Literature Club

Anime/Manga Edit

  • Black Butler (especially the Public School Arc)
  • Kakegurui
  • Ouran High School Host Club
  • Beastars
  • Tokyo Ghoul
  • Mirai Nikki
  • Death Note
  • Assassination Classroom
  • Naruto (NOT Shippuden)
  • Another
  • Angel Beats
  • High School of the Dead

Playlists Edit

Activities Edit

This list is adapted from Snookersneek's Tumblr post

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Sports Edit

  • 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
  • Acting, theatre is one of the purest forms of art
  • Climbing
  • Snooker/Pool/Billiards
  • Aerial silks
  • Aerial hoop
  • Oscar Wilde approach (aka no sports)

Games Edit

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

Crafts Edit

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

Outings Edit

  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Places of historical interest
  • Pubs/Bars/Cafes (bonus points for sketching people around you)
  • Parks and gardens
  • Churches/Synagogues/Temples/Graveyards/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.)
  • The theatre
  • The opera
  • Concerts
  • Libraries
  • Horse Racing
  • Art stores
  • Sporting Events
  • Special events (memorial services, 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 Edit

  • 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
  • Watch every single 'Greek Gods as vines' compilations on YouTube and count that as studying (but actually study if you need to, that's definitely DA)
  • Practice calligraphy
  • Learn bookbinding


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 Edit

  • Turtlenecks
  • Oxford shirts 
  • Fisherman's sweaters 
  • Sweater vests 
  • T-Shirts 
  • Light blouses 
  • Large polo necks
  • Cable knit jumpers
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Bottoms Edit

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

  • Cardigans
  • Blazers
  • Waistcoats
  • Pea coats
  • Double-breasted suit jackets
  • Trench coats
  • Overcoats

Shoes Edit

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

Accessories Edit

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

Note Edit

While this aesthetic is not inherently negative, it has come under scrutiny as of late due to its seeming encouragement of elitist attitudes (menial work being 'inferior' to mental work) and unhealthy behavior (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 be sure to regulate the ones which can be very easily twisted into negative things.


Resources Edit

Tumblr Edit






Instagram Edit





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