How to Curate a ‘Dark Academia’ Wardrobe

Dark academia, the favorite style of many academics with a passion for reading. The style inspired by the concept of learning for learning’s sake, rather than for grades or because you’ve been told to. This is a style that I hold dear to my heart, so I hope I do it justice in this post, where I’ll be explaining how to curate this style in your wardrobe.

Examples of a dark academia style

We’ll begin by taking a glance at a handful of dark academia outfits.

Color palette

The color palette is a distinguishing feature for the dark academia style, as part of what separates dark academia from light academia is the color palette, along with the fabric textures (light academia tends to have more sheer or airy fabrics). As the name implies, a darker color palette is featured in this style, and neutrals make up most of the colors that you’ll see.

Black, dark grey, and dark brown are staple neutrals, and for accent colors you’ll often see navy blue, forest green, and burgundy. For some lighter colors, perfect for more casual events or for warm days, you can go with creams, whites, and shades of beige.

The most common color structures used in these outfits are:

  • monochromatic (generally in black, brown, or grey)
  • two tone (brown or grey + another color)
  • pop of color (neutrals + navy blue, forest green, or burgundy, usually in the form of a sweater)

Remember that old private school uniforms serve as a lot of the inspiration for the dark academia style, so if the color could realistically appear in a uniform, then feel free to try experimenting with it in your outfits.

The basic pieces

The basic pieces will serve to populate a lot of your wardrobe if you decide to curate the dark academia style, so here are a few examples of what to keep an eye out for. This is just a short list of examples though, so feel free to draw from your own sources of inspiration.


If you’ve read my blog for awhile then you know that I love turtlenecks. While I don’t strictly stick to a dark academia aesthetic, I do occasionally formulate some outfits, due to my copious love for turtlenecks, plaid, and neutral colors. After all, turtlenecks are a lovely way to keep warm and add a level of coziness to any outfit.

Dark colors are a popular choice for turtlenecks when curating a dark academia style, but lighter colors can pair well with dark sweater vests for those who like to do a lot of layering.


A pair of neutral trousers is a great way to create a smart looking outfit, and they’re just as comfortable as jeans (if not, more so). High waisted trousers are always a good idea, as then you can tuck your top in for a clean and polished look, but you can also make the choice to leave your top untucked for that ‘scholar in a rush’ look.

While solid neutral trousers will go with anything, you can add a pop of visual interest by going with plaid, houndstooth, or striped trousers.

Button ups

Button up shirts are certainly a staple of the academia aesthetic in general, with white button ups being the bread and butter of the style. Whether layered and left open over a turtleneck or under an oversized knit sweater, you can wear a button up in so many different ways.

If plain white button ups aren’t your thing, then you can try variations such as a plain black button up, or play around with navy blues or even burgundy.

The statement pieces

While the statement pieces of the dark academia style may not seem overly flashy or even much of a statement, you generally won’t find a lot of flashiness in this style. So instead the statement pieces are more subdued and say more with either their size or their pattern.

Trench coats

Perfect for sheltering your body from the cold air and windy days, a trench coat is a good investment for those that live in cooler climates.

If you happen to live in warmer climate, where a trench coat (or a coat of any kind) wouldn’t be appropriate, then a different kind of ‘outerwear’ statement you could try is a sheer button up layered over a camisole.

Plaid skirts

Once again, plaid shows up in this post, but it is a notable part of the dark academia style, so is it any surprise that plaid skirts showed up in this post?

One fun way to utilize pops of color in a mostly neutral style is by accenting stripes of color featured in the plaid. For example, if you have a mostly brown plaid with a tiny hint of red in it, you can carry that red elsewhere, such as by wearing a dark red sweater or a red lip color.

Oversized sweater

Another one of my favorite things to wear! Is it any wonder that the dark academia style is one of my favorites? A good quality, oversized sweater will be a lifesaver during winter. Cable knit sweaters are a classic, in both pullovers and sweater vests, but for cardigans, a classic stockinette stitch will look great.


What’s an outfit without some good accessories?

Satchel bag

Satchel bags serve both a practical and fashionable purpose, if your satchel bag is large enough. A perfect way to transport an old novel you’re reading, or notebook for scribbling down ideas in.

A tip: when looking at satchel bags, pay attention to the color of the hardware (the metal fastenings and parts). If you have a specific color of metal that you always wear (such as silver or gold) then you’ll want to get a satchel with hardware that matches.


Stockings are perfect for pairing with plaid skirts or tailored shorts. Thinner or even sheer stockings will be perfect for warm weather, and during the cooler months you can keep warm with a nice thick knit.

Stockings can be a great way to add some contrast to an outfit, or a touch of color. However, matching them with your shoe and skirt color, you can also use it as a way to elongate your legs. It all depends on the look you want.


Oxfords come in a surprisingly high number of looks, despite being a specific style, so if you lean towards different styles, you can still add a touch of dark academia to your look. For those who prefer something a bit edgier or heavier, there are oxford style Doc Martens. For those who want to add some femininity to their aesthetic, there are oxford style heals. And lastly for those who want some color or flash you can find metallic or brightly colored oxfords if you look for them.

How to put them all together

Here are some outfit combinations to help you figure out how to combine some of the pieces mentioned previously in the post:

  • Oversized sweater vest + button up + plaid skirt
  • Trousers + turtleneck + satchel bag
  • Stockings + plaid skirt + turtleneck
  • Stockings + oversized sweater (as a dress) + satchel bag
  • Oxfords + trousers + button up

So, do you love the dark academia style too? If you’re unsure on this style, try styling some of the pieces that you already have in your closet in the dark academia look, using these outfit ideas, so that you can get a better idea of if this type of wardrobe is for you.

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