Dark academia is all about embracing your inner Oxford aesthetic with a dark twist – think tweed jackets, boarding schools, and ivy-covered buildings but with moodier lighting and sadder rich teens. Even though you experienced none of these things because you went to your local high school where the only thing growing on the buildings were water stains, channel your inner Dead Poets’ Society with these outfit ideas and reminisce on the good old days when you were on the menacing crew team and moodily read Tolstoy on the quad at the prep school you definitely did not attend!
Nothing screams, “I am a posh, tortured academic” like a good wool peacoat flapping dramatically behind you as if you’re rushing down the hallowed brick halls of an esteemed institution to get to your next class à la Harry Potter. Although in actuality, the coat definitely would’ve been squashed in your tiny locker because it kept collecting dust as it dragged across your school’s vinyl flooring and you only needed it for, like, two minutes during a passing period.
Channel your inner Blair Waldorf with a classic plaid skirt and give the illusion that you’re wearing the uniform of an ultra-exclusive prep school that the normies could only dream of attending. Sure, the closest thing you had to a school uniform were the gray Gildan t-shirts and mesh gym shorts that you wrote your name on with a communal Sharpie for P.E., but they don’t need to know that!
A great accessory to any academia outerwear, a fancy pocket square will turn any outfit high-class. And it’s utilitarian too! The next time your friend cries to you, you can offer them an old-school, luxurious fabric to wipe away their tears and pretend like it’s a habit you picked up from your time at your old academy. It’ll look like you’ve carried them around your whole life and won’t betray the fact that actually, your teachers used to do Kleenex box “projects” every year so the classroom would have tissues for the semester.
They say to dress for the lifestyle you want, and nothing is more aspirational than pairing your outfit with a vintage blazer – bonus points if it has elbow patches and/or was made by Ralph Lauren. Who cares that for most of your formative school years, you mainly wore Birkenstocks and sweatpants and like maybe a hoodie when it was cold? In a past life you were an emotionally repressed white boy at a boarding school upstate who learned life lessons under the tutelage of Robin Williams, and you will channel that aspiration goddamnit!
Although your school years didn’t remotely resemble The Secret History or Good Will Hunting, that doesn’t mean you can’t dress like they did. So go out there in your best sweater vests and collared shirts, just don’t forget to stay humble by drinking from a broken water fountain or having chicken nuggets on a styrofoam tray for lunch from time to time!