Trends 2021: What is dark academia?

These dark academia outfits will have you inspired.
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Chances are you’ve come across it on TikTok, but didn’t realise it was 2021’s latest aesethic – we’re here to explain what dark academia is.

There have been so many aesthetics trending on social media recently, you’d be forgiven for struggling to keep up.

From cabincore, to cottage hardcore, trends seem to move on in the blink of an eye, but some stick around longer than others.

READ MORE: What is cabincore?

What is dark academia?

Dark academia is an aesthetic born on social media that centres around learning and knowledge with a gothic edge.

The trend often sees users sharing photos that offer a romanticised picture of education, such as books splayed open, vintage-style props, historical buildings and autumnal clothing.

Since COVID-19 has meant many schools and universities have closed their doors, dark academia has grown hugely in popularity recently, with Google searches for the trend increasing by 4,750%.

Refinery29 suggest the aesthetic has been influenced by popular culture references including Donna Tartt’s 1992 novel The Secret History and the 1989 film Dead Poets Society.

READ MORE: 17 trench coats to see you through till spring

Outfit inspiratio

The dark academia look isn’t fussy, but sticks to neutrals, plaid, tweed, shirts, chunky knits, tailored trousers, and basically anything preppy you can imagine.

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Classic Wool Beret & other stories

Beret, £23, & Other Stories – buy now

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Jumper, £89, Arket – buy now

Wrap check suit blazer - Medium plane

Blazer, £79.99, Mango – buy now


Wool Trousers, £59.99, Zara – buy now

Edyn Shirt weekday

Shirt, £35, Weekday – buy now

LINDEN Black Chunky Lace Up Shoes topshop

Lace-up Shoes, £23.09, Topshop – buy now

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