Trends 2021: What is dark academia?

These dark academia outfits will have you inspired.
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Following the explosion of cottagecore, cabincore, regencycore and so many more, dark academia is 2021’s next big aesthetic.

The look was born on social media and has recently exploded on video platform TikTok, with users constantly uploading content of them immersed in the aesthetic. Now, Instagram is following suit and the hashtag #DarkAcademia has been used nearly three quarters of a million times – but if you don’t quite get what it is, we’re here to help.

You’d be forgiven for never having heard of it. From Bridgerton came Regencycore, while 2020 was the year of cottagecore. Frankly, it’s hard to keep up – but this look won’t disappoint.

Here, we fill you in on what it actually is.

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, 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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