How To Create A Dark Academia Capsule Wardrobe

How To Create A Dark Academia Capsule Wardrobe According To Stylists

You’ve probably seen the Dark Academia aesthetic popping up all over social media lately.

It’s an aesthetic that is heavily inspired by classic European academia. Think tweed jackets, chunky cardigans, button-up shirts, and oxfords.

The overall look is very elegant, scholarly, and put-together, but with a touch of darkness or mystery.

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to create a capsule wardrobe inspired by the “dark academia” aesthetic and I’m sharing my results with you today. 

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In this blog post, I’m going to share with you how I created my dark academia capsule wardrobe, as well as some tips on how you can create your own.

How To Create A Dark Academia Capsule Wardrobe

If you’re looking to create a Dark Academia capsule wardrobe theme, this guide will show you how. With just a few key pieces, you can put together a stylish and sophisticated, scholarly wardrobe.

What is Dark Academia?

If you’re a fan of all things dark and mysteriously chic, then you’ll be happy to hear that there’s a new trend on the rise that’s right up your alley.

It’s called “Dark Academia,” and it’s trending on TikTok.

In short, dark academia is a subculture that takes inspiration from traditional academia style, classic literature and the pursuit of learning – but with a witchy twist.

How to make an Old Money Aesthetic Capsule Wardrobe
Click here to shop this outfit

Think dark colors, layers of classic preppy attire, tweed blazers, dark trousers, turtleneck sweaters, oxford shoes, and leather satchels.

The look is both stylish and sophisticated, and it’s perfect for fall and winter weather.

Wikipedia says: Dark academia is a literary and social media aesthetic and subculture concerned with higher education, writing/poetry, the arts, and classic Greek and Gothic architecture.

…It’s now a gorgeous fashion style!

What is dark academia aesthetic?

Picture turn-of-the-century Ivy League colleges, antique libraries, and foggy autumn days, and you’ll have a good image of the dark academia aesthetic.

It’s a look that’s both cozy and chic, and it’s perfect for anyone who wants to add a touch of sophistication to their wardrobe.

Is Dark Academia A Preppy Style?

Dark Academia has its roots in the classic European higher education fashion aesthetic. Which could be considered a preppy style for its high-class look, similar to the Old Money aesthetic.

But it is not to be confused with the American preppy style. American preppy style consists of colorful jerseys, athleisure and golf shirts.

American Eagle is a brand that is American preppy style – a complete 180 from the dark academia style.

Dark Academia is scholarly and mysterious with a more ‘grown up’ look. But not colorful or overly youthful. Think Harry Potter school uniforms, with a touch of Wednesday Adams.

Which Pieces do I need to create a dark academia aesthetic?

If you are wondering what clothing do I need for a dark academia style? 

You may be surprised to know that the clothing items needed for a dark academia capsule wardrobe are pretty simple and easy to find.

Here is a list of essential pieces. 

1. Blazer 

A blazer is an essential piece in any Dark Academia wardrobe. Look for one that’s tailored and classic in style. 

tailored blazer for dark academia aesthetic style
Source: J.Crew

Black, navy, plaid and forest green are all great color options. Pair your blazer with a crisp white shirt for an effortlessly chic look. 

This blazer is perfect.

2. Turtleneck 

A turtleneck is a perfect way to stay warm while still looking studious and stylish. 

Opt for a fitted turtleneck made from a thick knit fabric. Black, gray, and cream are all great choices. Turtlenecks always look classy when layered under a blazer or cardigan. 

dark academia outfit turtleneck and trousers_
Source: Revolve

Style this with a plaid skirt or plaid pants for the perfect academic look. 

They are perfect for layering under sweaters or jackets, and they always look chic and put-together.

Turtlenecks can be made from a variety of different materials, but for a dark academia look, you’ll want to choose one made from a thick fabric like wool or cashmere. 

Black, gray, and navy are all great colors for turtlenecks, but you can also go for a white turtleneck if you want to add some contrast to your outfit. 

3. Pleated skirts

Pleated skirts are a must for any dark academia outfit.  For a more classic look, choose a black pleated skirt.

For something a little different, try a deep green or burgundy skirt.

Dark Academia Pleated Skirt
Fitted with hidden shorts!

Pair your skirt with boots and either opaque tights or knee socks in the colder months, and bare legs with Mary Janes and ankle socks when it’s warmer out.

4. Cable knit sweaters

A key piece of any dark academia outfit is a cable knit sweater. This type of sweater is often seen in preppy styles, but it can also work perfectly for a dark academia look. 

how to style a cable knit sweater for a perfect dark academic look
Source: J.Crew

Cable knit sweaters are usually made from thick wool yarn, which makes them great for chilly weather.

They also tend to have a classic, timeless look that will never go out of style. To get the perfect dark academia cable knit sweater, look for one in a neutral color like black, gray, or navy blue. 

5. Cashmere sweaters

One of the best ways to achieve the dark academia aesthetic is by incorporating cashmere sweaters into your wardrobe.

best cashmere sweater dark academia brands quince
Source: Quince

Here are some tips on how to style cashmere sweaters to create a dark academia look: 

Choose muted colors

Dark academia is all about creating a subdued, sophisticated look. When selecting a cashmere sweater, opt for colors like black, navy, grey, forest green, or burgundy.

Pair your sweater with trousers or a skirt

Khakis or corduroys are ideal for achieving that preppy, academic look. For a more gothic vibe, try pairing your sweater with a velvet skirt. 

Accessorize with pearls or vintage brooches

Pearls are classic symbols of wealth and refinement, making them the perfect accessory for dark academia.

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, try pinning a vintage brooch to your sweater. 

Finish off the look with heeled boots or oxfords

Heeled boots will give you an air of sophistication, while oxfords will make you look like the smartest person in the room. 

6. Trousers not denim

To nail this scholarly look, you’ll want to steer clear of denim blue jeans, flares or leggings.

Instead, opt for a pair of tailored trousers. Even better if they are made of wool or twill!

Wide Leg Dream Pants [Shop]

Way High Drape Pants [Shop]

The TENCEL™ Relaxed Chino [Shop]

Beige, auburn, grey and black trousers are perfect dark academia pants.

Pair your trousers with a button-up shirt or cashmere sweater to perfect this classic look. 

7. Classic White Oxford Shirt 

A button-down oxford shirt like this one is another key piece for nailing the Dark Academia look.

This one pictured below is made from organic cotton, in a Fair Trade factory.

woman wearing a classic white oxford shirt in her dark academia capsule wardrobe
Source: Pact

Choose a shirt that’s made from a high-quality fabric like organic cotton, silk or linen. White, light blue,  are all great color choices

If you want to add a bit of interest to your outfit, look for a shirt with intricate details like ruffles or a Peter Pan collar. 

Women’s Relaxed Oxford Shirt


Women’s Relaxed Oxford Shirt


Tuck your shirt into a pair of high-waisted trousers and layer a cashmere sweater on top, for a polished look.

8. Cardigans

A cardigan is the perfect layering piece for those chilly fall days. Look for one that’s made from a thick knit fabric and falls at or below the hip.

Black, gray, and navy are all great color choices. Pair your cardigan with a turtleneck and high-waisted trousers for a cozy yet stylish look. 

9. Plaid Dresses

 Plaid is often associated with academia, so it’s the perfect pattern for this aesthetic. 

Plus, it’s perfect for fall weather. Pair your plaid dress with some tights and boots for a stylish and comfortable look.

10. Plaid Pants

Plaid is often associated with schools and academics, making it the perfect print for this aesthetic.

Plus, it’s a great way to add some color into your look. For a more gothic take on dark academia, try pairing your plaid pants with a black turtleneck or lace-up boots. 

11. Over-The-Knee socks

No dark academia wardrobe would be complete without a pair of over-the-knee-high socks.

MEIKAN Black Over the Knee High Socks for Women, Thigh High Socks Stockings Cosplay Cotton Womens Long Knee Casual Socks 3 Pairs (Black)
  • MATERIAL: 78% combed cotton, 20% nylon and 2% spandex. Stretchy cotton-spandex blend is durable and comfortable for all-day wear.
  • SIZE & COLOR: MEIKAN Knee High Trouser Socks with good elasticity come in one size that fits most women. And it’s available in a variety of colors (Black, White, Army Green, Light Grey, Dim Grey, Wine Red, Orange, Brown, Olive, Purple, Medium Purple, Royal Blue and Navy Blue) to meet different tastes and preference.

They not only keep you warm in the winter but also look super cute peeking out from under your dress or jeans.

Plus, they’re just fun to wear in general. Who doesn’t love feeling like they’re back in school? 

12. Victorian-Era Brooch

For a dark academia look, I recommend choosing vintage brooches that are either silver or gold in color.

This dainty vintage brooch is stunning:

beautiful dark academia accessories vintage brooches
Source: Etsy

Black brooches can also work, but they should be ornate and have some sort of design on them. You want your brooches to be eye-catching, but not too flashy.

13. Chunky boots and oxfords

Boots and oxfords are essential for any dark academia outfit—they give the whole look an antique feel.

Source: Revolve

Chelsea boots are great for everyday wear, while knee-high boots add a touch of drama (perfect for those cold winter days).

When it comes to shoes, brown or black always looks best. Other shoes for the dark academia capsule are mary janes and Loafers.

14. Crossbody bags or shoulder bags

 A well-worn leather satchel or backpack will give you an instant air of sophistication

Crossbody bags or shoulder bags are the perfect way to carry your essentials and complete your dark academia look.

How do you make a dark academia capsule wardrobe?

 To achieve the dark academia aesthetic? Here are some important tips:

Choose Your Colors Carefully

The colors you wear are crucial to nailing the dark academia aesthetic. Think rich jewel tones like burgundy, forest green, and navy blue.

These colors convey an air of sophistication and mystery—exactly what we’re going for with this look.

And don’t be afraid to mix and match different shades; layering different hues will give your outfit dimension and interest.

Opt for Timeless Pieces

When it comes to clothing, it’s all about quality over quantity. Choose classic pieces that you can wear year after year; items like wool sweaters, cashmere scarves, and leather gloves.

Not only will these pieces last longer, but they’ll also help you create a refined look that’s appropriate for any occasion. Furthermore, steer clear of anything too trendy; remember, we’re going for timelessness here. 

GAI Womens Preppy Sweater Vintage Y2k Long Sleeve Knit Oversized Kawaii Pullover Jumper Cute Sweaters Dark Academia Clothing (M,a)
  • Material: 90% cotton, 10% polyester fiber, comfortable and soft fabric, not easy to deform, skin-friendly, and a certain warmth function.

Accessorize Strategically

The right accessories can make or break your outfit. When accessorizing for the dark academia aesthetic, think small and delicate.

Dainty gold necklaces, vintage brooches, and pearl earrings are all perfect choices.

And don’t forget about glasses! A pair of well-chosen frames can really help tie your whole look together.  

I love the stylish frames from this brand, which have some PERFECT booksy styles to suit a dark academia aesthetic. 

Tips for putting together your dark academia capsule wardrobe

Get creative with layering.

One of the best things about dark academia style is that it lends itself well to layering.

So don’t be afraid to mix and match different pieces to create unique looks. For example, try pairing a turtleneck with an oversized sweater.

Stick to neutral dark colors.

When it comes to putting together a dark academia capsule wardrobe, it’s best to stick with neutral colors like black, white, gray, and navy.

This will give you the most versatility when it comes time to mix and match different pieces.

And if you want to add a pop of color, consider doing so with accessories like scarves, hats, and jewelry. 

Invest in key pieces.

For example, consider splurging on items like high-quality leather shoes or well-made wool coats that will last you for years to come. 

Incorporate vintage pieces. 

One of the best ways to achieve the dark academia look is to incorporate vintage pieces into your wardrobe.

And don’t be afraid to mix vintage and modern pieces; it’s all about personal preference. 

Be creative with your materials.

While you might be tempted to stick with traditional fabrics like wool and cotton, there’s no reason you can’t get creative with your materials.

For example, consider using velvet, corduroy, or even leather to add texture and interest to your outfits. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Dark Academia

Where can you get the best dark academia outfits?

Here are some great places to get dark academia outfits

  1. Everlane
  2. J.Crew
  3. Quince
  4. Amour Vert 
  5. Able
  6. Eileen Fisher
  7. See more recommended brands here.

What is a light academia wardrobe?

By contrast, “Light Academia” is the exact same style as dark academia, but with light-colored clothing (white, beige, grey, camel) instead of dark.

Light academia emphasizes softness, comfort, and simplicity and takes inspiration from classic literature, films, and art. 

What type of pants should I wear when styling the dark academia look?

ChinosChinos are comfortable, versatile, and easy to find. They can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.

Plus, they have that whole “I’m a well-educated man/woman who takes themselves seriously” vibe going on.

Corduroycorduroy is the best fabric for Dark Academia trousers for three reasons: comfort, style, and durability. 

First off, corduroy is incredibly comfortable. It’s soft and warm, making it ideal for chilly autumn days. 

Secondly, corduroy has a certain old-fashioned charm to it that perfectly fits with the Dark Academia aesthetic.

Finally, corduroy is surprisingly durable. With proper care, a good pair of corduroy trousers can last for years

How To Create A Dark Academia Capsule Wardrobe – Conclusion

A Dark Academia wardrobe is the perfect way to add a touch of class and sophistication to your everyday style.

With just a few key pieces, you can easily create a variety of looks that are both stylish and practical. 

If you want to create your own Dark Academia capsule wardrobe, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

  • First, focus on classic silhouettes and colors that evoke a feeling of sophistication and mystery.
  • Second, make sure to include plenty of layering pieces so you can adapt your look as the weather changes.
  • Finally, don’t forget the accessories! A well-chosen scarf or brooch can really elevate an outfit.

With these tips in mind, putting together your perfect Dark Academia wardrobe will be a breeze!

Before you go, make sure you download your free copy of my capsule wardrobe planner: 

Read this next: How to build a Fall Capsule Wardrobe.

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