First seen around the 2010s, ‘Dark Academia’ is a Tiktok aesthetic romanticizing learning, solo study and second-hand clothing. Inspired by gothic literature, preppy fashion and 19th century Europe. It is one of many new ‘return to roots’ trends of the 2020s.
Best clarified as a type of autumn fashion and an extension of the ‘cottage-core’ aesthetic, dark academia appears antique and dusty. Think Dead Poets Society; people excited to learn the written word. It is like making your own school uniform, composing an outfit that will help you study in style.
It’s a type of trend where the complete style isn’t found in malls. And trendy clothing could even clash with the aesthetic. Yet, it’s seen clear as day in antique and thrift shops. The style comprises pleated skirts, ‘Peter-Pan’ collar shirts, and pearl necklaces. Notably, there is no singular colour palette, just a purpose. In addition, although terms like ‘tragic’ and ‘gothic’ are used, it is not gothic fashion. Too much black implies no inspiration or passion for learning. Keep the look muted and nondistracting and wear nothing that could keep your nose from a book.
Dead Zoom Society
The forced isolation of the Covid-19 panic and rising prices of student fees and housing could easily inspire this romanticisation of the studying experience. As a result, Dark academia is the ideal style for university. Away from the online classrooms and zoom calls, where students sought something profound in their education. Where they focused on a great study space more than the method of the study. A life not bogged down by pandemics, the demands of technology and finances. Above all, the emphasis on removal from technology in dark academia images presents its own form of escapism.
However, like most Tik Tok trends, dark academia is more about a look and concept than any actual practice. The dusty old books are meant to be posed with, not read for example. It’s difficult to create a trend for escaping the excesses of technology one can only see on cell phones and apps. But escaping from the constant screens as a common trend is more than a little inspiring to see.
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