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This is Dark Academia — and it’s Everywhere This Fall

Woman reaching for book in library

Let’s face it, living out our best life in our imagination beats living in reality right now. That’s most likely why certain internet aesthetics are taking off right now on IG and TikTok, with people embodying them to create their most fantastical self. The internet is full of trendy aesthetics — cottagecore, E-girl, royalcore, normcore, baddie — take your pick. Who do you want to be? Whoever it is, you can bring that person to life through your style.

What is dark academia?

Of all the aesthetics to choose from, one stands out as the most wearable this fall/winter. Dark Academia romanticizes school and literature, conjuring up images of centuries-old libraries, sky-high bookcases and intricate architecture. Envision dark, mysterious private schools that house students who mostly keep to themselves, their noses deep in classic literature (think Hogwarts, but make it fashion). Dusty pianos, letters home written by quill, steaming cups of black coffee next to books so old, they’re falling apart. Are you seeing where we’re going with this?

While a student’s reality more likely looks like unwashed hoodies, ramen noodles and empty Starbucks cups, it makes this aesthetic all the more tempting to live out. If you want to master the dark academia fashion aesthetic this season, read on for the exact right pieces to help you pull it off right.

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The oversized double-duty trench coat

A must-have in any fall/winter wardrobe, the trench coat does double-duty, keeping you stylish while shielding you from the dropping temps. Lean into the aesthetic by shopping one that’s beige, brown or plaid, or add some edge with faux leather. The best thing about trench coats is that it’s a powerful statement piece on its own, which means you don’t have to think too hard about the outfit you’re wearing underneath.

Related: 10 stylish jean cuts that aren’t skinny jeans.


The grandpa-inspired sweater vest

Ivy League meets grandpa with this season’s trendiest piece — the sweater vest. Style with a collared button down, or dress it down by wearing it over a simple t-shirt. You might be on the fence with this one, but there are so many ways to make it you. You can go femme with an A-line skirt or throw on some trousers, jeans, sneakers or loafers if the casual look is more your thing.

Related: All the best outfits from ‘Sex Education’ season three.

The coziest knit chunky cardigan

Keep warm into the winter season with a knit cardigan — the perfect layering piece for a turtleneck, long sleeve or tank top. There’s always the option to shop it a size bigger to give yourself more room depending on how much you want to layer, or simply just to lean into the oversized trend.

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The versatile and stylish trousers

If you’ve already transitioned out of skinny jeans and into a more relaxed pant style, wearing a pair of trousers might be the natural next step for you. In 2021, trousers are anything but formal. They can literally be worn with anything — a hoodie or sweatshirt, turtleneck or blazer, sneakers or loafers — you name it. No matter what you wear it with, you’re guaranteed to be rocking an updated and stylish silhouette.

Related: The best winter boots that will keep you dry and warm.

The oversized dad blazer

Blazers are always in for fall, but the trending cut changes year to year. This year, you’ll find billowing silhouettes you can sink right into — some with such long lines that pants are optional. Variations of brown and beige, plaid or leather will keep you in the realm of this aesthetic. Pro tip: you can score some quality finds by thrifting the men’s blazer and suit jacket section!

Related: Supermodels are loving these sustainable jeans, and you can buy them now.


The turtleneck, a fall fashion staple

This staple item will last years in your wardrobe because it never really goes out of style. Show off your figure with thinner fabrics or stay snug with a hefty knit. Us Canadian gals know that a turtleneck also saves you from those biting cold temperatures we’re (unfortunately) so used to.

Related: (Not just a girl) Gwen Stefani’s style evolution.

Chunk loafers that add a bit of edge

These chunky shoes are everywhere this fall, along with their taller counterpart: the chunky boot. Loafers are the epitome of the dark aesthetic, giving off nerdy librarian vibes with a little bit of edge. Wear them with a pair of high, delicate socks to really nail the look.

Related: Canadian loungewear brands that will keep you dry and warm all winter long.

The classic plaid skirt

Taking cues from the traditional school uniform, the plaid skirt is total academia. A chunky sweater, collared button down shirt and pantyhose will have you channeling your inner Hermoine Granger. But hurry — there’s a narrow window to fit these cute skirts in before your legs start trembling in the cold, so wear them while you can.

Related: The IKEA tote bag and 9 other bags you definitely need this fall.

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