Ok, so what is the Dark Academia trend that’s all over TikTok?

It’s practically made for autumn


Everyday it seems like there’s yet another TikTok subculture popping up on everyone’s “For You” page, and the latest one is actually perfectly timed for autumn. Dark academia is the latest TikTok trend and it’s basically like the early days of Tumblr, just on steroids.

It’s tweed, books, coffee and an idealisation of studying at an old university like Yale or Oxford. Dark academia already has over 135.6million views on TikTok and scrolling through just a few videos you really get the vibe of English and Classics students wearing glasses, turtlenecks and dying for a world that exists in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

But just what exactly is dark academia? And if you’re so inclined how do you get the aesthetic? Well here is our full explainer of the trend:

What is dark academia?

Dark academia is a nostalgic romanticisation of a life before technology and has a big basis in education. There’s a deep fascination with life in the late 19th century to the 1940s at boarding schools or classic universities. The trend encapsulates a love of books, classical music, candles, gothic architecture and all things vintage.

It has quite a gothic feel to it and some dark academia Tiktokers will post things to do with witchcraft and there’s definitely a few skulls in a number of videos. There is also a lot of inspiration from Greek arts and the concept of death. It’s almost like the darker cousin to cottagecore, there’s no baking, flowers or thatched cottages in the countryside here, instead it’s second hand book shops, cobbled streets and playing the piano.

@cosyfaeriedark academia with some ✨colour✨ (thank you for 1k followers!!!🥺💖) ##darkacademia ##cottagecore ##book ##vintage ##aesthetics ##fyp♬ original sound – Tik Toker

A typical day for a dark academia fan would include a museum visit, dressed in checks and then stopping off at a second hand bookshop before heading back to curl up in their room with multiple cups of black coffee and spending the afternoon reading. Perhaps they pull out a notebook from their leather satchel and starting writing poetry or practicing a language whilst the rain is drizzling outside.

Where did dark academia come from?

Dark academia has been around for a number of years and is thought to have originated on Tumblr, dead flowers, dusty books and brogues do just scream Tumblr circa 2013 after all.

But during the pandemic it’s had a bit of a revival as students can’t physically attend universities and school, people are heavily romanticising any connection to the world of education.

It’s also one of the few trends that is getting loads of praise for its inclusivity. LGBTQ+ people are adopting the trend and find it “a very open community, even though it’s about classics.”

Lucien K who frequently posts dark academia TikToks told The New York Times the trend is  “also about breaking stereotypes regardless of gender or sexuality.”

How do I get into dark academia?

Dark academia’s seminal text is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, it’s where loads of TikTok users get inspiration from. Other dark academia books include Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, If We Were Villains by M.L.Rio and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

@whatisthismutinyThe fatal flaw… ##aesthetic ##booktok ##bookaesthetic ##darkacademia ##thesecrethistory ##foryoupage♬ Achilles Come Down – Gang of Youths

To get the dark academia outfit vibe the colour palette focuses on dark neutrals so brown, black, navy and the odd bit of white thrown in there. And clothing items to get in your wardrobe should include glasses, turtle necks, plaid shirts, suits, tweed jackets, cashmere jumpers, blazers, brogues and boots.

And if you wanna ease yourself in with some autumnal dark academia vibe movies then watch The Dreamers, Kill Your Darlings and Dead Poets Society.

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