What is Dark Academia? Explaining the aesthetic

A typical Dark Academia Instagram post.

The general term

Dark Academia is an aesthetic that revolves around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery, and a general passion for knowledge and learning.

It was born as a trend on social media, such as Tumblr and Instagram, as a means to dress in a non-conventional way, trying to emulate the look of English intellectual and professors.

Sweaters, Ties, Brown blazers.

If you want to dress like a Dark Academia esthete, that’s the style you should go for. As R.C Waldun put it “Dark Academia fashion is young people trying to dress like old people”.

Let’s get deep into it

We have seen the aesthetic part of it, but there’s more. This is the part that deserves all the attention. Dark Academia encourages young generations to enjoy reading and immersing themselves in literature and arts.

We could see this internet trend as a modern renaissance, a movement that led young people to appreciate poetry and books more than any English class.

Dark Academia makes being a nerd cool. And day by day the phenomenon is growing, involving more and more people.

Shakespeare, Plato, Dante.

Dark Academia teaches young generations that rediscovering these old classic authors can help us all appreciate life in a more meaningful way.

The movie that started it

The movie that all the movement is based upon is, of course, Dead Poet Society.

For the few who have not seen it, the film centers around students at a New England boarding school who are inspired to start a secret society for scholarly pursuits by their new English teacher’s unorthodox methods of instruction.

The importance the film ascribes to poetry, literature, and drama, as well as its themes of romance and death, making it applicable to the dark academia subculture.

The main problem

Even though we have seen how important it is Dark Academia for making people read more, it is also obvious that since it’s a trend based on aesthetics most of the people involved with it don’t really care about classic culture.

They are more interested in looking like people that love to read instead of being people that actually love reading.

Of course, this is not always the case, but it is evident that our generation tends to use cultural trends more as a way to appear politically and socially active on social media than anything else.

We have seen it with the Friday for future fashion and the love of recycling trend, which came out of the blue in form of posting pictures of polar bears and forests burning. In the end, I guess it is all, Dark Academia included, for the better.


In conclusion, there are a lot of ways to interpret how you should be a Dark Academia esthete, I hope you have understood that the movement is not all about the aesthetic and has a solid cultural foundation.

Dark Academia helped me read more and have a better appreciation of literature, something that not even my teachers could do.

Thank you for your time,




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Federico Mamone

Federico Mamone

Writer and Aspiring Journalist. I overthink therefore I am not sure what I am.