7 Tips to Thrift for Dark Academia Clothing on a Budget

In case you haven’t already come across one of the latest trends on social media, Dark Academia is rising in popularity as an aesthetic that revolves around academia, classic literature and art, libraries, history, and camaraderie. The fashion style features corduroy, tweed, plaid, turtlenecks, dress pants, blazers, blouses, etc, all of which in more neutral tones like dark browns, grays, and blacks. You may recognize this style in films like Dead Poets Society, Kill Your Darlings, Harry Potter, and more.

While Dark Academia clothing gives the impression of affluence and professionalism in movies and novels, the aesthetic now realistically features thrifted and vintage clothing. To save some money, follow these seven tips for fulfilling your Dark Academia-esque dreams.

  1. 1. Curate your shopping list

    The easiest way to overspend is to step into a store and buy everything that strikes your fancy. To avoid this, browse Pinterest and Instagram for moodboards that other Dark Academics have made. On Pinterest, simply searching “Dark Academia clothing” will bring you to a multitude of available moodboards, guides, and photos for inspiration. On Instagram, pages such as @myfairesttreasure @academiicwitch, @sweetie.latte are great starts. Create a shopping list of a few items you’re interested in and stick to it!

  2. 2. Plan your visit

    Plan your thrift trip wisely! After taking a look at the thrift stores in your area, consider visiting one with a membership option – this usually lets you collect points and/or save 5-15% on your purchases. In addition, consider visiting when your location holds discount days, such as a weekly student deal or a monthly 50%-off-day.

  3. 3. The men’s section is your best friend

    Although the skirt & tights & sweater combo offers a beautiful feminine silhouette, Dark Academia is a fairly androgynous style. Don’t narrow your search to only the women’s section, for the men’s section may have all the key pieces! Check the men’s section for quality polos, sweater vests, blazers, ties, wristwatches, belts, and plain tops.

  4. 4. Expand your sizing options

    Try exploring beyond your usual size! Many items (such as cable-knit sweaters, blazers, and cardigans) are often much cuter and more comfortable than fitted ones. Remember that Dark Academia is an aesthetic for university students…meaning comfort is top priority! You can always tailor a piece to get the perfect fit. Additionally, many items in thrift stores can move around throughout the day; forgoing a quick skim of other sizes could rob you of the chance to discover your new favourite piece!

  5. 5. Don’t limit yourself to just clothing

    Dark Academia is not only about clothing; try other activities apart from building your wardrobe. Visit the bookshelves to pick up some classic literature, poetry collections, and boarding school murder mysteries. Visit the household section for décor and stationary. If DIY is more your style, try visiting the fabric section to choose some material and sew your own clothes!

  6. 6. Be realistic

    Have discipline when shopping. Consider where you live and on what occasions you will be able to wear your beautiful outfits. Ask yourself questions like: What climate am I in? Does my school have a dress code? Would I be safe as a woman to dress androgynously in my neighbourhood? Making note of your circumstances will help you avoid buying pieces you don’t need. For instance, it would be unrealistic and wasteful to buy heaps of turtlenecks if you live in a warm environment. Instead, make accommodations: shop for mock necks instead! Be creative with your choices.

  7. 7. Lastly, have fun with it!

    Dark Academia can be an exciting way to help us connect to academia, as we can experiment with this niche style and its hobbies in order to carve an accepting space within higher education. It can be especially empowering for women who often face boundaries with regard to accessibility and fitting into academia. Dark Academia does not come with strict rules or exclusions, but merely suggestions. Feel free to take inspiration from mood-boards and guides, however, it is ultimately your choice on how you decide to incorporate it into your own style. Thrifting for Dark Academia clothing is a fun and safe way to be creative with your self-expression!