How to Fulfill your Dark Academia Aesthetic Dreams (whether at home or in a dorm!)

The dark academia aesthetic can be broken down into the romanticization of all things school, studying, and learning. Of course, there is a visual side to this, as there are with most aesthetics, but I do not believe that you have to redo your entire space or go to a college with neo-Gothic architecture in New England (although all us MoHo’s are very lucky, especially the ones able to be on campus at this time) to be a “dark academic.” If you have been looking for a push to redecorate your space like a Victorian sitting room with just a touch of corduroy and tweed, then, by all means, do so. However, a complete remodel is in no way necessary. What is necessary though*, is having a clean space, or as clean as you can make it; I understand that not everyone can do a deep clean of their rooms for various reasons. While artfully thrown piles of school papers and books might have a certain flair, they end up being more harmful than good (aside from not being organized), as any kind of mess is somewhat of a distraction and can even cause anxiety. The best move is to file those papers, and get yourself a sturdy bookshelf (or clean your current one off if it’s as overrun as mine) for all those novels. 

After cleaning, ambience is key. Again, this doesn’t mean shelling out a lot of money for some new decor. Just find a comfortable, preferably well lit, place to sit (either to do school work, read, or do some other hobby) and perhaps a candle with a scent of your choosing. I am partial to the bookish candles from Frostbeard Studio and In the Wick of Time, but there are endless Etsy shops devoted to all your candle needs. If you are in a dorm, or cannot/do not want to burn candles, then an oil or stick diffuser will certainly suffice. The coziness factor is almost there, but what’s missing is a hot beverage. College students are notorious for drinking coffee like it’s going out of style, but there are many out there who prefer tea, so just go for what you like best. 

Another important component of dark academia is fashion. However, since most people aren’t really leaving their houses or dorms at the moment, you can wear whatever you want (I’m personally a fan of leggings and big t-shirts). If dressing up each day is part of your routine, or if you want to take advantage of the time to try out a new style then perhaps dark academia fashion is for you. There are two distinct sides of this style: the first is neutral, preppy and androgynous, and the second is elevated business-casual schoolgirl. These looks often overlap but they’re diverse enough that you’ll eventually land on something perfect for you. This fashion is also characterized as having some vintage inspiration: turtlenecks, cigarette pants, and plaid skirts were all trends of yore, but are now staples of dark academia fashion. So go forth and pair loafers with frilly socks or sweaters with blazers and skirts with button downs, whether you’re stuck inside or an essential worker. 

Unfortunately, simply looking like you belong in The Secret History is not enough to embody the dark academia aesthetic, you have to live it (minus the murder, obviously). The first step of creating a new routine or mindset is to pretend it is already a regular aspect of your life. Pretending to romanticize school and learning will turn into the real thing over time. This doesn’t mean that school cannot be difficult or annoying; the important thing is that any annoyance with school does not overpower your drive to learn. Classes, professors, and even college are all temporary; learning continues for the rest of your life. Even if you cannot incorporate your current passions into your classwork, make sure you are doing so in another way. Dark academia is about school, but it’s also about passion, which is crucial for learning. Once you have a passion, and are able to follow it in whichever way you can, the rest of the aesthetic becomes secondary, even the fun artistic side of it. Having the style of a dark academic without the passion is sort of like wearing a jersey without ever playing a sport; it just doesn’t make sense. By far the best part of dark academia is that you can make it your own. It doesn’t just have to be mulling over Socrates or reciting Sylvia Plath. By all means do so if you want to, but by focusing solely on passion and learning, the dark academia aesthetic is attainable to a larger population. I cannot speak for you, but I know that finding this concept and aesthetic has helped me fall in love with school and learning again (especially during the time of Zoom University) and I hope it does for you too. 

This is all up to personal preference, anything I am suggesting is my own opinion and you do not have to follow it if you don’t want to. 


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