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Love Poetry & Baby’s Breath: A Mini Guide to Romantic Academia

“Someone will remember us, I say, even in another time.”You flip through the leather-bound notebook, filled with your favorite Sappho quotes you’ve scribbled down in elegant cursive, as you sit cross-legged with your back against the bookshelves. You’ve snuck into the library at 3AM, wanting to have the reading nook to yourself under the light of the full moon. A flickering stout candle encased in a glass jar wafts the scent of fresh lavender throughout the space as classical music lightly plays from your phone. 

If this is the kind of life you want to live, look no further! Welcome to your new favorite aesthetic. If you’re aware of dark academia, this is its softer, more flowery and lovey-dovey counterpart. Romantic academia is one of the many academia related aesthetics out there that revolves around topics such as romantic literature and the values of Romanticism. This includes the appreciation of nature and the celebration of individuality and emotions. Picture writing love letters by hand, riding a handcrafted swing over a bed of flowers, reciting Romeo and Juliet out loud, and admiring paintings of Goya and Turner. 

Here are some tips so you, too, can start living out your dramatic prose-filled lifestyle. 

Looking the Part

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Before you start playing chess among that patch of roses, you should dress up for the part first! The most common clothing articles to fit the romantic academia aesthetic seem to be turtlenecks, cardigans (both fitted ones and chunky knit ones), blazers, and pleated skirts. Anybody would look good in a nice, soft turtleneck under a slick blazer over a fitted pleated skirt, on their way to the second-hand bookstore down the street. If you want to seek a wardrobe with more variety, see if you have vintage dresses, white blouses with poofy sleeves, corsets, tweed trousers, and dress pants. For accessories, get some lacy ankle socks, vintage jewelry, lockets, oxford shoes, Doc Martens, and berets. 

If you’d like to paint up your face for the aesthetic, you could focus on your eyes, cheeks, and lips. Emphasize the eyes with a little mascara or soft eyeliner, and softly accentuate your brows. Everyone likes associating blush with falling in love, so powder some light blush on your face as well. A simple lipstick or lip gloss is fine to finish the look off. 

Colors that fit this aesthetic are red (especially ruby red), muted colors (like cream, beige, grey, and white), and pink-purple colors (mauve, light pink, lavender, etc.). Stay away from bright neon colors, scarlet red, and royal blue. If you want to try your hand at making your own romantic academia clothing and accessories, take these colors into mind, and use LOTS of lace, wool, and tweed. 

What to Read, Watch, and Listen

[bf_image id="hbph7mtw55gfkf84825bn8n"] A large part of romantic academia is centered around reading, whether that’s love letters, poetry, or other literature. Popular writers in this aesthetic are Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, John Keats, and Shakespeare. You could also check out Sappho, Homer, William Blake, Donna Tartt, Maria Edgeworth, Victor Hugo, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, and Williams Wordsworth. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma are two quintessential works of literature to read for this aesthetic, alongside Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, and the Bridgerton series. You could also consider branching out to texts that might fit other academia aesthetics, like dark academia and light academia. Even if they wouldn’t revolve around passionate relationships, they’d still have the scholarly elements that are still a core part of romantic academia!

Need something to watch with your secret lover in the comfort of your four-poster bed? Prepare mugs of your favorite tea, and snuggle in to binge watch Pride & Prejudice (2005) (of course), Jane Eyre (2011), Becoming Jane (2007), Kill Your Darlings (2013), Clueless (1995), The Princess Bride (1987), Les Misérables (2012), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Beauty and the Beast (2017), Little Women (2019), and Titanic (1997). If you’d rather blitz through a TV series, Bridgerton (2020 - present) is what you have to go with. 

But what if you’d rather spend your time waltzing around a ballroom with your secret lover in a flowing gown? Or if you need some tunes while you’re brainstorming prose under the noon sunshine? Classical music is the perfect ambience for these situations. Listen to some pieces from Tchaikovsky, Chopin, both Clara and Robert Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Offenbach, and Mozart. If you’d like something more modern, Ophelia by The Lumineers is an absolute must. Try Old Money and Salvatore by Lana Del Ray, another artist with a lot of music that you can listen to while knitting a cozy cream-colored cardigan. Hozier, Sufjan Stevens, the Arctic Monkeys, and Lorde are also all musicians with discographies you should shuffle through. 

What Else Can I Do?

[bf_image id="v7cp5rn8xhhknp5cr68jjtw7"] Want to branch out from outfits and reading? Pick up a new hobby! This article recommends poetry, especially love poetry. Read it, analyze it, and write it. Don’t be worried about writing “terrible” poems. Every renowned poet started somewhere, so brainstorm ideas, experiment with forms and literary devices, and practice reciting them out loud whenever you have the chance. While you’re at it, try writing them out by hand. Break out pens and paper, and have some fun with it! 

What are you waiting for? It’s time to be a romantic academic! Go organize that soft picnic date in the secret meadow, dress up in your best laces and red pleated skirts, and maybe even consider bringing those midnight love letters you never thought you were going to send.

Audrey Kim

UC Riverside '24

Audrey is a Computer Engineering major who wants to improve her writing skills. She hopes that readers will be informed, amused, or both, by her content!
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