Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture

How to Dress Dark Academia & POC Book Recs

Every year, I’m always changing up the way I dress based on any new trends I come across or styles I just like in general. However, one fashion aesthetic that I’ve long admired and finally got around to wearing more often is the dark academia style. What is dark academia, you ask? Dark academia is an aesthetic that revolves around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery and a general passion for knowledge and learning. As someone who has been a lifelong lover of books and knowledge, this aesthetic was made for me. Catch me looking like a normal college student one day and an English literature professor the next—the range of my style has no bounds, and I’ve got to keep people on their toes somehow, right?

The main inspiration for dark academia fashion is 1940s preppy school uniforms. The main color palette for this look includes colors like black, gray, beige, brown, cream, ivory, dark green, burgundy, soft yellow and other earth tones. Below, I have listed different types of clothing that are commonly worn in dark academia.

Tops

Tops like turtlenecks, Oxford shirts, sweater vests and light blouses are commonly worn. Additional styles of tops include:

  • Fisherman’s sweaters

  • Sweater vests

  • Large polo necks

  • Cable knit jumpers

  • Sailor-collar shirts

  • Jumpers

  • A-Line dresses

  • Blousons

  • Drop-waist dress

Bottoms

  • Dress pants

  • Ankle pants

  • High rise pants

  • Cigarette pants

  • Linen shorts

  • Tweed trousers

  • Plaid pants or skirts

  • Mid-length or long skirts

  • Pinafore

  • Sailor skirts

  • Pleated skirts

  • Pencil skirts

Outerwear

  • Cardigans

  • Blazers

  • Waistcoats

  • Pea coats

  • Suit jackets

  • Trench coats

  • Overcoats

  • Duffle coats

  • Chesterfield coat

  • Coat dresses

Shoes

  • Oxfords/brogues

  • Loafers

  • Wingtips

  • Boat shoes

  • Dr. Martens boots

  • Mary Janes

Accessories

  • Silver or gold jewelry

  • Broaches

  • Simple rings

  • Satchel or messenger bag

  • Wire-frame glasses

  • Belts that match your shoes

  • Knee-high socks

  • Watches

Something to note is that while this aesthetic is not inherently negative, it has come under scrutiny due to its seeming encouragement of classist attitudes (ex. menial work being “inferior” to mental work) and unhealthy behaviors (ex. sacrificing sleep, relationships, mental health and personal care for the pursuit of knowledge and study). Please be sure to embrace the positive aspects of this aesthetic and be cautious of the potentially harmful ones. Additionally, while the aesthetic lends itself to Eurocentrism, every culture is welcome to share in the aesthetic and you are encouraged to find ways to blend your heritage with the aesthetic. Please do not feel as if you are not dark academia enough because of your background. While most of the dark academia books are generally written by white authors, I also have provided non-exhaustive POC book recommendations I found that would fit the dark academia theme. You can find more POC works and authors here.

Chinese:

  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu

  • The Dream of the Red Chamber

  • The Water Margin

  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms

  • The Journey to the West

  • The Scholars

  • The Peony Pavilion

Pakistani

  • Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid

  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

  • Ghulam Bagh by Mirza Athar Baig

  • Masterpieces of Urdu Nazm by K. C. Kanda

Irani/Persian

  • Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji

  • Savushun by Simin Daneshvar

  • Anything by Rumi

  • The Book of Kings by Ferdowsi

  • The Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam

  • Shahnameh (translation by Dick Davis)

Indian

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

  • Aithihyamala, Garland of Legends by Kottarathil Sankunni

  • The Gameworld Trilogy by Samir Basu

Native American

  • The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

  • Starlight by Richard Wagamese

  • Almanac of the Dead by L. Silko

  • Fools Crow by James Welch

Indigenous Australian

  • Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

  • First Footprints by Scott Cane

  • My Place by Sally Morgan

American

  • Works of Gwendolyn Brooks

  • Works of Langston Hughes

  • A Naked Singularity by Sergio de la Pava (Colombian-American)

  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor

  • Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • Internment by Samir’s Ahmed

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurtson

  • Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch

Filipino

  • Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

  • First Footprints by Scott Cane

  • My Place by Sally Morgan

Mexican

  • Poems by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

  • Laura Esquivel

  • El Vampiro de la Colonia Roma by Luis Zapata Quiroz

Christine is a second-year student studying at the University of Florida and is one of Her Campus UFL’s feature writers. She majors in Health Science on the pre-med track and hopes to attend medical school after graduation. When she’s not busy writing or studying, she enjoys eating sushi, hanging out with friends, and browsing TikToks.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️