Let us set the scene: It’s a cool and crisp October afternoon. The wind is gently shuffling copper leaves and you’re throwing on your tweed blazer and spectacles as you head to the bookstore to grab a coffee...which you may or may not add whiskey to, from a flask in your knapsack.

This is, dear friends, is the essence of Dark Academia, and what cottagecore was to 2020, it is for 2021.

Born on social media, Dark Academia currently has 1.1 billion views on Tik Tok, and is up by 700% on Google trends. In other words, it’s a big deal.

So, what is it, really? In short, it’s an aesthetic that romanticizes academia, books and education with a focus on the classic European style of the literary greats. It’s what you would’ve worn to write a 20th century novel or the library carrel you’ve would have toiled away in at Harvard, circa 1919.

And while it’s a phenomenon that Gen Z is leading at the moment, there’s also a real appeal for millennials as well. After all, our obsession with the original Gossip Girl, Harry Potter (particularly Hermione Granger’s effortless chic) and our undying love for classic brands like Ralph Lauren all prove that, once upon a time, we were on the same exact page—we just called it preppy.

And when it comes to incorporating Dark Academia into your fall wardrobe, it’s really a no-brainer. Think simple, tailored pieces with lots of texture and richness…and maybe a little mystery.

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1. Buckled Chunky Leather Loafers

We love these chucky loafers because they’re cool and classic with a fun edge. You can pair them with smart slacks or a tweed skirt and you’ll be on your way to nailing the trend.

Buy It ($129 )

H&M

2. Dress Pants

These super chic pants are really the best baseline for any dark academia ensemble. There’s a number of looks you can pull off, whether it’s with a button down and sweater vest, a cool blazer or a ruffled shirt.

Buy It ($25)

Shopbop

3. Treasure Riceland Blue Light Glasses

We hate to be cliché, but glasses just tend to have a way of making you look book smart. Whether you’re in need of new frames, or simply want to look the part, we like these neutral, classic square frames that give vintage vibes.

Buy It ($70)

Mango

4. Mango Oversized Check Overshirt

We love this overshirt because it teeters on the edge of grungy, but still appropriate for wearing to your Romantic Poetry seminar.

Buy It ($50)

Madewell

5. Madewell Knotted Crossbody Bag

What says, “I’m going to get work done” better than a crossbody messenger bag? We love this beauty because it’s on theme but not over the top.

Buy It ($89)

Nordstrom

6. Olivia Burton Big Dial Leather Strap Watch

You’ll need to keep track of time as you peruse countless titles at your favorite bookstore café.

Buy It ($66)

Revolve

7. n:philanthropy Brooke Turtleneck Bodysuit

Getting through fall without a basic turtleneck? As if! We also really love the tweed skirt and turtleneck combo, which pairs well with a blazer and tights when the weather cools.

Buy It ( $128)

Shopbop

8. Ben-Amun Pendant Necklace

A locket is not only a great place to store a sentimental photo of a loved one, it also evokes the romantic essence of yesteryear.

Buy It ($49)

Revolve

9. Ruslan Baginskiy Cotton Beret

Donning a chic beret is like saying, “stand back, I know what I’m doing here.” This is the perfect topper for a blazer, pant, loafer combo.

Buy It ($120)

Cos

10. Cos Deep V-Neck Knitted Vest

This V-neck vest is not only super sleek, but the perfect layering piece for crisp button downs.

Buy It ($115)

Nordstrom

11. FREE PEOPLE Ashby Blazer

This Ashby Blazer will last way longer than any Tik Tok trend, plus it’s a part of Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale which sounds like a clear win to us.

Buy It ($168, $100)

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