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Unlock the 'Dark Academia' Style with Ease

TikTok's 'Rory Gilmore wardrobe' search surge by 455% reveals the secret. Follow these steps to embody the literary charming style.

The Gilmore Girls style

As Fall begins, along with many returning to their studies, the ‘dark academia’ trend has been growing in popularity, with Pinterest searches for ‘dark academia outfits’ having risen 104% in the past three months alone. Fashion experts from Boohoo explain how to achieve the look as well as the best places to turn to for inspiration.

What is ‘dark academia’?

The dark academia aesthetic is a romanticisation of studying and going back to school or university, typically popular during colder, gloomier months – such as the back-to-school season. In terms of fashion, the dark academia look includes dark tones, such as maroons, blacks, and browns and has a ‘preppy’ element to it.

What are the wardrobe staples of ‘dark academia’?

Dark colors

Darker, more muted colors are an essential component in achieving the dark academia look. The ideal color palette consists of maroons and burgundies, dark forest greens, navy blues, browns and camel tones, and black. In fact, in the past three months alone, searches on Pinterest for ‘brown outfit’ have risen 92%, highlighting the popularity in darker, more muted looks.


Plaid (or tartan) is a popular pattern that features a criss-cross of horizontal and vertical bands, often of different colors, which, when weaved, make a rectangular or square pattern. Searches for ‘plaid skirts’ have risen 138% in the past three months, which highlights the popularity of the dark academia trend. A plaid skirt can be styled with a top and cardigan in a similar, complimentary color, or alternatively, with a denim jacket or oversized jacket. The plaid style is a more vintage aspect of the dark academia trend with the inclusion of plaid being used to emulate a 1960s and 1970s, university look.

Faux leather and suede boots

Boots are an essential component to any dark academia wardrobe, providing practicality in colder, rainier months as well as style. Often, in posts regarding dark academia, faux leather and suede are the most popular types of boot material featured. A brown suede or faux leather boot can complete an academic and preppy outfit and can be easily styled with some dark tights and a skirt or even with dark blue denim jeans for a more 1970’s inspired look.

Sleeveless sweater vest

A sleeveless sweater vest can elevate any look and make it part of the dark academia aesthetic – particularly when paired over a crisp white shirt. A V-neck style is perhaps the most aligned with the dark academia trend and opting for a patterned or cable knit style is a sure way to achieve the study look. Searches on Pinterest for ‘sleeveless sweater vest outfit’ have skyrocketed in the past three months by 426% as well as searches for a ‘sweater vest’ rising 117% in the past three months. Celebrities that have donned the ‘grandpa vests’ include Kendall Jenner, Matilda Djerf and Bella Hadid.


Waistcoats have seen a surge in interest over the summer and the trend isn’t set to stop anytime soon with the trend being a staple of the dark academia style. Whether it’s a pinstriped waistcoat or one with detailed buttons, waistcoats are a great way to layer up as the seasons turn colder whilst also maintaining a chic and classy look. Pinterest searches for ‘waistcoat outfit’ have risen 614% in the past year. To style a waistcoat, pair it with a matching color trouser or a neutral colored trouser and dress it up with some dainty jewellery. For chillier weather, layer the waistcoat up with a tweed jacket or wool coat.

‘Dark academia’ style inspirations

It may be daunting knowing where to start to achieve this look as we head back to our studies this Fall, but there are a few icons of popular culture (both fictional and real) that encompass the look perfectly and serve as inspiration for anyone looking to try out the dark academia look for themselves.

Rory Gilmore (from ‘Gilmore Girls’)

Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls is perhaps one of the most recognizable ‘bookworm’ characters in popular culture, with the character consistently making references to various books that she’s read and always being determined to get the best grades possible, with her ultimate goal at the beginning of the show to go to Harvard. Rory’s fashion and passion for studying has elevated her to a dark academia style icon, with fans of the show posting on social media about her style on various different platforms. On TikTok, there are over 33 million views on the hashtag #GilmoreGirlsOutfits and on Pinterest, the past six months alone have seen interest in ‘Rory Gilmore aesthetic’ surge 402%. To incorporate Rory’s style into your own wardrobe, there are a few easy staples to start with such as her iconic cream cable knit sweater that she wears in the first season that has subsequently remained a fan favorite with searches on Pinterest for ‘Rory Gilmore sweater’ soaring 910% in the last three months. Another popular outfit of Rory Gilmore’s that’s often featured alongside dark academia posts is her season one look of a burgundy top paired with a short A-line skirt and dark shoes and tights, finished off with a dark backpack.

Hermione Granger (from the ‘Harry Potter’ series)

Hermione Granger is arguably the poster-girl for dark academia fashion with her 1980’s knitwear ensembles and long, dark academic gowns. However, it is important to note that Hermione’s style is not as inherently dark or gothic as some interpretations of dark academia, but her style includes classic, timeless pieces, neutral colors and bookish accessories, all with the gothic and academic backdrop of Hogwarts castle, therefore encapsulating the dark academia aesthetic. If you’re apprehensive about trying the dark academia aesthetic, using Hermione as a source of style inspiration is a great way to test the waters, but copying her simple albeit stylish looks a great pair of jeans and a cable knit or patterned sweater.

Jo March (from ‘Little Women’)

Primarily from Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation, Jo March’s style has become incredibly popular online in relation to the dark academia aesthetic. She often wears simple, earth-toned dresses that were typical of mid-19th century, which aligns with the vintage and timeless aspect of dark academia. Jo March’s style is definitely on the vintage side of the trend however, her layering, dark tones and functionality are all elements that are easy to take inspiration from.

Beth Harmon (from ‘The Queen’s Gambit’)

Portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, chess prodigy Beth Harmon encapsulates 1960’s dark academia. Beth’s looks include A-line dresses, shift dresses, cardigans, and blouses that often have a ‘Peter Pan collar’ – another key element of dark academia style. In terms of a color palette, Beth opts for darks and neutrals such as black, white, grey and earthy tones. To emulate Beth’s style, opt for an earth-toned shift dress paired with a flattering cardigan and some dainty jewelry as an accessory.

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