Updated: Mar 21
In the past year, you've likely heard the buzz surrounding the Light Academia and Dark Academia aesthetics. What are they, who can wear them, and how can you personalize your own wardrobe to include them?
Let's start with the basics ... what is an aesthetic? In the realm of fashion, the term is used to mean a particular clothing style influenced by a certain era, lifestyle or image. For example, a Fairy Aesthetic would describe a clothing style that includes tulle skirts, crowns of flowers, and forest-inspired colors and patterns. Someone with a Gothic Aesthetic might wear black clothing and makeup, long flowing shapes, and accessories inspired by medieval hardware.
An aesthetic can extend beyond clothing styles and refer to art and decor as well, and the concept has recently expanded to include entire lifestyles, and has captured the imaginations of Millennial and Gen Z cohorts.
The Academia aesthetics celebrate a love of learning, and are inspired by libraries, classic universities, and literary cafe culture. Clothing often includes tweeds, classic lines, and muted tones, while decor revolves around books, old-fashioned accessories from various academic pursuits (like botanical drawings or vintage globes), and throwbacks like old typewriters and cameras.
Academia themed fashion has begun to subdivide into different categories, including the aforementioned Light and Dark Academia, and also Romantic, Art, Chaotic and more.
Today we'll explore the Light Academia aesthetic. Traditional library and university architecture can lean toward a darker / stone castle / Hogwarts shape, and these looks influence the Dark Academia style. Conversely, Light Academia takes its inspiration from nature and the outdoors, celebrating learning by recreating idyllic scenes like reading poetry on a riverbank, or collecting butterflies to study. When Light Academia returns indoors, it wanders through museum corridors lined with white marble busts, and curls up in cozy armchairs with cream-colored knit blankets to read. Where Dark Academia is literally dark, featuring deep shades of maroon and black, Light Academia washes everything out to ivory, linen and parchment.
Light Academia fashion revolves around classic British / Preppy school clothes, tweeds and knits in shades of cream and brown, as if the wearers were trying to blend in with piles of leather-bound books. Pleated kilts, v-neck sweater vests over white button-down shirts, wool trousers, oxford tie shoes and even berets layer together to create a sort of costume for the wearer who dreams of living in a historical European library. Prints are almost non-existent, replaced by chunky cable knits and the occasional muted plaid.
Essentially wearers of the Light Academia aesthetic are recreating a dream lifestyle, inspired by their love of reading and learning. Transforming a literary dream into real life is a fun and energizing, and functions a bit like the old advice to dress for the job you want, rather than the job you have. On the down side, not everyone looks good in warm shades of cream and brown, and not everyone is 20 years old! Stay tuned for my next posts about How to Create a Mature Light Academia Wardrobe and How to Wear Light Academia If You Have Grey Hair!