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The TikTok-Viral Dark Academia Aesthetic Is Like Real Life Hogwarts

You’ll need a novel on hand at all times.

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Cozy, bookish, and complete with a cup of tea and a sweater vest. These are just a few buzzwords to describe the Dark Academia aesthetic that has taken on a life of its own since its inception in 2015-era Tumblr. You might also associate the social media-viral aesthetic with the fall season, grand libraries, and classical literature — probably because this is exactly what the moody style is comprised of. And despite initially growing in popularity nearly a decade ago, dark academia remains a part of the online conversation and real-world fashion movement with Pinterest boards and TikTok accounts alike to maintain its place in the competitive world of trending aesthetics.

The hashtag #darkacademia has an impressive 2.3 billion views and is an instant portal to a world that feels like Hogwarts but is actually just strategic outfit planning with a dark filter over top (although videos like this one taken at Oxford University actually do feel like Harry Potter Land). According to Book Riot, many view dark academia as a sub-genre to the 1992 novel The Secret History, a contemporary literary thriller written by Donna Tartt. The story centers around a murder that has taken place within a group of classics students in New England. Think Gossip Girl infused with constant shadowy skies, a dark secret that has yet to be revealed, and classical piano playing softly in the background. This, reader, is dark academia.

Academia is clearly a major part of this aesthetic, with novels and libraries being romanticized left and right by trend enthusiasts. One user @student.dine posted a TikTok in May 2021 of the library at Oxford University. Set to Cihat Aşkın’s rendition of “Waltz No. 2,” the video reads, “POV: Your college library is the dark academia dream.” Accurate.

Another TikTok user @rougereview, who specializes in matching aesthetics to scents, described the vibe fittingly via a video mood board. Paired with “Work Song” by Hozier, the video showcases visuals like hot coffee, typewriters, chess, and neutral-colored hardcover novels to give viewers an idea of dark academia. In case you’re wondering, they recommend four fragrances including REPLICA Whispers In The Library by Maison Margiela and Noir 29 by Le Labo — both of which contain warm, woody notes of cedar.

Dark Academia Essentials

If you resonate with dark academia and want to adapt aspects of the aesthetic into your clothing, home, or both, you should prioritize the following: darker neutrals, tweed and plaid, and studious essentials like textbooks and glasses (remember, we’re glamorizing academia). TikTok user @angemariano recommends acting as if you were an Ivy League student getting ready for class. Stock up on argyle sweater vests, collared button-ups, blazers, turtlenecks, loafers, and of course, a solid trenchcoat. She also recommends leather belts, dress pants, and a messenger bag to hold all of the poetry ever.

For bringing the dark academia aesthetic into your home, TikTok user @brittanyelizabeth693 serves up some serious inspo. Go for dark wall paint and furniture, vintage art with detailed frames, a bar cart with vintage decanters, and a well-stocked bookshelf that takes center stage. Finish off with antiques dispersed throughout your space and some neutral candles and you’re pretty much set.

POV: You’ve adopted the dark academia aesthetic and are now curling up with a murder mystery and a steaming cup of coffee on a rainy afternoon in your aptly-decorated place to match the vibe. All is well.

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