Aesthetic is a word you’ve probably heard thrown around a lot on TikTok. A sort of cultural trend, aesthetic is a new form of clique culture, this time taking on a whole new life.

Style is, of course, personal. However, there is still a lot of overlap across different sub-cultures.

TikTok has adapted fashion and created a more regimented style code for each brand of personality found on the app.

Some of these are trends. They’re short-lived fashion pieces that come and go quickly. Others are full-on lifestyles. They require a splash of dedication to fully appreciate.

We’re here to dissect, analyse and explain all the nooks and crannies that make up these styles. We’ll give you the low down on how to dress, act and feel the part.


First up is Academia.

There are a ton of variations of the style, but we’ll be focusing on two of the most commonly seen types; Light and dark.


What is Academia?


Essentially, it’s all about learning. It’s focused on reading, studying, and all things, well, academic.


Things like classic literature, philosophy, and European architecture are necessary interests. The whole idea is to embrace an upper-class idealism of education. It’s similar to older styles like American prep and Parisian chic. Like all the new aesthetics though, it does require a fair amount of leg work.

The whole idea is to be pretentious, romantic, and a little over-the-top.


It isn’t necessarily new. While the exact concept is a product of social media, it’s constructed of pieces from many different fashions from the past. Most notably, its influenced by the 19th-century aristocracy and American elitism.


Pop culture is a big influence on most styles, but more so with Academia. The Harry Potter craze was very significant in its creation. Motifs from the series are especially important in Academia. Tumblr blogs were often seen sharing mood boards of quills, parchment, and Oxford University backdrops.


While Academia seemed to peak in 2017 on apps like Tumblr, it is seeing a new rise through newer socials like TikTok.

Photos courtesy of Instagram

Light Academia

 Light Academia is a slightly newer concept than its older brother, Dark Academia. First coined in 2019 on Tumblr, Light Academia is made up of light motifs.

Colour palette

  • White
  • Tan
  • Cream
  • Neutrals
  • Gold
  • Ivory
  • Browns
  • Rose
  • Burgundy
  • Beige
  • Black
  • Grey
  • Rose gold



  • Unmade beds
  • Food and drink (champagne, fruit, pastries etc.)
  • Apartment living
  • Décor and wall art
  • Candles
  • Literature
  • Coffee shops


  • Marble sculptures
  • Renaissance
  • Impressionism
  • Baroque architecture
  • Calligraphy and stationery
  • Museum interiors
  • Nature
  • Haussmannian buildings

Light Academia capsule wardrobe

  • Blazers
  • Turtlenecks
  • Button-ups
  • Sweater vests
  • Cardigans
  • Cigarette trousers
  • Mini skirts
  • Trench coats
  • Waistcoats
  • Mary Janes
  • Doc Martens
  • Oxfords
  • Pearls
  • Berets
  • Headbands
  • Tweed
  • Plaid
  • Leather


Home Décor


  • Books
  • Sculptures
  • Vintage stationery
  • Classical art
  • Antique pieces
  • Candles
  • Vintage papers and photography
  • Vinyl
  • Second-hands finds
  • Flowers


Photos courtesy of Instagram

Dark Academia

Originating on Tumblr in 2017, Dark Academia is the original Academia aesthetic. Like Light Academia, Dark Academia is preppy, pretentious fashion that’s influenced by classical education. Dark Academia is, obviously, dark. It is not only visually darker but also embraces darker themes like crime, cult, and danger.

Colour Palette

  • Browns
  • Black
  • White
  • Off-white
  • Ivory
  • Grey
  • Beige
  • Cream
  • Burgundy
  • Mustard
  • Gold
  • Dark Green


Boarding School

  • Homework
  • Uniform
  • Dormitory
  • Running away
  • Coffee shops
  • Stationary
  • Calligraphy
  • Artworks
  • Campus life


  • Murder
  • Violence
  • Cults
  • Secret societies
  • Vials of poisons
  • Daggers
  • Gothicism
  • Cemeteries
  • Classic horror
  • Memento mori

Dark Academia capsule wardrobe

  • Turtlenecks
  • Blazers
  • Cigarette trousers
  • Midi/Maxi skirts
  • Jeans
  • Leather
  • Solid colour
  • Trench coat
  • Knit
  • Doc Martens
  • Pencil Skirts
  • Briefcase bags

Home décor

  • Moody colours
  • Bulky bedding
  • Antique furniture
  • Vintage books
  • Dark wood
  • Gold accents
  • Encased Butterflies


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