Let's Talk Aesthetics: Dark and Light Academia

Let's Talk Aesthetics: Dark and Light Academia

Posted by Emily on Apr 26th 2021

Let's Talk Aesthetics is our blog series where we explore different ways to fit handmade accessories and garments into specific aesthetic styles. Check out our previous posts in this series on Vaporware and Cottagecore

This week we're doing 2 aesthetics for the price of one with both Dark Academia and Light Academia. 

As you can probably guess, the two are related! Both aesthetic styles correspond with the pursuit of knowledge and an interest in learning. Lots of themes overlap like antique books, fountain pens, desks full of stationary, libraries, art museums, and universities. They even overlap a little bit on color palette with both favoring neutral colors. The exact color palette and specific topics within these themes will vary between the two. 

Fashion inspiration for Dark Academia comes from 1940's British boarding school uniforms. Think things like turtle necks, sweater vests, Oxford shirts, cabled sweaters. There is a big focus on layering with outerwear like jackets cardigans, blazers, and peacoats. Both Dark and Light Academia favor a neutral color palette with creams, browns, greys, and blacks. In Dark Academia the emphasis will be on the darker shades, you can still use light shades but the balance will lean towards the warm chocolate browns and blacks. 

Books will often be featured in spreads of Dark Academia style, the more vintage the covers the better. Dark Academia tends to focus on more heavy and negative themes in terms of literature. Things like the meaning of life, death, oppression, and tragedy. Checking out a classic title from your local library and drinking a cup of tea is a great way to get cozy with Dark Academia. If you need a new show to binge watch and want to immerse yourself in the Dark Academia aesthetic try out Sherlock, The Magicians, Penny Dreadful, The Queen's Gambit, Poldark, or The Umbrella Academy.

Light Academia features the same kinds of fashion pieces and colors of Dark Academia but with a heavier emphasis on the lighter creams, taupes, whites, and light grey neutrals. Another difference in the fashion choices is fabric, Dark Academia loves a cozy heavy wool while Light Academia likes to employ more lightweight breezy textures. Layering is still a big element. 

Both styles love a good classic book but Light Academia is also going to have lighter themes in it's literature choices. More of its stories are going to be focused on optimism, friendship, and joy. Jane Austen's novels are at home in Light Academia. Shakespeare comedies fit as well. Movies that fit into the aesthetic are Pride and Prejudice, The Dead Poets Society, Little Women, Hidden Figures, Enola Holmes, and Hugo. Keep in mind you can definitely pull inspiration for Light or Dark Academia from all of the movies and shows we have mentioned, just choose your balance of light and dark hues appropriately! 

We think the fiber arts fit perfectly into both Light and Dark Academia because of the emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge and bettering oneself. The act of learning and honing a craft is an activity that fits perfectly into these aesthetics. 

Items featured from left to right 

For our spread of items we stayed in the neutral palette of Dark Academia. We also picked some yarn lines like the Ella Rae DK Merino, Llama Lace, and Monokrom that have both light and dark options so you can use them for either Light or Dark Academia. We chose natural colored items for our tools as well focusing on different beautiful dark woods. 

Items featured from left to right

As you can see we picked very similar items as we did for our Dark Academia spread but leaned more into the light side of the color palette. Lighter woods like Maple are featured. We added the Hempathy yarn to fit into the idea of having lighter less warm fabric. A lot of pieces made from this color scheme could also fit into  Cottagecore, so you might be able to make a piece fit two totally different aesthetics! 

We're suggesting project ideas for both Light and Dark Academia, you can mix and match your color choices or fiber choices to make it fit either version! 

Project Ideas: 

  • Weave a book tote bag
  • Knit a cabled cardigan
  • Read an informational book on your favorite craft discipline
  • Weave a plaid skirt
  • Needle punch a project inspired by classic literature
  • Spin a light colored single and a dark colored single, ply them together! 
  • Dye up some neutrals
  • Crochet a pencil case

Hopefully we've got your gears turning to come up with some Dark or Light Academia inspired projects!