Dark Academia Aesthetic Male Outfits – Visual Guide

If you’re looking to be an extra in a Harry Potter movie, the dark academia aesthetic, AKA a “cartoonish” representation of Ivy League elite in film and television, might be your thing.

The dark academia aesthetic is a fashion style inspired by the Gothic 19th-century style of dark colors and high collars but with a modern, refined twist. Here’s how to pull it off.

What is the dark academia aesthetic for men?

As a fashion trend for men, the “dark academia aesthetic”  is characterized by a mix of preppy and gothic styles. It revolves around higher education, as well as the arts and literature.

It often includes clothing items such as blazers, sweater vests, oxford shirts, loafers, and corduroy pants, all in a muted color palette of blacks, grays, browns, and dark greens.

Accessories such as glasses, scarves, and hats may also be incorporated into the look.

The dark academia aesthetic emphasizes a love of literature and learning, a passion for reading and discovering new truths, incorporating elements like book bags and vintage books.

To be more specific, the dark academia aesthetic centers on traditional educational clothing, interior design, activities such as writing/poetry, and a passion for knowledge and learning.

How to style dark academia aesthetic outfits for men

First, let’s address color. The color palette of dark academia consists of dark, muted colors mainly black, dark brown, navy blue, forest green, and burgundy.

These are sometimes contrasted with lighter colors, like orange, gold, and cream. Just remember that the overall theme is dark colors, otherwise, you’ll look like light academia.

Here’s how to style dark academia aesthetic outfits for men.

A long, dark-colored coat (outerwear)

The foundation of the dark academia aesthetic is outerwear. A long, dark-colored coat, which comes in a variety of styles, is a must-have item to provide that undeniable aura of mystery.

Here are some options to consider:

  • Chesterfield coat – a formal, dark, knee-length overcoat with a velvet collar.
  • Duffle coat – a coat made of duffel, typically hooded and fastened with toggles.
  • Parka or Poncho – a kind of plainly formed, loose outer garment.
  • Peacoat – a heavy wool jacket with buttons down the front.
  • Trench coat – a coat made of waterproof heavy-duty fabric.
  • Tweed car coat – a herringbone car coat in tweed wool.

Whichever piece of outerwear you go for, make sure you choose a muted dark color like black, dark gray, dark brown, or dark green, to highlight the brooding academic vibe.

If you’re into something practical, the Barbour Bedale waxed jacket is perfect to achieve the dark academia aesthetic and is easily the go-to outerwear from fall to spring.

New Haven gets flooded with Barbour almost all year round. Aside from a bit of a fashion stereotype, it’s actually very useful. My Bedale is easily the go-to outerwear for these months.

Without the inner liner, it’s great for the windy days of early fall as well as the early weeks of spring. With the liner, it can hold up to the worst of New England’s slushy weather.

And there’s the hood, which is always good to have.

Tweed, corduroy, or flannel suit jacket

For super cold days, you can choose to wear a classy suit jacket underneath your choice of outerwear. Or, you can ditch the outerwear and just stick to the suit jacket.

Either way, you’ll need a tweed, corduroy, or flannel suit jacket to complete your dark academia aesthetic male outfit. Again, choose muted dark colors like black, dark brown, or olive green.

Now you’d be ready for the “Defense Against the Dark Academia” class.

Knit sweater or cardigan

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll know that every Christmas the students wear a knit sweater when roaming around the halls of Hogwarts. You can do the same too.

There are many options including a cable knit sweater, cashmere turtleneck, shawl collar cardigan, fair isle sweater, or cricket sweater, all of which are classy and old-school.

The dark academia aesthetic is, after all, Ivy League style in a drab color palette, for lack of a better phrase. Both knit sweaters and cardigans are perfect to achieve the style.

Classic slacks, pleated cords, or flannel trousers

Now it’s time to pair the pieces with tailored pants on the bottom. Classic slacks, dress pants, corduroy pants, pleated cords, and flannel trousers all work well for the dark academia look.

The common rule among dark academia aesthetic practitioners is that sweatpants and denim jeans, particularly the skinny fit variety, are forbidden to wear.

However, I’d argue against the “no jeans/no sneakers/no skinny fit” stipulations. A pair of high-top chucks could really fit well, with their slightly vintage aesthetic, practicality, and iconic look.

A pair of classic slightly faded denim, or solid black jeans would fit nicely.

Also, the validity of “skinny fit” depends on the wearer. I wear skinny fit because other pants just look a little goofy on me or look like I’m going after that skater aesthetic, which just doesn’t work.

Ankle boots or loafers

Last but not least, it’s time to complete the dark academia aesthetic outfit with footwear. Again, you’d want to stick with dark, muted colors but here are some options to consider:

  • Ankle boots – a boot that reaches to or just above the ankle.
  • Chelsea boots – ankle-high boots with an elastic side panel.
  • Creepers shoes – a shoe with thick crepe soles, often with suede uppers.
  • Derby shoes – a traditional leather or suede semi-formal shoe.
  • Penny loafers – a leather shoe with a decorative leather strip over the upper.

If you want to avoid the “sweats/hoodie undergrad” look you can still opt for skinny jeans paired with luxury sneakers like the Common Projects and Gucci white leather sneakers.

I’ve seen superstar professors wear designer denim with J. Press tweeds. Just try to make your skinny-fit jeans and slim sneakers work with the rest of the grid.


If you want to go all-in on the dark academia aesthetic outfit for men, you could add accessories like a Tartan wool scarf, a Herringbone wool tie, or a pair of leather gloves.

Or, add a pair of spectacles to complete the Harry Potter look.

Related articles: