Light Academia Aesthetic Guide & Outfits

Light Academia Aesthetic Guide & Outfits

Dark and light academia aesthetics have been around since the heyday of blogging, but they still capture our imagination.

Dark academia embrace formal clothing in dimly lit rooms with gothic architecture such as marble statues to match; more on that here.

Meanwhile there’s also a happier variant called ‘light academia’.

Light academia paints a happier picture of life on campus where dim light streams through large windows in cafes. It’s about the happier side of student life filled with the joy of studying in peaceful libraries and coffeeshops rather than about the pressures or the haunted feel of old buildings.

Dark and light academia aesthetics: How do they overlap?

The two aesthetics clearly have different vibes, but since they are both academia aesthetics, there are many areas where they overlap.

For starters, both dark and light academia can involve a focus on learning and on campus-friendly clothing.

That means, while dark academia may have a more haunted feel, light academia is still pretty smart-casual with some elements of nostalgia.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference which mood you want to wear which day - the vibe of the dark and brooding halls of a Gothic castle or of the bright and cheerful sunbeams in a quaint cafe.

The basics in both academia aesthetics will always be almost the same, just the color palette of your outfits will differ.

Key garments for light academia aesthetic

Key garments for the light academia aesthetic are cardigans, loafers, and button-downs.

That sounds pretty similar to dark academia, and it sure is - the difference is that in light academia, you will wear them in a lighter color palette. Any beige, grey, light green or an earthy neutral will fit the light aesthetic well.

peone on tumblr

One nice addition over dark academia are frills - a white frilly shirt is a super aesthetic item that you can reuse between masculine cottagecore and light academia completely smoothly.


Etsy: Summerlulu01 ruffle shirt

Blazers are sure a good choice for any academia, but so are knits. It all depends on the mood you are going for - the high achiever or the cozy student?

DOEN Minou turtleneck

Tomboy chic vibes!

Simple Retro Jasmine polo knit

For bottoms, go for well-fitted slacks or corduroys. Skirts are also an option, but make sure they are not too short - remember, this is an old-time classy aesthetic.

Imogene and Willie corduroys

Telva Magazine 2017

Aesthetic overlaps with moods that are not academia

One indie aesthetic that heavily features academic outfits is the preppy style.

That one is all about looking polished and put-together, which academic outfits help with. Blazers, cardigans, skirts, and dress pants are all key items in a preppy outfit.

Dresses similar to Olivia Palermo’s on

Preppy fashion often takes inspiration from Ivy League preparatory school uniforms, so you’ll see a lot of navy, beige, and red colors in these outfits. Patterns like plaid and gingham are also popular, which creates overlap with grandma chic aesthetics.

Preppy fashion is not often considered to be super classic and timeless, though.

It’s too “aesthetic” and not neutral enough. So, if you want to keep your wardrobe stylish for years to come, light academia is the better alternative of the two.

Academia aesthetic makes a beautiful community too

Indie fashionistas love academic outfits because they allow them to feel as though they are a part of a special community. And you know what, on Tumblr and Reddit forums of this aesthetic they actually are.

When someone wears an academic outfit, they are sending a message that they appreciate learning and want to be a part of the academic world. This can come handy in work meetings.

If you don’t quite feel yourself without an aesthetic “costume”, but don’t want to overdress for a meeting, light academia might be a good middle ground. Check the company dress code, though - not all offices are aesthetics-friendly!

Academic outfits are a great way to feel like part of a special community and look polished for work meetings. They can also be combined with other styles, such as the preppy style, to create an even more pulled-together look.