The Ultimate Guide to Dark Academia Summer Fashion

dark academia summer outfits

Trench coats, woolen blazers, moody colors, and skillful layering. Winter could be called the best friend of the dark academia fashion aesthetic. 

But what happens when temperatures rise? Or if you live in a place where wearing woolen blazers will make you sweat buckets? 

While hot weather might not be the best to rock the dark academia style, with a little bit of planning and some creative inspiration, you can totally wear the aesthetic while beating the heat.

Here, we’re bringing you helpful tips and ideas for dark academia summer outfits that will keep you cool without sacrificing chic, OR sustainability.

What is Dark Academia Aesthetic? 

dark academia summer outfits

Dark Academia is a trend that first originated on Tumblr in 2015, and went viral in the past few years. It’s now metamorphosed into a subculture that romanticizes the aesthetics related to learning, primarily through extensive research and reading. It’s characterized by classical literature, architecture, poetry, fashion, and art from Western Europe. The members call themselves ‘dark academics’, and perceive higher education as something to be enjoyed rather than a chore. 

The ‘dark’ is a reference to the members’ penchant for the forbidden and the mysterious. It’s what separates the subculture from its more romantic version, the light academia. 

For a visual idea, think – literary classics, sublime architecture, earthy colors, intricate calligraphy, and a passion for education.

With 1.5 million+ posts on Instagram and numerous accounts on TikTok, this subculture cannot be ignored. 

What is Dark Academia Fashion?

dark academia clothing

Dark academia is a fashion trend that alludes to the dark academia aesthetic. With its roots in ancient Greece and 19th-century England, it embraces deep earthy colors and neutral tones, simple yet eye-catching silhouettes, artful layering, and an eye for detail. A fusion of preppy and gothic is an accurate description of the style. 

How to Dress Dark Academia in the Summer 

Even though the aesthetic is a perfect fit for the gloomy autumn and winter, it can still be toned down for hotter weather. With some inspiration, you can craft a wardrobe for the summer that is just as classy yet cool!

Here are some tips for wearing dark academia summer outfits:

Choose lighter fabrics

sustainable dark academia fashion

A no-brainer. Breezy and lightweight fabrics like linen, organic cotton, chiffon, and rayon, are the most suitable for summer. 

Though dark academia clothing comprises heavier fabrics suitable for colder weather, wearing them in summer is just not an option. But that doesn’t have to discourage you. 

You can choose light summer fabrics in silhouettes and patterns embodying dark academia fashion style and still carry the look well.

Choose muted colors 

dark academia aesthetic

We know. This style is best represented by dark, moody tones. But you’ll have to say bye-bye to that in the summer. Hey, even the most distinguished scholars wear lighter clothes in summer! It’s just a practical thing to do. 

No, you don’t have to wear pastels or summer colors. You can still stick to the more somber vibe with neutrals and muted tones. Think beige, white, brown, olive green, and rust. They express the ‘dark academia summer vibe’ pretty well, and won’t make you feel as hot. 

Loose and comfortable fits

dark academia

Structured fits and dark academia = a match made in heaven. But, you gotta revamp things a bit for the summer.

You’ll have to ditch the perfect fits and instead go for more breezy outfits. Looser shirts and dresses, wide-legged pants, and flowy skirts. Keep it airy and comfortable. 

Don’t worry, the colors and accessories will ensure that you keep the vibe intact.

Focus on accessories 

dark academia summer outfits

Layering clothes is another staple practice of the dark academia look. But, like most things on this list, it’s not practical for hot climates. However, you can skilfully compromise that in favor of accessories. 

Accessories add the illusion of layering while saving you from wearing more. A brown leather satchel or belt, vintage pendants and rings, hair ribbons, bow clips, and much more. All these amplify the aesthetic without you having to wear heavier clothing. 

Custom enamel pins are also a popular accessory to lighten your clothing. A pin on your outfit can help you break up your dull summer outfit. 

Many branded clothing shops also give pins to their customers. Customizing enamel pins with the design of the shop name or logo, and giving it to customers is not only a great way to say thank you to your customers but also a promotion of the brand. You can easily get your design on Enamel Pins with the help of its free online design system. Go and try it. 

Don’t be afraid to keep it messy

sustainable dark academia fashion

It’s okay to let loose in the summers, – yes, even for the most indoorsy dark academics – so don’t be afraid to make your style more casual. Half tucked-in shirts and messy wavy hair, it all works!

Build outfits around staples

dark academia aesthetic

Stunning silhouettes and edgy looks may symbolize the dark academia aesthetic, but you cannot dress up every day in the summer. 

Here’s where having a capsule wardrobe of staples helps. Simple yet elegant button-ups, loose pants, muted skirts, nude loafers, etc., are some essential pieces that can be paired with multiple other items to create different looks. Less is more and keeping it simple in hot weather works.

Focus on the shoes 

dark academia clothing

Shoes make the man. Well, not really.

But, shoes can make or break an outfit. It’s the same with dark academia fashion. Since you cannot wear darker colors and multiple layers in hot weather, you can complete your dark academia summer outfits with the perfect shoes

Nude brown strappy sandals, black loafers, pointy flats, etc. capture the dark academia vibe pretty well and are also practical to wear in the summer. 

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Lastly, don’t forget to experiment and do what you feel is best. Dark academia is a very specific aesthetic with close to little summer vibes. This could either be a hindrance or an opportunity to experiment and play. We know what we’d choose. What about you? 

Sustainable Dark Academia Fashion

By now you know what dark academia fashion is and how you can dress the aesthetic for summer. But let’s take it a notch up and give it a healthy twist of sustainability. 

Sustainable and ethical clothing is clothing that is made without exploiting non-renewable resources and human labor, and without causing irreparable damage to the environment

The fashion industry is one of the main polluters which contributes to destroying the planet. 

By choosing sustainable clothing you are casting a vote against the harmful practices of the fashion industry and for the well-being of the planet and its people. When done collectively, it can result in a huge positive change that will benefit all of us. 

Top 6 Brands Offering Dark Academia Summer Outfits

1. Able

ABLE is a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty by providing economic opportunity for women. With a beautiful selection of clothing that can complement a Dark Academia Summer Fashion aesthetic, they prioritize ethical production practices. They are known for their radical supply chain transparency, publishing their wages, and holding a significant commitment to sustainability.

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2. Christy Dawn
Christy Dawn

Christy Dawn produces vintage-inspired dresses and clothing, fitting perfectly with the Dark Academia Summer Fashion style, especially with their flowy, ethereal dresses in earthy tones. They emphasize sustainable production, using deadstock fabrics to reduce waste. They also practice regenerative farming with their cotton, improving the soil’s health and biodiversity.

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3. Kotn

Kotn crafts beautiful basics that align with the simplicity and classic appeal of Dark Academia Summer Fashion. Their pieces are made from ethically-sourced Egyptian cotton, and they are committed to transparency, sustainability, and direct-trade practices. They are a certified B Corporation, meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

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4. Made Trade
Made Trade

Made Trade is not a brand but a curated online marketplace for exceptionally designed, ethically-sourced goods. You can find clothing and accessories that fit the Dark Academia Summer Fashion aesthetic from various sustainable brands. They prioritize fair trade and sustainable practices, ensuring products are made with respect for people and the planet. They are a member of the Fair Trade Federation.

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5. NAE

NAE is a Portuguese vegan footwear brand using innovative, sustainable materials. While not a clothing brand, their classic shoe designs can complement a Dark Academia Summer Fashion wardrobe. They are committed to no animal cruelty, environmental preservation, and fair working conditions in their production processes. They are certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

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6. OuterKnown

Outerknown creates apparel with a laid-back style that can be adapted to Dark Academia Summer Fashion, especially their earth-toned pieces. Sustainability is at their core, with a commitment to ethical manufacturing, fair labor practices, and environmental stewardship. They are Fair Trade Certified, ensuring safe working conditions and fair labor practices, and also have several products made from organic and recycled materials.

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Where to Find Dark Academia Summer Outfits? (that are also sustainable and ethical) 

Listed below are some of the best places to buy dark academia pieces.


dark academia summer outfits

Y’all might know that Etsy is the go-to place for cute and artsy stuff on a budget, but it also has some amazing sustainable dark academia fashion pieces. So if you’re looking for affordable dark academia outfits, Etsy is the place for you.

You can find some classic button-down shirts, linen skirts, minimal pants, and beautiful dresses on Etsy. You can also find cute jewelry which is affordable and ethically made.

You have to be a bit careful though, as not all stores on Etsy are sustainable. Just make sure you do a little bit of research before purchasing from a store. It’s pretty easy to use and worth it!


sustainable dark academia fashion

On a slightly higher side of the price scale, but worth the investment, Reformation has quality staple pieces that can build you a dark academia wardrobe. 

They have a ton of linen clothing in muted tones and you can take your pick from skirts to shirts and dresses. They also have beautiful printed dresses that are airy yet fit the dark academia aesthetic. 

Do a little bit of browsing on the site and we’re sure you’ll find something classy and right up your alley. 

But, remember, the point is to use less and make it last. While this is sustainable, it’s also in alignment with dark academia fashion – it’s more about quality rather than quantity and designs. All in all, Reformation is the perfect place for sustainable dark academia fashion. 


dark academia aesthetic

This is where you will find some of the best dark academia clothing.

Dark academia fashion is all about the vintage and elegant look and there is no better place than thrift shops to find aesthetic vintage stuff. Dark academics place high value on thrifting. You get some staple pieces at a fraction of the price and leave a lighter footprint on the environment. It’s a win-win. So, go thrift some to put together dark academia summer outfits.

Bonus Tips: Current Wardrobe Edition

Upcycling your current wardrobe to achieve an academia fashion aesthetic can be a fun and creative process. Here are some tips to help you transform your existing clothing into a style suitable for academia:

  1. Mix and match: Start by taking inventory of your wardrobe and identifying items that can be combined to create a more scholarly look. For example, pair a classic button-down shirt with a high-waisted skirt or trousers.
  2. Layering: Layering is a key element of academia fashion. Experiment with layering different pieces, such as cardigans, blazers, vests, or scarves, to add depth and sophistication to your outfits.
  3. Tailoring and alterations: Take a closer look at your existing clothes and consider whether any alterations are needed to achieve the desired academia aesthetic. Simple modifications like shortening sleeves, adjusting hemlines, or taking in the waist can make a significant difference.
  4. Pay attention to details: Academia fashion often emphasizes attention to detail. Look for clothing with interesting textures, subtle patterns, or unique button designs. These small details can add sophistication to your overall look.
  5. Consider modesty: While not all academia settings require modest attire, you may choose to incorporate modest elements into your outfits. For example, opt for longer hemlines, avoid low-cut tops, and choose looser-fitting silhouettes.


The dark academia aesthetic is all about expressing the inner edgy academic in yourself, and the weather doesn’t have to stop you from doing that. With a little compromise and creativity, you can express your style and wear your aesthetic no matter what the conditions. Hopefully, these tips and ideas help you put together elegant yet cool dark academia summer outfits that are also sustainable. Thanks for reading!

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Dr. Divya Goil

Dr. Divya Goil

Dr. Divya Goil is a Sustainability Researcher at Ecowiser. We empower individuals to make sustainable choices. I am a medical doctor with a passion for environmental conservation and have dedicated my career to finding solutions for a more sustainable future.

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