Today’s dark trend in academia grew out of these five yesteryear fashion statements


Writing with a quill pen dipped in ink, sitting by candlelight in a book-lined desk, and vintage tweed paired with knit sweaters and brogues have all become the pinnacle of fashion. fashion for fall 2021.

Known as the dark academia, this trend has brought the hallowed halls of old universities to the digital worlds of TikTok and Instagram. On Instagram, the tag #darkacademia now has over a million posts, and Grazia named the aesthetic as the biggest trend of fall 2021. The TikTok generation has embraced the tweedy comforts of college life.

Centered on an idealized experience of studying at European and North American universities, this fictionalized lifestyle of learning emphasizes knowledge, culture and literature. In fashion, it expresses itself through a hybrid of historicism and Victoriana, vintage country clothing and second-hand clothing.

But this is not the first time that dressing to look smart has been in fashion. Intellectualism through dress has been in fashion for centuries. Here, we’ll explore five of the most intellectual fashion trends in history.

1. The blue stockings

The term “bluestocking” has come to be used as a derisory term for intellectual women, but its origins are more fashionable.

The Blue Bottom Society was founded in the 1750s in England by Elizabeth Montagu, known as Queen of the Blues, alongside other ladies of the Georgian elite. Unsurprisingly, there had been few opportunities for women to discuss classical literature, politics and philosophy in the ballrooms and glittering salons of 18th-century England. Frustrated with the intellectual starvation of women, this group of fashionable ladies came together to discuss these topics.

Blue stockings were part of the casual and informal clothing the group wore to their meetings. Unlike the sparkling sheen of haute couture white or black silk stockings, the rustic simplicity of blue combed wool stockings was seen as informal and intimate, and a symbol of their rejection of the sartorial expectations of high society.

A bluestocking, novelist Frances Burney, reminded that a potential attendee who did not have trendy clothes suitable for a formal evening was told, “Don’t worry, get dressed! Come in your blue stockings!

2. Dress like a statue

In the 18th century, the classical worlds of ancient Greece and Rome were rediscovered by European intellectual elites.

The women left their hoops behind for shapeless dresses that evoked the drape of the neoclassical dress. Photo credit: Wikimedia

From architecture to literature, neoclassicism has become fashion. Projects like Pompeii excavations ignited the European imagination about this romanticized classic past. Inspired by salvaged statues of women dressed in elegant draperies, fashionable ladies are throwing off their corns and hoops for imitate these classic half-naked statues.

This rather impractical drapery has been transformed into the high-waisted, respectable white chiffon dresses familiar to modern audiences through the productions of Jane Austen. It was all the rage to look like a large, columnar statue.

3. Romanticism

From puffy shirt sleeves to tousled locks of hair, the sartorial aesthetic of the Romantic poets like Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats is referred to in academia itself. Romanticism has championed ideals rather than conventions and is embodied by the archetype of the melancholy, intelligent and brooding Byronic hero.

The Gothic and historically Romanticist-inspired aesthetic spread in fashion, which adopted features such as the medieval cut (a technique in which the outer fabric is cut to reveal another colored silk underneath) and frills of Tudor neck. These fantastic styles, which reinvent and sentimentalize history, spread from an intellectual desire to overthrow neoclassicism in favor of a resplendent Renaissance history.

4) Dress reform

The end of the 19th century saw a series of intellectual sartorial revolutions, which rejected the restrictions and formalities of Victorian haute couture. In the 1850s, a women’s rights activist Amelia Bloomer began a trend among reformist women to wear large baggy pants, now known as bloomers.

Baggy pants may have quickly gone out of fashion, but Victorian intellectuals continued to invent new fashions that reflected their academic tenets.

Led by the Pre-Raphaelites, artistic dress, also known as Künstlerkleid, appeals to romantic medievalism and rejects the structured drapery of Victorian haute couture. In keeping with the artisan aesthetic and ethos of the Arts and Crafts movement, the fashion was for loose dresses and Gothic trims. The aim was to give the impression that you had stepped out of the Pre-Raphaelite portrait of an Arthurian lady.

5) Philosophers

At the start of the 20th century, French philosophers and popular playwrights brought the turtleneck to the forefront as the anti-establishment intellectual garment of the time. From Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face to Philosopher and Accidental Style Icon Michel Foucault, the turtleneck was the epitome of cerebral style.

Most recently adopted by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the clean lines of the turtleneck used sartorial simplicity to both counter and embody the busy brain. The clean and elegant casing reflects modern innovation and creative genius.

In 2021, the dark academy is both heartwarming and intelligent. For a generation who grew up waiting for their letter from Hogwarts, but now find themselves learning online, it may not be surprising that today’s young people have created their imaginary turret landscapes. , tweed and tea in the online social media space.

Serena dyer is a lecturer in the history of design and material culture at De Montfort University.

This article first appeared on The conversation.



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