The new academic year is right around the corner. As we wave ‘au revoir’ to summer and welcome autumn, we’re all preparing for changes in our lives. If you’re a student, the chances are that you’re getting ready for some of your first face-to-face classes in months. First impressions are everything at college. Not only does your outfits play into this, but they can also give you a confidence boost to put your best foot forward.

Over the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in aesthetic-based dressing. Perhaps one of the most popular is ‘dark academia’. All it takes is a quick scroll through your Instagram or TikTok feed to get a taste of just how popular this neutral colour palette aesthetic is. On TikTok – the app with the most influence on fashion trends right now - #darkacademia has over 1.2B views.

This aesthetic, characterised by its focus on classic literature and elevated basics, has found its way into fashion collections and everyday life. We’re looking at 5 fashion tips for the academic year to help you transition back to college. It’s time to ditch the loungewear and rediscover classic pieces that work for coffee dates on campus or an evening in the library.

1.Keep it classic with a trench coat

Capsule closets are one of the biggest trends in fashion. At college, closet space can be at a premium. You want versatile classic pieces that can carry you through from day to night with ease. A trench coat encapsulates the dark academia style with an elevated feel. It’s an essential that you can wear to layer up in the autumn and winter or to dodge the rain in spring. 

Feng Chen Wang had trench coats as the centrepiece of their Spring/Summer 2021 collection. The beauty of their trench coats is that they offer a classic understated look with a streetwear-ready style that incorporates a traditional trench coat with contrasting leather.A trench coat silhouette is universally flattering, giving you the option to layer clothes underneath or to wear oversized with jeans and knitwear. Although beige is the most classic shade for trench coats – including the classic Burberry beige – don’t be afraid to go with a bold colour. Choose your favourite colour or a gem-tone shade to make a statement and brighten your aesthetic. A trench coat is a unisex staple that is worth investing in to elevate your closet.

2.Layering knitwear

When it comes to academic fashion, we’ve all gone to class with a knitwear jumper. You never know how cold the library is going to be or how long you’ll be staying around campus to finish work. Knitwear is your perfect choice for layering as it gives you style without compromising on comfort.While your closet is probably full of jumpers, you can shake it up with a knitwear vest.

C2h4’s latest ‘Coherence’ menswear drop is heavily influenced by academic fashion, featuring a knitwear sweater that is styled with a tie and crisp white shirt.While this might remind you of the uniform you wore to school, it encapsulates the classic ‘preppy’ aesthetic popular with college students. Knitwear is an essential to throw into your backpack to take with you on the go. What we love about a knitwear vest is that you can easily switch it from a preppy aesthetic to a streetwear look. Swap out your button-up shirt for your favourite loungewear jumper. A knitwear vest is a unisex staple that you can style over dresses or wear over a t-shirt and your favourite denim jeans.

3.Oversized polo shirts and shorts

Over at Drôle de Monsieur, their new collection has a distinctive ‘70s-inspired aesthetic that you can easily incorporate into your college closet. In their Fall/Winter 2021 lookbook, you’ll find oversized polo shirts layered over a long-sleeve jumper and styled with mid-length shorts.

If you want to experiment with the ‘dark academia’ trend while keeping your look streetwear-inspired, this is an outfit idea you want to try. The neutral colour scheme adds versatility to the outfit, making it wearable for a day at college or studying at the library. As a student, layers are your best friend. You never know when you’ll end up in a cold library trying to meet a deadline.
The key to achieving this look with pieces already in your closet is to keep the silhouette oversized. It helps to give the outfit a more laidback look. You can play with prints or stick with neutrals for an understated but elevated look.

4.Keep a fleece in your backpack

Most students spend their day sitting in front of a laptop screen, a coffee in one hand and their textbook in the other. You might want to get dressed up for classes and seminars but take a more casual and comfortable look when studying or working on projects. A fleece or oversized hoodie is an essential to pack into your tote bag or backpack. They’ll layer over anything from bicycle shorts to denim jeans or cargo pants.

MSGM’s latest Fall/Winter 2021 features comfortable oversized fleeces with graphic prints for added personality. If you find yourself at the library until 3 am and on your fifth coffee of the night, you’ll be glad you’ve got your fleece ready to go in your backpack.

5.Chelsea boots are your best friend

If you’re a boots fanatic, now is your time to shine. For the academic year, you’ll want to keep your go-to ankle boots front and centre in your closet. While we’re all fans of sneakers, they’re a staple for college students. You never know if you’re going to be ending the day in the college bar or the library.

At Junn.J, their Spring/Summer 2022 collection focused on lightness and youth, styling elegant volume with rich silhouettes. Their lookbook features their models wearing neutral-tone Chelsea boots with everything from athleisure-inspired dresses with capes to a rain jacket and shorts.

Chelsea boots are just as comfortable as your favourite sneakers while being more weather resistant for the autumn and winter.