Hairstyles To Match Your Dark Academia Aesthetic

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Dark academia is a subculture that plenty of it-girls are loving, and even if you've never heard of it before, you've definitely seen it. From pairing dark glasses with a beret and sipping tea on a rain-soaked afternoon to wandering through a graveyard in mary janes or sticking your pen behind your ear while scanning a bookshelf for your next macabre read in a chunky sweater, this is the dark academia aesthetic. This look is everywhere, and for good reason: it's as cozy and easy to rock as it is cool and fresh. Sydney Decker is the mind behind @myfairesttreasure, an Instagram account focused on all things dark academia. She told the New York Times, "I am completely obsessed over the fashion associated with the aesthetic: the tweed blazers, plaid pants, black turtlenecks, and sophisticated accessories." With a cocktail of sophistication and edginess, dark academia is both chic and nostalgic.

While a crisp collared shirt under a tailored pinafore dress and a slouchy cardigan or a plaid skirt paired with a turtleneck and chunky boots may be the pinnacle of dark academia, capturing the essence of such a niche aesthetic is about more than your wardrobe. To get the look, you'll also need a hairstyle that blends in seamlessly. There are plenty of perfect haircuts if you're looking to make a long-lasting foray into the subculture, but if you'd rather steer clear of a fresh cut, there are still plenty of hairstyles to help you lean fully into your new aesthetic. 

French bob

There's no haircut quite as sophisticated and understated as the French bob. It also just so happens that few hairstyles pair quite as well with a dark academia-inspired look as a French bob does. From thick-framed glasses to oversized vests and big, cozy sweaters, any piece of undeniably dark academia-ready clothing will perfectly match a French bob. So, if you're considering using your hair to commit all the way to this brooding yet curious vibe, the French bob should definitely be on your list of potential cuts. 

Blunt bangs

Maybe you love the unmistakably edgy yet sleek energy of the French bob but feel that a short, cropped cut just isn't for you. One way to have your cake and eat it, too, is to cut some blunt bangs. While plenty of cropped haircuts add to the effortless air of mystery intrinsic to dark academia, there's something about long locks that can be just as complementary. Add blunt or choppy bangs to your long hair to give just a bit of extra edge that meshes perfectly with the trend.

Curly bangs

These days, bangs are no longer just for the straight-haired girlies among us. Curly bangs are all-the-rage, and they flawlessly complement the laidback, vintage-inspired aspects of dark academia. Per InStyle, according to a hairstylist to the stars Monae Everett, start with wispy bangs if you're unsure about the change, and keep them on the longer side your first time. Everett says, "This way, you can decide if you love the look and want to add more hair to your bangs for a voluminous look or keep the bangs wispy so that you can blend them back into your hair." 

Pixie cut

If chopping some fringe isn't quite committing to the aesthetic enough for you, then it may be time to go all the way with a drastic cut. In many ways, the pixie cut never really goes out of style, but the thought of sporting a bold, vampy lipstick paired with a super cropped haircut in a library while sporting an oversized sweater is just too on point to pass up. Regardless of your hair color or texture, a slightly messy or perfectly polished pixie will pair with your collegiate wardrobe pieces like a Pinterest-ready Tim Burton character. 

Curly pixie cut

A pixie cut is yet another cut that may make folks with curly hair shudder at the thought. Yet, as we're greeted with the dark academia aesthetic amidst the reign of the clean girl aesthetic, the two styles meet in the middle with a love of embracing your natural beauty. As with curly bangs, a curly pixie cut adds even more interest to a cropped cut on naturally straight hair, and it pairs perfectly with the more androgynous elements of the dark academia style. 


There's always something so academic about a headband. From Blair Waldorf in a collared shirt and skirt on the steps of the Met to Alice in Wonderland's black headband balancing out her mary janes, accessorizing your look with a headband is endlessly preppy and youthful. Adding a headband is an easy and non-committal way to let your locks lean into the look, and it can be easily paired with many different outfits that fit the aesthetic without being too bold or statement-making.


Dark academia exemplifies all things studious-looking and chic. And, what accessory fits this description quite as well as a beret does? You can add a beret to any look to up the elusive intellectual energy just a bit more. And, while rocking a beret is a perfect way to sport a dark academia-inspired hairstyle without snipping your strands, we can't deny that a beret looks especially good with bangs peeking out or a bob creating balance. Invest in a plaid beret, like this one from Amazon for extra dark academia points. 


As the '90s and early aughts hair accessories have made a major comeback over the course of the past few seasons, barrettes are an on-trend way to add a bit of interest to your hair. There's also something about them that looks perfect on someone jotting something down in their journal or scanning the shelves at the library. Part your hair in the center or in a deep side part, and use the clips to secure your hair flat to your head. Don't be afraid to go for a vintage look, like with these pearl barrettes or a velvet option.

Shades of red

If you're looking to change your hair color in your dark academic transformation, consider going red. Dark academia is innately autumnal, and even in the warmer months, the look's go-to clothing pieces and color palettes are reminiscent of fall. Consequently, red hair just fits perfectly. Whether it's adding an auburn tint or going for full fire engine red, a rosy shade will enhance the rich, moody vibes. A deep and dark shade of red is also a great way to try a bold color while coordinating with the neutral and warm tones of your aesthetically on-point wardrobe.


If you don't want to go for a trendy chop to give your hair the dark academia look, consider incorporating a half-up style into your daily beauty routine. Half-up hairstyles can give off vintage vibes that pair perfectly with the aesthetic while also flawlessly encapsulating that partially put-together and partially easy-going vibe. You can use bobby pins to pin back one or both sides or opt to pull the top part of your hair in a bun or ponytail in the back. This works for all hair textures and pairs flawlessly well with hair accessories that fit the aesthetic. 


A braided ponytail or braided pigtails are hairstyles that scream effortless with a bit of cheekiness. The Dorothys and Katniss Everdeens of the world opt for braids to keep their hair securely out of their face, but they make a fashion statement whether that's their goal or not. If you have long hair, twisting it into a single or double braid allows you to keep your hair down on your shoulders while still having it secured back. It also just so happens to look perfect when paired with a dark-academia inspired 'fit, a black beret, and a hot coffee.

High bun

A topknot is plenty of long-haired folks' go-to hairstyle for obvious reasons. It keeps your hair out of your face while still looking cute and easygoing. Extra messy looks don't tend to jive particularly well with the dark academia aesthetic. Consequently, your high bun should look sleek and put-together while still giving off trouble-free vibes. If you have bangs, this is a perfect look to go with them. If not, be sure to push most of your hair tightly into your high bun and leave a few pieces out to frame your face and radiate effortlessness. 

Low bun

When it comes to rocking an updo, many people shy away from going low with their ponytail or bun. While a high bun gives your hair vertical volume and captures the studious, ready-to-get-to-work angle of dark academia, a low bun has a more demure, put-together effect that also complements the aesthetic to a T. A middle part with a loose low bun and some bangs or hanging face-framing tendrils will give your look a vintage, understated feel without having to put a ton of work into your making your hairstyle look perfect. 

Low ponytail

Just as we love a low bun for a dark academia-inspired look, a low ponytail is also a perfect fit. If, like many of us, you typically place your ponytail on top or in the middle of your head, consider switching things up to make your new aesthetic pop. Rock a sleek center part with a tightly secured low ponytail. It's just a subtle difference from a higher ponytail, but it gives a classic, more interesting twist that is the definition of library-goer chic. 

Short and sleek

If you have naturally thin or pin-straight hair, a sleek and smooth bob with a center part is a great cut for you that's conducive to the aesthetic. Instead of going for choppy and layered with your hair, opt for something that looks clean, polished, and fit for writing in your notebook by candlelight on an overcast day. A blunt bob that's sleek and tucked behind your ears can give you that studious, classy look whether you pair it with blunt bangs, curtain bangs, or no bangs at all.

Two tone

While the dark academia style has some preppy elements to it, it also has some gothic overlap. If you tend to like your dark academia with a hefty side of edginess, a two-toned hair color may be your ideal direction. When choosing your colors, you should opt for shades that fit into the dark academia palette. Warm or dark colors work best, but you can also consider multiple natural colors, like this blonde chunk of hair in a head of brunette hair. This look bolsters the edgy, whimsical side of dark academia.

Messy shag

These days, there are plenty of new takes on the shag hairstyle trend that reach back to the '90s for inspiration. Shags are very much on-trend, and they pair well with blunt, choppy, or curtain bangs. From dark glasses to headbands or berets, there are so many accessories that you can pair with your shag to give off the easy-going feel that will fit seamlessly with your dark academia wardrobe. Shag haircuts are perfect if you're looking to give your hair more volume or lean into your the natural texture of your locks.

Space buns

Space buns are a cute, whimsical, yet slightly unexpected way to tie your hair up and out of your face. Yet, when paired with a dark academia-inspired look, they add to the aesthetic's eccentric yet slightly edgy elements. Pair with bangs, face-framing pieces, or even bows to lean further into the edgy and intellectual look. Remember that you can go big and oversized or smaller and tighter with your space buns, depending on the overall look you're going for. 

Lace-y hair accessories

In line with the delicate and vintage elements of the dark academia aesthetic, lace is a perfect fabric to incorporate into your look. Lace-y socks or ruffled details on your clothes add some touches of femininity that reinforce the aesthetic. While there are lots of ways to incorporate lace into your wardrobe, we also love the idea of adding it to your hairstyle. From the half-up hairstyle to braids or space buns, add on a lace-y hair accessory like these lace bows or this floral clip to give a little added interest to your hair. 

Oversized bows

There's an overlap between dark academia and cottagecore aesthetics; one way to exemplify both is with a hair bow. Popping a bow in your hair is such a cute and whimsical way to add to the aesthetic, whether you're adding it to your half-up hairstyle or ponytail or using a small bow barrette to keep your hair out of your face. To bolster the dark academia feel, opt for lace, satin, or velvet in darker shades like maroon, navy, or black. This will ensure that your flair for the dark and studious is easy to see.