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What is the 'light academia' aesthetic? How to get the look in Vancouver

The summer companion to the winter of dark academia.
Light academia
How to get the light academia look in Vancouver.

We've covered dark academia but what about its summer sister, light academia? Is it really all that different? Surely, it's just the same thing in a different font. Take the basic principles and change the colour palette, right?

For the most part, yes, but there are also a few differences in the overall vibe and tone of light academia. Like many of the aesthetics we will be covering in this series, they emerge as subcultures with their own associated interests and backstories as well as style. For many of these trends, the fashion items are secondary to the lifestyle they inspire.

What is light academia?

Like dark academia, light academia is also rooted in literature and classical studies but they're two sides of the same coin. Dark academia finds its individuality in stories of heartbreak, and tragedy often with negative themes like death or the meaning of life. Light academia is largely positive and focuses on joy, gratitude, and friendship with stories that are sensitive and have happy endings.

Light academia also diverts from dark by introducing clothing items that aren't as Eurocentric and instead draw from other cultures' collegiate dress though antiquity is still a large part of the visuals of the aesthetic, especially the brilliant whites of marble and images of museums bathed in sunlight. The base colours also play on this idea of light with shades of cream, tan, and, gold. The materials are also much more suitable for summer swapping out the wool, leather, and tweed of dark academia for lace, silk, linen, and cotton.

Light academia is also a newer concept than dark academia. It emerged on social media as a response from people who liked the idea of dark academia but who didn't totally identify with it. Because of this, it has less structure or clear aesthetic plan which can be freeing for many people who see elements that they like and can easily integrate them with other aesthetics like cottagecore or 'soft girl' (we'll get to that one soon; watch our Lifestyle section).

The clothing also very closely resembles that of cottagecore but with some more cosmopolitan elements like blazers, waistcoats, bell bottoms, and cigarette pants. Pearls and ribbons also make lovely light academia accessories. The same goes for horn-rimmed glasses and headbands.

How to get the look in Vancouver

A crisp button-up preferably with fun sleeves, a white pleated tennis skirt, and a pair of loafers or Mary Janes make up the fundamentals of a light academia look all of which can be easily thrifted or found at places like Oak + Fort, COS, and Frank And Oak. One store that you can shop online that has perfect light academia vibes is And Other Stories. Modcloth and Madewell dresses are also great.

I love the Ecosusi Vintage Instagram account for light academia style inspiration. Plus their bags are stunning.

I would encourage people to make the most of pieces they already have as much as possible and then supplement with secondhand. If you have a specific gap in mind, searching for it on Depop or Poshmark can be a really easy way to thrift since we all know entering a Value Village with a specific plan in mind is futile.

And if you don't know where to start or if you don't know what aesthetic fits you best, do your research. Chances are you'll like a little bit of everything. Very few of us wholeheartedly subscribe to an entire aesthetic lifestyle and that's okay. So take what you like from each explainer and build your own individual style around that. These are just a guide after all.