Fashion Aesthetics: Dark Academia, Y2K, and More


Courtesy of Devin Toolen

This Y2K inspired outfit features a bright tank top, a Von Dutch trucker hat, a Juicy handbag and kitten heels

Devin Toolen, Staff Writer

Have you ever heard the terms “dark academia,” “cottagecore” or even “Y2K” mentioned with regard to style? These terms refer to different aesthetics that have been popularized within fashion over the years. With different pieces in one’s wardrobe, anyone can dress to match a particular aesthetic. 


The euphoric fashion aesthetic came into popularity with the release of the “Euphoria” in 2019, one of HBO’s hit TV shows. This style is unique and somewhat avant-garde, taking after the plot of the series. An outfit that defines this category is the two-piece set that Maddy, one of the main characters, wore to a Carnival in episode four of the series. The outfit is a purple tank top and pants with cut out hips, both pieces from well-known brand IAMGIA. While a lot of the euphoric aesthetic focuses on unique and unconventional makeup looks, the clothing is just as important too. Sets in fun colors fit perfectly into this aesthetic, along with glitter and metallic clothing. Try making your own euphoric look by styling a two-piece shirt and pants set with silver jewelry and platform boots. 


Dark academia is another aesthetic that has gained popularity over the past year. According to The New York Times, the aesthetic places a heavy emphasis on reading, writing and learning. It combines academic fashion with gothic style. For dark academia, think ancient boarding school libraries, candle-lit study sessions and an absence of technology. A typical outfit falling under this category would feature a tweed blazer over a turtleneck, loafers, a matching skirt and a messenger bookbag. As a personal favorite aesthetic, dark academia accentuates a sense of mystery within the modern student. 


The next aesthetic is a mixture of grunge and e-boy or e-girl style. Grunge is definitely not new to the style scene, as it has been adopted into the wardrobes of angsty teens since the 90s. Nowadays, with the incorporation of internet and social media into everyday life, the grunge aesthetic has a subset called e-boy or e-girl style. This style refers to people who seem to only exist on the internet. An e-boy or e-girl wardrobe features predominantly dark colors, with silver belt chains and graphic hoodies or tee shirts. One of the main faces of this style is famous TikToker Chase Hudson, who consistently shows off his e-boy style by wearing dark clothing, painting his nails black and wearing silver chain necklaces. To pull off your own e-boy or e-girl outfit, wear loosely fitted black pants with a belt and a chain, a long-sleeved striped shirt under a short sleeve black tee, Old Skool Vans and a black beanie. 


What about a style that’s a bit softer and simpler? Check out cottagecore, the aesthetic that will make you nostalgic for a warm spring afternoon in the countryside. Think of bare feet, flowy dresses, neutral colors and wicker handbags. Cottagecore is all about romanticizing a simple life in a small cottage, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. A cottagecore outfit would feature a midi or maxi dress, sandals or heels that lace up on the ankle and a comfortable wool sweater to drape over the shoulders. Cottagecore color palettes include pastels like a baby blue, soft yellow or light pink, along with neutral colors such as beige, ivory and taupe. 


Last is one of the most iconic aesthetics, Y2K. This aesthetic brings everyone back to the 90s and early 2000s, around the time of the hyped-up Millennium bug at the turn of the century. This time is reminiscent of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake rocking their iconic denim-on-denim fit at the 2001 AMAs, Cher Horowitz’s famous yellow skirt and blazer set from the movie “Clueless,” and practically anything worn by English pop group the Spice Girls. Y2K fashion takes everything to the next level. Ruffles, blinged-out designer bags, baby tees, chunky shoes and of course, a Juicy tracksuit, are all essential pieces to this style. To pull off a Y2K inspired outfit, style a bright colored tank top over a white baby tee with low rise jeans, a Von Dutch trucker hat and kitten heels. With this outfit, you’ll have Paris Hilton saying her iconic phrase, “that’s hot.”


These aesthetics are not exclusive to fashion; they can relate to décor or even lifestyle. Explore these aesthetics and other ones to see what suits your personal style.