What is a wizard?
The word means different things to different people, evoking new images in every head.
A practitioner of magic, surely.
What kind? That question is difficult to answer.
And what does a wizard look like? That question harder still.
In my long years clothing the magically inclined, I've met all types who took the title. Men and women. Young, old, and in between.
Some fit the stereotypical mold, with long white beards, in flowing robes and pointed caps spangled with stars and crescent moons. But not all. Not most, even.
Some might have been mistaken for solicitors. For students. For priests.
No, there's no single answer to the question of what a wizard looks like. And yet they do all have something in common. An ineffable quality, that speaks to mysticism and secret knowledge. Of hidden depths, like the mysteries lurking beneath the surface of a still pond. A wizardliness, for lack of a better word, in a thousand distinct flavors.
It is that which I aim to help you capture. In your own way, suited to your own needs, your own tastes, your own personal style. My name is Madame Humphrey, Clothier, and I've spent half a century making men and women in arcane circles look their best.
Allow me to do the same for you.
A Wizard's Costume: Hats, Robes & All Things Wizardly
We'll begin by looking at the individual elements that make up a wizard's attire, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.
There is no garment that defines a wizard more surely than his hat. It's the first thing you see bouncing above the hedge when he comes to visit, and the first thing that comes to mind when you think of him.
But what makes a wizardly hat?
That depends entirely on the wizard.
Of course, you'll not get more wizardly than a tall, pointed hat. The taller and pointier, the better. A big, floppy brim works as well as none at all.
There is nothing subtle about a pointy hat, however. If you'd like something a bit more discreet that still manages to impart the right mood, consider a crooked hat that curves or twists. Even in black or grey, the right angles will leave you looking downright sorcerous.
If hard edges aren't to your liking, consider something in drooping satin or velvet, such as a beret or muffin cap.
Truth be told, it's been some time since most wizards wore robes day to day, though I've seen a resurgence in recent years. Not even wizards are immune to the influence of popular culture, and books and movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have, if you'll pardon the pun, added some of the magic back to a garment that was seen as dated and uncool in my youth.
But as we all know, style is cyclical. I'd never heard the terms light or dark academia fashion till very recently, but nowadays it seems half of the young people wish to dress in old school uniforms and staid robes, and who am I to stop them?
Traditionally, wizard's robes have been gaudy, flamboyant, and colorful; rich in pattern and embroidery, straining at the seams of propriety. You have your stars. Your floral prints. Your mesmerizing geometric designs.
Modern wizard's robes, of the aforementioned academia aesthetic, reject all that. They bear many of the hallmarks of modern, utilitarian fashion, and would pass at any boarding school or college in the country. They come in blacks and whites, browns and greys and beiges, with simple cuts that do, I must admit, make the wearer look rather smart, if less enigmatic than I would personally like.
If traditional styles are what you seek, but you don't know where to look, consider looking into Central Asian chapan, Japanese kimono, hanten and haori, Asian kaftan, Chinese hanfu, and Middle Eastern and North African thawb to get started.
Wizard Shirts, Trousers & Tunics
As I mentioned above, not every wizard wears robes. Just as the 20th century saw the normalization of women's trousers, the past several hundred years have seen a distinct decline in robe-wearing by wizards. Not that I am opposed to it. Still, it is nice to have options.
With garments as inherently ordinary as shirts and trousers, it becomes more of a challenge to cultivate a wizardly aesthetic. Here again, the solution that suits you will depend entirely on your inclination.
Plenty of light and dark academia outfits follow what I call the Dollop Rule--a heaping helping of stylish simplicity, with a dollop of the fantastic to finish it off. I'll go into a wizard's accessories further down, but suffice it to say if you're aiming for this look, you'll find plenty of options. Simply match your shirts and trousers with your waistcoats, your sweaters and jackets and shoes, and you're certain to look smart.
If you fall in the other camp, determined for a more striking look, then experimentation with color, pattern, and cut will help you achieve the air of mysticism you seek.
Wizard Cloaks & Capes
Nothing has been sadder for me to watch than the abandonment of cloaks and capes for everyday use. Besides a hat and robes, there are few articles of clothing more wizardly than a good cloak.
If you are putting together a wizard's costume, you can't go wrong with a cloak. They serve the dual purpose of protecting you from the weather and imparting an instant air of mystery to those who wear them. They're also excellent for dramatic gestures.
The only downside is that due to their decline in popularity, they have become harder and harder to find.
If you live in a cold weather climate, you might also consider a wool shawl or ruana.
Wizard Shoes & Boots
Nothing will undo the hard work you've put into your wizardly outfit faster than the wrong pair of shoes. Imagine appearing in a cloud of smoke from the shadowed corner of a room, swathed in black silk with gold embellishments--and baby blue New Balance trainers peeking out from beneath your robes. The effect is entirely ruined.
If a wizardly shoe is what you're after, you have a number of options.
Slippers and loafers will suit if you aren't planning to do much walking, and vary widely enough in style and material that you'll certainly find the right one if you look hard enough. Velvet smoking slippers in blacks and reds. Colorful kilim loafers or patterned espadrilles. Richly embroidered jutti and mojari shoes from the East.
Leather loafers or Oxfords will suit a more modern, western look. Perfect for the Academia aesthetics.
But if you're looking for something that will last, I can't recommend anything more strongly than a good, well-fitted boot. Treated, well, they'll keep for a decade or more, and help define your look.
Black and brown leather boots are the workhorses, of course, and will go with just about anything, but you're far from restricted to the simple classics. Try green boots and red ones. Blue velvet embellished with silver or gilded black. Heeled or flat. With straps, buckles, zippers or laces.
There are myriad options for wizardly shoes to suit your style. But please, whatever you do, no sportswear.
Wizard Jackets & Coats
Robes are far from the only staples of wizard style, and if robes aren't to your liking, it's here that I recommend you start when defining your signature look.
Consider this. Shirts, trousers, skirts and the like change from day to day. But the right outerwear will serve you day in and day out. Let it become synonymous with who you are, or who you wish to be. Spend the most here. Don't skimp on quality or style. And once you've chosen, let this foundational piece be the basis for the rest of your decisions. Match with it or contrast it. Build a theme. Plants and leaves. Celestial bodies. Elemental forces. The choice is yours, but make it consciously.
As for choosing? Well, let us consider the possibilities.
If you ask me, longer is better. There is something dramatic about the swish of a hem down behind the knees or ankles. A you can't go wrong with a trench coat or overcoat. If you're looking for something somber or serious, consider a traditional color--a black, tan, or grey--and accent it as you will. A pin or brooch, perhaps. For the slightly more adventurous, experiment with traditional cuts in new patterns or bright colors. A little embroidery can go a long way.
I have a personal fondness for the kimono coat; a loose, draping garment based on traditional clothing from Japan, that you'll find in all sorts of vibrant patterns and materials.
For something shorter, consider a military style. Preferably with epaulets, possibly a jacquard.
For the academic look, jackets of tweed, or houndstooth will take you far. Pair them with waistcoats and scarves.
Wizard Accessories: Magic Rings & Other Accessories
No wizard's costume is complete without a few fine details. The more the better, really. A glimmering stone hanging from a chain. Rings of gold and silver. Bangles, bracelets. A hoop or stud in the ear.
The glint of metal appropriately placed has long served to impart the appearance of sagacity and wisdom, and let us not forget the myriad beneficial effects that can be attained through possession of the right magical artifact.
Consider, for example, these Salamander Scale Rings, which I'm told may provide some resistance to fire.
Aside from jewelry, other wizard's accessories include pouches and bags, tied to the waist or hanging from the shoulders.
Wizard Belts, Sashes & Scarves
Belts, sashes and scarves tie together an outfit, figuratively and literally. Whether silk, leather, or braided rope, they are an opportunity to define your figure and add visual interest, either through contrast or careful matching.
When choosing yours, consider the pattern, color, material and size. Thick sashes about the waist and draping ones hanging from the neck will likely offer the look you're seeking.
Building Your Wizardly Wardrobe
My aim in this section is to make it easy for you to put together a fantastic wizard outfit with whatever resources you can muster. Of course, if you knew where my shop, Madam Humphrey's Clothier, was, you'd need go nowhere else. But if that were the case, you wouldn't be here.
I'll provide specific examples and general ones of garments that will suit those looking to evoke a sorcerous mood. Whenever I can, I'll tell you where you can find them.
For further inspiration, browse our ongoing collection.
A Sorcerer in Scarlet
The color red is steeped in meaning, evoking power, passion, and blood. Here's everything you'll need to replicate this wizardly outfit.
Next we'll take our first look at the Academia Aesthetic, a truly wizardly style.
The Dark Academia Aesthetic: Part One
The Dark Academia Aesthetic should be one of the easiest wizardly styles for you to achieve, as chances are everything you need is at your local mall or high street. Focus on dark, neutral colors and the classic, sophisticated styles exemplifying life at a boarding school or college.
When you can, substitute thrifted finds for new ones. Old, quality, and cared-for will outdo fresh and flimsy every time.
Complete the look with a few subtle nods to the magical world; pins, patches and jewelry ought to do it.
A Sage of the Sands (Coming Soon)
This page is updated regularly. Come back for more tips from Madam Humphrey, Clothier.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Dark Academia Fashion?
Dark academia is a subculture and aesthetic that draws inspiration from the academic and intellectual pursuits of the past, as well as from gothic and mystery elements. Dark academia fashion typically features clothing and accessories that evoke a scholarly or vintage look, such as tweed jackets, high-waisted trousers, cardigans, and vintage brooches. The colors are often muted and earthy, and the overall vibe is one of elegance and mystery.
It often features vintage and vintage-inspired clothing and accessories, such as tweed jackets, high-waisted trousers, cardigans, and vintage brooches, and symbols and imagery associated with academia, such as books, libraries, and quills. The overall vibe is one of elegance, sophistication, and a love of the pursuit of knowledge.The Dark academia style is also associated with an interest in the occult and the supernatural.