Carmela Soprano. Sharon Stone in Casino. Fur coats, gold earrings, and French manicures. Less is no longer more. Think Drea de Matteo as Adriana La Cerva in The Sopranos with her voluminous curls and smoky eyes; Michelle Pfeiffer’s sleek bob with bangs, long nails, and slinky gowns in Scarface; the women of The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Mob Wives, resplendent in leopard print and their eyes framed in lots of eyeliner. It’s messy, Pamela Anderson-style updos, dramatic eye makeup, and stiletto nails, paired with black leather, a real or faux fur coat, and a fabulous bag, or maybe a martini glass. Overnight, everyone went from slicked-back buns to big teased hair. TikTok’s reigning “clean girl” is gone, and in her place: the mob wife.
With its throwback feel — incorporating elements of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and Y2K — mob wife glamour is the most recent example of a new generation discovering “vintage” aesthetics and bringing them back into the spotlight (even if that’s just on your phone screen for now). It’s the eternal birth and rebirth of a trend. “I enjoy seeing how Gen Z breathes new life into the now-vintage trends that we thought were a thing of the past,” says Donni Davy, head makeup artist on Euphoria and co-founder of Half Magic. “It’s like we get to rediscover them, and in turn, maybe even discover a new version of ourselves.”
To be very clear, the mob wife aesthetic isn’t new. It’s also worth pointing out that some TikTok users have criticized the aesthetic as cultural appropriation, and other creators have then called out those users for ignoring the influence of Latinx and Black women on past trending aesthetics, namely the clean girl style. It’s the same vicious cycle that just about every so-called TikTok trend follows.
Regardless of the (likely multiple) origins of the look, all this over-the-topness seems to be a firm confirmation that we’re moving away from an age of minimal makeup and hair and into a more opulent world of beauty. “I’m personally really excited to have a break from the clean girl aesthetic. I was getting so bored,” says Haus Labs global artistry director Sarah Tanno. “The mob wife aesthetic has a feeling of unbothered glamour. I think it’s trending because women like feeling powerful and glamorous.” The perfect example of our return to full glamour: Savannah James attending the Schiaparelli haute couture show in Paris.