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TikTok’s controversial ‘mob wife winter’ aesthetic is catching on

Forget the 'clean girl' aesthetic — there's a new trend in town.

Your pleather leggings and faux furs just got a shot at a new life thanks to TikTok's newest mob wife trend.

The internet collectively earned its Ph.D. in Barbiecore and mastered the minimalism that is the vanilla girl aesthetic in 2023. Now, with an entire new year ahead of us, TikTok's fashion forecasters are confidentially striding toward their mob wife eras — think bold, unapologetic, and assertive looks with all the glam and trimmings that evoke mob wife life. That is, of course, minus the life of crime.

On TikTok, hashtags related to the aesthetic have prompted millions of views. So far, 25.7 million views have been attributed to #mobwifewinter and 61.9 million views to #mobwifeaesthetic.

“Clean girl is out, mob wife era is in,” Kayla Trivieri, or @ktrivz on TikTok, asserts of the trend in a video. “This is just a vibe; Carmela Soprano walked so you b****** could run... Bold glamour is making a comeback.”

What is the 'Mob Wife winter' aesthetic — and how do I achieve it?

TikTok's latest style trend embraces the archetypal concepts of Italian-American moms of a certain association as seen on TV.

TikToker user Mikayla, username @mikaylatoninato, explained the trend with a post that features clips of inspiration borrowed from entertainment's most infamous mob wives, including Carmela Soprano from the 90s HBO series "Sopranos" and Ginger McKenna from "Casino" (1995).

"We're doing messy hair, we're doing big furs; if your hair isn’t perfectly slicked back, that's totally fine," Mikayla adds. "It’s an attitude; it’s an aura. We all want to be the mob boss’s wife because she is a boss in and of herself."

TikToker Chrissy @trovlov explained in a recent video that you might not have to go shopping to activate your mob wife energy, for the aesthetic calls for black basics.

"You'll need to start with an outfit that's comprised of entirely black garments. If you can add leather in there, even better," she explains, noting that leaning into the theatrics is essential for this look. "If you look like you're going to a funeral, you know you're doing it right."

Users emphasize that the look is all about faux fur coats, black-out sunglasses, layered gold jewelry, and animal print paired with leggings, pants or body suits. The TL;DR: This aesthetic requires you to dress over the top. "You need to overly accessorize with gold jewelry — even better if these gifts were given to you as an anniversary or birthday present," Chrissy says.

While the "vanilla girl" aesthetic of 2023 called for minimal makeup, the mob wife look leans into heavy bronzer, eyeshadow, and voluminous hair.

"We're gonna conceal and do full coverage because mob wives have secrets," TikToker Nicki Baber, or @nickii on the platform, says in a video explaining mob wife makeup. "We're gonna cover those blemishes like we cover our secrets from our husbands."

"We're giving gold, we're giving glitter, we’re giving smokey eyes," Baber adds. "We’re gonna have some gold on the lid because we’re expensive. Priceless, actually."

Mob wife enthusiasts all seem to have reached the same conclusion: this look requires Big Hair Energy. To properly execute the looks worn by the ladies of "Sopranos," TikTokers have recorded themselves using hair rollers and hair spray to up the glamour.

"Clip your hair up into this hairstyle in order to adequately show off the jewelry," @trovlov noted in her breakdown of the look. "Bonus points if you’re wearing hoops."

Inspiration for your best mob wife outfits is about as plentiful as the shoes in Imelda Marcos's closet. Especially if you're willing to scroll through the hashtags associated with the trend and arm yourself with at least a vague idea of the mob wives beloved by movie and TV fans alike.

Sofia Vergara as Griselda in "Griselda."
Griselda Blanco of the Netflix series, "Griselda" / Netflix

Today’s latest trending mob wife is former Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, as portrayed by Sofia Vergara in the much anticipated Netflix series, “Griselda.”

Chrissy Teigen gets a bob
Film still from Scarface Michelle Pfeiffer (C) 1983 Universal PicturesAlamy Stock Photo

On platforms like TikTok and Instagram, users tapped into the mob wife aesthetic by taking cues from “Sopranos” characters like Carmela Soprano and Adriana La Cerva, Connie Corleone from “The Godfather,” Lorraine Bracco’s portrayal of Karen Hill in “Goodfellas” and Michelle Pfeiffer’s iconic portrayals of mob wives in movies like “Scarface” and “Married to the Mob.”

Why is ‘mob wife winter’ trending?

Like plenty of TikTok aesthetic trends, it can be hard to distinguish between the chicken and the egg. Still, the sudden pivot from more low-maintenance looks can be attributed to the looks seen on this season’s red carpet and winter streetwear.

From Dua Lipa's maroon-dyed blowout at the Golden Globes to Hailey Bieber's recent penchant for modeling fur coats on Instagram, the look is seemingly everywhere all at once.

Why has the trend inspired backlash?

"Do you guys even know what the mob is?" one user commented on @mikaylatoninato's explainer about the look.

The question and others like it posed in response to similar Mob Wife videos have quickly sparked conversations about the idolization of organized crime groups like the Mafia.

Most of today’s cultural trends have some problematic underbelly, and the Mob Wife aesthetic is no exception. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mafia continues to be considered a significant threat in regions across the New York metropolitan area, New England, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit.

While fictional, the mob shows and movies with female characters that embody the mob wives' aesthetic are reminders of how TikTokers might be overlooking the darker side of their new dressing habits.

Michael Gandolfini as Teenage Tony Soprano, Michela De Rossi as Giuseppina Moltisanti and lessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti in \"The Many Saints of Newark.\"
Michael Gandolfini as teenage Tony Soprano, Michela De Rossi as Giuseppina Moltisanti and Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti in "The Many Saints of Newark."Warner Bros. Entertainment

The trend's primary style icon, Carmela, may be a strong female character on "Sopranos," but throughout the series, she lives in a castle built on misogyny and crime. Throughout the series, she's subject to intimidation and infidelity, and is often complicit when it comes to her husband's line of work.

There's also the tragedy of the character Adriana from the series, who was brutally beaten by her fiancé, betrayed, and ultimately killed off by the mob. All this because she was strong-armed into becoming an informant for the FBI.

Connie Corleone from the "Godfather" is physically abused by her husband, and the real Karen Hill entered the U.S. Marshal’s Witness Protection Program as a result of her marital association with the mob.

As TikToker James In The City, or @jamesinthecity, puts it, "The clean girl drinks a Pinot Grigio. The mob wife will throw a dirty martini in your face. There’s a difference."