The mob wife trend is bringing the ’80s back in style

Trends constantly juxtapose themselves. That’s how styles lose and retain relevancy on social media. The ‘80s mob wife aesthetic — fur coats, cheetah print and diamonds — has been trending since the start of the new year, and many women are declaring it their new style, purposely disregarding the previously sought-after “clean girl aesthetic.”  

I believe no trend truly loses style. Though styles may be forgotten over the years, if a look was once loved by many it is likely to return.

The clean girl wears natural makeup, a ponytail and athletic loungewear. Meanwhile, the mob wife wears dark lipstick, Italian designer bags and red nails, according to the originator of the trend, TikToker The Sweet Paisana. “If you look like you are going to a funeral, you are doing it right,” she claimed in her viral voiceover

Kayla Trivieri, another TikToker who helped ignite the trend, declared Carmela Soprano the prototype. “Polished, print, always a square french tip, and she stays iced out…You don’t leave the house without jewelry,” she said in a TikTok

I believe no trend truly loses style. Though styles may be forgotten over the years, if a look was once loved by many it is likely to return. Given the rise of TikTok, there is a new standard for content. Short-form videos based on an algorithm designed to hone in on the niche interest of the user allow for constant scrolling. Even though social media rapidly produces and disregards trends, I believe there is still a sense in the 20-year fashion cycle. The revival of Y2K fashion a few years ago is an example.

The mob wife trend also calls for large chunky jewelry and bleach blonde hair. Photo courtesy of @msmallmon, Instagram

In 2021, Byrdie published a comprehensive deep dive on why Y2K fashion was revived. The overwhelming progression of technology is actually fueling an interest in style before social media. Y2K is still making headlines. As recently as Sunday’s Grammys, Ice Spice’s denim Baby Phat — a significant brand in the 2000s — fur two-piece gathered media attention from countless outlets, including Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.

Her ensemble consisted of a dark blue denim jacket with fur trim and a matching skirt featuring a high middle slit. She wore a large crystal cross necklace, a bulky buckle belt and gold strappy heels. Her makeup featured a matte foundation, black winged eyeliner and overlined pink lipstick.

I believe Gen Z’s fascination with pre-social media aesthetics helped facilitate the mob wife trend. The mob wife aesthetic is inspired by older women, which is refreshing in a digital terrain focused on young influences and celebrities. There is a sense of elegance, class and authority in their outfits. 

For those like myself who grew up in an Italian American family — truly void of any other cultural influence — fur coats, manicured nails and leather boots are inherent fashion staples. Since childhood, I’ve known that my mom’s minx jackets, once her mother’s, will be mine one day. 

The mob wife trend obviously nods itself to Italian American women and is not cultural appropriation, unlike the clean girl. The representation of clean girls of color on TikTok and Instagram is notably sparse, and there is a prevailing perception that the clean girl aesthetic originated from Caucasian women. 

This sentiment was brought to light by X user @aldaphrodite who started the thread, “‘Clean Girl’ aesthetic but make it black,” which went viral in May 2022, during the height of the trend.  

There is a disregard for the acceptance of Blackness within the clean girl aesthetic, despite integral elements of the clean girl look stemming from Black and Latina women decades ago. Famous or not, the clean girl remains largely associated with white individuals.

I hope to see a resurgence in the styles of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor from my favorite decade of fashion: the 1950s. The ’60s headband worn by icons like Brigitte Bardot is also making a comeback, as mentioned in Elle two months ago. Sydney Sweeney, Anya Taylor-Joy and Hari Nef are all it-girls styling the headband. In fact, Doja Cat posted a selfie wearing a large ‘60s-style band last week. If the ‘50s and ‘60s return with a contemporary twist, hopefully we will see an embrace of people of color in the trend.


Featured photo courtesy of Rachel Claire, Pexels