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What is the viral 'mob wife aesthetic' that's taking over TikTok?

Grab your faux furs! Bold, 1980s-inspired glamour is having a moment as a new fashion trend takes over social media.
Influencer Sarah Arcuri in a faux fur, hair bun and sunglasses
Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 26, 2024

Fur jackets, hoop earrings, velour tracksuits and leather — some of us can't go on social media without a swarm of posts preaching the latest trend: the mob wife aesthetic.

As much an attitude as it is a fashion statement, the new style is sweeping away the once-viral "clean girl aesthetic" — think minimalistic and dewy — in favor of bold glamour.

It's a nod to the 1980s, à la Sharon Stone's Ginger in "Casino," and Edie Falco's Carmela Soprano in "The Sopranos."

The trend took TikTok by storm as the classic "Sopranos" show celebrated its 25th anniversary this month, leaving some wondering if it was all a genius marketing ploy. Either way, the Italian American housewife is having her moment.

Social media influencer Sarah Arcuri, dubbed one of the "mothers" of the movement, has been sharing style tips and embodying the mob wife essence on her TikTok and Instagram accounts under @thesweetpaisana.

"The mob wife aesthetic is loud. It's in your face, with bold silhouettes, big faux fur coats, and animal prints. I think it's one of the funnest fashion trends we've seen in a while," Arcuri told Scripps News.

"I also think it calls for individuality — with the rise of fast fashion the last several years, we've all started to dress the same, do our makeup the same, and sport the same hairstyles," she said.

Arcuri says her favorite part of the mob wife aesthetic is seeing how everyone interprets the style in their own creative way.

"It's not a cookie-cutter trend like some of the others we've seen in recent years," she said.

@thesweetpaisana How to dress like a mob wife (in the style of how to dress like you’re from the lower east side) yes this is satire (kind of) use this sound to show me your mob wife style! #mobwife #mobwives #italiangirl #italianamerican #italianamericansbelike #fashiontiktok #mobwifewinter #fyp ♬ Mob Wife Energy Activate - The Sweet Paisana

Celebrities from Khloé Kardashian to Dua Lipa have been spotted donning the trend recently.

For those who don't know where to start, Arcuri said a faux fur coat is a must in the winter. In addition, accessories and makeup help bring the ensemble to life.

"Jewelry is also a huge component. I'm really big on having signature pieces of jewelry — I have a stack of bangles that I never take off, and my gold herringbone necklace. I think wearing a lot of jewelry adds a touch of femininity," she said. "For makeup, don't be afraid to be bold. For me, my bold element is always my cat eye winged eyeliner. I've been seeing a lot of bold lips as well, like bordeauxs and reds."

Thrifting is always a great source for inspiration, said Arcuri, who's found plenty of vintage gems in the process.

While the movement preaches authenticity, boldness and charisma, it's also faced recent scrutiny from the Italian American community.

Some say it's perpetuating stereotypes, others call it a "costume," and some criticize it for glamorizing criminal organizations.

But much like the essence of a mob wife, Arcuri doesn't take the backlash too seriously.

"For me, I take social media with a grain of salt, and I wholeheartedly view this as a fashion trend. It's not a costume — I don't think any of us are trying to be carbon copies of fictional or real-life mob wives. We're drawing inspiration from their looks and making them our own, just as we would with any other fashion trend," she said.

"I think 'mob wife' is a trendy buzz word for ''80s glam.' I also think most of us who have watched mob movies will know that the wives and daughters of Mafia families don't have easy lives. When we say 'mob wife,' we're referring to a luxurious, bold glamour accompanied by an unapologetic attitude —that, in a nutshell, is the mob wife aesthetic," she said.

Arcuri has long been known for her content on Italian American culture and cuisine, and is also the author of "The Owner & The Wife," an old school Italian love story based in New York's Little Italy.

@thesweetpaisana #stitch with @kayla trivieri the OG mob wife aesthetic CEO is reporting for duty 🫡 who’s excited? It’s our time to SHINE! #mobwives #mobwife #mobwifeaesthetic #mobwifewinter #mobwivesoftiktok #2024fashiontrends ♬ original sound - The Sweet Paisana