In the past couple of years alone, social media has changed the way consumers shop, discover and test out new trends — or as many have dubbed them “aesthetics” — as street style comes to life every second of the day on our screens.
One of the most inviting platforms to have these discussions, and test out which trends have staying power has proven to be TikTok where users have not only launched ideas like the “vanilla girl” and “clean girl aesthetic” into existence but debated and decoded what the styles mean. Top users often share inspirational images from TV and film or runway shows alongside videos inviting viewers to “get ready with me” where they share how the final look makes them feel.
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Already in 2024, the “It” girls of TikTok are ushering in a new set of aesthetic trends, swapping out what was viral in 2023 for new year energy. One of the most notable trends users are saying goodbye to is the once beloved “clean girl aesthetic,” which they claim is being shown the door to make way for a style they call the “mob wives aesthetic.”
Key elements of the mob wives aesthetic include faux and vintage fur coats, animal prints, messy hair, heavy makeup with dark eyeliner, red or acrylic French manicured nails and lots of gold jewelry. But what some of the most popular TikTok users also express is a love for the trend due to the “boss attitude” that these looks personify. The looks aim to be bold, loud and maximalist. On the surface, it’s a far cry from the minimalism of the clean-girl aesthetic that was championed just last year.
Giving meaning to the stark contrast, Lorna Hall, director of fashion intelligence at WGSN, told WWD that “polarization is so knitted into the cultural psyche that we should expect a strong opposite aesthetic response to monolithic trends. Although mob wives presents as contrary to low-key luxury and ’90s minimalism, both have their roots in an ongoing obsession with 1990s fashion and its icons as well as the continuing shift from casual to more dressed up looks.”
TikToker Mikayla Toninato posted a video that sought to define mob wife aesthetic, which reached more than 1.8 million views. In the video, she says that the mob wife aesthetic means “we’re doing messy hair, we’re doing big furs — if your hair isn’t perfectly slicked back that is totally fine. It’s an attitude, it’s an aura. We all want to be the mob boss’ wife because she is a boss in and of herself.”
It is not a trend under the quiet luxury umbrella, instead preferring what is unmistakably glamorous. Toninato shared inspirational images for the trend including characters from “The Sopranos,” Carmela Soprano and Adriana La Cerva.
Toninato also described the energy that women attracted to the trend want to embrace. “A mob wife is unbothered. She has places to be, she has people to see. She does not deal with your bulls–t [and] she doesn’t take anything from anyone,” she said. “A mob wife is honestly like a girl boss that would be caught dead using the [term] girl boss.”
Other TikTokers have found similar popularity, including @madddnot, who had 3.6 million views on her makeup tutorial for “mob wife makeup” where she applied smoky-eye makeup over the song “Love in Portofino.”
Notably the mob wives aesthetic aligns with the 25th anniversary of “The Sopranos,” which many TikTok users have cited as inspiration for looks tagged with the trend. And mirroring a recurring theme seen in discussions on the critically acclaimed TV series, the mob wives aesthetic trend on TikTok has ushered in some controversy with many calling out stereotypes that have been highlighted in videos.
TikToker and Sicilian first-generation daughter of an immigrant, Olivia Mancuso shared her commentary on a video where she said that while she knows it’s “all in good fun,” a lot of the videos “paint this caricature of what Italian culture is.” She points to the videos from TikTokers claiming that women participating in mob wife aesthetic should meet certain criteria including having family members in jail and always eating gravy on Sundays.
Mancuso spoke about her own experiences and her family’s life in Italy being quite different from what is being shown in the viral videos circulating today. Still, she said, “enjoy the mob wives trend, enjoy the resurrection of ‘Sopranos,’ but just know if you ever take that behavior to Italy, people will think you’re a little weird.”
Animal rights activists have also spoken out against the trend. On Jan. 19, PJ Smith, fashion policy director for the Humane Society of the U.S., released a statement saying, “At a time when fur production is at the lowest it has been in decades, driven by conscious consumers who want nothing to do with the animal cruelty, high environmental impact and public health risks associated with the fur trade, it’s trends like this that can slow down momentum and give relevance to a product and trade that deserves nothing more than eradication.”
In terms of longevity, Hall said she expects that the mob wives aesthetic trend has staying power as long as its drivers are in force. “We expect this maximalist mentality to build for 2025 and the #girlhood trend is one to follow to track influence on how it evolves.”
As retailers consider embracing the trends gaining traction across TikTok and other social media platforms, Hall said “for retail right now, merchandise what you have instore and online thematically.”
For the mob wives aesthetic, she said, “focus on your faux sheepskin, deep-pile fleece, faux fur jackets and full-length coats. Team these with statement gold jewelry and put together a basic kit, the perfect roll neck knit or jersey, dark slim jeans and a legging to offer with knee-high boot options. For summer, the animal print story will be key and how women might wear it will depend on how confident they are to flex this trend to their personal style, so pure iterations of mob wives will be high-octane glamour and body-con silhouettes, and it’s still worth tracking and testing the spread of this look, we do expect some interpretations for wide demographics if influencers continue to have fun with it, so, experiment with prim styling options; an animal print top or shirt teamed with capri trousers and a kitten heel to build customer confidence.”
While the mob wives aesthetic continues to hold its place on TikTok, it will likely be just one of the maximalist trends to make a statement in 2024. Other quickly growing aesthetics to note include
Other maximalist aesthetics already gaining traction alongside the mob wives aesthetic include the coquette trend as well as the eclectic grandpa trend, which takes over for the coastal grandma aesthetic.
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