mob wife is sprinkle sprinkle in a fur coat
what this aesthetic trend says about relationship nihilism, the romantic appeal of organized crime and eurocentric beauty standards
The mob wife aesthetic trend kinda sprang up out of nowhere.
I opened TikTok one day and every fourth or fifth video barked clean girl is out mob wife is in! Spoken in a declarative, all caps tone that goes viral because it’s attention-grabbing and just polarizing enough to trigger the self-identified clean girls. In a matter of weeks, mob wife became the new buzzword for any brand selling any product aligned with glamorous, mature femininity. The taxonomy of mob wife: fur coat, red lip, leopard print, dark eyeliner, long nails, cigarettes, money, power, glory. Much of the inspo is outside my frame of reference (I’ve never watched The Sopranos, so I’m like ok…Angie from Desperate Housewives?).
For a weeks now, I’ve wanted to write about mob wife but was not sure which angle to approach it from. It felt overwhelming and I didn’t really know where to begin. Why this particular aesthetic, why now? There have been some great think pieces from other writers on Substack on the topic, especially on its pertinence to the whole personal style crisis convo.
I am itching to bring some other cultural topics into the mob wife discussion. There’s the trend cycle piece for sure. But also:
Does mob wife give us a hint at where the “girlhood” era is going?
What kind of wife figure is she?
What does that say about our attitude towards romantic relationships?
How does this connect to SheraSeven’s “sprinkle sprinkle” school of thought?
Why are other ethnic organized crime groups not romanticized in the same way as the Italian-American mafia?
Mob wife is at the heart of this mess. Let’s get into it.
Mob wife is small in the big picture of fashion trends.
Let’s start by putting this trend into perspective. The IG account @databutmakeitfashion shared some cool graphs: mob wife is up and clean girl is down. The dominant narrative is that these two aesthetics are inversely related, and that they’re the only sides of the aesthetic battleground. Let’s expand the conversation more interesting by pulling in another dominant fashion trend: bows.
In the past 12 months, we see that mob wife and clean girl are quite niche compared to the popularity of bows. We also see that bows peaked in Nov-Dec 2023 and have fallen back to pre-holiday levels after the new year (I spoke about this in Coveteur). Because bows are heavily linked to the girlhood/coquette aesthetic, my takeaway is that while it’s cooled down to half of its peak popularity level, it still vastly eclipses the mob wife aesthetic despite what your fyp might suggest.
Nonetheless, the sudden and rapid visibility of mob wife merits further analysis.
The mob wife persona is relationship nihilism in a fur coat, an aesthetic symbol of reverse-uno-ing the patriarchy.
The nomenclature of a trend speaks volumes. Notice the contrast between clean girl and mob wife. By framing these as aesthetic rivals,