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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

If you’re engaged with the fashion space on social media, you’ve definitely heard the phrase ‘mob wife aesthetic’ recently. The ‘mob wife aesthetic’ seems to be superseding its antithesis, the ‘clean girl aesthetic,’ a trend that centers on minimalism, subtly, and sleekness. Think slicked-back bun, glowy skin, and glossy lips. But what does the opposite end of the pendulum look like? What is the ‘mob wife aesthetic’… and why is it taking the stage in the world of fashion?

What Does the ‘Mob Wife’ Look Like?

The trend of the ‘mob wife aesthetic’, in essence, revolves around maturity, confidence, and bold displays of femininity. The trend is intended to evoke the “glamorous and ostentatious style of female characters in popular mafia movies and TV shows” (Hubbard). “The mob wife, by comparison [to Barbiecore and coquette (both recent trends)] is a little more grown up,” as stated by Harper’s Bazaar. According to product developer Kayla Trivieri, whose viral TikTok set off the ‘mob wife’ trend, “It’s an energy, an aura. It’s about being very forward and bold” (Petrarca). In respect to the ‘mob wife aesthetic,’ mentioned elements like maturity and confidence manifest as clothing items such as gaudy jewelry, fur coats, and animal prints (Petrarca). According to NPR, “[T]he ‘mob wife aesthetic’ also refers to the glamorous and ostentatious style of female characters in popular mafia movies and TV shows. The look is characterized by form-fitting dresses, leather, fur coats, big sunglasses and flashy gold jewelry.” When aiming to achieve this look, Vogue advises that “the appeal of chunky gold earrings adds a retro twist that feels classier than ever to any outfit” and that you should “finish your look with a tousled updo and mysterious smokey eye makeup.” In essence, this aesthetic is intended to idealize and embrace boldness, glamor, and femininity, and to blatantly reject any fear of looking eye-catching or dramatic.

How and Why it Started

According to Harper’s Bazaar, the ‘mob wife’ trend seemingly began on January 6th 2024, when the aforementioned Kayla Trivieri made a viral TikTok, sparking all kinds of positive and negative discourse surrounding the trend, announcing that “Clean girl is out; mob wife era is in, okay?” The emergence of the ‘mob wife aesthetic’ also makes sense within the context of the popular y2k fashion trend. In the midst of y2k’s popularity, people are now seeming to be longing for a look that’s more sophisticated, as opposed to y2k’s low rise jeans, baby doll tops, and butterfly clips: “The whole Y2K thing felt a little younger, and I think this is a little bit more mature, sexier, and bold” (Petrarca). People seem to be finding freedom and excitement in this aesthetic because it’s so different from its popular opposite, the ‘clean girl.’ “In short, it’s [the ‘mob wife aesthetic’] a rebellious response to the less-is-more, clean girl movement.” (Parker). Whatever one’s stance is on the ‘clean girl,’ there’s no doubt that it has its rules. Videos on social media demonstrating how to achieve the ‘clean girl’ are often very formulaic: For example, 1) You may not wear messy or bold makeup. 2) Your skin must look perfect. 3) You must not have flyaways in your hair. The ‘mob wife aesthetic’ is the ‘clean girl’s’ antithesis. It embraces a haphazardness that the ‘clean girl’ aesthetic lacks. While the ‘clean girl’ wears a slicked back bun and subtle makeup, the ‘mob wife’ wears a messy bun and dark, smudgy eyeliner. There is a freedom that lies in embracing the ‘mob wife aesthetic.’ You’re free to reject the subtle in favor of the maximal and to fall short of perfection. 

Petrarca, Emilia. “What Is the Viral ‘Mob Wife Aesthetic’ Trend Taking over Tiktok?” Harpers Bazaar, 23 Jan. 2024, www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/a46493231/mob-wife-aesthetic-trend-explained/. 

Hubbard, Halisia. “The ‘mob Wife’ Aesthetic Is in. but What about the Vintage Fur That Comes with It?” NPR, NPR, 26 Jan. 2024, www.npr.org/2024/01/26/1226620627/fur-vintage-faux-fashion-mob-wife-tiktok-trend-animals#:~:text=But%20the%20%22mob%20wife%20aesthetic,sunglasses%20and%20flashy%20gold%20jewelry. 

Parker, Alexis Bennett. “3 Easy Ways to Master the Mob Wife Aesthetic (without Getting Arrested by the Fashion Police).” Vogue, Vogue, 26 Jan. 2024, www.vogue.com/article/mob-wife-aesthetic. 

Julianne Sweeten is a writer at the Her Campus Charlottesville chapter. She is a student at the University of Virginia and also serves as a member of the American Medical Student Association and the Futures in Fashion Association. On the side, Julianne is an avid romantic, enjoying music, movies, and thrifting as well as spending time with friends, family, and her beloved dog Kooper.