I Grew Up in Queens—I Live the ‘Mob Wife’ Aesthetic

I grew up in Queens, New York City, which is renowned as the most ethnically diverse urban area globally. Surrounded by various nationalities and cultures, each person had a distinctive style.

The beauty standard wasn’t shaped by social media—rather, it was influenced by the women I observed in the neighborhoods. I frequently encountered women who exuded glamour, adorned in fur coats and bold jewelry.

This specific aesthetic is now being recognized as the “mob wives aesthetic.”

I embraced this bold and glamorous dressing style because it resonated with me. The allure of bold jewelry, animal prints, and a passion for makeup has always been a part of my style journey. This way of dressing up and standing out brings me a sense of empowerment and confidence.

Fashion trends seem to follow a 20-year cycle, and presently, there is a resurgence of the “Y2K” fashion trends. Each trend borrows from the other—the early 2000s adopted much of their style from the 80s.

Natalya Sarah (L & R) tells Newsweek that the “mob wife” aesthetic was around long before it became prominent on social media sites like TikTok.

Natalya Sarah

The 1980s are often referred to as “the decade of decadence.” The fashion of that era was characterized by loudness, bold jewelry, heavy glam makeup, and oversized fur coats that distinctly echoed the spirit of the 80s.

One of the most notable figures in the New York Mafia during the 1980s was John Gotti. He rose to prominence within the Gambino crime family and eventually became the boss.

Gotti, often referred to as the “Dapper Don” or the “Teflon Don,” was known for his sharp and stylish fashion sense. He had a penchant for tailored suits, expensive ties, and well-polished shoes, presenting a polished and sophisticated image.

The fashion and style of the wives often aligned with the power and wealth of their husbands. With popular movies and shows such as Casino and “The Sopranos,” the style of the wives and girlfriends became aspirational.

The mob wife aesthetic embodies the bold glamour of the 80s, featuring luxurious fur coats, distinctive animal prints, layered gold jewelry, voluminous hairstyles, dazzling sequin dresses, dramatic matte makeup, black-out sunglasses, and an abundance of leather.

This aesthetic resurfaces consistently, particularly in winter, with fur taking center stage as its primary archetype. It’s a signature look embraced by the girls in the tri-state area.

Attention to grooming is important for this aesthetic—perfectly shaped eyebrows, impeccably manicured nails, and flawlessly styled hair are essential elements that must be on point to capture the essence of this style.

This aesthetic is experiencing a resurgence, gaining momentum on platforms like TikTok, signaling a shift from the previously popular “clean girl” aesthetic.

As we collectively transition from the pandemic, during which casual attire and soft natural makeup were fitting for our time spent at home, fashion trends are taking a turn. We find ourselves embracing the opposite of the clean girl aesthetic, coinciding perfectly with the cyclical nature of the 20-year fashion cycle.

The mob wife aesthetic, characterized by bold jewelry, expressive makeup, and abundant animal prints, is making a timely comeback. The influence of shows like “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” which first aired in the 2000s, further showcases the enduring appeal of the mob wives aesthetic. Fashion trends always come back around.

Since releasing my YouTube video on “How to dress like a Mob Wife,” I’ve received both positive and negative feedback. Some comments have even sparked discussions in various articles, suggesting that this trend might be perceived as glamorizing violence or labeled as “cultural appropriation.”

It’s essential to clarify that the look associated with the mob wife aesthetic hasn’t exclusively been worn by women linked to organized crime. It has been embraced by women of diverse backgrounds over time. Had this trend been predicted by a fashion magazine, it might have been dubbed “80s bold glamour.”

However, in our social media-driven era, a deliberately provocative name like the “mob wife” on platforms such as TikTok strategically aims for virality and trendiness.

My goal is for all of us to embrace and enjoy this aesthetic, making fashion a source of fun and creativity. In the era of social media, there’s no longer a barrier preventing us from glimpsing into someone else’s life, observing their appearance, and understanding their unique style.

You don’t have to be raised in a tri-state area to encounter a fashion style that differs from what you’re familiar with. Anyone can immerse themselves in a new aesthetic by simply scrolling through their phone in the comfort of their home—no more gatekeeping.

My present style blends the overall current trend of casual attire with a touch of bold glamour. Picture fitted sweats paired with a black turtleneck, a fur jacket, and oversized blackout sunglasses, complemented by my gold chains and diamond earrings.

I believe the mob wife aesthetic will endure, especially for city girls like me. However, for those who embrace it solely for its trendiness, the longevity of their commitment to the style remains uncertain—it ultimately depends on personal preference.

Finding your unique style is an ongoing process, often discovered through experimenting with various ways of dressing.

Natalya Sarah is a beauty and fashion influencer. Her mission is to spotlight diverse fashion and beauty trends, ensuring they’re accessible to every woman.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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