Why Gen Z are dressing like Mob Wives

The vintage vibe is part of the appeal, with all the essential elements easy to pick up in thrift stores or charity shops. You can spend £50 on a faux fur coat or £5,000 and pull off the same effect. As The Sopranos costume designer Juliet Polsca told The Washington Post: “It’s more about the attitude, it’s this fearlessness.” There’s also an argument that – after Barbie made last year all about girly aesthetics – we’re yearning for a return to a sexy, grown-up, powerful look.

TikTok trends are notorious for how fast they come and go (coastal grandma, anyone?) – and it’s likely creators will soon find another look to leap on (let’s face it, those fur coats won’t work come springtime). As trend analyst Mandy Lee has argued, Mob Wife is less a trend in the traditional sense, and more an opportunity to play dress up. “We seem to be in this endless cycle of nostalgia for trends that were rooted in subcultures, values and context. Today, they are quite literally costumes that people put on and take off everyday.”

Perhaps it’s this playfulness that’s so appealing – and the element of escapism. One of the arguments for the rise of the stealth wealth trend was that, in a cost-of-living crisis, no-one wanted to flaunt their wealth. Perhaps, conversely, when money is tight and the news cycle is gloomy, we want more than ever to feel and look a million dollars. Secret wealth codes are all well and good, but has anyone ever felt truly fabulous in a navy sweatshirt, even if it did cost $2,000? Red lipstick and a leopard print coat, however… that’s a mood that’s hard to resist.

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