- The “woman of the crowd” trend has been flooding TikTok with fur coats, black clothes and leopard print.
- Mob Wives creator Jennifer Graziano and stars Renee Graziano and Natalie Guercio gave us their thoughts.
- They said they love the trend and think it’s the perfect replacement for “quiet luxury.”
Throw out your sleepy neutrals and basic athleisure – the “clean girl” aesthetic is out.
In millions of TikTok videos, 2024 has been officially hailed as the “year of the mafia woman”. The style is big, bold and often includes a fur coat (real or faux). No “quiet luxury” here, honey – a real mobster always makes an entrance.
Where TikTok goes, the rest of the world follows. Vogue has offered its own “how to dress like a mobster” guide and every celebrity CLAD a fur coat OR an animal print has been hailed as a trendsetter. Even Jeff Bezos’ fiancee, Lauren Sánchez, has tried this trend.
But is it taken one may ask what the real women of the crowd think? After all, they are the experts.
“I came out wearing a fur coat,” Renee Graziano, who starred on VH1’s Mob Wives, told Business Insider with a laugh. “I had my first diamond plate at age 7. I’ve probably worn more black than a nun. If you want to talk about the mafia woman aesthetic, who better to do it than a Sicilian princess?”
“Mob Wives,” which aired from 2011 to 2016, was created by Renee’s sister, Jennifer Graziano. It followed the lives of several women whose husbands and fathers were connected to the Italian-American mafia in Staten Island.
We asked sisters Graziano and Natalie Guercio, who appeared on two seasons of the show and now runs her own beauty brand, to share their thoughts on the new trend, the ensuing accusations of cultural appropriation, and what it really takes to to dress like a woman of the mob.
The Real Life Sopranos
Fictional women featured in iconic mob movies and shows, including “The Sopranos,” “Goodfellas” and “Casino,” have all been cited as inspiration for the “mob wife” trend. But nothing was fake in the lives of the Mob Wives stars.
“Being a girl was very, very traumatic,” Renee said of her upbringing. “When I say ‘Foodfellas’ describes life better than anything, that’s the truth.”
Renee and Jennifer’s father, Anthony Graziano, who died in 2019, was an adviser to the Bonanno crime family in New York City, the Daily Mail reported. Renee’s ex-husband, Hector Pagan Jr., was also involved with the Bonanno family before becoming an FBI informant, which led to Anthony’s conviction in 2012, according to the paper.
Their unique childhood inspired Jennifer to begin writing a scripted series, but she shifted gears after the Real Housewives variety shows began dominating Bravo and pop culture in the mid-2000s.
“I realized I’ve had the ‘Mob Wives’ version under my nose my whole life,” Jennifer told BI. “I did a quick pivot.”
It was a smart move for Jennifer, who realized few networks would touch any scripted show that resembled “The Sopranos.”
“It was so well and perfectly done. It was such an iconic TV show,” she said. “So they stayed away from her for a while.”
Jennifer believes the mob wife trend is already all over our social media feeds because this year marks the 25th anniversary of The Sopranos’ premiere. The return of attention has brought renewed interest in the styles of Carmela Soprano and Adriana La Cerva.
“Carmela Soprano walked so you bitches could run,” declared Kayla Trivieri, who is credited with starting the “mafia wife” movement on TikTok, in her first video about the trend.
While some believe the mob woman aesthetic is just a genius HBO marketing ploy, Jennifer thinks the trend is a natural reaction to the tumultuous past few years in the US.
“We’ve just been through a lot of tough times in terms of COVID and the economy,” she said. “It’s time to live a little bit bolder and a little bit louder. It’s going to give people some license to get out there and have fun — both in their lives and with their fashion.”
‘The perfect crowd woman looks like she’s going to a funeral’
In dozens of articles dictating how to dress as a mobster, the defining characteristics seem to be black clothes, animal prints, a fur coat and red lipstick.
Renee confirmed that a fur coat and bold lips are the signature aesthetic, but please don’t be confused by the leopard print.
“Me personally, we’ve never worn leopard — that’s more Peggy Bundy than ‘mob woman,'” she said with a laugh, referring to Katey Sagal’s iconic character on the Fox sitcom “Married… With Children” who ran for 10 years, premiering in 1987.
For Guercio, who grew up in the 1980s among mafia women in the Sicilian-American neighborhoods of South Philadelphia, the true aesthetic is “all about class.”
“The coat, yes, it’s a symbol,” she said. “Big thick glasses like Sophia Loren used to wear. I remember all these different styles that came out, but everything had a boldness to it, whether it was a bold lip or a big statement jacket or jewelry.”
“It’s definitely a rich, opulent look,” Jennifer told BI. “The lifestyle itself was big and bold. Even though it was secretive and secretive, they lived such a loud and big life. And the fashion and the jewelry and the furs were just indicative of the lifestyle.”
“Thinking about my mother, she had such beautiful jewelry – big bracelets, big earrings,” she added. “I think that’s what’s probably missing right now from what I’ve seen.”
The mafia woman aesthetic is a far cry from the “quiet luxury” trend that dominated 2023 after Sofia Richie’s wedding wowed TikTok. The style was about wearing muted neutrals whose value was communicated through their fabric or texture rather than their shine or logos.
But bold and loud brands like Gucci and Versace have made a comeback thanks to the “woman of the crowd” trend. After all, they have always been an integral part of aesthetics.
“At the time, everyone I knew was wearing Versace,” Guercio said. “All the Italians, all the mob boys, the big glasses for the women, the fur coats – it was always Versace, Versace, Versace.”
The women of the crowd are not offended that you want to dress like them
Not long after the mafia wife trend took off on social media, some critics claimed it was cultural appropriation. Others have argued that the trend is to glorify mob violence and downplay the real dangers faced by mafia women.
But the Mob Wives stars believe the trend is all in fun and should stay that way.
“I don’t think that by wearing your ‘mafia wife’ outfit, you’re saying that violence and crime are acceptable or big,” Jennifer said. “And it’s universal. Anyone can dress in the mob woman aesthetic. I don’t think it’s really specific to Italians, and I don’t think anyone’s trying to put Italian women down at all. Anyone who thinks they want to live large and out loud and big and bold they can hit anything they want.”
“We’re not celebrating men who are in the crowd; we’re talking about women who are powerful,” Guercio added. “For me, the mafia woman aesthetic is about confidence.”
That confidence comes through in their signature big and bold fashion, which is why the Mob Wives stars are so excited to see the pendulum swing away from simpler aesthetics.
“I feel like women these days hardly have the opportunity to dress up; it’s all workout clothes,” Guercio said. “So I think it’s actually a great idea that the ‘mafia wife’ sense of style is coming back. I’d like to see the trend stick. That classy look and the sophistication that came along with it, I think that women need it.”
Nothing lasts forever, especially on TikTok, but the mob woman trend will never die for Mob Women.
“The mob women from my series never let go of that style, especially Renee,” Jennifer said. “Renee has worn the mafia women aesthetic since birth.”