Personal finance

The ‘mob wife’ trend takes over after quiet luxury — and it’s easier on the wallet

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano seek counseling in HBO’s hit television series, “The Sopranos” (Year 3). 
HBO | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Quiet luxury is out and the ‘mob wife’ era is in, according to Kayla Trivieri’s viral TikTok video.

“Bold glamour is making a comeback,” she says. Think: Carmela Soprano in HBO’s “Sopranos,” cheetah print and lots of eye liner.

While keeping up with the latest fashion fads may feel increasingly difficult, young adults like it that way, explained Thomaï Serdari, professor of marketing and director of the fashion and luxury program at New York University’s Stern School of Business. 

“The fact that we have such an accelerated transition from one trend to another has to do with Gen Z because they want to put their name on everything,” she said.

How we got to the ‘mob wife’ era

On the heels of the financial crisis, “people who had money wanted to be a little bit more subdued,” Serdari said. In the decade and a half since, fashion became bigger and bolder, she added.

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The stealth-wealth style was born after the pandemic, as Americans’ economic circumstances became increasingly divided during the so-called K-shaped recovery, which left the wealthiest Americans even better off than before.

Now, if young adults have money to spend, they are putting it on display, Serdari said, regardless of whether they picked up a side gig to help make ends meet.

“That shows that younger people have not lost their taste for opulence,” she said.

But “I also see a little bit of irony in it,” she added. “You can show off that you have money, even if it came from an untraditional route.”

How to achieve the ‘mob wife’ look

Although the character Carmela Soprano wasn’t necessarily frugal, appropriating her style costs a lot less than the quiet luxury looks that emerged after Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski accident trial last March.

In her daily courtroom appearances, Paltrow wore high-end brands such as Celine and The Row along with $1,450 black Prada boots.

Today’s ‘mob wife’ aesthetic is less about cashmere sweaters and camel-hued coats and more about bold accessories such as gold hoop earrings, a leopard print jacket or vintage fur. 

While some of these items can still come with a hefty price tag, much of the look can be achieved through thrifting at local or online resale shops.

Still, “trends come and go and if you are constantly updating your wardrobe based on the trends, that can get expensive,” said Carolyn McClanahan, a certified financial planner and founder of Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida.

McClanahan, who also is a member of CNBC’s Advisor Council, suggests buying a few well-made items, such as a black silk blouse, which you can work into your wardrobe and update for future fashion trends.

Additionally tap vintage pieces to achieve the look of “bold glamour,” McClanahan also advised. Shopping second hand is not only economical, but increasingly in style.

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