Mob Wife Makeup + Indie Sleaze Are Overtaking the “Clean Girl” Aesthetic

Embrace the dark eyeliner, lined lips and undone hair of the mob wife and indie sleaze trends.

Take cover, there’s a mob wife makeup revolution on the rise.

Succinctly put by FASHION’s Natalie Michie, the mob wife aesthetic is “everything 2023 minimalism is not.” Sartorially, it’s defined by floor-length faux furs, bold animal prints, and oversized sunglasses that cover most of the face — because a mafia wife never knows who’s watching. Naturally, there’s an equally extra makeup look to match. And given the rise of trends like “indie sleaze,” it’s actually not that surprising.

The very antithesis of the fresh-faced, “clean girl” look that dominated 2023, characterized by Hailey Bieber-esque glossy lips, a rosy flush and slicked-back buns, grunge-inspired makeup looks are poised to overthrow minimalist makeup trends in 2024. With a mutual appreciation for excessive strokes of eyeliner and hair with body, both the mob wife and indie sleaze aesthetics are decidedly darker, with an admirable air of carelessness that mainstream beauty hasn’t embraced in a while.

Let’s examine the women of The Sopranos — who are the quintessential mafia wife models — for telltale signs of the mob wife beauty aesthetic. French manicures à la Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) with tips so long they click and clack with every gesture. Brown-lined lips, sultry smoked-out eyes and overly coiffed hair in the style of Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo). There’s a certain sense of, “don’t f**ck with me, or I’ll call my husband,” about it all.

These women would roll their eyes at the mere thought of stepping out sans eyeliner, or a wash of grey eyeshadow, at the very least. They’re probably convinced that the first drag of a cigarette feels better if they’ve got a “lip” (likely a moody mauve or a deep rouge) on. They’re always put together and wouldn’t be caught dead with limp hair that lacked volume, but they don’t take themselves as seriously as a clean girl makeup devotee might.

Elsewhere in the cinematic universe of mob wives, you can draw inspiration from Casino’s Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) and her full-on lashes, Elvira Hancock’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) ultra-thin brows in Scarface, or Karen Hill’s (Lorraine Bracco) always-big brunette bouffant in Goodfellas. Modern “mob wives” may modernize the trend with almond-shaped French tips, hair curled with high-tech Dyson machines, or of-the-moment makeup like winged liner, but the overarching “IDGAF” attitude persists.

Also on the grunge-glam spectrum lies the indie sleaze aesthetic. In 2021, TikTok’s resident trend forecaster, Mandy Lee, predicted the return of this trend, noting that some of the key characteristics of the era (which ran roughly from the early 2000s to early 2010s) were  “provocative advertisements,” “amateur style flash photography,” and “opulent displays of clubbing.” No TikTok, just Tumblr.

The @indiesleaze Instagram account (above) brilliantly sums up the era with photos of real-life club goers — including icons of the day like Katy Perry and Ke$ha — as well as snapshots from raunchy American Apparel ads and stills of Brittany Murphy in Spun. “Documenting the decadence of the mid-late aughts and the indie sleaze party scene that died in 2021,” reads the account’s Instagram bio.

As for makeup, indie sleaze glam is characterized by deliberately dishevelled hair, traces of glitter here and there, and smudgy kohl-rimmed eyes. Appearance-wise, these would be your Gabbriettes. Your Effy Stonems from Skins. Your Venetia Cattons from Saltburn. A party animal meets rockstar groupie, if you will.

And while we’re on the subject of Saltburn, we may have the 2023 film to thank for speeding up the revival of this mid-aughts aesthetic. Throughout the movie, Venetia remains in a perpetual state of day-after glam, which is precisely what the indie sleaze aesthetic calls for. Her undone, dark roots peak through a head full of bottle-blonde hair, and her blackest black liner appears well lived in.

In real life, falling asleep with your makeup on or failing to execute a flawless smokey eye can indeed result in peak indie sleaze glam. The more carelessly your makeup is applied, the better.

While the mob wife and indie sleaze looks are distinct aesthetics, they are united in their departure from the sleek, minimalist makeup that has dominated in recent year. Between them, there’s a shared admiration for almost deliberate messiness that’s frankly refreshing after years of pursuing perfection (read: clean girl glam and quiet luxury). A person can only take so much barely-there makeup before they reach for ultra-black pencil liners and overdo their glam in a fit of rebellious rage.

Though minimalist makeup gives the illusion of being low-effort, slicked-back buns and glassy skin require far more maintenance than you may assume. Sometimes, it’s easier to embrace chaos and lean into a little grunge. Don’t let mean mugged scowls from mobsters and their wives fool you, you might even have fun. (Just don’t sleep in your makeup.)

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