Life & Culture

Forget the ‘mob wife’ aesthetic, I’m channeling Dorien Green this winter

Smoky eyes and fake fur gangster moll chic is in, but please use Jewish Chigwell not New Jersey for inspiration


Essex chic: Lesley Joseph as Dorien Green in sitcom Birds of a Feather. Photo: ITV plc

Beauty trends come and go, many get recycled but some of them can be fun to play with. And according to TikTok, the “clean girl” aesthetic is out to be replaced by ”mob wife” – with the hashtag #mobwifeaesthetic racking up around 61.9 million views on the platform.

For the uninitiated, “clean girl” beauty relates to minimal makeup, immaculate skin – basically the type of trend only a 15 year old can successfully pull off while the rest of us slavishly layer on copious products in order to achieve the same “effortless” effect. “Mob wife” on the other hand is – as any Sopranos fan might have guessed – all about more is more. Think smoky eyes, fur coats, bold lips, heavy contour and bronzer… where one’s makeup oozes Milan Fashion Week with a side of money laundering. Evening glamour worn all day long, the type of makeup that doesn’t smudge when you spend your days cooking braciole and your nights being interrogated by the FBI.

I’m not from New Jersey, nor am I Italian (although I did have an Italian ex and I still miss his mother’s cooking). And while I’m a slavish devotee of mob shows and movies and obsessed with its characters like Adriana La Cerva, Ginger from Casino and Karen in Goodfellas, I think we can look a little closer to home for inspiration. I’m talking Chigwell, the setting of 90s sitcom Birds of a Feather, in which the Essex town essentially served as the forth character, akin to the Yorkshire Moors in Wuthering Heights. Dorian Green has been my beauty icon for many years, one of the few Jewish women in popular culture and her beauty look emulated the women I grew up around in the early 90s. I think she definitely exudes mob wife vibes, with her red lipstick, leopard print, teased hair and pull-no-punches attitude.

Whether you’re channeling mob wife or Chigwell housewife, this look is all about making a statement, which is why I’m currently sporting Zoeva’s Velvet Love eyeshadow quad in Bronze Espresso (£26.50). It has four incredibly wearable, bendable hues that even the most cack-handed of makeup artists (i.e. me) can muddle their way to a half-decent smokey eye.

Speaking of eyes, I’m loathe to throw half-used products away, but I recently binned a mascara from a popular high street brand, because it dried like concrete and was impossible to remove at the end of each day – outweighing any benefit it brought to my lashes. I popped into Parisian department store BHV Marais (a must if you’re visiting the City of Light) where the lovely Justine at Chanel counter steered me in the direction of their Le Volume mascara (£34), which ramps lashes up with the intensity of Joe Pesci’s performance as psychopathic mobster Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas, while being incredible easy to wash off. Finally we come to the hair. Since joining the ranks of working mothers, I have precisely five minutes to do mine in the morning, but I find a quick blast with Percy & Reed’s Time To Shine spray (£12) is enough to give my frizzy mop some mob wife allure.

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