‘Sopranos’ costume designer talks ‘mob wife’ fashion and how to re-create the show’s style

Seeing your social media feed mobbed with faux fur and leather? You’re not alone.

The “mob wife” trend has taken over TikTok lately, with thousands donning glam getups inspired by the likes of Carmela Soprano, Edie Falco’s character from HBO’s iconic crime hit.

But when “The Sopranos” costume designer Juliet Polcsa first set the show’s sartorial tone back in 1999, this “incredibly flattering” online infamy was never part of the plan.

“If you told me 25 years ago that people are going to be referencing your work, I would have thought, what, are you nuts?” she tells Page Six Style.

Now, with the trend causing a fashion frenzy — and even inspiring celebrities like Khloé Kardashian and Dua Lipa — Polcsa believes it all goes beyond a little bling and bada-bing.

“There’s just so much insecurity and uncertainty [in the world],” she says. “Dressing like a mob wife … you feel good. You feel confident and strong.”

“It’s not just dressing people; it’s making a character,” says Polcsa. HBO

After all, the original vision for the show’s costumes — much of which were sourced from “mall research” and a Brooklyn store where “real mob guys would shop” — was more than skin deep.

“We wanted to present things in a certain kind of realistic way; we had these great actors and great characters … It was just lightning in a bottle,” Polcsa recalls, noting that while the series’ female characters are certainly on the “mob wife” mood board, today’s TikTok-trendy aesthetic “has a life of its own” separate from her “Sopranos” work.

Read on for Polcsa’s breakdown of the show’s most memorable styles — and to shop pieces inspired by the show.

Gold jewelry

Edie Falco in "The Sopranos" wearing three gold necklaces
Carmela mastered the art of layering necklaces. REUTERS

“Carmela had her armor. She had her everyday multiple chains, mixed metal bracelets — it was like the gifts that Tony gave her that she could have adorned herself in. I think that’s a key point.”

Shop styles selected by Page Six Style:

A model wearing gold earrings
Jenny Bird

Jenny Bird Florence Earrings

Gold earrings
Adina Aden

Adina Aden Jumbo Teardrop Stud Earrings

A model in a gold choker
Jenny Bird

Jenny Bird Francis Choker

Faux fur

Carmela in a fur coat
Faux fur is experiencing a real resurgence in 2024. HBO

“When I think of ‘mob wife,’ people are referencing Adriana [Drea de Matteo’s character]. But to me, my mob wife was Carmela … there was one episode where she wore her coat Tony gave her. But you didn’t really see her in a fur [every day].”

“Gloria Trillo [played by Annabella Sciorra] certainly had the faux fur and gold jewelry thing happening. But not all the time — then it would have been a caricature, and I wouldn’t do caricature for the show.”

Shop styles selected by Page Six Style:

A faux fur leather coat

BlankNYC Faux Leather Coat

A model in a faux fur vest
Alo Yoga

Alo Yoga Opulent Faux Fur Cropped Vest

A model in a brown faux fur coat

Apparis Aubin Jacket

Dazzling diamonds

Carmela Soprano wearing a diamond necklace at dinner
Forget “stealth wealth” — the “mob wife” trend is all about dripping in bling. HBO

“[Carmela] had different jewelry for going out to dinner. The idea was [that it] fell off a truck, or was just to apologize when she found out about a goomar [mistress]. It was her reaping the benefits, so to speak.”

Shop styles selected by Page Six Style:

A tennis necklace
Melinda Maria

Melinda Maria The Queen’s Tennis Necklace

Cubic zirconia drop earrings
Saks Off Fifth

Adriana Orsini Stunner Drop Earrings

A Kendra Scott ring
Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott Cailin Gold Crystal Band Ring

Show-stopping shoes

Adriana in the Sopranos wearing a cheetah print catsuit
Adriana (Drea de Matteo) brought new meaning to the word “catsuit” with her famed animal prints — always paired with equally eye-catching footwear. Alamy Stock Photo

“Edie [Falco] didn’t really wear heels because she wasn’t really comfortable in them all the time. But Adriana [De Matteo] … we were putting her what I call stripper shoes. They’re still kind of on trend now. People have kind of figured out they’re really comfortable. And some of the goomars had knee-high boots.”

“Drea de Matteo has said ‘I was like her doll,’ and in a way, she was kind of like a Barbie doll. I could put anything on her, and she was game for anything.”

Shop styles selected by Page Six Style:

black boots

Reformation Regan Knee Boots

A patent leather platform heel
Steve Madden

Steve Madden Lourdes Platforms

Red snakeskin boots
Free People

Free People Friday Fever Heel Boots

Body-con basics

Carmela and Tony Soprano
Carmela Soprano’s style staples included fitted V-neck sweaters. Barry Wetcher/HBO

“Body-conscious tops [are key] — you’re not seeing flowing blouses. Just a tight sweater. And everything is just very coordinated.

“I have to say, one thing that we did quite often on our show — and was always a fun thing to do — was when we had funerals, because everybody was dressed to the nines and everybody had black on. It was just fierce. Everybody looked great, checking each others’ outfits out.”

Shop styles selected by Page Six Style:

A model in a white V-neck bodustui
Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch Long Sleeve Bodysuit

A model in a sheer leopard print bodysuit

AllSaints Elia Spark Bodysuit

A model in a black zip-up top

Show Me Your Mumu Charlie Sweater

Press-on nails

Carmela Soprano in a pink top
Nail the trend with a French manicure. HBO

“I hadn’t done the pilot to the show … [and] I felt it needed to have more oomph. I think one of the biggest things that I talked to the hair and makeup people about was that Carmela needed to have nails.

“Edie [Falco] is not a nail person; she’s a little bit more casual. We would do press-on nails because she just couldn’t handle having real nails. But we all agreed it was a crucial element to her character.”

Shop styles selected by Page Six Style:

A press-on French manicure

Glamnetic Ma Damn Press-On Nails

A red press-on manicure
Olive & June

Olive & June Instant Mani Press-Ons

A press-on French manicure with black tips

Glamnetic Press-On Nails in Caviar