Style in The Sopranos

By Isabella LiPuma

“Tu vuoi vivere alla moda, Ma se bevi whisky and soda…”

I’d waited far too long to watch The Sopranos and now I can’t get enough. Drama and warmth exude from the television set every time I tune into the show. Although my favorite characters are Tony Soprano and Christopher Moltisanti, I want to focus on the style of their respective “partners” Carmela Soprano and Adriana La Cerva. The Sopranos style (coined by Emilia Petrarca on Instagram) is very familiar to me–I grew up being pinched on the cheeks by glossy, lacquered tips and was constantly delving into my grandmother’s box of endless gold and diamond jewelry. Thick fingers were always covered in lavish rings and gold hoop earrings were a given (note: I do not believe that wearing gold hoop earrings is “culturally appropriating.” As my dad said: “Italian and Jewish women have been wearing gold hoop earrings in North Jersey for years!”). Hair was always perfectly coiffed to platinum perfection and a full face of makeup was required for even a quick visit to the grocery store. 

For this article, I wanted to delve deeper into Carmela Soprano’s and Adriana La Cerva’s respective styles. To me, these characters’ wardrobes and styling are the most indicative of the North Jersey aesthetic. Although costume designer Juliet Polcsa “made a concerted effort to portray the Italian-American characters in a non-stereotypical way,” I assert that she has hit every pink and white acrylic nail squarely on the head in the wardrobing of Carmela and Adriana. Carmela Soprano with her form-fitting tops, tracksuits, power suits and diamonds make her the equal parts preppy and gaudy poster girl for The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Adriana reveals the svelteness of her figure with tight mini-dresses, push-up bras, and belly-baring tops in a plethora of leopard prints accessorized with copious jewelry and stilettos. She could easily be any female cast member of the Jersey Shore’s Manolo Blahnik-wearing cousin. Even Sopranos manicurist Maria Salandra affirms that “[Adriana] is every Jersey girl that [she] knew growing up: big hair, lots of makeup, longer and curvier nails” (longer and curvier nails in contrast with Carmela’s omnipresent french manicure).

Remember this? When Carmela waves Charmaine Bucco over like “the help?” I don’t either – I was too distracted by her fabulous tips!
The real one ring to rule them all.

And now, for screencaps of the most iconic looks themselves…

A young Carmela smiles sheepishly at Tony in nothing but a cross necklace and the fur coat that he gifted her.
Adriana as hostess at the Nuovo Vesuvio in a printed slip depicting the face of a tiger, accessorized with chainlink bracelets, charms, her engagement ring, and a gold herringbone necklace.
Carmela mourning in a black lace over satin suit with layered necklaces, diamonds, an updo, and a frosted lip. Meadow contrasts her, predating the hipster in an early 2000s post-goth floral-printed babydoll dress. Tony, Carmela, and Meadow all wear watches on their left wrists.
Adrian’s black lace bra peeks out over a leopard print tank top as she works out at the gym and contemplates her less than ideal predicament. Loose curls fall out of her ponytail and she accessorizes with two gold necklaces (one of which dips into her cleavage) and medium-sized gold hoop earrings.
Season 4 Carmela wears a baby pink Fila sweatsuit over a tight white tank top. Her athleisure look is complimented by bracelets, three layered gold necklaces, and small gold earrings.
Adriana in a BDSM-inspired black latex minidress with long dark fingernails. Her hair is half pulled back and her wrists are coated with the usual cluster of gold bangles and chainlink bracelets. She is also wearing large hoops and a gold necklace.
Carmela takes Adriana to a tennis lesson. In this scene, Carmela wears a grey/lavender and black Fila sports set and pulls her hair back but takes off none of her usual jewelry. Also in hand are a tennis ball, a black visor, and a Wilson tennis racquet that’s clearly never been restrung. Adriana wears tight white shorts and a blue halter-top sports bra. She ties her hair back like Carmela but wears significantly less bracelets than usual (but nevertheless sports small gold hoop earrings, layered necklaces, a bracelet, hair tie, bellybutton ring and a watch). Her nails appear to be painted powder blue, perhaps in an attempt to exude the illusion of prep.
Adriana in a low-cut red dress with metallic gold straps. She is perfectly tanned with long, teased hair, dark eyeshadow, fully lined eyes and maroon/brown lipstick. She wears a single gold horn necklace, sparkly teardrop earrings, and presumably a small bag with a thin golden chain.
Carmela in “housewife attire” consisting of a lime green sweater tank with a sequined neckline. She wears two gold necklaces, bracelets on both arms, large diamond studded earrings, and plenty of dark eyeshadow.
Another one of Adriana’s signature tennis looks – in this screen capture, Adriana sports red hot pants in a material that is only questionably conducive to working out, a v-neck, beaded, fringe halter top with no bra, bracelets on her left arm, three gold necklaces, and small gold hoops. Her lips and eyes are painted in dark colors, as usual.
Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 6.59.10 PM
In a visit to Dr. Melfi with Tony, Carmela wears a two-piece number in a light lavender color over top of a smocked desaturated olive tank top. She also wears silver jewelry, her large diamond studs, and flaunts a perfectly teased ponytail.
Adriana’s FBI agent surprises her while shopping. Adriana wears an oversized black leather jacket atop of a blue bustier. She accessorizes with long, dark red acrylic nails, a gold statement ring on her middle finger, gold chain necklaces, the strap of a gold chain bag, and thin gold hoop earrings.

*Images not mine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s