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/stīl/ /kyo͞o/ noun 1. a sequence of people with a distinctive appearance 2. A style column for The Sound whereby sustainable style blogger Jennifer Moore (a.k.a recovergirl) interviews locals with unique style.
This week, we talk with James E. Mooney, an 83-year-old resident of Ogunquit, Maine, about libraries, blazers, and his tailor. This interview has been condensed and edited.
What is your occupation?
What did you do before you retired?
I ran research libraries.
What is your dream job?
Having worked for six years at the (American) Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass., I was asked to go down to Philadelphia to become head of the historical society. I had a great time there because we were planning the bicentennial exhibition. The richness of those collections was fascinating. That was the happiest job that I have had.
How would you describe your personal style?
Tell me about your outfit.
The socks are almost a match. Each one got into the bleach water at the wrong time. The trousers are just work chinos. When I was in the army in the ’50s they were called suntans. My tie is from a group called the Society of the Cincinnati. The group was founded at the end of the American Revolution as sort of an immigrant aid society. I got my hat in New Haven, Conn., about 20 years ago. I think it’s terrific, in part because it has a rule of law attached to it: not before Memorial Day and not after Labor Day.
What are staples in your wardrobe?
Always a blazer of some sort.
Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?
Do you know the actor Joe E. Brown? He was in that wonderfully funny movie “Some Like It Hot.” He was the guy with the straw hat.
What is something you love about your body?
Four years ago I broke my back. As a result of the treatment, I’ve found that my head is canted forward like a tortoise. It certainly is distinctive. Whether I could be said to like it or not is another matter.
What musical artists are you listening to a lot lately?
I listen to whatever is playing on Maine Public Radio. Classical, mostly.
Describe an outfit you wore for a special occasion.
When I was in Philadelphia, the historical society had a board, and on the board was a local matron of means. As a family, my wife, two sons and I were sort of adopted by her family. When her husband died, she gave me his wardrobe. It was amazing. He was at Oxford at a time when shirts had detachable collars. I had more fun wearing the body of one shirt with the contrasting collar of another shirt.
In what ways do you practice sustainable style?
Most of my clothes come from the Salvation Army. I’ve gotten such gorgeous stuff there. Yesterday, I was wearing something that I got at a thrift shop in Connecticut. It’s worn around the cuffs very badly but it is made of raw silk. It is very comfortable. Yes, the Salvation Army — they are my tailor.