For info on Style Queue Magazine, click here.
/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 Melinda Salazar, a 65-year-old Portsmouth resident, about social justice, bartering, and her granddaughter. This interview has been condensed and edited.
What’s your occupation?
I own and operate Mesala Jewelry. I design and make jewelry with mixed metals and collected stones. I have taught for over 40 years in K-12 and higher ed, teaching and researching about indigenous people, women, peace, and sustainability. I am now a recovering academic.
I feel like my personal style, while I’ve not consciously analyzed it until now, somehow embodies a visual language of mismatched-ness.
What is your dream job?
I have it. There are so many incarnations I could have lived. I could have been a geologist because I love collecting stones and I’m doing that now. I could have been an anthropologist because I love studying cultures. I really do think I am living my dream right now. I’m not grading papers or writing course outlines. I spend time with my beautiful 4-year-old granddaughter, and I make art. I continue to do social justice work and strive to make the world a better place — I’m just not getting paid for it.
How would you describe your personal style?
I am a first-generation Latina woman. I grew up in a multi-cultural, multi-religious family and never felt like I was enough of one thing to belong to either side of my family or the community I was growing up in. I feel like my personal style, while I’ve not consciously analyzed it until now, somehow embodies a visual language of mismatched-ness.
Tell me about your outfit.
I appreciate natural fibers and handmade items. What I’m attracted to does not now, nor has ever, matched my means. I do a lot of barter and trade. My sweater was made by a Serbian women’s collective called IVKO. My dress was made by a local designer in Portland, Maine, Jill McGowan. I work at Angelica’s Muse in (Portsmouth) one Sunday a month to support my habit. My pants are from a Seattle-based company called Prairie Underground. I used to purchase them through a big box store, but because of their politics, supporting anti-gay and anti-choice agendas, I no longer purchase anything from them. My fleece-lined clogs are from No. 6. and all my jewelry I have made myself.
What musical artists are you listening to a lot lately?
My go-to music when I’m pounding metal in my studio is still Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and Joni Mitchell. I enjoy jazz, indie-folk, and world music. I listen daily to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! and podcasts by the Buddhist yoga teacher and social activist Michael Stone.
Describe an outfit you wore for a special occasion that you really loved.
My two youngest sons started an adventure journey company. They take sailing charters all over the world. They celebrated their fourth anniversary at the Explorers Club in Manhattan last month. For that event, I borrowed a gorgeous long black velvet dress from a friend here in Portsmouth. It has an extreme deep V-neck in the front with an even deeper V-neck in the back. I wore it with a lace camisole underneath and a pair of secondhand cowboy boots.
Who do you think is a great style icon?
My 4-year-old granddaughter. My son dresses her in mismatched flowers and stripes.
What is something you love about your body?
I love my white hair. I love my adult children dearly. I attribute much of my gray hair to raising them. I’m sure my age and genetics has something to do with it too.
In what ways do you practice sustainable style?
Ours is an over-consumptive, materialist society, and our earthly desires have contributed to the exploitation and depletion of natural and human resources. I am continually challenged by how I can find beauty in a way that lives within the means of nature. If I can make a piece of art with metal and stone and share the dance between my heart and hands with another person who has done the same … and it is made to last … then to me, I believe that is the meaning of a sustainable style.