Maru Melendez Margarida ’17 is constantly observing her surroundings, focusing on minute details and isolating small aspects to incorporate into her ever-evolving personal aesthetic. Hyper-aware of the shifts happening around her, Melendez Margarida’s strong suit is adaptation. She moved from Puerto Rico to Minnesota to start her first year of college, and during our interview she opened up about how her whole style and mode of shopping has changed since arriving in Minnesota.
In Puerto Rico, Melendez Margarida said, thrift-shopping is “very frowned upon, to wear stuff that doesn’t belong to you. [Now] I go to Everyday People, mostly for chunky sweaters.” She said that Puerto Ricans often “go out in heels and tight dresses. I used to dress like that because everyone did.” In Puerto Rico, Melendez Margarida felt creatively stifled by the consistently warm weather, and explained that “you don’t really have much to play with, because the weather’s always the same.” Since moving to the US, she has embraced the cold weather out of both necessity and choice. She described Twin Cities residents as having a “do-it-yourself” style that’s rougher and often includes flat shoes and hard jackets. She admits that her evolution wasn’t always smooth sailing. She overloaded on olive green during her first year, but found her own authentic and creative personal aesthetic junior year.
Melendez Margarida credits her newfound love for Nordic movies like Force Majeure, a 2014 Swedish drama, as a key inspiration for her current style. She likes “the simplistic style that they wore. It’s very classic.” She also draws inspiration from her surrounding environment and mentioned how she is “in tune with the colors around me. In winter, I always dress in black, because it’s just white, black and grey [around me]. I think that I’m very attuned to the weather.” She credits her trip to Japan for inspiring her and bringing pops of color to her largely neutral, monochromatic wardrobe. The hot pink and other bright colors she saw in Japan shifted her approach to style. Melendez Margarida explained how “darkness always looms over the colors, and then [I wear] hot pink and all these colors. Like I don’t have an in-between.” Her monochromatic outfits often include brightly-colored accessories, like earrings and shoes.
Melendez Margarida is undeniably inspired by the people in her life: friends, classmates, housemates, family members and fashion bloggers. She summarizes her current style as consisting mainly of accessories, black pants and turtlenecks. She said, “I’ve been swimming in turtlenecks.” Her affinity for accessories extends to colorful scarves, earrings, shoes and glasses. She loves turtlenecks for their sophisticated look and their ability to express composure and maturity with little effort. She enjoys wearing her mother’s old turtlenecks and uses them to switch up her hairstyles.
For example, she likes to tuck her hair inside of her turtleneck because it showcases her colorful earrings and it makes her hair look “weirder,” with “more bumps and stuff.” It’s a welcome cure for the winter hair doldrums. Melendez Margarida’s attachment to her mother’s old clothing also extends to jewelry. She likes to wear her mother’s clip-ons.
Melendez Margarida’s friends play a hand in her style prowess. Her housemate, Blanca Sánchez Rangil ’17, helped during a recent dry spell in which Melendez Margarida was becoming bored with her outfit combinations. She told me that she usually visualizes herself “in different places, and what I would wear for different things. I’m constantly thinking about it.” However, she recently asked Sánchez Rangil to go into her closet and to be her stylist, in order to “pick out things for me that I would not normally see, like make different combinations. For an entire week, I wore outfits that she had chosen for me. She put turtlenecks with literally everything. I loved it. I didn’t have to think about anything,” Melendez Margarida said. She tried to do the same for her housemate, but “I did two outfits for Blanca, and she didn’t wear what I said. She just changed it up. I was like, ‘I’m not doing this to you again.’”
Melendez Margarida also admires the style of Italian fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni, but not for the expected reasons. She said that the admiration stems from the fact that Ferragni “just dresses really, really, really weird.” Melendez Margarida clarified, “The people that I surround myself with, I observe a lot. The same thing happens with accents in Spanish. I always adopt new accents. I like that I’m always evolving with things I see.” She was inspired by one of her classmates last semester, Catriona Leckie ’17. Melendez Margarida gushed, “She had this beautiful blue watch, and she had these chunky beautiful boots that were also very practical. I saw those [colors] semester after semester, and I developed this fascination with royal blue and browns.” She appreciates elements of her friends’ styles that they may not even appreciate themselves. She describes how her friend Dora Postonjski ’17 “always says that she dresses very basic, but she just wears certain things that fit her well, and that are very classically Dora. She has these black New Balances that she wears with everything. She’ll wear a very delicate top with it, and it looks awesome,” Melendez Margarida said.
Considering Melendez Margarida’s intentional and detail-orientated approach, it is not surprising that she is always looking ahead. She confided that she would like to have a more classic style in the future. This classic style would include “a lot of black, leather bags — big ones, small ones.” She sees herself holding the bag with a big dull silver ring. She hopes to have more small statement pieces, like undersized wallets. In fact, at the end of our interview, she exclaimed, “Wait, I want to show you!” She ran to grab her colorful card holder with a vibrant, embroidered parrot gracing its cover. “I got this on sale,” she whispered, like it is our secret. While she described her style as “just aesthetics and superficiality,” Melendez Margarida brings passion, an eye for detail and a willingness to be inspired by anyone and anything to her style.