I’ll raise a glass of champagne for any reason I can find. The cat finally coughed up that pesky hairball? Cheers! But this week, we can all raise a glass of bubbly and say “Mazel tov” to our Instagram style star, Matthew Miller (www.instagram.com/mattjmillz). He recently received his master’s degree in city planning from MIT. This fall he’ll start a PhD program in urban planning. He’s also a true renaissance man. The eco-friendly California transplant sings, sketches, is a budding shutterbug, bargain hunts at Goodwill, and dresses like nobody’s business. Every week we scour Instagram for the city’s suavest to spotlight here, and Miller, in both Ivy League garb and streetwear, fits the bill.
Q. When you landed on the East Coast, did you find that MIT was all brains, no style?
A. The harsh winters force people to layer and that has been a great style change. But MIT students often miss the memo. While the professional school students dress well year-round, the majority of students, and faculty, don’t focus on their attire.
Q. You casually mentioned that your dad used to model and several members of your family are/were in the beauty industry. I’m going to need some details. Also, did you ever contemplate following in their glamorous foot steps?
A. My dad modeled in the late 1980s. I’d like to channel his vintage swagger someday. My mom is a trained cosmetologist. She raised me and my six siblings to rarely need to go to a barbershop or salon. Lately, she has taken on freelance acting and modeling while being a superstar grandma. My youngest sister is a model and a YouTube vlogger. My younger brother is a hair aficionado who has been in a couple of commercials and print ads. If there were a way to balance my PhD training with their dedication to glamour, I’d jump at it.
Q. Let’s say we’re going shopping. Would you take me to Goodwill first? Or is there another store we would hit?
A. It depends on what you want. Goodwill can be a hit or miss, but in high-income neighborhoods like West Cambridge, there’s bound to be a steal. What sane person would pass on a herringbone vest for $3, or a Burberry trench coat for $7. It’s an adventure.
Q. Quirkiest green lifestyle activity? If it’s toilet related, please come up with another. I have a delicate stomach.
A. It’s a tie between avoiding buying a new car and making my own lotion. When looking at the life cycle of materials, an older car with efficiency improvements uses less embodied energy than buying a new hybrid car. On lotion, it is an economic and health thing more than environmental.
Q. You describe yourself on Instagram as “Young, gifted, and black.” Also the name of one of my favorite Aretha Franklin albums. Is she your ultimate diva?
A. Aretha is awesome, but that caption was actually inspired by the original Nina Simone 1970 version, which Aretha grandly remade in 1972. It’s an amazing ballad and salient theme even today. My ultimate diva is Whitney Houston. Nobody could touch her singing and acting talents. But these days, it’s Beyoncé, who is unmatched as a dancer and vocalist.