What Islanders wear to work: Marie Ambrose dresses for the FARM Institute

Get a glimpse of local flair, one fashionista at a time.


When people think style on Martha’s Vineyard, a certain vision comes over the minds of the unknowing. Salmon-colored shorts spotted with tiny smiling whales. Pastel-pink dresses with teal embroidered flowers. She wears, but is not limited to, Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren, and Lilly Pulitzer. Martha’s Vineyard — home of the kings and queens of prep.

But anyone who’s spent more than an afternoon on this Island knows this is a far-off presumption. In fact, I’d bet there’s not a single local person rocking this look right now. And that’s not a jab at preps of the world — it’s just not Vineyard style.

So what is Vineyard style? We figured a good way to describe this was to feature Islanders in their natural habitat. The Local is launching a new series called “What Islanders wear to work,” and we think it’s a fitting way to showcase our Island style and its hard-working people.

Meet Marie Ambrose. She’s 22 years old, and this is her second season living and working on Martha’s Vineyard. She’s gearing up for her first full year on-Island. Marie works at the FARM Institute in Katama full-time. She’s an engagement site manager, and spends her time on the farm, in the office, and working with kids, depending on the day. This requires some versatility as far as outfits go. She recently chatted with The Local about what she wears, when she wears it, and why.


How do you dress for work?

When you work on a 162-acre farm doing all kinds of programs, it gets pretty hot. I tend to wear lightweight stuff. Sometimes a skirt with a flowy top when it’s really hot, but there are also days when it’s breezy and I’ll wear layers. I wear jeans on days when I know I’m hands-on, and dresses or skirts on days when I’m on the marketing side of things.


What is your outfit staple?

Blundstone boots. They’re so versatile. They’re great on days when I know I have to get dirty, but also when I want to dress up a little. I think they look good with jeans, dresses — anything. I never feel underdressed when I’m wearing these boots.


How would you describe your style?

Clothes I can work in but also show a bit of my style in. I guess I’d call it farmy chic.


Do you get compliments at work?

Eunice [Youmans, general manager of the Trustees] actually compliments me the most. I don’t always dress up, but I try to at least twice per week. She always notices.


Has your style evolved since moving to the Island?
A little. I feel the Island inspires me. I’m originally from New Jersey, and never saw Blundstones until I came here. They’re super-cute, comfortable, and I’m never worried about ruining them. The Island just has this beachy-boho feel, but it’s also very farmy. It’s cool. I’m inspired by the feeling of the Island and seeing what other people wear.


Do you keep a change of clothes in your car?

I always have a bathing suit in my car. Also a long skirt. I wear jeans to work a lot, but it’s nice to have something flowy for really muggy days. I always have a flannel. It’s something I can dress up or dress down, and it helps it to have with the wacky weather here. Sometimes I’m doing deliveries, and on one corner of the Island it’s hot, on another is cold, and on another it’s raining.


What do you consider really dressing up?

Long sundresses, funky chandelier earrings, and a nice pair of sandals. I’d wear that out to dinner, or to bigger work events like the Meals in the Meadow fundraiser we had early last month.


What about hair?

I usually wear it down. Or in a fishtail. Fishtail is the only way I can keep my hair back and have it look cute at the same time.



I always wear Ray-Bans. I wear those aviators with a thicker frame.


Where do you shop on-Island?

Eastaway in Oak Bluffs, Chicken Alley, and the Green Room in Vineyard Haven.


Is there someone at work your often showering with style compliments? Email brittany@mvtimes.com, and we’ll give em’ some love in the next issue of The Local.


  1. My old friend, Nikki Langer, always swore she could pinpoint the exact year a woman moved to the island. Her clothes gave her away, freezing the fashion of her time from the moment the woman stepped off the ferry– whether it was 5 years ago or 25. The wardrobe choices talked about in this story are not about “fashion”. “Beachy boho farm chic” is not a thing, lol, unless you are 22. It’s like a school uniform, no different from the plaid skirt, white blouse, and navy blazer. It is a uniform of lovely young women who look good in anything and all manage to wear the exact uniform all the other 20-something, earth-working island gals are wearing. In fact, these young ladies could put on a burlap sack and look fabulous. That’s because they’re in their early 20’s. An unoriginal uniform does not make a fashion statement, nor does this lack of original style work well for the 60-somethings who, unfortunately, often choose to wear the same “beachy boho farm chic”, which, sadly, looks more like Ma Kettle. I look awful in long dresses and short boots. I’d be arrested for eye pollution if I walked around in what these girls are wearing. There is very little actual fashion on this island and, since Midnight Farm closed, nowhere to buy truly interesting women’s clothing. I recently bought an island design team’s dress– a pretty, belted frock, and after the first wearing, the buttons started falling off and seams and the hem came undone. I really do try to support island businesses, but I buy my clothes off-island because I like fashion and an interesting, original, well-made, chic style. When I don’t care and just want to hang out in a sweat shirt and elastic waist pants, I buy clothes here.

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