What Islanders Wear to Work: Josey Kirkland dresses for Felix Neck


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 know that’s a far-off presumption. Martha’s Vineyard is a pretty casual place. In a new series launched last month, The Local features different Islanders in their natural habitats — at work. We figured it’s a fitting way to highlight our stylin’ and hard-working people.

Meet Josey Kirkland. She’s the education coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Felix Neck, and has lived here the past six years. At 32, she considers Martha’s Vineyard home — at least for now. Her workdays at Felix Neck flex with the seasons. During the school year, she’s organizing environmental education programs with different Island schools, planning public programming within community groups, and overseeing administrative work. During summer, she directs the Fern and Feather Day Camp, and supervises kayak tours and other seasonal sanctuary programs. So what does all this mean as far as style goes? Similar to the work, her style flexes with the seasons.

How do you dress for Felix Neck?

There are guidelines within Mass Audubon. We have to look professional, but casual professional. No tatters or holes in our clothes. From Memorial Day through Columbus Day, we’re required to wear a uniform, either a sweet button-up “Steve Irwin” shirt or a Mass Audubon fleece or vest. The only other requirement is no flip-flops. But after Columbus Day, we don’t have to wear this consistent uniform anymore. Now I have to think a lot harder.

So how would you describe your style?

Comfortable. Being a wildlife sanctuary and an environmental educator, I’m not trying to wear anything I don’t mind getting dirty. Some days I’m mucking around in a pond with third graders — I’m not out there in fancy attire. Most of my clothes are pretty casual.

Do you have an outfit staple?

I really like sweaters and cardigans. I have this one that has a hole in the elbow, and everyone’s always telling me to put an elbow patch over it, but it already has one. Birkenstocks in summer. I’ve also been told I have pretty loud and patterned pants.

Ever decide to dress up a little?

I actually got my hair cut yesterday, and I desperately needed it. Hair never looks better than it does coming out of the salon, so it actually made me want to dress up this morning. But people make such a big deal about it that I just don’t end up doing it. Whenever you see fancy, stylish people on-Island, you think, What’s the occasion? I just avoid that.

How would you describe Island style?

The style here is “not trying.” I used to live in Boston, and things that wouldn’t be appropriate in the city are beyond appropriate here. It’s nice not having to give it much thought.

Has your style evolved since moving from Boston?

I’ve always worked in the environmental field, so I’m used to being in the field and outdoors. So in that sense, not really. I’ve always worn big hiking boots and clothes I don’t mind getting dirty. But when I went out in Boston, I gave my outfits a lot more thought than I do here going out to the Ritz or something. The social aspect of the way I dress has definitely changed since moving to the Island.
I also notice I shop a lot less. I pretend shopping doesn’t exist on-Island, because it’s usually super-expensive. I want to support local businesses, but it’s different when you have access to clothing and shopping everywhere. It’s not in my face as much here, and I’m realizing I don’t need much. I’m not a big shopper like I was when I lived in the city.

If you do shop on-Island, where do you go?

Sometimes I go to Citrine. I did find an epic bear sweater at Trader Fred’s, but I wouldn’t say I shop at Trader Fred’s. Like I said, I sort of pretend nothing’s here. I know Green Room is a thing. Thrift stores sound like a great idea, but I usually can’t make their hours. There’s online shopping, but I’m not much of an Internet person, except for when Anthropology has sales on their sale items. Then I get suckered.

Do you get style compliments at work?

We have a primarily female staff here, so yes, we all compliment one another a lot. I got my hair cut yesterday, and my boyfriend came over and didn’t say anything. Then I walked into work today, and Liz is like, Your hair looks great! The female energy is very complimentary. Now we’re out of our uniforms and haven’t seen each other expressing ourselves in our own fashion. The past couple days have been very complimentary and fun.

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