When people think style on Martha’s Vineyard, a certain vision sweeps over the minds of the unknowing. Salmon-colored shorts with tiny smiling whales. Pastel-pink dresses with teal embroidered flowers. He wears, but is not limited to, Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger. Martha’s Vineyard — home of the kings and queens of prep.
This recurring article usually goes on to disprove the stereotype described above, highlighting the Island’s often casual, agriculturally minded aesthetic, and individuals whose styles reflect that. But to celebrate the end of the season, we wanted to check in with a group of summer regulars whose job it is to embody those tiny smiling whales while harmoniously serenading all within earshot.
Meet the men of the Vineyard Sound. We caught up with Ted Randell, Kyle Russell, Sam Petersen, Charlie Manning, Nick Parker, Nick Greer, Ian Stockham, Charlie Gold, Nolan Peters, and Jermaine Doris. Hailing from colleges all over the East Coast — from Skidmore to Wesleyan to William and Mary to Connecticut College — the group adds new members every summer to fill out their vocal range. And yes, while their bright color palette sometimes does make them the punchline, it is this uniform that Islanders and visitors have come to know and love.
How do you dress for work?
Ted: We are totally sponsored by Vineyard Vines — we are dressed in Vineyard Vines head to toe, including the ’flops.
Nick P: Although we’ve performed barefoot! It adds to the Islandy vibe.
Ted: Our partnership with Vineyard Vines started in 2015 as an unofficial, “Have a couple clothes!” Now it’s a developed relationship, and they give us three full outfits for the whole summer: three pairs of shorts, three dress shirts, three polos, belts, flip-flops, ties, etc. An alumni actually just sent us a box of his old vintage Vineyard Vines clothes because he doesn’t wear them as much anymore. We all live together, so if I want to borrow Sam’s tie, I’ll just ask him. We share clothes all the time.
Ian: It’s kind of like Spongebob’s closet, where there is just a lineup of the same outfit.
Sam: Sometimes I’ll walk into the living room all dressed and realize that someone is wearing the exact same thing. I’ll have to head right back to my room.
Nolan: What’s funniest to me is when we’re walking around Edgartown and we pass someone on the street wearing the exact same thing as one of us.
How has the group’s style evolved over time?
Ted: The ’90s were quite a time. If you look at pictures of the old guys, it’s very much like baggy khakis. They dressed like Joey from “Friends.” They wore really hideous shirts; the tie patterns were crazy.
There was also a time when people in the group would have different brands of polos and lengths of shorts, and it just looks kind of jumbled. We want to look sharp.
What instructions do you give new members?
Ted: We tell people to not bring many street clothes because we wear this most of the time. We have our street clothes, beach clothes, and performing clothes.
Charlie: When I showed up [the clothes] were all folded for me waiting on my bed. It’s all included.
Talk about some of your themed shows.
Ted: We do Twin Day, where we dress in identical pairs with another person in the group. And we do Short Tie Day — we tie our ties as short as possible. It’s just something fun to do for our audiences.
Charlie: We also have a travel-themed show [where the group sing songs related to travel, wears costumes, and performs small skits].
What are people’s reactions to your outfits?
Ted: We get a lot of comments while we’re on the street.
Nolan: People think we’re part of a wedding party; we get confused for a bachelor party a lot.
Sam: I always wonder how many guys in Edgartown dressed similar get asked if they’re the Vineyard Sound.
Ted: Being recognized as a part of an Island tradition is really nice. People automatically have a connection to you, and will say, “I’ve been seeing you guys since 1992!” It’s a special community to be a part of.
Nick P: I was wearing a polo, and a little kid recognized me when we sang at one of the elementary schools on the last day of school. He brought his mom over to me, and gave me a quarter. It was really cool.
How do you make the look your own?
Jermaine: I roll up my shorts, cuff my sleeves.
Ian: We get all these funky-colored clothes, and it’s fun to dress in the most ridiculous combinations. As long as you’re confident about it, you can go for it.
Kyle: There are times when I’ve seen Sam dress entirely in pink. Nolan did a mint outfit the other day.
Nolan: There’s a two-week period after the end of the summer when I just can’t wear those bright clothes anymore.
Charlie: I wear the shorts year-round. They’re so nice.
Talk about the music.
Sam: We definitely take the music seriously. We spend a lot of time rehearsing, making sure that when people even hear us for two seconds, it will sound nice. But we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We act like goofballs onstage, but when it comes to the chords and noises that come out of our mouths, we try to perfect those.
Ted: We’re just musicians that are here on the Island. The clothing is part of the job.
Is there someone at work you often shower with style compliments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll give ’em some love in the next issue of The Local.