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. She wears, but is not limited to, Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren, and Lily 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 that’s a far-off presumption. Martha’s Vineyard can be a pretty casual place. So what is Island style?
Meet husband-wife architect-interior design duo Mary Rentschler and John Fuller. Mary, born outside Chicago, has had an Island interior design business for many years, and John, a Massachusetts native, worked in commercial architecture for over 35 years before moving to the Island and switching to residential. The couple lives in Vineyard Haven and works out of a small studio, Lake Street Studio, just a stone’s throw away from their main house — “the 500 commute,” they call it.
Tasks vary day-to-day, and so do Mary and John’s styles. If projects pull them off-campus, they’ll dress it up a little. If they’re headed to a meeting, they’ll dress it up a little more. But one thread holds true no matter the occasion: comfort, practicality, and ease.
How do you dress for work?
John: I’ll keep it pretty casual in the morning: workout clothes, sweats, my Olukai slippers.
Mary: My go-to is this flannel Moogi cardigan over leggings. Hunter boots from the Green Room. Although those are my “commuting shoes.” I usually wear slippers in the studio.
John: And I’ll change after breakfast. Casual plaid shirts and jeans, jeans, and more jeans. Merrills are a good daytime shoe. When I’m in the studio all day, I won’t really get too worked up over what I have on.
Talk about your off-campus looks.
John: If I’m meeting a client, I’ll wear this well-worn casual work jacket. It’s Harris Tweed and I’ve had it forever. The liner’s blown out and I’ve had the elbows patched, but it’s lasted forever. And then jeans again. I wear jeans all the time. Brown Doc Marten chakkas for shoes. I wanted a casual shoe with some integrity — waterproof so that I could wear it in mucky conditions.
Mary: If I’m leaving the studio, sometimes I’ll just change my shirt. I have this distressed flannel from Mikel Hunter that I’ll pair with a belt. And clogs from the Green Room.
What would you say inspires your style?
Mary: Honest fabrics. Comforting textures. Rich colors and patterns. My style was influenced early on in my teens by travels abroad.
What are your go-to stores?
John: Sun Dog, Brickman’s, the Green Room. I can get everything I want at those three stores. Basics too, although I don’t do much shopping. Mary buys everything for me from J. Crew.
Mary: For me, Green Room, Stina Sayre, Nochi, Slate. I like to shop local as much as possible, but I’ll also shop Uniqlo, Moogli, and AllSaints.
How would you describe Island style?
Mary: Anything goes. Shabby-chic to useful to exotic. Anthropology kind of has the look — all that crazy everything. A little offbeat. Boho. From the hippie chick to the exact opposite. People bring so many lives here, so they have many fashion statements from those lives. And then they shed a few layers but bring some of it along. They put Frye boots with an uptown skirt. It all gets mixed and that’s what makes it perfect.
John: I think the Vineyard really neutralizes people to a casual, casual chic, or casual-casual. If you’re up-Island, the grubbier the better. If you’re in Edgartown, maybe you’ll be on the preppy side. Here in Vineyard Haven, we’re just level-headed. Practical clothes.
Mary: We’re meat and potato types here.
Is there someone at work you often shower with style compliments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll give them some love in the next edition of The Local.