Burt’s Closet

It’s easy to see why Burt Mulford did a little modeling for Ralph Lauren back in the day. But even his lean physique and chiseled features don’t tell us everything about his impeccable sense of style. For that, you must spend a little time in his closet.

Which, is exactly what my friend Kaisa and I did recently. We met Burt outside his historic condominium building in Tampa’s Hyde Park neighborhood. We arrived at happy hour, and upon entering his chic abode, I couldn’t think of a happier place to spend the hour. As we made our way to his closet, I was transported back to my days of living in New York City, feeling the vibe of dark-lacquered hardwood floors and the Louis Ghost Chair perched at the desk. And just when I thought the place couldn’t get any more stylish…

…I walked into the closet.

{Burt’s Closet}

I’m not certain what was more fabulous – the closet design or what Burt had hanging in the closet. (Paging Carrie Bradshaw!) Every detail was impeccably executed. Mirrored sliding doors, designed to give the closet a clean, uncluttered feel, slid back and forth on smooth metal tracks. One side of the closet displayed Burt’s numerous pairs of Ferragamo loafers and the other side had colorful Pumas dotting the shelves. Whether dressy or casual, each pair of shoes was given it’s due by proper placement on well-lit shelves.

When designing the closet, Burt made certain that his luggage could be neatly stored and easily accessible, as traveling is a passion that he and his partner Dean Hamric share.  They returned recently from a two week journey through France that began in Paris and led them to the French Riviera. They stayed at the always urbane W Hotel in Paris (a personal favorite of mine as well). Since my husband, David, and I are planning a trip to France, I had to bend Burt’s ear on all the stylish things that he and Dean discovered while they were there.

They found it charming that French men wear scarves all year round. (How chic is that?) And while they found the Parisians fashion forward, at the top of their style list was the city of Avignon. It was here that Burt bought a beautiful Hermes belt and a well-fitting, aqua colored, terry polo shirt by Vilebrequin.

{The Vilebrequin Boutique in Avignon}

Loving the juxtaposition of the Hermes belt and the playful, bright shirt that he bought in the south of France, I had to ask – where did Burt get his sense of style? He said that it was an evolution really. But his first memory of falling in love with fashion was when he was about eight years old. He recalls shopping with his mother in Atlanta and desperately wanting a pair of white pants that had brightly colored dogs printed all over them.

And that was it. That spark of confidence; the je ne sais quoi that defines personal style. Some people never get any. Burt got enough for two people.

Burt’s style evolution continued while he was a grad student at the University of Southern California. He modeled a bit, which exposed him to cool designers – including Ralph Lauren. After graduating, he made his way to New York City. He found a job and befriended polished, well-dressed people, who also influenced his style.

These days, he is a portfolio manager in Tampa Bay. While he loves the area, he still yearns for his favorite shops in Paris, Los Angeles, and New York.  Over the years, he has discovered more than a few brands that have become his favorites and fill his closet. Here are a few:

Ledbury. The slim fit and wonderful hand of these dress shirts make these Burt’s go to option for work.

Lululemon. The brand he wears to work up a sweat.

Hugo Boss for just about anything, including the well fitting jeans. (I plan to buy my guy a pair of these jeans, which supposedly will give him a rock star butt.)

Emile Lafaurie. Burt discovered this chic brand in Paris. It is also sold in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and various cities in France, including Aix en Provence, another of Burt’s favorite cities.

Burt has his own ideas about what makes someone stylish, and he was eager to share them with us.

“Being well-groomed. An attention to detail – good quality shoes and handbags are a must. And confidence. There’s nothing more stylish than confidence.”

I couldn’t agree more. Confidence gives you the freedom to be fun, sexy, and down to earth. When you’re confident, you don’t care what other people think about you. You exude something authentic and intriguing. You can’t get it from a magazine, a book, or somebody else. You have to find your own. Burt certainly has.

These days, Burt is sharing his closet with his dashing partner Dean. I asked him if it was easy to share his closet after he put so much time and energy into designing it for himself. He said that he couldn’t be happier than to have such a wonderful person with whom to share his closet.

And that’s where we left it. Burt was off to get his hair cut, and Kaisa and I were off to have a skinny margarita at our favorite watering hole.  After raising a toast to Burt, his closet, and his impeccable sense of style, I realized that as fabulous as Burt is, there is a part of him that is just like the rest of us.

He’s a free spirit in search of the perfect closet and the perfect mate. Looks like he found both.

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