Dress for Success
In Tina Burgos’s new Needham home, beloved pieces from her now-closed shop Stel’s get a second act.
The year 2012 was bittersweet for Tina Burgos. In April she and her husband, Dave Nauyokas, swapped their Brighton condo for a house in Needham—“an impulse purchase,” she says—so their four-year-old twins, Gemma and Riley, could have more room to grow. The move coincided with the couple’s difficult decision to close Stel’s, the long-running Newbury Street clothing shop they ran with a partner. “I had very mixed emotions about closing the shop,” says Burgos, who quickly landed a job at the Boston-based clothing and lifestyle brand Karmaloop as director of women’s buying. “Of course there was a sense of loss. But what I’ve come to realize during these past few months is that no matter what I’m doing professionally, I’m still the same person I’ve always been.”
There’s evidence of that in her minimally furnished home, where many of the pieces that once showcased Stel’s chic wares now hold her clothing and accessories collection.
As both a mother of young children and a stylish career woman, Burgos is constantly chasing something or someone, making a practical wardrobe a must: leggings, scarves, and flats, peppered with a mix of oversize floral-print dresses, skinny raw denim, and drapey knits. “I like to dress comfortably,” she says. “My only consistent rule is no heels. I love beautiful heels, and I consider them to be my collector’s items. But high heels are not comfortable. So I don’t wear them.”
Since April, Burgos and Nauyokas have spent their spare time decorating their home with finds from Burgos’s regular hunting trips in and around Boston and New York. “These are pieces that exude a history,” she says, “and we acquired all of them in very random ways: purchased from an antiques show, found on the side of the road, given to us as a gift. So many truly have special meaning to us.”
This antique Goyard trunk was a “major score,” Burgo says, purchased for $200 in the early 2000s from the now-closed Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. Now it’s filled with some of her favorite printed pieces, including a vintage Geoffrey Beene dress found at Brimfield, zebra-skin heels by Givenchy, and a floral dress by Rachel Comey. “I hope the twins will appreciate the hand-me-downs,” she says.
Burgos, wearing a silk dress by Gary Graham and boots by Rachel Comey, sits in front of an Ethnicraft hutch from Lekker Home. The wire baskets were found at Brimfield and used at Stel’s to hold everything from children’s books to scarves.
Burgos found these combat boots in a Chelsea Army-Navy surplus store nearly 20 years ago, the summer after she graduated from Wellesley College. “It took me years to finally break them in,” she says. “Because I put so much work into these boots, I’ll never get rid of them.” The Costa Rican wraparound bracelet was a gift, as was the wooden military footlocker. “Clients from Stel’s found it in a store in Maine that specializes in nautical objects,” she says. “Now it’s my husband’s nightstand.”
This industrial shelving unit, a leftover fixture from Stel’s, is a nice contrast to some of Burgos’s more-feminine clothing and housewares, including printed jackets, piles of denim, and colorful clutches. “I have a lot of clutches,” she says. “They’re not the most practical carrying case, but I appreciate the elegant, simple lines. They also force me to make sure I’m only taking the absolute essentials.”
Burgos commemorated the twins’ birth with a locket for herself and a matching one for her mom. (“Eventually, I’ll get around to putting their pictures in it,” she says.) The “R” and “G” necklaces, crafted by Jamie Wolf, were a gift from her husband, as were the various rings. “He is very good in the jewelry department,” she says.
“I’m very drawn to sparkly, shiny things, as long as they’re not gaudy,” Burgos says. “And I’m not shy about wearing pieces like these during the day.” Here she’s paired a dress by Electric Feathers, a line she sold at Stel’s, with a gold mesh necklace from Brimfield.
A wooden box, another Brimfield find, holds both jewelry and memories: a sapphire-and-raw-diamond necklace custom made for Burgos’s wedding; an antique bone bangle purchased for $10 at Brimfield; a pair of Paul Smith brogues found in New York years ago; a skull ring from the Japanese jewelry designer Hiroshi Kure; and the Rolex watch Burgos bought herself after landing her first job out of grad school. “I like to mark accomplishments with pieces of jewelry,” she says.
Aside from the cribs, a white dresser from Shabby Chic was the only piece of furniture that Burgos put in the girls’ old nursery. Now it displays a Polaroid taken by her brother in the late ’90s (“a classic Green Line moment,” she says); Persol sunglasses bought during her Lisbon honeymoon; and a leather vest by Gary Graham, one of Burgos’s favorite designers.
Photos by Jesse Burke