We know we are in for a treat as soon as we walk into Carlos Cardoza's ranch-style home and hear Frank Sinatra crooning from the record player. But before we can get carried away by the pink retro kitchen and colorful decor, Cardoza takes us straight to his favorite room: the closet, a seafoam-colored room replete with tub, private commode, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and wide dressing area.
By day, Cardoza works as a graphic designer for Heritage Auctions. By night, he is a man about town, dressed in threads from his incredible vintage wardrobe.
"People know me as the guy who has the right outfit for every occasion," Cardoza says. To prove it, he points to his 45 Converse Chuck Taylors, 27 vintage shirts, 26 WWII bomber jackets, 52 hats, 46 suits, 85 neckties and 40 cardigan sweaters.
Cardoza says he prefers the way men "used to dress, back in the day." And comfort? "Doesn't matter," he says. "It's about the look."
In addition to being the most colorful, Cardoza's closet is the most organized we've ever seen, from the rows of neatly arranged shoes to the racks of perfectly hanging slacks and blazers. He even labels the many carefully folded sweaters, with names like the Hopalong Cassidy, the Mickey Mouse and, naturally, the Frank Sinatra.
"I wear a different sweater to work, so at one point I had people 'name that sweater' — with rules, of course. Sweaters had to be named after a vintage celebrity," he says.
Almost everything in Cardoza's closet comes from another time period; he says he prefers the way men "used to dress, back in the day." And comfort? "Doesn't matter," he says. "It's about the look."
The items in Cardoza's closet speak more to his lifestyle than his infatuation with the past. He is the ultimate partygoer. Themed parties and events are his favorites — the ones he plans (roughly six a year) and the ones he attends on a weekly basis. You might have spotted him at one of Oak Cliff's themed bike rides, at Sons of Hermann Hall on swing-dancing night, or at the Quixotic World's Boylesque Show donning a leopard fez and sipping amaretto.
"I remember going shopping with my mom and seeing all the colors and endless choices of shirts," Cardoza says, reflecting on his childhood. "Even in my hippie days, I wore the widest bell bottoms."
So where does he find the energy to dress up, party hop and entertain after all these years? "I live every day like it's my last," he says.