Interior Designer Michael Arguello’s FWFash/Hi:5

Dashing. Dapper. Adorable. A truly artistic + sweetly well-mannered gentleman.

Michael Arguello, interior designer

Interior designer Michael Arguello stepped into our sights via our mutual friend and colleague, Tom Julian, at the NYC Internet Week about a year ago. I fall more in love with him every time I get the chance to catch up with him! Luckily, I get to run into him at many menswear industry events, fashion shows, and occasionally, I even get to have tea with him in SoHo! He has amazing style and always looks so debonair. But the best part of Michael’s style is his sweet nature, effervescent compliments and honest interest he shows during conversation. I will stake my reputation on it, this man’s a real gentleman.

We hope you appreciate his take on style and fashion as much as we do. We’re celebrating Michael as the first feature in FashionWhirled’s newly tweaked, inaugural FWFash/Hi:5 feature of 2013. Please, read on!

Michael Arguello with Mary Ellen Barone, Mike Crooks and me

FashionWhirled:  What role does fashion and style play in your everyday personal life? You possess amazing style and composure and always come across as a sharp-dressed gentleman! What is your creative process for dressing everyday? For dressing for a special (i.e., black tie) occasion?

Michael Arguello with Mike Crooks and me at an AskMen.com event

Michael Arguello:  Fashion and style both play a major role in my life.  I am a product of my experience which is compacted with art, and culture. I am a born-and-bred New Yorker and take cues from said environment. I believe that one must dress for the world they live in, but also balance what they feel most comfortable in or what they like. In my experience, it’s never been about going with trends and copying what’s out there.  I love dressing in classic custom tailored clothes in luxury fabrics. It’s like a signature for me.  When it comes to purchasing, I am conscious of where all of my clothes are made, what factory the clothes are being produced and what my money is supporting. It’s important to neglect name brands and instead take note on what the materials are and again where it is being produced. I order a la carte and am fine with mixing high to low.  As a local, I enjoy checking out sample sales or stores known for great bargains like Century 21. Even when I work with an interior design project, I think about how to take the luxurious and compliment with affordable indulgences.

Crisp + tailored – white shirt simplicity, Michael seen here with Nina Garcia at a Parsons School of Design event

Currently, I love elegant Italian shoes (who doesn’t) and my favorite shoe designer that I get most excited about is French shoe maker Jean-Michel Cazabat. Thankfully he opened up a shop on Bleecker Street. My dear friend Igor Srzic Cartledge, in the UK, has helped me select the most impeccable suits that work best with my stature and size.

The creative process for everyday dressing would have to be what I call my “Uniform.” I love a dark rigid denim slim fit blue jeans without any tags or embellishments. I love wearing round toe shoes, whether it’s a loafer or a lace up, and that is my signature.  The layered concept works for me, too.  I love a crisp white button-downshirt with a navy or black two-button blazer. If it’s brisk, I love to layer with a fitted V-neck sweater. I love color and I’m not afraid to wear it. My favorite ensembles are always monochromatic for a more polished look.

Casual chic, denim + V-neck

When it comes to “black tie” — I think that it’s easy because one is limited on what can actually be appropriate. The only effort would be to replenish my bow ties because once photographed in it, it’s difficult to wear it again unless it’s classic, understated color. I like to be bold in color choices but don’t stray away from the shape of bow tie I select.

FW:  What was your “Aha!” moment that led you into fashion and design? What’s been your favorite piece of clothing EVER?!

MA:  “Aha!” is an everyday! moment because fashion and design is the very fabric of my existence and I am constantly being inspired and l learn something new every day. I’ve always been a creative and strong in opinion about fashion since an early age.

This past year, I had great AHA moments as I traveled from furniture trade shows to art exhibitions to fashion shows.  Eclectic to antique. Modern to retro.  It’s endless.

I have, like many others, experimented with fashion but I’ve always gone back to my ideal of looking elegant, timeless.  One of my favorites is — preppy with an edge. I’ve always admired international designers and their vision.

And for my favorite piece of clothing?   Bow ties. I love them!  Love pairing them with a contrasting pocket square. Never like matching them. They also make me smile and it’s the next best thing to a scarf.

Bow tie love

FW:  Who is your muse? Why and how does she/he/they inspire you within the realm of fashion and style?

MA:  New York City cultural institutions are my muse, which encompasses the decorative  and the performative.  Architecture is big. I take away line, color, and pulse. All of these things create fashion.  I tend to photograph parts of the city for the authentic skyline…because I know that it will change with new architecture.  I appreciate the old to the new, the history that creates the backstory as well as the visionaries behind the building.

The Woolworth Building alongside the Beekman Tower. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.

One of my favorites is by the legendary Cass Gilbert who created the Woolworth building juxtaposed and/or in stark contrast to the starchitect Frank Gehry Beekman tower. The cool sleek mixed in with the old world gothic charm is what makes this city visually exciting. I take this approach with fashion because we should always look to the past for guidance but think forward to make our fashion more exciting. This approach also helps me professionally as an interior designer.

FW:  If you could have one designer – dead or alive – redo your wardrobe, who would that be and why? What pieces would you want added to your wardrobe that you already do not possess?

MA:  There are many.  There are geniuses everywhere.  I wouldn’t hesitate if given the opportunity to meet the great Hubert de Givenchy. His work is so essential to many things relevant today. It would be such a delight to be his muse or even be in his presence.  His influences are always in front of me as I watch old films, look at fashion history books or review pictures of Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn wearing a gown by Hubert de Givenchy in “Sabrina”

For my wardrobe, I would love to add more shoes to my wardrobe in many different colors and textures. In good taste everything else would remain the same. Since I am really picky with shoes and they must be above all else comfortable without compromising, so I own no more than a dozen.

FW:  What words of wisdom or inspiration, or daily affirmation do you strive to live by? And what legacy, fashion or otherwise, do you hope to leave to the future and why?

MA:  Again, when in doubt consult your nearest tailor. Make sure the sleeves are not drooping and your jeans or pants aren’t dragging to the floor. I counsel my friends on not to look sloppy.  We are in NYC and all the major stores have great salespeople and tailors, so take advantage of them.

My must-love-list:  Ralph Lauren (for lifestyle), Loro Piana (for fabrics) and Hermes (for the materials). I also believe that personal grooming is an important element to having a completed look. A proper hair cut is a regular routine.  It’s one of those things that all people should make an investment in. Men should take care of their nails and have them professionally serviced. It’s something any gender notices right away. Consulting a dermatologist or aesthetician about your skin is important to me because it helps keeps my skin healthy and informs me on my skin needs. All of these tips are something that I live by and seldom neglect.

Finally, to be engaging and think positively is the most important fashion tool that I can share with my friends, family, clients.  In the end, people remember how you made them feel; people will also notice how comfortable you are with yourself and projecting confidence, style, stature…no matter where or when.

Caszh, with color on shirt + shoes

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