When it comes to dapper men with a keen sartorial sense, look no further than James Aguiar.
James is the fashion director for high-end publisher Modern Luxury, and so we were extra eager to catch up with him and get a sense of what his day-to-day is like.
Keep reading to find out how James went from styling mannequin wigs at Macy's years ago to landing his dream job now. Plus, he reveals what lifts his spirits after a long day and his thoughts on the dying art of calligraphy.
And be sure to read to the very end to watch a video of James dishing on the hottest upcoming trends!
What was your very first job?
My very first job was picking blueberries in a local blueberry patch. I made 50 cents a quart, which basically meant I made $2.50 per day. The following year I was promoted to manager. I was 13-years-old.
How did you get started in your career?
I got started in my career early by styling the wigs for mannequins in Macy's windows. I saw that there could be a career in visual merchandising, and thought if I am going to do this, why not do it at the best store on the planet: Bergdorf Goodman. I called up and got a job the next week! Bergdorf's jump-started my career and passion for fashion, media and all things sublime, exquisite and luxurious.
Who are some of your career heroes?
Some of my career heroes are people I have worked with and people who I admire. Linda Fargo taught me to always keep pushing for a better idea, to never settle and to fight for who and what you believe in! Kelly Wearstler, because of her incredible sense of style and boundary-pushing. She has an incredible eye that blurs the line of interior design, fashion, and needle-pushing that never bores. And, of course, Diana Vreeland, who is every editor's icon. She still teaches us to this day to be brave, to push, to look and most importantly to "see" everything around us. What I would give to spend a day or even an hour in that rarified air!
What's a typical workday like for you?
A typical day is a mix of meetings, market appointments, shoot run throughs, conversations with celebrities and their reps, planning shoots, executing shoots, cleaning up from shoots, seeing new photographers, bantering creatively with existing ones, etc. In short, typical doesn't exist nor would I want it to!
Describe your office décor. What was your inspiration?
My office decor has a split personality. One side has to be clean and sparse, as I do run throughs and styling in my office and I need a minimal space in which to work. The other side is a chaotic mix of inspiration and existing work taped to the walls as a reminder of where I have been and where I want to go with the fashion pages of the many magazines we produce. Luckily, it is an unusually large office in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
Name five things that are on your desk right now.
Saint Laurent look book (dying over this), iPhone and mophie, thank you notes (luckily) from designers and brands, bottle of Evian, and a pair of Tom Ford reading glasses.
What do you typically wear to work?
My work attire is filled with color and details. I've been snapped often when heading to my office by the legendary Bill Cunningham. A shout out from him can make your day. I mix a lot of Paul Smith, Louis Vuitton and Burberry, with H&M and Uniqlo. Right now I have a fondness for Hook + Albert, a navy blue double breasted blazer, and strong color khakis. It's rare to find me in head to toe black. I also scour flea market in search of vintage Pucci ties and Hermes pocket squares.
What are your favorite stores to shop for work clothes?
I typically shop for work clothes at Paul Smith, Bergdorf Goodman Men's third floor (which has recently gone through a tremendous renovation) and my partner's closet!
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
Don't get fired. I can't tell you who told me that, because they were promptly terminated…
Finish the sentence…
Today for lunch I had...soup. Every day is a different soup.
The first website I log onto everyday is… E! Online. I know it sounds like a huge suck up, but its true! Followed by style.com and wwd.com.
The grooming product I swear by is… Suavecito. I love the way it sounds/smells and the look it gives my hair. Plus, my barber, Junior at Pugsley's, swears by it!
My must-have work gadget is…my iPhone. I'm so dependent on it. It's any unhealthy relationship.
My usual Starbucks order is… a Grande Latte, and now we get daily affirmations from Oprah on the cup sleeves!
If I need a quick break at work I usually…get a shoe shine at Jim's Shoe Repair. It always lifts my spirits and puts an extra spring in my step!
If I wasn't doing this job I would… be a calligrapher. It's a dying art that is still so necessary today. I worship Bernard Maisner!
The best part of my job is…the sheer creativity. I get to conceptualize, produce, style and art direct so many different shoots. From celebrity to fashion, to mens and brides, there is nothing we don't do. I feel blessed to work with the most exciting designers and the most creative people and to have a job that takes me places people dream about.