A graduate of the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York, Eric Himel moved to Chicago in 2006. “I wanted to be a fashion designer,” he explains. “But I moved to Los Angeles after school around the time celebrities started appearing on the covers of magazines instead of models, and the more celebrities I styled the more I realized I enjoyed being a stylist. I came to Chicago to stand out, and there was a real thirst for the services I provide like styling and closet clean-outs.” With clients throughout the city and suburbs, Mr. Himel’s a go-to on all things Chicago style…
Define ‘Chicago style.’ The Chicago woman’s style can best bedescribed as understated and practical. Chicago women enjoy quality dressing and finer accessories.
Do you notice a difference from neighborhood to neighborhood? Not really. My clients are all over the city and suburbs. I guess the diffrenece is more about the women’s aesthetic. There’s classic, modern, edgy and glam. It’s not by neighborhood, more by the way they like to dress.
Is there a difference between city and suburb? Definitely. There’s a suburb-type ‘uniform.’ But a lot of it has to do with time constraints, having kids and maybe not being able to get into the city to shop as much. They may shop at the same stores and end up looking a little bit the same. Some of the women in the suburbs look a little formulaic.
People talk about fashion faux pas and ‘breaking rules.’ Are there rules anymore? In 2013 there aren’t a lot of rules. Chicago women, being so practical, tend to ask me about them more often than not. I tell them to take more chances, think outside the box. People say, ‘No white after Labor Day.’ I love winter white – yearround. It’s more about the fabrication than the color. You wouldn’t wear white linen after Labor Day, but you can wear a winter white sweater.
What are three pieces every woman should own? 1. A classic black legging – it transcends age. 2. A coat from Burberry – they have an amazing selection and their clothes are so well made. 3. An investment boot. You can wear boots for seven months and they go with a pant, skirt or dress.
What are some of the mistakes you notice women making in terms of their style choices? Not taking chances and always deferring to black because they think it’s easy. Black is classic but black can be boring, especially with the months of cold weather we have here. Sometimes you see a sea of black. It’s easy…when you don’t know what to do, get black. On the other end, it’s being a slave to trends. I get questions about what’s in style but my question is, ‘Is it right for you?’ There’s a fine line between looking trendy and looking like a trend addict.
Define ‘Chicago style’ for plus-size women. I hate the term ‘plus-size.’ Whenever my clients talk about their bodies, I want to make them look and feel amazing. So I try to elevate people and get rid of the term ‘plus-size.’ I feel for ‘plus-size’ women because designers often take a pattern and just make it bigger. You can’t do that because then you’re not really dressing a woman’s figure. I’d just like to change the whole viewpoint about plus-size women and the fact that having a different department makes it seem like there’s something wrong with them. If that’s the way they are, that’s just their body type. And I want them to feel equal to ‘regular-size’ women.
What’s the difference between a stylist and personal shopper? Nothing against personal shoppers, but a lot of stores offer ‘stylist services.’ And that’s great to bring clients more information about the clothes, a lot of times they’re just glorified sales people. You might find someone that’s great, but people like me, that are actually stylists, have a different type of background. It’s not about picking pretty clothes. And a lot of times, personal shoppers are trying to sell clothes from their store, whereas I don’t really care where I get the clothes from. It’s more about the person.
How does Chicago fashion compare to New York? So many brand-name stores have opened this year, which shows Chicago can be up there with New York and LA. Personally, I prefer shopping in Chicago because New York has so many people that you often miss a customer service level that you receive here. And Chicago has definitely become more sophisticated.