About six years ago, Eric Himel found himself lost in a sea of pseudo-stylists on the West Coast. So, Himel did something different—he moved to the decidely less fashion-obsessed Chicago.
But if anyone can put the chic in Chicago, it's Himel. Today, besides styling private clients and conducting his signature “Closet Purge” service, Himel is a fashion contributor for Windy City LIVE!, and works with Giuliana and Bill Rancic (he's also set to appear on a few episodes of their show this season). And on April 15, Himel will be the style expert at Bright Pink's Fab-Fest in Chicago, an annual fundraising event for prevention and early detection of breast cancer.
Here, Himel talks his expert subject—style—and spills on some of his favorite places to shop in the city.
Michigan Avenue: What is your fashion philosophy?
Eric Himel: I love clothes but I don’t think dressing should be difficult or stressful. Whatever happens—weight fluctuates or you have a baby or your schedule gets busy—my whole philosophy is that whatever is in your closet should fit you, you should feel good in it, and it should look good on you.
I try to get your closet there, to a point where anything that you pull out works.
MA: You’re known for helping people purge their closets, but what’s your favorite item in your own closet?
EH: I have this leather shirt from The Jean Shop in New York. It’s a western-style shirt, with snap buttons. It’s handmade from amazing leather, and I just love that look—masculine and really earthy. I like to wear it with different accessories to style it up a little.
MA: How would you describe the fashion in Chicago?
EH: New York has that street vibe, and LA has the glamour thing, but people in Chicago are very down-to-earth and practical—it’s what I love about them and what frustrates me about them.
I love it because it makes them real people, great people—but sometimes they don’t take chances. Once they’re shown how to wear something that’s a little outside the box, though, they really like it.
MA: What are your favorite places to shop in the city?
EH: For men, Haberdash and Haberdash EDC. I also like Apartment Number 9.
For women, Space 519. They source out things that are really different; they get a lot of cool, small designers from New York, LA, and Europe. Also, Scoop is a great place for trendy, casual clothes. Perchance Boutique has fashionable stuff and I love the staff—the staff can make or break a store experience.