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Charlotte Fashion Expert Defines Southern Style

Wardrobe stylist Erica Hanks, who helps local celebrities get their look, also lists her favorite things to do and places to go in the Queen City.

Originally from Florida, Wardrobe Stylist Erica Hanks moved to Charlotte in 2006 in pursuit of a less hectic lifestyle for her family. The one-time elementary school teacher now specializes in perfecting the style of some of the area’s top celebrities, from Carolina Panthers to young professionals.

How did you start in the fashion industry?

I went to college for elementary education, because my parents wanted me to do something respectable and didn't think I would get a good job in fashion. I taught school for a few years, but my heart wasn't in it. I started out by writing about style and trends for a small magazine and that led to styling shoots, then me getting signed by an agency for commercial and editorial work. Eventually I began getting inquiries on personal styling and the rest is history.

How would you describe Charlotte's style?

Southern style is evolving, and Charlotte style is as well. People want individual style, and they want to be unique. Charlotte has a good mix of edge, vintage and classic, and it all works well. We have great local businesses that carry brands you see in Paris and New York, plus consignment and repurposed shops where you can find great pieces, which is also great for the environment. (Editor's Note: In Charlotte, for example, you can find the fashions of designer Tadashi Shoji, featured during Where magazine's fall-fashion month in September, at Neiman Marcus (SouthPark Mall); Nordstrom (SouthPark Mall and 9563 South Blvd.), and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th (Concord Mills, Charlotte Premium Outlets). 

What's the best thing about living in Charlotte?

The endless amount of fun things to do as a family. The Charlotte Symphony’s Lollipops series is one of our favorites, and Discovery Place. We also love going to all the sports events.

Charlotte Symphony Lollipops
The Charlotte Symphony's summertime Lollipops series allows kids to try classical instruments while expanding their hearts and minds. (©John Graham/Courtesy Charlotte Symphony)

What would you be if you weren't a professional wardrobe stylist?

I'd be that girl in the office who would come up with off-the-wall ideas that would work! So maybe something in marketing.

What's the one piece in your wardrobe you'll never give up on?

I always feel like myself in heels.

My Perfect Day

Smelly Cat Coffeehouse
Get an afternoon "pick-me-up" at Smelly Cat Coffeehouse in the NoDa neighborhood. (©Jay Bemis/MVP Photo)

Early-morning workout at Hilliard Studio.

10 am, a Dose of Culture

A visit to local art galleries. I especially like Hidell Brooks Gallery, Shain Gallery and the new SOCO Gallery uptown. Mostly, I hunt for art to add to my home.

Noon, Grabbing Grub

Lunch at the Sunflour Baking Company.

2 pm, a PM Pick-Me-Up

Coffee at Smelly Cat Coffeehouse, ordered to go …

3 pm, Reading Date

Romare Bearden Park, where I’d hang out and read a book for the rest of the day. Heaven!

For more on Hanks, visit www.theericahanks.com.

Erica Hanks
Charlotte fashion, Hanks says, is a "good mix of edge, vintage and classic"; she often sports heels as part of her wardrobe. (©Chris Edwards)