Clothing & Accessories, Chicago
The custom fitting and the attention to detail that is provided the second you walk into the store is really an exceptional experience. They go out of their way to make sure your clothing is custom tailored to your liking.
What to buy: If you are looking for men's custom clothes and that tailored to fit you then this is the place to go.
What to pay: It really depends on what you are looking for, I would say anywhere from 50-1,000 depending on what type of material and clothing you are looking for.
On our trip to Chicago late last Autumn, Mr. Connolly & I passed by this lovely store, with its potent promise of "Opening Soon!" They already had the shoes displayed in the window, guaranteeing flocks of shoe lovers to cascade through the door once they officially opened (which they FINALLY DID this past winter).
So, of course, I went back this spring. I window licked, as the French call it. I dream of those black&white flapper heels!
What to buy: Shoes, handbags, accessories
What to pay: Right now they're running a 30% off summer sale, with flip flops for $12 and shoes starting at $23. Very affordable, lovely shoes!
T.J. Maxx is a chain of American department stores owned by TJX Companies. It is the largest off-price apparel retailer in the United States offering brand name clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares. All merchandise is at least 20 - 60% below regular department and specialty store prices. The company operated 771 stores at the end of 2004, and has further growth opportunities in the U.S. The average store size of a T.J. Maxx store is 30,000 square feet.
What to buy: Looking for women's, mens and children's clothing? Designers but very low prices on selected items? Then visit this place ... You can find something nice if you really give a lot of efford into looking. Try to have a few hours cose it will took some time for you to explore the store.
Owner Heiji Choy modeled Hejfina after the kinds of lifestyle boutiques she admired in Paris and Tokyo. She specializes in designers that she feels express a modern, almost architectural sensibility to clothing design. You'll find both men's and women's clothes here plus handbags, shoes, and jewelry, as well as a small collection of books on design, art, and architecture. Labels include Parisian favorites Isabel Marant (I love!) and Vanessa Bruno, as well as homegrown designer Jasmine Shokrian and cult favorites like United Bamboo and Vena Cava. Expect to shell out a fair amount of cash, but it's worth it. And if you are lucky you will visit during one of their very good sales, where prices can be as much as 50 percent off.
What to pay: $200-900
There are a number of Marshall's located throughout the United States. Since this is one my wife shops quite frequently and one we stopped at in the City of Chicago last night I thought it would be good to put down a couple of my own thoughts.
Marshall's along with its retail twin T.J. Maxx is a place to find decent clothing, shoes, homegoods, etc at a very decent price. They are always bringing in a lot of new merchandise so going to these stores, even every couple of weeks, and you may find a lot of new and different merchandise.
Most of the items of clothing are not the latest designer styles, but in the few instances where I actually tag along to shop I will find a number of either last season or past season items from men's designers like Kenneth Cole. Last night they had a really nice Italian made brand shirt that is normally listed at $180, but at Marshall's was $60. I wasn't in the market for a shirt, but if I was this was a real buy.
What to buy: Hours at this store were:
Sunday - 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Monday through Saturday - 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
What to pay: Look at the Clearance Racks for some really good deals.
This store is my weakness! They sell a lot of European labels and really timeless pretty things. They carry a ton of Three Dots, some Vera Wang, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Mint, Inhabit, and they have amazing jewelry. They are also next door to Jake--a fashion forward boutique for guys and girls, and a bunch of other boutiques.
What to buy: Chicago has some of the best neighborhood shopping--each area catering to a certain demographic. Wicker Park attracts a youthful, fashion forward, hipster--both budget conscious and big spenders. Oak street has luxury label shopping and is home to the designer shops like Prada, Gucci, Chanel. Lincoln Park serves preppier college students and yuppies, while nearby Lakeview has grungy thrift shopping just blocks from upscale Southport boutiqueville. The recently developing West Loop also hides some incredible fashion forward shops for big spenders with discerning taste. There's something for everyone in this city--you just have to travel away from the Mag Mile!
What to pay: Anywhere from thrift store cheap to sky's the limit. My favorite shop, Tula, has prices that range from $50--$500.
Once the cozy home of a neighborhood pharmacy, Isabella's is a tiny storefront jammed with goodies. The entire left wall of the store remains floor-to-ceiling drawers and display cases. Cabinets now showcase mannequins, limited-edition underwear lithographs, and drawers and drawers of panties, bras, thongs, and G-strings. Those in the know enter the store and head straight for the bins to plow through the latest styles loosely organized by brand.
What to buy: What makes Isabellas such a shopper's paradise is that every single piece was researched and hand-picked from the highest-quality French, Italian, and American designers for class and comfort. This is the shop I go to for special evenings with my husband. They have a wonderful selection of items that are both pretty and comfortable. I recently bought some pieces by Cosa Bella and Honey Dew.
The rumor is that actress Julia Roberts shops here when she is in town.
What to pay: A little more than VS- but it is worth it!
Kelly and Elizabeth not only design women's clothes under the Eskell name, they run this boutique too, showcasing their own clothes as well as designs by other up-and-coming independent designers. The look of the store is really striking--kind of a mix of western vintage. I especially love the antlers that double as a necklace rack. They also carry a selection of vintage items, such as cowboy boots and Victorian blouses. Check the address before you go, as they might be moving soon.
What to pay: $150-400
This is a store for the girly-girl in you--very feminine, beautiful clothes. Lines include Nanette Lepore and Trina Turk. Think of a higher-quality, non-chain-store version of Anthropologie. They've been around for quite a while, so I don't know why they don't have a website. Don't let that stop you--this is a beautiful shop.
What to pay: It's not cheap here--think $200-500.
In the last ten years, so many cool and unique clothing and accessories boutiques have sprung up all over the city. No longer do Chicagoans need to go to New York or Los Angeles to find cutting-edge fashion by both well-known names and independent designers. We've got it all right here.
As a fashion writer, I've watched these changes close-up over the last ten years, writing about new boutiques all over the city and suburbs and getting to know many of the owners personally. Now I've launched a personalized shopping tour service to introduce visitors to boutiques they might not otherwise know about. I create custom tours for individuals or groups to visit the clothing and accessories boutiques I know they'll love based on their preferences--whether they want to see funky and avant-garde fashion or prefer to see more classic, elegant styles. Read more about me and the services at my website, www.heatherkenny.com, and please get in touch if you're interested in an insider's shopping tour! In the meantime, see below for some of my favorite stores.
This is one store where you get to create a handbag that no one else has. Owner/ designer Jen Velarde and her friend Robin Quinn set up 1154 Lill in the late '90s. The name reflected the store's original location- which was at 1154 Lill Street.
The way the store works is you can pick out both the style of the bag you want (Each bag has a name – i.e. The Shelley, the Katie, the Quincy, the Lynn, the Amy……) and the fabric for the outside and the inside. You place your order and in a few days/week you pick up your finished bag.
I have made bags for my sister for her birthday and have made 1 or 2 bags for myself over the years.
The stores also hold regular handbag parties – a perfect opportunity to socialise and shop at the same time! It is a great idea for bridal parties.
What to buy: This unique boutique offers it’s own unique line of limited edition ready-made handbags, totes, makeup bags and other accessories to satisfy the need for immediate gratification.
The bags range in various sizes and colours to match any outfit and any style. New fabrics choices are brought in about once a week, as others are retired, so regular visitors are rewarded with fresh choices each time
What to pay: The line of “LILL Bags” ranges in price from the mid $70’s to $130. Accessory pieces such as makeup bags, a wallet and a coin purse range from $24 - $36. Custom orders take four weeks to be completed, however there is no additional charge to “create” an individual piece.
I really love Anthropologie because they carry brands that you will not find at the department stores.
Clothing is clustered in minicollections throughout the sprawling space. The store features a sweeping, sculptural post-and-beam structure which creates a series of niches or vignettes along a curved path. The vignettes range from a Tunisian Casbah-inspired collection of exotic wares to a gauzy bedroom tableau.
What to buy: Typical items include stretchy Michael Stars tees, beaded Easel cardigans, denim skirts (from Anthropologie's own label), and Cosabella lingerie. I really love the Sleeping on Snow label sweaters. They also have a few cases of unique jewelry.
In addition to clothing, they have housewares that look like they came from a Parisian flea market. Also, upscale luxury bath products. This is a great place to buy someone a birthday gift.
Anthropologie is owned by the same company as Urban Outfitters. If you don't want to pay the high prices you can sometimes find similiar items at UO.
What to pay: Items here are not cheap (I read that the average customer is a 30-35 year old woman who makes over $150k). Sweaters range from $95 to $195.
The people in Chicago are very casual dressers. I found on Saturdays they all wear casual clothes. Flip flops, shorts and teeshirts are very common especially during the summer time when all the young people are out of school and hanging out. There are many many shopping malls in Chicago which sell almost everything and have all the high street fashion stores at great prices. A great place for shopping if you have little or loads to spend. Great bargains on camera equipment, ipods etc.
What to buy: Anything designer if your fashion conscious. You get some great discounts on designer clothes especially if your trading in your Euros for dollars. The rate l got was pretty good. I also bought memory cards for my digital camera and paid 12 dollers for 128mb memory card. Books are also very cheap but its a problem getting them back home if they weight a lot.
TJMaxx is upstairs and Filene's Basement is downstairs, providing hours of discount shopping in one location. There is sooooo much stock in both shops you are bound to come out with SOMETHING. And it's not all rubbish - no more than 70% anyway. I found an excellent cocktail dress in my (largish) size. The shoe selection in Filene's is great - they have actual designer brands there at seriously discounted prices.
If you like Bebe, you are certainly going to enjoy this store. Although some of the styles are similar, Hot Pink is far cheaper. With a unique selection of clothing that changes from week to week, buying clothes from this boutique will allow you to stand out from the camoflauge of the crowds. There's just one problem: this clothing sells quickly. If you find a shirt that you adore, don't wait because it will most likely be gone in a week.
What to buy: Anything you want! Tops, Pants, Skirts, Dresses, Purses, Make-Up, you name it. Be certain to pay careful attention to the sales racks at the back. Those are deals that you don't want to miss.
What to pay: If you decide to buy a nice skirt along with a cute top on-sale, expect to pay $30-50.