Apartment Number 9
Apartment Number 9 bills itself as the first menswear store in Chicago and the only local boutique that carries labels like Dries van Noten for men. You’ll also find such coveted labels as Red Wing, Canada Goose and Maison Margiela. Smart casual is the emphasis here: handsome checked shirts from Paul Smith, A.P.C and Rag & Bone, along with a range of jeans and outerwear.
You’ll need to be buzzed in to this vast, minimal store, which inhabits the historic Chicago Avenue Post Office. Owners Marilyn Blaszka and Dominic Marcheschi began showcasing their pricey, edgy womenswear here in 1984, and still stand out in Chicago for their cream-of-the-crop designer picks and exclusive finds. In addition to an avant-garde selection of clothing by Dries van Noten, Marni, Mr. Self Portrait et. al, expect to find bags, shoes, belts and other accessories from top European designers.
Shopping fanatics visiting Chicago should make this venerable boutique their first stop. Often referred to as Chicago’s “first lady of fashion,” Ikram Goldman’s namesake store is a great source for top labels like Proenza Schouler, Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, Yohji Yamamoto and Miu Miu. In addition, the 16,5000-square-foot space features an art gallery and a lovely café on the second floor perfect for some post-purchasing refueling. The bright red flagship carries chic finds you won’t find anywhere else, which is why her clients include Michelle Obama and well-dressed folk who come to Chicago from around the world to shop at the storied boutique.
Occupying two storefronts on the ground floor of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Madison Hall is the brainchild of Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel, who also own the wonderful boutique Space519. Like the hotel, the shop is located within a beautifully restored space; one side once served as the Ladies Lounge of the all-male club.
A welcome addition to Chicago’s chain-store-dominated retail landscape, Madison Hall caters to guests of the hotel with Rizzoli travel books and a miniature fragrance counter, as well as locals in need of fresh-cut flowers or a hot shave (there is an old-school barber chair that is manned by a rotating crew of local hairdressers). Stylish finds include high-end sunglasses (Moscot, Thierry Lasry and Illesteva are among the offerings); international cult skin care lines Aesop and Santa Maria Novella; minimal rainwear from Swedish brand Stutterheim; and accessories from New York womenswear designer Rachel Comey.
This petite boutique on Wicker Park’s main strip, which opened in late 2015, features a collection of carefully selected Scandinavian and Japanese items. Browse unique finds such as delicate white ceramics, heavy Samuji striped tees and organic cotton Aiayu linens. Owner Catherine Becker spent nearly two years traveling to destinations like Finland and Japan in search of housewares, accessories, clothing and books to fill the store’s shelves, and she also designed the space, which reflects a clean, Nordic aesthetic.
One of the first high-end shops to open in Wicker Park, in 1997, this excellent boutique carries a well-edited range of women’s fashion including lightweight cotton cashmere tops and slinky Mason frocks in vivid red silk. “We like our clothes to be comfortable and wearable but full of individual style,” says store manager Judy Yin. Mixed among well-known brands are up-and-coming designers, including Chicagoan Sarah McGuire, who uses recycled materials to create modern, handmade jewelry.
Don’t be put off by Space519’s unlikely location on the top floor of a mall (sorry—a luxury shopping complex) on the Magnificent Mile. The ultrachic boutique is an absolute gem whether you’re shopping for yourself or seeking a gift to bring home. Though the offerings can change week-to-week, a recent visit garnered finds like sinfully soft H Brand rabbit-fur scarves, fringed Apiece Apart dresses made for tropical escapes and an ultra-cozy faux shearling coat by Vanessa Bruno Athé. Other tempting trinkets include luxe David Mallett hair products for men and any of the wonderful cookbooks.
The 900 Shops
This upscale complex houses over 70 shops, including Gucci, MaxMara, Church’s and Bloomingdale’s. Top stops for those with tots are Galt Toys and Galt Baby, located on level 5. Of course, you may have to drop into Teuscher chocolates, across the way, to treat yourself to some heavenly Champagne truffles. Also on level 5 you will find some only-in-Chicago boutiques such as elegant stationer Jane Weber, Ink! and carefully curated concept shop Space519.
This charming lifestyle boutique sells an eclectic selection of gifts including letterpress stationery, ceramics, paper products, textiles and even spices.