As a relative newbie to the North Shore of Chicago, I am still amazed at the vast array of boutiques both in and around Winnetka. The abundance of fashion treasures and unique gifts, combined with the amiable atmosphere, creates an aura of vacation getaway.
I have not only become enamored with the individual stores, but also with the owners and staff who create welcoming environments. Below are a few of my Winnetka favorites, all within walking distance of one another, where passion is apparent upon first entering the doors. These classic Chicago boutiques are worth taking a drive (or train) to quench all of your desires for home and self. Whether you need a quintessential wedding gift or a flawless ensemble for your next event, I promise your choices will be plentiful in our little village.
Ellen’s on Elm is a must stop for graduation, hostess, holiday and bridal registry gifts. Ellen’s gifts change with the seasons; but, her friendly atmosphere and gorgeous gift wrapping never alter. My favorite items include her wall of humorous cocktails napkins, with sayings as funny as “Dear Karma, I think you missed someone,” and her magnificent breadth of gifts for monogramming. At one point she sold two Lily Pulitzer Bicycles out of her front window. 841 Elm Street, Winnetka
Athene The newest member of our unique boutiques opened in September and has rapidly become a top stop among sophisticated glamorous shoppers including Colleen Carroll. Ever so chic owner, Ashley Quicksilver, has filled a need for a styled “LA look” on the North Shore. Her super sleek and modern shop is not to be missed. Quicksilver’s choices of gorgeous fun tops and fabulous clutches were handpicked after searching the globe for new, hip designers. Whether you need to be styled head to toe, or just need a perfect last touch, Athene is where street fashion meets runway. Packing for a trip to SoHo or Art Basel has never been easier. Plus, the white washed floors and clean lines will leave you wondering if you are in Malibu or Winnetka. 837 Elm Street, Winnetka
Neapolitan There is not much left to be said about this super sleek, drop dead gorgeous couture store, but let me try. Owner Kelly Golden has left no stone unturned in her latest expansion of her visionary boutique– this is the definition of ‘destination shopping’. Chicago’s best dressed are regulars here: fabulous Susan Canmann, Meredith Wood-Prince and many more frequent the store. Today’s glamour events seem effortless with Neapolitan’s fashion sophistication. The staff’s easy, friendly manners make even the occasional browser feel at home, but temptations are plentiful. Stunning shoes, breathtaking dresses, one of a kind jewelry, and gorgeous handbags tempt the innocent browser. There is something for everyone, as the streets of Paris and Milan come alive in Winnetka. 560 Chestnut Street, Winnetka
Heffernan This timeless boutique caters to traditional and high-end couture buyers under its roof. Owner Maggie Barrett has proven she has everything a classic Chicago woman needs to feel on trend and age appropriate. Never missing a beat, Barrett has an eye for gowns and impeccable choices for upcoming events and global travels. A recent post on Instagram highlighted a Bogner embroidered Jacket, both chic and practical. If you need a special gift, Heffernan offers a pair of Parisian gloves made with the finest leather and wool, sold only here and at Bergdorf’s. Vogue chic found in the center of the Village, Heffernan has carved out its own following from many of Chicago’s finest women including stunning Mary Pearlman and gorgeous Bridget Campbell. 810 Elm Street, Winnetka
Maze Home Winnetka home stores, with a fantastic array of heart melting mirrors and lamps, are not to be outdone by the village’s fashion boutiques. An abundance of home décor inspiration will have you rethinking your sitting room. Maze is the pinnacle of its kind. Owner and decorator Cindy Bardes Galvin often follows fashion trends to buy her latest home accessories. Galvin and her team can assist in decorating entire homes, with full-scale interior design, or a single bed with fine linens and a cashmere throw. Her collection of accessories, such as leather key chains (designed to be worn as a bracelet when busy women have too much to hold), offer style and distinction for outside the home. Enthusiasm flows from the floor and is contagious, making home and gift shopping easy and fun. 735 Elm Street, Winnetka
Valentina Sarah Scott’s boutique caters to those in search of easy clothes that offer style and comfort, either for a cocktail party or the beach. From a bejeweled short cocktail dress to a Veuve Clicquot orange tray, Valentina is a combination of whimsical, fashionable and fun. String bikinis and birthday pajamas for friends turning 50 are some of the fun items to be found amongst accessories galore and fabulous gift wrappings. When I say service with a smile, this is the team I’m thinking of. 566 Chestnut Street, Winnetka.
World class s in Winnetka is congregated around a charming village and Town Hall. In addition to the boutiques listed above, there are a half a dozen more shops well worth your time, including Robert Bryan Home, Susan Kroger, Crème de la Crème, The Bookstall (always listed as one of America’s best independent bookstores) and the Village Toy Shop. The list goes on and on, and also encompasses national brands such as Sarah Campbell and J. McLaughlin. Every boutique gift wraps beautifully, offers alterations, delivers and make house calls. A throwback to a time when everyone on “Main Street” knew your name, Winnetka shopping is all about grace, style and tradition lending glamor to all of her patrons.