Chicago's 10 best shoe shops

Whether you're gearing up for a big walk or need new kicks for Saturday night, these ten stores have you covered.

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  • Photograph: Kara Verkennis

  • Photograph: Danielle Sch�n

  • Photograph: Donna Rickles

Photograph: Kara Verkennis


A Pied
(2037 W Roscoe St, 773-281-2210; Mon–Fri 11am–7pm; Sat 11am–6pm; Sun noon–5pm)
The motto of this Roscoe Village shop is “we carry shoes so beautiful, you’ll want to wear them forever, and so well-made that you actually can.” But the ambience of the space is just as nice. French rugs and countertops made from reclaimed wood lend a European vibe, while the footwear (including lines such as Taryn by Taryn Rose, Biviel, Hispanitas, La Canadienne, All Black and Jeffrey Campbell) is lovingly displayed on antique ladders and old-school trunks.

Akira Footwear
(122 S State St, 312-346-3034; Mon–Thu 10am–8pm; Fri, Sat 10am–9pm; Sun 11am–6pm.)
Whatever the current shoe trend, you’ll find it at this Chicago empire. The selection runs the gamut from cheap/moderate (Jeffrey Campbell, Steve Madden) to moderately pricey (Corso Como, Sam Edelman). We covet the often-in-stock playful plastic kicks by Brazilian brand Melissa.

Alcala’s Western Wear
(1733 W Chicago Ave, 312-226-0152; Mon, Thu, Fri 9:30am–8pm; Tue, Wed, Sat 9:30am–7pm; Sun 9:30am–5pm)
You don’t have to jet to Texas to score an authentic pair of cowboy boots. From python pointy toes for the ladies to blue alligator-tail boots for the big boys ($400), the merch is quirky and cool. But the real deal doesn’t come cheap.

Belmont Army Surplus
(855 W Belmont Ave, 773-549-1038; Mon–Sat 11am–8pm; Sun noon–6pm)
(1318 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-384-8448; Mon–Sat 11am–8pm; Sun noon–5pm)
While we enjoy the trendy clothes (and occasional sales) at this shop, our favorite part is the second-floor shoe department. From the selection of Converses in every color (not to mention Reeboks, Vans, adidas, etc.) to the few dozen “fuck you” goth boots and Dr. Martens, there’s a pair for everyone here. Plus, the sale section never disappoints.

City Soles/Niche
(2001 W North Ave, 773-489-2001; Mon–Sat 10am–8pm; Sun 10am–6pm)
Only the Wicker Park outpost of City Soles (there’s a second store in the Southport Corridor) features its spendier sibling, Niche, as an adjoining neighbor. Women drool over Faryl Robin, Corso Como and Cynthia Vincent; guys, sneak a peek at Cydwoq and Ryan Rowe.

Hanig’s Slipper Box
(2754 N Clark St, 773-248-1977; Mon–Fri 10am–9pm; Sat 9am–7pm; Sun 11am–6pm)
The shoe selection may not be superglamorous here (think lines such as Vibram FiveFingers, Ugg and Ecco), but the friendly and knowledgeable staff keeps us coming back. The Hanig’s name has been in Chicago for more than 60 years, and we can easily see it sticking around for another 60.

House of Sole
(1237 S Michigan Ave, 312-834-0909; Mon noon–7pm; Tue–Sat 11am–8pm; Sun noon–6pm)
This storefront has made a name for itself not only as a pioneer of the South Loop retail scene but also for its stellar selection of mostly European ladies’ lines. You’ll be tempted to drop serious dough on fashion-forward styles by Chie Mihara, Cydwoq and Camper.

Lori’s Shoes
(824 W Armitage Ave, 773-281-5655; Mon–Thu 11am–7pm; Fri 11am–6pm; Sat 10am–6pm; Sun noon–5pm)
If Sex and the City were set in Chicago, Carrie Bradshaw would’ve had at least a few scenes in this Old Town shop. Lori’s has one of the city’s largest ranges of American and European designer shoes, all at between 10 and 30 percent less than department-store prices.

Saint Alfred
(1531 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-486-7159; Mon–Sat noon–8pm; Sun noon–6pm)
Saint Alfred is the patron saint of learning, and the expert staff at this new Wicker Park boutique will gladly school you on the latest styles of sneakers. Although it doesn’t offer customization, the store features limited-edition and collaboration lines such as Yohji Yamamoto for adidas and Japanese import Visvim.

Uprise
(1820 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-342-7763; Mon–Sat noon–7pm; Sun noon–5pm)
Yes, this is technically a skate shop, but guess what? This Wicker Park venue is one of the few in the city to carry Nike SBs. The store offers a large selection of the popular skateboarding kicks and even includes hard-to-find sizes.

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