Jess Keys is Time Out's former Chicago Shopping & Style Writer.
The 13 best Christmas stores in Chicago
Christmas shopping can be stressful if you’re searching the web for the best deals or braving the crowds at a big box store, but it’s much more fun if you go somewhere that really embraces the spirit of the season. Christmas in Chicago is a magical time filled with incredible holiday light displays and over-the-top pop-up bars—so it’s no surprise there are plenty of equally charming shopping destinations throughout the city, from festive seasonal markets to stores that go all-out with their decorating. Find something fun for everyone on your list by hitting up the best Christmas stores in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Your complete guide to Christmas in Chicago
The best nail salons in Chicago
If you get it, you get it: Nails are a big deal. Fortunately, Chicago has plenty of options for a manicure, pedicure or stunning new set of nails. And the nail experience doesn’t just stop at the basics—plenty of salons are also luxurious spas and some even offer complimentary wine. But we know that when there are too many choices, making a decision can be challenging. That's why we’ve picked out the 16 best nail salons in Chicago. Whether you're planning a staycation or are looking for a glow-up, these spots will give your hands and feet the pampering they deserve.
The best toy stores in Chicago
Whether you’re shopping for a kid or a kid at heart, visiting a toy store offers a great place to buy a unique gift or pick up something for yourself. If you’re looking for a Christmas or birthday present or want to add some retro collectibles to your own collection, stores throughout Chicago provide a place to stop on a stroll and seek inspiration with the help of knowledgeable staff. It’s an experience you just won’t get buying online or from the toy aisle at a big box retailer. From new businesses to places that have been bringing joy for decades, these are the best toy stores in Chicago.
The best barber shops in Chicago
When you're looking for a new 'doo, and hair salon seems too fussy, you might find yourself more inclined to the vibe of a barber shop. The haircuts are speedy, the ribbing good-natured and the shaves precise. Plus, the cuts are usually cheaper than what you'd pay at an upscale salon, leaving you with extra cash to spend at the bar. Whether you're taking a little off the top or getting a whole new vibe, here's a look at the best barber shops in Chicago—where to find them, and how much cash you should prepare to drop.
The best flea markets in Chicago
A truly great flea market trip can take your weekend to the next level. But where are you gonna find the true treasure amidst the trash? That's where we come in. Whether you're looking for new things to do in summer, itching to satisfy your vintage clothing craving or need to furnish your new apartment on the cheap, flea markets have a little something for everyone. Some require a bit more digging and others are more posh, but the next time you're looking for a new Chicago shop, but there's no denying the possibilities in-store at the best flea markets in Chicago.
Best Chicago hair salons
After a year in pandemic, it's time to start caring about your hair again. Since, you k'now, people can see you again. And because looking fly feels amazing. Hair salons in Chicago number in the thousands, but we know the best ones offer head-turning haircuts, color and blowouts. Here's the best of what we find Chicago has to offer, from everything across the spectrum of price. You can kiss the days of botched bobs and devastating dye jobs goodbye when you bookmark this list. Many even offer spa treatments, are combined with top nail salons, and offer plenty of beer and wine.
The best spinning classes in Chicago
The best spinning classes in Chicago are among a bevy of workouts to choose from in the city. With the lakefront to the east, the 606 to the west, an endless number of gyms, yoga studios and more, there's no excuse for not breaking a sweat. Whether you're looking to shake up your workout routine, squeeze in some extra cardio or just try something new, look no farther than Chicago's hottest spinning studios. We love these for their pumping playlists, competitive leaderboards and instructors that just don't let you quit.
The best furniture stores in Chicago
The best furniture stores in Chicago have everything you need, with the perfect statement pieces offering up a hefty dose of both style and function. The best new shops are also fun to peruse, no matter whether you can usually be found at vintage stores, thrift stores or have a more modern sensibility.
Shopping in Wicker Park and Bucktown
The land of hipster dive bars and organic, fair-trade coffee also has one of Chicago's most vibrant shopping scenes. Far from the cookie-cutter chain stores you'll find on Michigan Avenue, Wicker Park and Bucktown offer trendy boutiques, vintage clothing stores, record stores, thrifty gifts and a lot more, all with plenty of quirks and personality. RECOMMENDED: Wicker Park and Bucktown guide
The best bridal shops in Chicago
The best bridal shops in Chicago know it's all about the dress. No other shopping experience can rival the hunt for the gown you'll wear when you say "I do" standing nervously in front of all of your closest family and friends—all eyes on you. (No pressure.) Whether you're a couture gown seeker or the thrift store queen, you'll be saying "yes to the dress" in no time at these beautiful stores. Then it's off to the shoe shops, hair salons and nail salons. Happy planning!
The best boutiques and shopping in Lincoln Park
Beyond its many charming walk-ups, golden retrievers and strollers, Lincoln Park is also known for its soulless big-box chain stores. (Let's be real, though: Trips to the Container Store and REI are kind of awesome.) But the Lincoln Park shopping scene has plenty of high-end indie stores to blow your budget on, too, plus a surprising number of bargain shops. Get your fill of shoe stores, chic handbags, bike shops and discount clothes in Lincoln Park. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the Lincoln Park neighborhood
New Chicago shops
Trends come and go, but you can count on new Chicago shops opening every month. We're keeping track of the biggest debuts, from indie boutiques to the best outlet stores, so you can get through the doors and load up on the latest fashions before everyone else. Whether you're looking for the best bookstores, clothing stores or wanting to buy some great gifts, Chicago's new shops (and old ones, too) have you covered. Happy shopping!
Five Valentine's pop-up shops to check out this weekend
No plans for Valentine’s Day weekend? Haven't bought a gift yet (or maybe just want to buy something nice for yourself?) Check out these Chicago pop-up shops and markets for tons of locally made goods, artfully arranged florals, delicious eats and more. Who says you can't buy love? Vosges Haut-Chocolat pop-up shop. Hit this sweet pop-up inside Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago for some of the finest local chocolates. Pick up Vosges signature truffles and chocolate bars at the pop-up shop inside the lobby. Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago, 100 W Monroe St, Friday 2:30–6pm, Saturday 9am–6pm Humboldt House Pretty in Pleasure. Head to one of Chicago's best furniture stores, Humboldt House, on Saturday. Indulge in sips from Perrier and Penrose Brewing, and purchase fresh floral bouquets from Foxglove Studios and other treasures from makers like Powers Handcrafted, Cities in Dust, Leah Ball Handmade and more. Humboldt House, 1045 N California Ave, Saturday 10am–6pm Verdant Matter pop-up. Stop by this new Pilsen plant shop for a handmade pop-up shop with handcrafted gifts like jewelry from Terese Kuempel and ABV Designs, bath and body goods from Lotus Farms and sweet-smelling candles from Alma Home. Pick up a fresh bouquet on your way out. Saturday and Sunday noon–7pm Cindy's Patisserie pop-up. Cindy's, the rooftop restaurant and bar at Chicago Athletic Association, will temporarily transform into a patisserie this Sunday. Inspired by The Grand Budapest Hotel, guests can enjoy pastries f
Layer up with warm accessories from Chicago designers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-cheer up, teeth chatterers. Some of our favorite new shops are working with local designers to offer handmade looks that are cozy, comfortable and chic. Pictured are just a few of our favorite locally made products that would make perfect Chicago gifts this season. The coatTo keep out the chill, invest in a wool coat ($245) like the one above from Union Handmade. With flannel-backed lining and a hood, this sweet overcoat also has kimono sleeves that are comfortable even over your thickest sweater (like maybe the one over there on that crate, also by Union Handmade). 3860 N Lincoln Ave, unionhandmade.com The scarfPainter Kristin Oldach picked up knitting after her son was born. A natural, she soon had more chunky knits that she knew what to do with—thus KraeO was born. Oldach sells homemade accessories aplenty, including loopy scarves like this one ($88). kraeo.com The glovesStarting out, Gloved Chicago’s Rebecca Kulik had never sewn a pair of gloves. Two years and 70 patterns later, she’s proof that “practice makes perfect.” Grab your own custom wool pair ($95) in dozens of fashionable designs. glovedchicago.com The bagChicago designer Chelli Look is known for glamorous purses. Bucket bags are everywhere this year, and this gold and cowhide one ($245) makes a statement. Ten percent of profits from purchases go toward housing and education to end domestic violence. shopchc.com The hatAny good Chicagoan knows the secret to winter warmth is a good hat. We suggest hav
Target launches Local Pride collection with Chicago tees
It’s no secret Chicagoans embrace all things local. In fact, most of us would really prefer them that way. As it turns out, Target is starting to understand that too and is releasing its Local Pride collection in partnership with designer Todd Snyder. A fellow Midwesterner hailing from Iowa, Snyder launched his eponymous clothing line in 2011 after stints at Polo Ralph Lauren, Gap and J.Crew. His latest venture with Target aims to celebrate hometown pride across the country with vintage-style city tees and merchandise. What exactly can you expect from the line? We caught up with Snyder, who gave us a sneak peak. (Hint: It may involve Ferris Bueller and a certain iconic pier that rhymes with “gravy.”) What inspired you when creating the Local Pride Chicago line? What was your favorite part of the process? I put a lot of emphasis on speaking with locals in addition to Chicago small business owners, like Don at Superdawg Drive-in, about what they loved about the city, which ultimately became my favorite part of the entire design process. This allowed me to discover so many hidden gems in Chicago—whether it be a local bar, restaurant or food—that provided inspiration for my designs. What does the line look like? The collection includes tees and tanks with a worn and vintage aesthetic, as well as accessories and hard goods featuring designs that highlight the spirit of Chicago and those who call it home. <img id="b3096b57-fee2-5f8f-2540-f7e57b27bfe5" data-caption="" data-cred
What to expect from Chicago Fashion Fest
If you’re into fashion, music and food, Chicago Fashion Fest in Wicker Park is likely already on your calendar. In preparation for the seventh annual event, here’s what to expect at this weekend’s bash: Runway shows As the name implies, you can, of course, expect to see plenty of style all weekend long, but the indie designer runway shows really set this festival apart from the rest. Designers to watch include Borris J. Powell, with his bold, new “Ride Alone” collection full of structured shapes in warm, rich fabrics, or Chicago design darling Anastasia Chatzka, who will showcase her new fall collection (watch for chic faux furs, plaids and characteristically feminine silhouettes) on the catwalk. Bonus: Runway designers will sell their apparel in Shoppers Row at a mean discount. Shopping If fashion shows aren’t your thing, the fest’s clothing sales might be more up your alley. Grab a sangria and head to Shopper’s Row to peruse the deals of your choosing from local brands and shops like Armoire, Elevenzees, Kuhfs and more. Music What’s a fashion show without awesome music? The sounds at the main stage this year will rock all day, including big acts like Arkells and The Mowglis on Saturday and The Black Lips on Sunday. Pets There will be lots of fur at this fashion event, but it’s not what you think. Bring your fur baby to peruse several doggy boutiques or watch the fido fashion show. There will be paw painting aplenty and DIY doggy bandanas, and you can even get Spot hosed d
Rebecca Minkoff’s must-wear fall trends
The ’70s are back. If you didn’t believe the hype before, luxury designer Rebecca Minkoff just told us personally. So it must be true. In Chicago in August to celebrate the reveal of her new Crowd Source bag (exclusive to Nordstrom), Minkoff shared not one but three retro staples as her go-to trends for the impending cool-weather months. Fashion-lovers, take note. Fringe. It’s not just for festivals anymore. You can find it on everything from boots and moto jackets to handbags and pants. To avoid “hippie overload,” try sticking with one statement fringe piece and pairing it with an otherwise understated ensemble. Suede. Not exactly the most practical trend for braving the Chicago weather (suede mixed with rain, snow and sleet is less than ideal), but one that should be embraced nonetheless. You’ll see this trend in apparel and accessories alike: skirts, pants, jackets, and of course, OTKBs. (See below.) Just make sure to stock up on your Scotchgard! Over-the-knee boots. While not new to fall fashion, tall boots do keep getting bigger and better. The most popular versions are—you guessed it—comprised of lots of suede and fringe. Pull on a pair of these tall, swanky boots and they’ll almost make your puffy North Face jacket look chic. Almost.
One of the best shoe stores in Chicago is in a truck
You know that some of the most interesting food in the city can be found in trucks. But did you know that the most interesting shoes in Chicago are available on four wheels? Delicious Shoe, Chicago's first and only mobile shoe store, hit the streets three weeks ago, and has been spotted rolling through Andersonville, Bucktown, Wicker Park and Logan Square. The scent of fine Italian leather wafting from its door, the truck doles out one-of-a-kind, imported European footwear, priced at $125 and up. Ann Sedgewick, owner and mastermind behind the concept, ditched her 20-year career in advertising to jumpstart a new chapter in her life as part shoe buyer, part truck driver a mere few months ago. It was her quest to bring quality, beautiful and delightful shoes to her hometown. "When I would travel to Europe for work," Sedgewick explains, "I would often buy a pair of shoes and think, Why aren't these available in the U.S.? Why do you have to go to Europe to find really great shoes? Then I heard about a vintage clothing truck in New York City, and knew I wanted to do that—but with really great shoes." As for the truck's selection, don't expect your average black stiletto pumps. Rather, you'll find shoes in emerald greens and pink watercolor patterns. You might even see transparent acrylic heels, catering to the exhibitionist crowd that prefers standing out to blending in. While it's constantly on the move, locating the truck is simple. Just as you've grown accustomed to finding your