By B. David Zarley
Traffic and passersby on Belmont Avenue reflect off of the glistening metal panels that make up the building’s facade, undulating gently like Lake Michigan mellowed out on alprazolam. Rising four stories high from the sidewalk, the business beneath the wave has survived since 1975, weathering fads, recessions and location changes. In Lakeview, a neighborhood of fickle tastemakers and expendable income, Belmont Army is sacred ground: Macy’s meets Mecca.
Temples are rare on multifarious ground, as they require a consistent bedrock upon which to be built. Despite the throbbing, well-muscled and ever-spreading mass of frat-mentality dumbfuckery reaching out its menacing tentacles from Wrigleyville in an effort to become the dominant cultural milieu—one primarily composed of polo shirts, drunken girls with longer heels than dresses and noxious “DJ’s” spinning the absolute lowest-grade electronic dance music, which, granted, is an admittedly fun atmosphere with the right company and chemicals in a Goodall-amongst-the-chimps sort of way on a Saturday night—Lakeview still has a vast array of subcultures. Girls in blonde pixie cuts, high-waisted shorts and big glasses ride fixed-gear bicycles; men with handlebar mustaches and Wayfarers driving mauve PT Cruisers; salon girls whose tight black clothes cling to them like the smell of cigarettes and perfume, tattoos peeking out from beneath the short sleeves. A vibrant LGBTQ community bustles, while young professionals travel from Sheffield Avenue to the Loop for work, a mass migration of ties and pencil skirts twice each day. It is a mess of youth and money and life, drawn together in its existence below North Clark’s grim weekend realities and its willingness to embrace the hip. Read the rest of this entry »
2037 W. Roscoe, (773)281-2210, apiedshoeboutique.com [ratings]
Goods: Shoes and accessories for women. Designers: Taryn by Taryn Rose, Frye, Jeffrey Campbell, Corso Como; bags by Joelle Nadine. Owner: Trudy Robinson Foley, owner of maternity boutique Kickin’, opened her shoe shop last spring because it was the only wardrobe essential her neighbors couldn’t find in Roscoe Village. Vibe: Mellow, bright, spacious and cozy. Antique Persian rugs and old trunks add vintage flavor to the exposed brick and hardwood floors, while a fireplace and the sonic sounds of Norah Jones keep it comfy. Price Range: Moderate-Expensive. The Look: A style-obsessed city gal who leaves the house at 7am and doesn’t return until 10pm. The shoes are chicly European in their aesthetic yet practical in their form, so you won’t be nursing blisters after your eight-block walk to the El. Shopper’s Perks: Originality all the way. Robinson Foley works with many smaller lines to carry exclusive colors or designs of certain shoes, and a few of the shop’s offerings are made exclusively for A Pied.
UPDATED OCTOBER 2009
824 W. Armitage, (773)281-5655, lorisshoes.com [ratings]
Goods: Women’s shoes and accessories. Designers: Boots by Frye, heels by Calvin Klein, an array from Jeffrey Campbell, flats by Sam Edelman; handbags by Pietro Alessandro, clutches by Hobo and jewelry from Gorjana. Owner: A self-confessed “shoe addict,” Lori Andre opened Lori’s Shoes in 1983. Her business policy: customers must leave as friends. Vibe: Open, spacious and stocked with more shoeboxes and sparkly accessories than Cinderella could dream of. The store is always bustling with shoppers and shoe-fueled energy. Price Range: Inexpensive-Expensive. The Look: With wedges, pumps and boots, Lori’s stocks a pair for a gal’s every mood. Shopper’s Perks: Lori takes biannual shopping trips to Europe, so she’s always ahead of the curve on trends. Check her Web site for detailed info on what’s kicking in the world of shoes—she even has a blog!
UPDATED OCTOBER 2009
Lori’s Designer Shoes
1659 W. Division, (773)384-6750, pumpshoeschicago.com [ratings]
Goods: Shoes and accessories for women. Designers: Jeffrey Campbell, Dolce Vita, Miss Sixty and Sam Edelman. Owner: Maureen Longue, who adores hard-to-find heels from sultry locales like Spain and Argentina. Vibe: Pink ribbons climb the walls, a crystal chandelier sparkles overhead and a round ottoman is strewn with shoeboxes as shoppers fancy up their feet. Longue showers visitors with friendly energy and accessorizing-savvy. Price Range: Mostly moderate, with a few expensive items. The Look: A girly-girl who knows how to dress adorably without spending a fortune. Shopper’s Perks: Fabulous sales and on-site cocktail parties.
UPDATED OCTOBER 2009
Pump Shoes and Accessories