Shoe Shopping

You’re on a typical business trip to  Chicago; you’ve spent the day shuffling papers and crunching numbers. Mercifully, your trip takes a sudden turn for the better when your evening budget meeting is canceled. You immediately know  what you want to do with your free night in Chicago–you’ll spend it shopping the city’s renowned stores in search of the perfect pair of shoes. So, change into some comfortable shoes in the hotel and hit the street for some shopping. After all, what souvenir could possibly be better than the newest Prada stilettos?

Saint Alfred

Don’t let the formal name fool you; this Wicker Park shop actually plays host to the most informal of shoes–the sneaker. Of course, informal doesn’t mean uninspired. Saint Alfred stocks men’s and women’s shoes, though the focus is often on men’s of-the-moment brands, from time-tested Converse to relative newcomer Visvim. The boutique offers products from several international designers; Visvim hails from Japan, and Head Porter comes across the pond from England. If you’re looking for hard-to-find, eclectic kicks that will stand out on the street, Saint Alfred is the place to go.

Alcala’s Western Wear

This Chicago Avenue boutique offers what is hands-down the city’s best selection of men’s and women’s cowboy boots. However, there’s more to Alcala’s than just traditional Western wear. All types of quality boots, from black moto-inspired numbers to earthy suede knee-highs line this store’s shelves. You can even bring your man home a covetable pair of blue alligator-tail boots. Since Alcala’s focuses on proven brands, buying boots here is an investment. However, you can expect anything you pick up to last for several stylish years.

Altman’s Shoes and Boots for Men

Located on the  Magnificent Mile, Altman’s has been in business since 1932, due partly to its knowledgeable, considerate staff and partly to its unparalleled selection. This shop stocks men’s shoes in sizes 5-20 and widths from 3A to 6E, and boasts Chicagoland’s largest selection of sizes. In short, if you’re shopping for a man with a hard-to-fit foot, Altman’s is the store for you.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks  is the Holy Grail of department store shoe shopping, a fact that was recognized when the chain won the footwear industry’s only award–the  Footwear Plus  Excellence in Retail Award. The honor was well deserved. Saks sells men’s, women’s and children’s shoes in every imaginable style. You can find comfortable boat shoes,  ikat  silk ballet flats, designer stilettos and modern sneakers, all under one roof. The shopping environment here is luxurious and the customer service is consistently impeccable.

Lori’s Shoes

Located on Armitage Avenue, this striking boutique offers American and European designer shoes, all at a slight (10-30 percent) discount. The discount is just a bonus; it’s the shoe-fever-inducing selection that makes Lori’s noteworthy. You’ll find edgy designs from Poetic License (a sister company of the clever British brand Irregular Choice), monied styles by Ivanka Trump and esoteric creations from Jeffrey Campbell. No matter what your style, you’ll spot a heart-stopping pair of shoes at Lori’s.

If you ever find yourself in the Windy City with a rare evening to yourself, spend it in the best possible way–shoe shopping. Whether you’re searching for perfect cowboy boots or an unusual pair of designer sneakers, there’s no better place to shop than Chicago. Be sure to take an empty suitcase with you; after all, you’ll need a safe place to store your gorgeous new shoes for the flight home!