1361 N. Wells St., 312-573-0750; 821 Chestnut Ct., Winnetka, 847-446-5650
When Etre pulled out of Wells Street’s small shopping district, Laura Schoch pounced on the vacancy, reversing the usual city-to-suburbs expansion philosophy. “I had been looking for a long time,” says Schoch, 42, who opened a boutique in Winnetka seven years ago that hit a niche other shops don’t sufficiently cover—wardrobe staples in basic hues. Now she’s bringing that concept to Old Town. “Wells Street is a great spot with boutiques like Nicole Miller, Josephine’s, and Handle with Care,” says Schoch. “We really fit into that lineup.”
When Schoch first launched Gray, she did it with black, white, navy, and brown in mind. Along the way, pops of color started creeping in—and now, particularly at the new location, it’s mostly the sleek gray walls that stay true to the original vision. Find a mix of feminine, casual separates in a wide color palette, from soft tees from Krisa ($69) to cropped knit cardigans in burnt orange and brown from Susana Monaco ($161). Besides the introduction of little-known designers such as Jully Kang and Australia’s Leona Edmiston (whose feminine dresses bowled us over), Schoch also carries a small but respectable denim selection from brands like Anlo and Aristocrat, and jewelry that can easily transition from day to evening. Compared with the original shop, the Chicago store purveys clothing with a slightly edgier aesthetic: Consider the bold print dresses from T-Bags ($203) or the updated retro black Empire-waist dress with black button closure by Cynthia Steffe ($207).
Add a cigarette holder and tiara, and it’s ready-made Audrey Hepburn.
Photography: Selena SaLfen