A Good Sole
We understand that there are die-hard shoe fetishists out there who are willing to endure sky-high heels at any cost, financial or podiatric. We applaud your commitment. But for the rest of us shoe lovers who are less willing to suffer for fashion, check out the new South Loop boutique House of Sole (1237 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-834-0909), stocked with designer shoes that actually integrate comfort into the mix. And we’re not talking about clunky orthopedics-the gorgeous stacked heels from Chie Mihara ($360) are upscale enough for a night out but created by a Spanish designer who incorporates years of orthopedic expertise into the line, and the fashiony heels from Corso Como have extra padding near the toe. Owner Tiffany Bullock, who left the corporate world at the Federal Reserve to open her shop, not only knows shoes, but what kinds of styles are most comfortable on different foot types. Frankly, no matter how cute the shoe, a narrow design will never feel comfortable or look right on a wide-footed gal, so Bullock offers a range to fit every foot type. The mostly European designer brands (heavy on those from Spain and Italy) average around $200 a pair, although there are some options as low as $60. “It has to be a little bit different to make it through the door,” Bullock says. Well-known brands Cydwoq and Camper mix it up with Paco Gil, exclusive to the city at the shop. Some of our favorites are Chie’s Mihara’s “Mopa” Mary Janes in tan and black for $295, shimmery ballet flats from Repetto for $175, and a toe-ring wedge sandal from United Nude ($195) that was designed by an architect and must be tried on to be appreciated. The heels, flats, and comfort “el” shoes are displayed in an organized, uncluttered space that makes it easy to see every shoe. Leather handbags range from $85 to $600, including an all-purpose tote from Cate Adair, a designer for Desperate Housewives, for $595. More affordable options like T-shirts and jewelry (ranging from delicate silver to all-out artsy) round out the selection. The boutique hosts a grand opening sale with 30 to 40 percent off summer shoes on July 21st from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and July 22nd from noon to 6 p.m.

Top Sales This Week
Wicker Park is the place to shop this weekend. First up, try the Milwaukee Avenue Summer Showcase, hosted by John Fluevog Shoes (1539-41 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-772-1983), on July 20th from 8 to 10 p.m. The event celebrates the best of the boutiques along Milwaukee Avenue (with free food, beer, dancing, and music) and a fashion show with garb from G-Star, Lenny & Me, Store B, and Futurgarb. Celebrate at an after party at the Debonair Social Club (1575 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-227-7990).

On July 21st, one of our favorite houseware stores Zella Brown (1444 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-276-1746) kicks off its first sale with 10 to 20 percent off everything in the store (with the exception of a few art pieces and special orders). Starting night includes live music, wine, and an art demonstration to coincide with jewelry store The Silver Room’s Sound System Block Party (at Milwaukee and Evergreen Avenues) on the same night. The sale runs through July 28th.

The Akira stores have a formidable presence on North Avenue, and all four are teaming up for a five-year anniversary celebration on July 19th. Akira Women (1814 W. North Ave.; 773-489-0818), Akira Shoes (1849 W. North Ave.; 773-342-8684), Detail by Akira (1904 W. North Ave.; 773-384-4465), and Akira Men (1922 W. North Ave.; 773-276-5640) team up for a joint Studio 54-themed party from 5 to 10 p.m., where all four locations are transformed into ’70s club spaces with appetizers, deejays, complimentary gifts, and 20 percent off regularly priced merchandise. The after-party continues at Plan B (1635 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-252-2680.)

The Best of the Rest

  • Ultimo (114 E. Oak St.; 312-787-1171) holds a “ginormous sale”  from July 18th through 21st, with an additional 50 percent off previously reduced items (even in the sale room). Find Manolo Blahnik shoes marked down from $565 to $99.50, a Stella McCartney pant marked down from $390 to $49.50, and a Michael Kors top from $450 to $49.50. The shop has extended hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m throughout the sale.
  • Handbag and accessories shop Furla (1211 W. Webster Ave.; 773-525-7420) hosts a final markdown sale with 50 percent off select spring and summer handbags to make way for the fall collection on July 20th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • West Loop boutique Ouest (1063 W. Madison St.; 312-421-2799) offers a progressive sale from July 17th through July 27th. Buy two or more sale pieces to save 40 percent off; three or more to save 50 percent off; and five or more to receive 60 percent off purchases.
  • Nordstrom (55 E. Grand Ave., 312-464-1515; Oakbrook Center, 630-571-2121; Old Orchard Center, 847-677-2121; Woodfield Shopping Center, 847-605-2121) kicks off its storewide anniversary sale, one of the best all year, from July 20th through August 6th, with discounts on new fall merchandise.
  • New boutique Stellar26 (4164 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-388-2626) didn’t wait long to host its first sale. Take 26 percent off everything in the store and an additional 10 percent off clearance items from July 18th through 22nd.  Extended hours for the sale run Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The Sidewalk Sale in Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.) offers the perfect opportunity to shop boutiques on a lunch break. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs hosts a sale on July 18th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a fashion show at noon and shopping all day with shoes, clothes, and jewelry from designers like bocUe bags, Evlove, Flaunt, Habit, Kathryn Kerrigan, Mohop, and Zola Jones Designs.
  • Swirl Wine Bar (111 W. Hubbard St.; 312-828-9000) and StyleChicago.comteam up for a Champagne and sparkling wine tasting on July 17th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The first 100 guests receive $100 in gift cards to spas, salons, and boutiques. Tickets are $25 in advance; $35 at the door.
  • Take 20 percent off select seasonal and discontinued merchandise at gift shop Virtu (2034 N. Damen Ave.; 773-235-3790) through August 26th, like the rarely discounted verre newyork glass and silver jewelry, Wendy Stevens’s stainless steel and leather purses, and Carol Green’s ceramic urns.
  • Madison and Friends (72 E. Oak St.; 312-642-6403) continues its huge ongoing sale, offering up to 80 percent off apparel during the entire month of July. Find similar discounts at the sidewalk sales at the shop’s other locations, like Madison and Friends (720 Waukegan Rd., Deerfield, 847-236-4131) from July 19th through 21st; and at Madison and Friends Tween (1963 N. Halsted St.; 312-943-0436) on July 21st through 22nd.
  • The accessories and home products from Shiraleah (222 N. Maplewood Ave.; 312-433-7700) can usually be found at stores like Lori’s Shoes, Equinox, She One, and Findables, but the brand hosts a warehouse sale with items priced at or below wholesale. The sale runs July 20th from 2 to 6 p.m., July 21st at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and July 22nd from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • The various locations of Lori’s Shoes hold sidewalk sales throughout the month. Receive an additional 20 percent off all sale items at the Northfield location (311 Happ Rd., Northfield; 847-446-3818) on July 19th through 21st, and on July 21st through 22nd at the Lincoln Park store (824 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-281-5655.)
  • Check out Sun Spot, a summer sunglass event sponsored by eyewear boutiques in the area, through August 11th, promoting sunglass lines from Oliver Peoples, Beausoleil, Lafont, Prada, among others, with trunk shows and raffles. Participants include: Spex (44 E. Chicago Ave., 312-649-9110; 2316 N. Clark St., 773-404-0777) and Eyeland of St. Johns (507 S. Third St., Geneva, 630-397-5900; 18 W. First St., Hinsdale, 630-323-1100) and Keno Optical (29 E. Madison Ave., 312-782-4208; 158 McHenry Rd., Buffalo Grove, 847-325-4440) and Coventry Eye Care (2000 Central St., Evanston, 847-864-0300).
  • Ergonomic outpost Relax the Back (1925 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-348-2225; 900 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire, 847-415-2225; 17W702 22nd St., Oakbrook Terrace, 630-691-1999) holds a floor model sale from July 19th through 23rd, with 10 to 30 percent off everything in the store, such as office chairs, desks, and mattresses.
  • Through July 21st at Frances Heffernan (810 Elm St., Winnetka; 847-446-2112), save an additional 20 percent off sale items when you buy two to four items, or an additional 30 percent off five or more items. All sales are final.