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Chicago styles hit boutiques, consignment shops in the Tri-Cities

Summer is here, and to clothing and accessory shops in the Tri-Cities, nothing is better. Many local boutiques have started reflecting Chicago fashion and have brought summer trends to Kane County.

With Chicago as the inspiration – the sixth-most fashionable large city in the country according to a study by, a business and consumer-rating website – many stores are looking to mimic the feel of shopping in the big city.

“I fell in love the moment I walked in – I felt like I was in the city shopping,” said Brittany Schmidt, an employee of Fuschia in downtown Geneva. “The store is light and airy.”

Ashlee Rooney, owner of Fuschia, opened a second store in Geneva after her Glen Ellyn customers requested another location for urban shopping in the suburbs.

“[Ashlee] wanted her shop to be like something you would find in Chicago; Chicago was her inspiration,” Schmidt said.

Jena Gambaccini, who runs the fashion blog ChiCity Fashion, said Chicago fashion is mixed but utilitarian.

“Let’s just say people in Chicago care about practicality and comfort first,” Gambaccini said.

Jane Pabon, owner of the Jane Pabon Consignment Boutique in Geneva, also acquires ideas for her store’s collection from her previous work in the Windy City. Pabon is a personal stylist with more than 10 years of experience in the fashion business.

For shoppers who tend to visit more traditional stores, consignment shopping might not be their first consideration. Although consignment and traditional shops both feature designer items, buying resale clothing and accessories can keep costs down while staying fashionable, local store owners said.

Anna Schowe has been an employee at Jane Pabon for three years.

“The store is different every day I come in,” Schowe said. “Working here really opened my eyes to the world of consignment. It is a financially responsible way to shop, which is very helpful as a college student. It can be cool, and you can find interesting pieces.”

This season, Schowe said, the big buy for summer is a summer dress.

This seems to be the trend in other boutiques throughout the Tri-Cities.

“We have a lot of white dresses, which are plain, but they can be dressed up,” Schowe said.

Vintage styles, bold patterns and maxi dresses are popular, she added.

Gambaccini said dresses are always in style, but colors, materials and silhouettes change.

“Right now, we’re seeing a lot of asymmetrical length dresses where they’re shorter in the front and longer in the back,” Gambaccini said.

Fuschia has a “Look of the Week” page on its website that features a different look each week that customers can walk in and purchase. The employees at Fuschia try to help spark their customers’ fashion creativity.

“We get new clothes in daily, and we use a piece or shoe that we think we can do a lot with, something that is unique,” Schmidt said. The “Look of the Week” helps women create an outfit, envision items off the rack and see how versatile a piece of clothing can be.

To help those who have picked only one item off the rack, Rooney will pull four or five pieces that could satisfy the customer.

Service like this adds to the appeal of area boutiques, where individualized attention helps the shopper satisfy their fashion needs.

Claudia’s Closet, a consignment shop in St. Charles, represents a love of fashion that spans three generations of Claudia’s family.

“Consignment has become more popular over the past couple years,” said intern Thomasina Tarvis. “It’s easier dealing with the consignors instead of big corporations.”

Consignment shops such as Claudia’s Closet not only offer fashion for everyday wear, but for special occasions, too. Particularly in the summer months, customers come in looking for more formal attire.

“I would say during the summer we’ve gotten lots of requests for wedding dresses,” Tarvis said. Also, dressing for theme parties or plays can go beyond packaged or homemade costumes and actually be authentic and affordable.

“People bring in suits [from] the 1940s,” Tarvis said.

Cheryl Herman, owner of Panache, a boutique in St. Charles, described the essence of the small-town shops and what draws their customers in.

“They’re looking for unique items,” Herman says. “They really come here because they don’t see the same merchandise everywhere.”

• Mike Van Der Harst, features editor at the Kane County Chronicle, contributed to this article.

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