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Family-owned Fashion Institution Celebrates a Century of Historic Style in Lake Forest with Event


This mantra serves as a calling card for The Lake Forest Shop, a fashion institution that was inspired by Coco Chanel herself, pushing Chanel’s friend and founder Margaret Baxter Foster to open The Lake Forest Sports Shop 100 years ago.

During the past century, The Shop has been in business, and women have relied on the fashion institution to keep them dressed to the nines. The Shop is family-owned and operated by third-generation socialite Ellen Stirling, a style icon in her own right.

When you step into The Shop, it is unlike any retail experience you have encountered. From the hand-selected collections to the friendly and knowledgeable stylists and seamstresses, The Shop is the place for Special Occasions, Debutante Balls, Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, as well as everyday wear including outerwear, knits, and accessories.

The carefully curated retail shop features a unique mix of designers hand-picked from across the globe by Ellen and boasts a history as rich as the fabrics they carry. Clients range from Chicago fashion leaders to Lady Elizabeth Longman, the Marchioness of Salisbury and British Royalty.

Founded in 1922 as the Lake Forest Sports Shop by Stirling’s grandmother, socialite Margaret Baxter Foster in famed Market Square, it quickly became North Shore’s leading women’s specialty store. At the time, Market Square was built as the nation’s first artfully designed shopping center, and completely transformed Lake Forest’s business district into a focal point of the community.

“My grandmother thought if Coco can do it, so can I,” added Ellen. “In 1922, with the tags still in French Francs, she opened a shop on Market Square, still in the same location today. This was the foundation of the Sports Shop and it evolved from there.”

Margaret was spurred on in this success by both her fashion acumen and her connections. In1928, her husband’s daughter Leslie Foster married the world-renowned publisher, Condé Nast, whose portfolio of publications included Vanity Fair and Vogue.

At the time, Condé was a media darling in the publishing world, making Vogue a household name and getting it into the homes of every fashionable woman in the country.

His influence extended to The Shop where he introduced Margaret to the world’s top designers. Now, as The Lake Forest Shop turns 100 in this September, they are making extraordinary plans to celebrate the milestone with special events, trunk shows, and promotions leading up to a historic September 15th bash.

“For 100 years, our customers, fashion partners and employees have been the key to our success,” Stirling added. “It’s the heart and soul of our business, and as a third-generation family-owned business, we are committed to maintaining the original principle that made us the most trusted fashion destination in Chicago.

The Lake Forest Shop is located at 265 Market Square, Lake Forest, IL 60045. For more on the 100th-anniversary celebration information and a full event schedule, visit, The Lake Forest Shop

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