Passion for fashion: North Shore nears top in best dressed list

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Glencoe residents Vicki Stauber and Audrey Fosse arrive for the Walk, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's fashion show last year. Glencoe ranked No. 2 on bundle.com's list of the most fashion-conscious towns. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times Media

Bundle.com's list of fashionable towns
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A gal can’t live on Lululemon yoga pants alone.

While the perfect combination of stretchy fabric and colorful waistbands of the “groove pant” are staples on the school run, it’s not a secret that many closets on the North Shore are filled with upscale, fashion-foward designer garments.

And now, thanks to bundle.com, the nation knows just how trend-setting the North Shore’s fashionistas can be.

The April 25 report by bundle.com reporter Lisa Vuckovic lists Glencoe as the second most fashion-conscious town in the United States after Newport Coast, Calif., with 15.95 percent of residents listed as such. But lovers of all things sartorial from other towns made the Top 40 as well. Winnetka residents (13.44 percent) enter the list at No. 4; Highland Park at No. 9 (after Beverly Hills, Calif., at 11.84 percent) Hinsdale and Lake Forest round out the top 12 (11.29 and 10.74 percent respectively); Deerfield (8.05 percent) Oak Brook (7.91 percent) and Wilmette (7.20 percent) take honors ahead of known shopping meccas of Malibu, Calif, and Palm Beach, Fla.

The new site compiles anonymous spending data to compile user reviews for local businesses — using credit card transactions to create data-driven snapshots of how people spend their money. The site aims to give consumers a place to research local businesses with hard numbers — cost per transaction, loyalty to a particular retailer and how many customers a business serves — rather than a traditional online forum review site such as yelp.com. Its model eliminates subjective user reviews as bundle.com aggregates how local residents vote for area merchants with their wallets.

“We defined a segment called ‘fashionistas’ by identifying those households that had at least four transactions at known high-end merchants in a 30-month period,” wrote New York-based Bundle.com CEO Jaidev Shergill in an e-mail. “We then determined what percentage of the population these households represented. Cities and towns with the highest percentage of fashionistas were tagged as such.”

Many of the towns on the list of 40 are established suburbs of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago — where there are more folks with the cash to spend.

“Yes, there seems to be a correlation to wealth, but the identified population are also buying from a list of brand-name entities ­— some of which were smaller brands in geographies,” Shergill said. “Now, how they wear their fashion, we don’t have any data on that.”

The report identifies high-end merchants such as local Northbrook department store Neiman Marcus, but also free-standing designer shops in Chicago such as Prada, Chanel and Burberry. Transactions also were recorded from upscale boutiques around the North Shore as well, including Winnetka’s neapolitan collection, Evanston’s Chalk Boutique and Lake Forest’s the Lake Forest Shop. But the shopping didn’t stop there. Many residents hit the Gap, J. Crew and other shops around Old Orchard Mall in Skokie and Northbrook Court. It’s not just the ladies who value designer clothes — the report also includes mens’ retailers like Hugo Boss, Ermenegildo Zegna and Giorgio Armani.

Deerfield resident and stylist Debra Katz works to keep her clients fashion conscious and doesn’t find one town to be more fashionable than the other.

“I think there are women in each of these towns who are definitely high fashion, who really subscribe [to it] and love it,” Katz said. “I don’t think residents in a particular town are more fashionable than another. Each town may have a different image or personality — some more earthy or conservative or vibrant — but in my experience, I wouldn’t say one is more fashion conscious than the other.”

And Katz knows that Lululemon is a fashion statement on the North Shore, but the real fashion comes out at night.

“On Saturdays at (Northbrook’s) Di Pescara as the night grows later, the heel heights get higher,” Katz said.

The Possessionista (aka Dana Weiss, Deerfield resident, blogger and expert on all things fashion on the small screen), who spends her days writing about who’s wearing what, doesn’t want her North Shore neighbors to think their fashion consciousness only relates to how much they spend.

“I think that list is a bit deceptive. Being fashionable and having an innate sense of style has nothing to do with money,” Weiss said. “ It’s more acceptable lately to dress at both the high end and low end. Just spending $650 doesn’t make you well dressed, as it can cost a lot of money to look cheap. Of course there are fashionable people in Deerfield, Glencoe and Winnetka, but there are fashionable folks in Charlotte, N.C., as well as Santa Claus, Ind. Having great style while racking up big receipts doesn’t necessarily qualify you as well dressed, but as a shopaholic.”