Iconic boutique The Lake Forest Shop celebrates 100 years as the ultimate arbiter of North Shore style.
Lake Forest Shop owner Ellen Stirling
When socialite and fashion maven Margaret Baxter Foster’s Chanel clothes didn’t fit in her closet anymore, she opened the doors to The Lake Forest Sports Shop in 1922. One hundred years later, the historic brick-and-mortar is the North Shore’s go-to couture destination. With inspiration from her dear friend Coco Chanel and the support of her son-in-law, a former Condé Nast publisher, Baxter Foster’s store became one of the original fashion destinations to source haute couture on the North Shore.
Adair and Volney Foster, who took over for Margaret Baxter Foster in 1949, at the shop in 1972
“My grandmother thought, ‘If Coco can do it, so can I,’” says Baxter Foster’s granddaughter Ellen Stirling, who stepped in to take over the business in 1987 and brought the boutique into a new era, from revamping the interior to hosting trunk shows and, most notably, shortening the shop’s name to The Lake Forest Shop.
The store’s racks are filled with dreamy designer selects.
Today, A-listers across generations travel from across the country to shop the curated selection of special occasion dresses and everyday wear handpicked by Stirling from global labels like Lucian Matis, Trina Turk and Algo of Switzerland. Notable clients have ranged from leaders such as Lady Elizabeth Longman, Queen Elizabeth’s friend and bridesmaid, to the Marchioness of Salisbury, the wife of British Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury.
Ellen Stirling and Dan Sharp at the shop’s recent Mother’s Day fashion show and shopping event
The secret to creating a legacy that lasts 100 years? Building relationships, says Stirling. “From the minute you walk through the door, it’s our mission to make you feel welcome, get to know you, and to give you exceptional service that is often lost in today’s large retail stores,” she says. “I quickly learned that you have to evolve with the times and know your customer.”
And the shop is indeed evolving. “The next chapter of the shop will be a blend of e-commerce and our traditional brick-and-mortar approach,” Stirling reveals, emphasizing that their e-commerce presence will boast the same level of sophistication, fitting and personalization that is offered in-store. “We are very close to reaching that point and look forward to expanding when the time is right.” Exciting times are both behind and ahead for The Lake Forest Shop; here’s to the next 100 years. 265 Market Square