Photo by Emily Soto

It’s a rainy Sunday in September and it’s a little past noon. Though the sky is gray, my pupils dilate when I open the door of Peaches Boutique—seeing so many colorful puffy dresses, sequins, lace and ornaments that make even the most humble person want a piece of that glamor. It’s a special place.

According to its website, Peaches Boutique was founded in 1984 by Jeff Surdej and is located in a shopping plaza near the corner of Central Ave. and Archer Ave. Its exterior is inviting, and its interior traps you.

At the entrance they tell you that you don’t need an appointment to try on a dress and also remind you not to take a photo or video—it must be an agreement with the designers to protect their work. The hustle and bustle inside is truly an experience.

It’s exciting to watch mothers, daughters, and women of all ages—plus one or two dads who are along for the ride—looking for a dress for a quinceañera, graduation or prom. It is like a mix of happiness, hope, pleasure, and even pride that, for many, represents a step into womanhood (and simply wanting to look good).

Photo by Emily Soto

You can just as easily see a quinceañera trying on her dress for her party, getting the final adjustments, and talking to her relatives in Spanish, and next to her, listening to a young woman speak Polish with her mother while looking at herself in the mirror in what looks to be a dress for a graduation or a gala.

The female employees are attentive to detail in this space that could somewhat resemble Cinderella’s fairy godmother’s sewing workshop or the wardrobe of any Disney princess.

There is something in that special moment of trying on a dress, the dress that will make you feel special for one day, the one that takes you away from your day-to-day routine and makes you feel like the queen or princess of your own story, a combination of empowered woman and runway model. 

And at Peaches, that happens within its 20,000 sq. foot store that has forty-five changing rooms and an inventory that they assure includes more than 30,000 dresses from renowned designers. These won’t be the designs of Coco Chanel, Dior and those luxury fashion houses, but Peaches gives families in the area and all of Chicago the opportunity to make that dream of looking their best come true without breaking the bank.

For some, it may be just a dress, but for many girls and women, it could be the dress for a very special moment that will create a lasting memory.

Peaches Boutique, 5915 S. Archer Ave. Monday–Friday, 12pm–7pm; Saturday, 10am–6pm; Sunday, 11am–5 pm. (773) 582-0102.

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