Lately, wherever I go, if the subject of fashion arises, so does the name Sanem. And when women speak of Sanem’s new boutique (134 N. Oak Park Avenue) it’s with such zeal, it seems to send women into a fashion frenzy.

Just ask Abby Graefe. I met Abby and her mother, Rebecca Noble, while out shopping. I mentioned that I liked her outfit: it was fresh and modern – impeccable, really. (The look I hope to achieve when I run errands on weekends, but very rarely actualize.)

Abby is an Oak Park resident and student at James Madison University, as well as a fervent fan of Sanem’s boutique, “I don’t buy anything else but Sanem’s [clothes] now.”

Both mom and daughter shop at Sanem’s together. Rebecca added, “I love her honesty. She knows how to fit women’s bodies. She has a great sense of style and an eye to accessorize. It’s a talent!”

Who is this Sanem, who holds women spellbound with her fashion sense? I need to know. My closet needs to know.

Sanem D’Angelo sat down with me to chat about the splendid space ensconced on Oak Park Avenue, the sophisticated shop that she now calls her own. Life seems to have taken a zigzag path for Sanem, but each zig and each zag brought her one step closer to realizing her full potential. Hers is a career marked my determination.

Upon graduating with a degree in Communication Arts from Benedictine University, Sanem worked at a radio station for a short while before deciding she wanted more of a challenge. “I love connecting with people as well as expanding and extending myself.”

She found employment at a luxury retail shop working as a sales associate; she was quickly promoted to assistant manager, and finally she took on the position of store manager.

At about this time the man Sanem was dating purchased a condo in Oak Park. “I was spending a lot of time [with Mike] in Oak Park, discovering Oak Park.” And as her romantic relationship blossomed, so did her love for Oak Park. Sanem and Mike eventually married, and Oak Park soon became her home.

Sanem recalls her realization: “This is my calling. This is where I need to be. I love fashion, and I love making people feel good about themselves.” In the winter of 2009 she started a wardrobe consulting business for those women whose fashion compass might be slightly askew or women whose busy lifestyles simply don’t allow them to invest time in their wardrobes. “We’re women on the go. These women are wives and mothers.” Sanem wants them to know, “It’s o.k. for them to take time for themselves.”

Sanem first opened her boutique as a pop-up store, which allowed her to test the waters. Fueled by the success of the provisional shop, she made the decision to sign a lease, closed the store in July, and in just two and a half weeks reopened her eponymous, independently owned specialty shop. “Everyone stepped in to help: my mom, dad, husband.” Throughout our conversation, Sanem refers to her store as a grassroots enterprise, a family business. Indeed, you’ll find Sanem’s most ardent supporter, her mother Insel, at the boutique when Sanem is out of the store “in the closets – pitching, organizing, creating” as a personal shopper.

Standing among these chic sheaths and trendy tailored jackets, I have to wonder if there was any indication early on that this would be the path she would take. Sanem is swirling through her shop, gushing about the versatility of a polka dotted flirty frock, when she stops to ponder the question.

She reminisces about her trips to Turkey as a child, remembering vividly her grandmother in the kitchen cooking, cutting, chopping, all the while her rings, gold bangles, and cuffs glimmering, jingling. “My grandmother was such an inspiration. She was polished and elegant.” Her grandmother’s sense of style created indelible memories and shaped her personal style. 

A self-professed “stylist with a storefront,” Sanem’s goal is to help women reinvent their wardrobes. Brenda Adaire, an Oak Park resident and client of Sanem’s, observes, “She has a keen eye. She’s able to read a person and understand her customer. She offers suggestions that facilitate how we wear our clothes.”

Sanem shares, “Women don’t leave [my shop] with just merchandise; they leave with fresh ideas and fashion tips. This boutique is the perfect marriage of my love of fashion and my love for nurturing. I want women to be true to themselves. I am not here to change women; I’m here to help women look better and feel better.” And the reason why women flock to shop here is now very clear indeed.

Have you shopped at Sanem’s? If so, tell us what you love about her shop or her styling skills!

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