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Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for Racked's first Neighborhood Style Showdown, a week-long quest to determine which part of Chicago has the best local style. Today and tomorrow, we'll be pitting eight first-round picks against each other, Wednesday and Thursday we'll narrow them down, and on Friday we'll crown a winner. Of course, we can't do it without you, so get ready to vote!
First up: Andersonville versus Pilsen. Both neighborhoods are on the cusp of gentrification, though on opposite ends of the city each have a distinct feel. Before we talk about Andersonville, let's outline the scene along 18th Street. Dotted with star-player vintage shops and a mix of honkey tonk, fried chicken and Mexican bakeries, Pilsen's dress code is casual with an art school (crafty) indie rocker edge. In all, let's say it wouldn't bother most people that there's a little barbecue sauce on their pants. The community is tight, rents are cheap and the shops are all locally-owned; think Modern Co-Op, The Frock Shop, Irv's Bikes, the fabric store at 2121 21st Street and Knee Deep Vintage. Shout-out to Pollo Express.
About an hour and fifteen minutes to the north via CTA Pink Line to Red Line we have the Clark Street strip, we once referred to as "The Neighborhood of The Future". Andersonville, the old lesbian 'hood-cum-neo gayborhood on its way to double-wide stroller territory is the birthplace of the Midwestern design aesthetic. This is the relaxed design-focused neighborhood where mainstream stores like CB2 and Restoration Hardware seek inspiration from plaid-clad, sensible shoe-wearing sales associates. Sartorial style is decidedly modest, with slightly more of an adherence to designer labels than Pilsen but with far less sex appeal. Shops like nearby Sifu, Milk Handmade, The Brown Elephant, Bucky Gear and Alamo Shoes project this sensible yet individual style on the neighborhood. Shout-out to the Puppet Bike.