Maintaining a sense of a style is about choosing the right clothes and accessories, but it’s also about finding an area that makes you feel like you. You want to go out to bars and restaurants where it feels like you fit in. You want to be around people who will appreciate your fashion sense. You want to live in a house that you aesthetically love, and you want to be able to find new digs that can help you expand your sense of style and identity even further.
Ultimately, this means finding the perfect neighborhood for you and your family. But what should you look for? And how can you go about making this decision?
Read more after the jump:
Defining Your Style
First, take the time to define your style (or the style you want) in broad terms. You might be able to intuitively select a coat off the rack that feels most closely aligned with your fashion, but if you’re going to choose a house and a neighborhood, you’ll need something broader.
For example, would you consider your style more modern or more vintage? Do you think you’re more about nature or more about artificial qualities? Are you minimalistic or baroque? Colorful or plain?
Do you want to stand out or blend in? These are all important questions, and you should know the answers before you even start looking. If you’re not sure about something, or if you feel stuck between two competing sets of characteristics, don’t worry; that ambiguity can also serve as your answer.
House and Neighborhood Aesthetics
One of the first factors you’ll need to consider are the aesthetics of your neighborhood—and of course, the specific house in that neighborhood. When you find a house that interests you, take a walk around the neighborhood. What do all the houses look like? Do they all seem modern, with a sleek, minimalistic design? Or do they all seem like they were built before 1960? Are they all the same, with minor variations in color and structure, or does each house seem to have its own personality?
You’ll also want to pay attention to small touches; for example, does every yard seem to have trees in front, or are paved driveways and flat lawns more common? There are no right or wrong answers here; you have to choose what seems most appealing to you. While you’re walking around, see if you can identify any neighbors who are also walking the neighborhood. Diversity is a good thing, so don’t rule out the neighborhood if you see lots of people who dress much differently than you, but seeing a few people who share your aesthetic tastes won’t hurt.
The Bar and Restaurant Scene
You’ll also want to spend a few nights exploring the bar and restaurant scene of this neighborhood. Are there some staple neighborhood establishments within walking distance of your home? If so, what are they like? Is the interior dark and loud, with trendy cocktails and a simple menu? Or is it brightly lit with warm staff members and almost any kind of food or drink you can think of? Is the décor on the walls minimalistic, or are the walls covered in stickers or other gauche decorations? This alone shouldn’t be a make-or-break factor, but it’s worth considering.
This is also a good opportunity to see what the local music scene is like, if there is one. Are there a lot of hipster cafes with open mic nights, where singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars go and perform their soulful poetry? Or are there a lot of bars favoring industrial and metal bands on a nightly basis? Or do people tend to flock to jazz festivals and orchestras playing classical music? This can tell you a lot about the overall “style” or taste of a given area.
Clothing Stores and Retail Options
It also pays to spend some time shopping at local retail options. What are the clothing stores like? Are there individual tailors and fashionistas who create their own clothes and sell them? Or are there several major retail chains available? Either way, what kinds of clothes are you likely to find in this area? What about accessories? Ideally, you’ll find an area where there are plenty of shopping options when you’re ready to update your wardrobe or experiment with something new.
Obviously, the aesthetics of your neighborhood and the fashion choices of your community members will play only a small role in your eventual decision to move—but don’t discount them. Finding a community where you feel like you belong and where you can keep expanding your exploration of your personal fashion can make a major difference in your life.
Images by Katy Pritchett for Design SCENE