Penelope's Vintage: Guide to Thrift Shopping

One of my favorite people on the Internet is the lovely Chanelle of Penelope's Vintage. Not only has she been a great supporter of this little blog here, I have great respect for her talent.

A thrifting hobby and a great eye for style helped Chanelle to successfully launch her own online shop - which has absolutely turned heads - and she is here today to give us some tips on how to dig through vintage goods ourselves in atwg's very first guest post.


Thrift shopping can be a scary task for people. I understand. There’s an overwhelming sea of clothing shoved in one area that you are expected to find something out of - and something cute, at that.

My name is Chanelle and I’m here to help you overcome your fear of thrift shopping. If you’re an avid thriftier, I love you and I’m sure you understand. I own an online vintage clothing store, Penelope’s Vintage, therefore I’ve had some practice, not to mention 75 percent of my closet = Goodwill.

Me, Chanelle, in black high-waisted shorts: I’m really into sheer blouses right now, so I went to the blouse section at Goodwill and picked out this beautiful white georgette blouse with a collar and pleats down the middle. I paired it with these shorts I also found at Goodwill a while ago - high-waisted with pleats. They are really ugly if they’re not rolled up because they’re too long, but I played with them a bit and now they’re as good as new! The blouse also has a greater appeal with the sleeves rolled up, although I do like them down too.

I have five super simple tips to help you shop or get you started.

Be organized: Take yourself to your local thrift store, dive in and go one rack at a time. Thrift stores usually have everything organized and separated nicely. Start off with the lightest weight items like blouses, then work your way across the store. The items add up QUICK, therefore starting off with the lightest weight item makes it more manageable to take around with you. If you’re like me you will end up with a mountain of clothes.

Look for patterns or colors that appeal to you: When you approach a rack, push all the clothes to one side of the rack then push them one by one to the other side in a quick motion. While doing this, spot out the prints and styles that you like and take it off the rack to see if it’s love. I know, you hate me for saying this, but this is the most effective and rewarding way. If you refuse this method you can also walk down the aisle and spot the prints, colors, textures, etc., that appeal to you and take them off the rack as you spot them.

Start off simple and take chances: First time? Vintage t-shirts are a great way to start - they go with ANYTHING and the men’s section is usually a jackpot. Eventually make your way into blouses, bottoms, etc., and before you know it you’ll be in a full sequins jumpsuit! Try to try on at least one outrageous item - those are usually the best ones.

Here’s an item from the store, 90s high-waisted white denim shorts. Again, these weren’t that appealing in their original form but roll them up and you got yourself a cute summer item. We paired it with loud (AWESOME) leopard shoes to give the flat colors some appeal, and added a pop of color with a Wilma Flintstone necklace.

Picture the items on and/or with an outfit: Do you wear items alone? NO! You wear it as part of AN OUTFIT! Try picturing the item with bottoms or tops, a belt at the waist. If the sleeves are too long, picture them rolled up. Picture a clunky bracelet and a cocktail ring with the outfit. Play with the item if you like it. You can also research before shopping and go in with an outfit idea in your head to find. Sites like or have AMAZING outfit ideas with vintage items.

This item is also from the store. It was originally a skirt (and can still be a skirt) but looks AWESOME as a tube dress, as well. I often find skirts that I wouldn’t normally wear but LOVE the print or color so I usually try to it as a dress before I completely give up on it. Luckily long skirts are in again so you can have two pieces in one!

Try everything on: Most places have mirrors and not dressing rooms. My best advice would be to go shopping dressed in leggings and a tight shirt so you can try items on over your clothes in front of a mirror. Things look COMPLETELY different on than they do on the rack, so this step is crucial. Some look better on, some look worse!

The thing I love most about thrifting is: it’s creativity at its finest. You have to search, have imagination and be bold. It’s gratifying when you find that GEM that is a piece of vintage. It’s yours, and you found it. If thrifting is not your thing but you love vintage, there are tons of eBay and Etsy stores that do all the work for you. They do the shopping and show you different ways to wear it. Just click “buy”! These steps have helped me to find NUMEROUS items that I wouldn’t have found otherwise, and in a timely manner at that. I hope these tips help and make thrifting a more enjoyable experience.

Thanks Chanelle!

Stay tuned for part two from Chanelle, coming soon!

Penelope's Vintage.