A few months ago, a friend complimented me on a pair of pants, and I told her they were from Penelope T. “Where’s that?” she replied. I think I momentarily froze in shock. This question was coming from one of the most stylish, put-together women I know. A woman who spent seven years working in corporate marketing at the Neiman Marcus mother ship in Dallas. A former colleague whom I have personally witnessed breezing from one client meeting to the next, never looking anything less than camera-ready. If this woman was unfamiliar with Penelope T, this was a serious wrong that needed to be righted.
For the record, Penelope T is located in South Jacksonville Beach in the same plaza as Roy’s and Bonefish Grill. I first fell in love with the store when they opened this, their second location, in the spring of 2011, after several successful years operating in the Tampa area. What follows are the five reasons I love Penelope T, and why you should be shopping there too. And make sure you read to the end or you’ll miss out on some very important information that could save you a lot of money.
1. Editing by the experts.
Penelope T owners Manne White and Nickie Riley spent years working in the fashion industry in New York before relocating to Florida to begin their own retail mecca. Their taste is exquisite. So while the store is not big, it’s chock full of pieces that you will really, really want to wear. They stock talented but lesser know designers like Myne, Dolan, Corey Lynn Calter, Sam & Lavi, Dolce Vita, and Mother Jeans (not to be mistaken with mom jeans). On an average visit, I try on at least 50% of the available items. (And even if I only end up buying one or two things, they’re still really nice to me! See reason #4 why I love this store.) Everything is fashion forward, but not so much that you’ll end up looking like a fashion victim, and it’s all classic enough to last you a few years, if not a few decades. As moms, so much of our daily success comes down to time management. When we have a window to shop for ourselves, who has time to comb through a whole mall or scour ten different sites on the Internet? At Penelope T, you get a great mix of current and classic-with-a-twist pieces all in one time efficient stop.
2. Quality over quantity.
Back in the sixties, my grandmother had a part-time job at Bloomingdales in Hackensack, New Jersey, where she scored a lot of major mark-downs with her employee discount. But too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. After grandma paraded one too many of her “great deals” around the house, my grandfather coined a phrase: “I can’t afford to save any more money!” This should have been tattooed on my forehead in my early twenties, when I believed I was doing the financially virtuous thing by shopping at discount stores, only to end up spending too much on a lot of random clothing items with little staying power. As I’ve grown older, I’ve embraced a “less is more” philosophy: spending more money on fewer things that I really love. Penelope T fits perfectly with this approach. While their clothes aren’t cheap, they’re reasonably priced compared to other high-end boutiques. Most items range from $50 to $250, but I can honestly tell you that everything I’ve bought there is something I reach for again and again. Like the dress I’ve worn to a wedding, an Easter brunch and a casual beach day just by changing the accessories. Or the romper that’s worked for everything from a beach cover-up to date night attire. I even have plans to add tights, boots and a long sweater to make it winter-ready. What I’m saying is, you won’t find rock bottom prices at Penelope T, but you will find pieces that will never, ever feel like a waste of money.
I’m not sure if I can even find the words to describe Penelope T’s jewelry selection, but I’ll start with AMAZE BALLS. Again, Manne and Nickie do an incredible job finding a mix of vintage and new items. If you’re looking to accessorize a specific outfit, they always have great suggestions, and if you’re just looking for a fun addition to your jewelry rotation, you will never leave empty-handed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single piece in the store that I wouldn’t wear happily. And as for prices, if you’ve shopped at other boutiques in town, you may find yourself experiencing reverse sticker shock. Every jewelry item, including statement necklaces, is well under $100, and smaller pieces like earrings or bracelets can be had for $30 or less.
4. Service with a smile.
Imagine walking into a boutique staffed with gorgeous, impeccably dressed, super cool women. Now imagine doing this without feeling intimidated, and you will know what it’s like to shop at Penelope T. Despite being incredibly stylish, the ladies who work there are also warm and approachable. You want their advice, and you don’t mind asking for it, because they give it in such a nice, honest and non-pushy way. Even if you try on 15 things and only buy one, they don’t seem to mind. And if your husband goes in the store a few days later, they may even make a really accurate gift suggestion based on stuff you had recently tried on. Seriously, this happened. The girls at Penelope T are so nice in fact that it has caused my husband to suspect that I’m spending money there that he doesn’t know about, i.e., “the fact that they know you by name seems like a bad sign.” But really, truly, it’s just a sign of how nice they are.
5. The Black Friday Sale
And now, your reward for reading this far: everything you need to know about Penelope T’s Black Friday sale. Keep in mind, I avoid Black Friday sales like the plague. But this is different. Unlike some boutiques with their miniscule sale racks, PT puts the entire store on sale, progressive style. Get there at 8 AM and score 30% off until 9. From 9 to 11, everything is 20% off, and even the slackers get 10% off from 11 to 6 (but who knows if there will be anything left?) With so many gift-worthy items and the opportunity to get some great pieces to take you through the winter, you really should not miss this sale. And this is one high-fashion event where we moms have an advantage. We’re all up by 7 AM whether it’s a holiday or not, so we might as well have something gorgeous to show for it.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And happy shopping!