Skip to main content

Penny Chic makes Walmart sexy

By Danielle Paquette, Special to CNN
Penny Chic founder Shauna Miller calls this look "Faux Oscar de la Renta Chic."
Penny Chic founder Shauna Miller calls this look "Faux Oscar de la Renta Chic."
  • Penny Chic blog features outfits entirely from Walmart
  • Creator Shauna Miller lusts after Marchesa but can afford discount store
  • She styles the outfits, her friends model them on her website
  • The stylish ensembles on her blog range from $20 to $40

(CNN) -- Recessionistas, rejoice: Shauna Miller is thrusting Walmart into the style spotlight.

Penny Chic, the 24-year-old stylist's blog, features looks fashioned entirely from the contents of the megastore's aisles. Think Miley Cyrus' line, never Marchesa -- and $5 pumps that trump $500 heels.

"More people shop at Walmart than anywhere else in the country, and yet no one in fashion talks about it," she said. "I want to make great style accessible to everyone."

It began as a stylist's challenge -- a way to showcase her aesthetic talents in a fresh way. But after loyal followers grew by the thousands, Miller made Penny Chic her full-time job.

Now, she said the website averages 52,000 unique visitors per month.

"It was amazing -- I still can't believe it," Miller said. "It makes me feel like I am doing my part in a way, in the most that a stylist could do: giving people chic outfits at the lowest cost."

See San Francisco street styles

Ensembles, updated daily and displayed simply, typically range from $20 to $40. Miller selects Walmart pieces for versatility, often opting to mix and match or, in one case, doubling a necklace as a headpiece.

"It's a hands-on experience," she said. "I have to touch and feel and look. I get a shopping cart and go through every item in the men's, women's, jewelry, lingerie departments."

Miller keeps her favorite goods and then returns the rest. Every aspect of Penny Chic is fueled by frugality, she said.

"After college, it was difficult to immediately find a job," she said. "I know what it's like to be on a tight budget."

Photo shoots never involve glamour or high production, she said. Models need not apply.

Work begins when Miller returns from a local Walmart with plastic bags full of ballet flats and scarves and beads. Then, she recruits a friend to play dress-up at her parents' house.

After 10 minutes of careful styling (and giggling), the friend-model poses for Miller's mother's Nikon D200 camera.

It's worlds away from her previous work at a Parisian fashion house.

"There's never the stranger variable in the mix -- we're all very close," Miller said. "I don't want anyone to pout or try to look sexy. We just laugh and have fun."

See Boise street styles

For now, Miller's bargain hunting will remain exclusive to Walmart. But her blog posts aren't affiliated with the store.

"If Walmart offers me money, I won't take it," she said. "It keeps my blogging pure, prevents it from becoming an advertisement."

Penny Chic styling may expand to other nationwide budget-friendly chains, however. She and her friends will soon launch tip-laden online video streaming on Penny Chic.

Despite her retail lust for Chanel and Manolo Blahniks, Miller said future endeavors will focus on affordability.

"This process has taught me that fashion is fleeting," she said. "Trends come and go. You have to work with what you have, and make it work."

Featured Deal |