I love a great shirtdress. And, I adore an oversize tuxedo shirt. Monograms? Of course. Coming from a gal who once dressed as Audrey Hepburn from this Breakfast at Tiffany’s scene for Halloween, I’m not quite sure how I just now found out about the Houston based company: Claridge + King.
Now, my problem? I can’t even decide WHICH shirt I want and which monogram. They are all gorgeous! There is nothing quite like the oversize white button down – add fancy initials and you have perfection.
I took a moment to catch up with Claridge + King to hear the scoop on what’s to come!
My three Claridge + King must-haves:
N/S: How did Claridge + King come to be? When did the company launch?
C+K: My sister Lizbeth King and I (Laurann Claridge) launched the brand in the fall of 2008. With completely different backgrounds and skill sets we knew we could come together to create the sort of accessible, but carefully edited clothing we yearned to find in our closets. I have a background in studio art and design and also worked for years as an editor and writer with long tenures at PaperCity as well as Lucky magazine. Liz is has an MBA from Vanderbilt University, a mind for business and a heart for customer service. Our grandparents were in the wholesale apparel business too, running their own fur company in New York City and we grew up appreciating good workmanship across a number of disciples.
N/S: Where are the items currently sold?
C+K: We are fortunate to have so many amazing retailers who were quick to embrace us in Texas. Among them: Kuhl Linscomb, Indulge, Elaine Turner, Cabana, The Longoria Collection–though I loathe the thought of leaving anyone out. … Over the last four years as we’ve evolved our collection the number of stores across the nation has increased steadily numbering around 150. We even shipped to Isetan in Tokyo this fall. Our very first account–anywhere–was the much-missed Takashimaya on Fifth Avenue. What an incredible store that was…
N/S: Do you have a best-selling item?
C+K: Oh yes, it’s the first piece we made and the one that our customers usually begin with—The His is Hers® Shirt available in three different styles ($108-$150). A boyfriend-style shirt cut to be a roomy, multi-tasking piece that you can wear lounging about at home/in bed or toss on over a mini or leggings and run out and about has been collected by hoards of wonderful women.
Growing up we inherited our dad’s old button-down shirts and worn them to death. And while we subscribe to the notion that nothing is more alluring on a woman than when she’s wearing nothing but a man’s button-down shirt, inherent in that is usually the issue of fit. We’ve attempted to solve that dilemma by making the shirt hem a little longer so it hits at the most flattering part of her leg and the sleeves proportionate to a woman’s arms. It’s a piece best fit by one’s height, not shirt or dress size.
N/S: What items make the best gifts?
C+K: From both a totally practical standpoint (one size guaranteed to fit all) and an utterly biased one—we love it—we’d suggest the Reversible Silk and Cashmere Scarf, $145. It’s an online exclusive (claridgeandking.com) that we carried in gray pearl last fall before it sold out at Christmas. We brought that color back again this fall and added camel, too and can’t decide which we like best.
N/S: What makes Claridge + King shirts different from others out there? What makes your products unique?
C+K: It’s all in the details. We’re obsessive about the little things from our signature charcoal-colored thread around the cuff placket button-hole to the mother-of-pearl buttons and, most importantly, cut. Our pieces aren’t stagnant, but ever-evolving. We wear them, tweak them, wear them more, tweak them more.
We listen to our customers who asked, for instance, for a fitted shirt and gave them the Great White Shirt, then the Great White Shirt with a ribbon trim (version no. 2) and we’ll go on and on with collectable variations as the seasons progress. This spring we’re debuting another fitted version called the Ivy we’ll produce in solid and colorful stripes and checks with a breast pocket and slimmer front button-placket.
N/S: What has been the greatest surprise with the company thus far?
C+K: By and large the support and loyalty shown by some of our best customers. We really try so hard to bring them accessibly priced, well-crafted pieces that don’t come with an expiration date looming. But rather easily slip into their lives amid the pieces and accessories they treasure. In turn, we receive the most lovely email notes and calls from customers and boutique owners that make it all worthwhile.
People also appreciate the detail we go to on the website. From all sorts of images on every item page to actual dimensions of the product you’re contemplating purchasing. We grew weary of shopping on websites with a generic size chart knowing all designers don’t cut the same way. Our solution: give you, the buyer, the critical measurements to compare with an item similar to one you might have in your own closet to determine the right size for you. Scroll to the very bottom of every product page and you’ll find it there amid several informational tabs provided.
N/S: Any exciting plans for the future or any news you can share?
C+K: We are working right now to debut a selection of accessories created by our talented accessory designing friends. Called C + K Curates, it is a soon-to-debut (likely mid-November) section at claridgeandking.com of jewelry and handbags that we personally love and wear. They’re exactly the sort of pieces with a keen eye you can spot Lesli Pendergraft, our model wearing in the Style It section of the website, too.
N/S: What are the fall must-haves from Claridge + King?
C+K: The Button-Down Shirtdress in white pinpoint or charcoal poplin. It’s a very fitted shirtdress inspired by our Great White Shirt that can be worn belted with your own belt, as a wonderful layering piece, or paired with trousers like our Silk Lounge Pants and only buttoned to the waist tunic style.
Also in knits our Crew and Reversible Leggings are back (accompanied by the Dolman Sleeve Tee) in a new hue: storm. We brought out pitch-black and charcoal last season and sold out only to bring the Crew (a long top that doubles as a short dress) back again in a warm gray-brown called storm. The leggings are the snug, thick sort (they can be turned inside out depending on which color side you wish to wear) and they suck you in leaving no room to giggle about. I wear them with the elastic waistband folded over itself. All three are made with modal, cotton and a hint of spandex for snap back stretch.
N/S: How does being a Houston and Texas based company influence your designs?
C+K: We’re cognizant of our climate and make a lot of pieces suitable for layering. For instance, our sweaters are cashmere (70%) and silk (30%), cotton or modal and an easy weight to wear most months of the year. We also use a lot of natural fibers like cotton, which is forgiving in the heat of the summer. (Especially useful for our sleepwear pieces.)
Thank you so much for taking the time to include Claridge + King in your terrific blog!
xo, Laurann and Liz