Business: Sophisticated Ladies Boutique

Location: 175 White Horse Pike, Sandpiper Square, Absecon

Owner: Sharon Garrett and sister Dorathea "Resa" White, both of Egg Harbor Township

Employees: Owner-operated

Phone: 609-407-7848

"Sophisticated Ladies Boutique has elegant hats with matching purses and we have church suits," said co-owner Sharon Garrett. "We can special order special occasions suits, mother of the bride and mother of the groom outfits, sorority colors, and usher and host and hostess uniforms."

The store's offerings are available in sizes from 6 to 32.

Garrett said hats with rhinestones are popular, "what you might call bedazzled hats, as well as ones with feathers and a lot with jewels on them. There are plainer hats as well.

Another style of hat is called a "fascinator," she said, little headpieces that aren't full hats, more like hair pieces with feathers and a bow or designs, and popular in England.

Some hats come with a matching purse. A designer one, by BenMarc, would start at $110.

The hats come in an array of colors, from tangerine to lime green, to silver, red and champagne. Most are year-round hats that can be worn in summer or winter.

Sophisticated Ladies also sells gloves and lap scarves for church. That's a small scarf that goes over a woman's knees when she's at church.

A church suit has a little more jewels or is a little fancier than a regular business suit, Garrett said. Maybe the lapels have rhinestones or a broach, something to draw attention. Or the cuffs might have special rhinestone buttons.

A lot of sororities have to wear their own colors, and the store can order them so everyone can look alike.

Eastern Star members wear a lot of white, so the boutique carries a lot of white. They don't have to look alike but want an uninterrupted white, she said.

Host and hostess uniforms, and usher uniforms, are special ordered. Sophisticated Ladies has catalogs from suppliers and customers can select and see what they're getting.

A seamstress will provide alterations a couple of days a week.

Entry: Garrett and her sister, Dorathea "Resa" White, long talked about selling church hats. When the First Lady Parrish boutique in the Shore Mall closed, they bought the inventory to start their store.

"Mary Parrish gave us a crash course in running the store," Garrett said.

The future: The sisters would like to add more accessories, maybe some pocketbooks and a little jewelry at some point. They'd also like to open.

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