The following article was originally published in the March 2009 Bucks & Montgomery Living Magazine.
Aside from buying denim, one of the most dreaded shopping excursions for women can be looking for a swimsuit that works perfectly with her shape. Shirley & Co. hopes to make that experience much easier with its personalized customer service that leaves women with often more than one swimsuit to fit their needs.
Shirley & Co. opened in 1986 as a boutique where women could be professionally fitted in a swimsuit and grew into a store that carries resort wear and accessories. The customer service is what makes the boutique stand out from the competition. “We want every customer to be serviced and taken care of on a one-to-one basis,” said Merrill Levin, owner of Shirley & Co. “We have customers that only come to us because they like to park themselves in the dressing room and have our professional salespeople bring them what will look best on their body type.”
Levin encourages her customers to ask for help. “The customers that come in and wander around and don’t want to be helped will either leave with nothing or try on suits that are completely wrong for their body and leave in frustration,” she said. But with a little help, she’s found that customers often leave saying, “I would have never picked that suit for myself, but I love how I look in it.”
Finding a swimsuit that suits a customer’s body type exemplifies the type of customer service you find at Shirley & Co. “Many will come in asking for a one-piece suit to cover everything up, and they will leave with two or three suits, one being a tankini with full coverage, one being a sexy one-piece with good coverage, and the other, an understated designer suit that is just smashing for that special day at the pool or at a pool party.”
Located in the Huntingdon Valley Shopping Center for 12 years, the company opened its second location in the Langhorne/Newtown area. Three years ago, Levin closed the Huntingdon Valley location and reopened in Elkins Park. Each 2,000-square-foot store carries the same wide selection of swimwear for ages 11 to 90. The Langhorne store, recently redecorated after moving to the location five years ago, sports a sunny yellow and black décor, while the Elkins Park boutique sports a contemporary black and camel design. The stores carry sizes from 4 to 22 for women and from petite XS to XL in separates for juniors and women who want mix and match separates. They also carry up to D, DD and E in separates, with a wide variety of cuts and colors to meet many tastes. The selection of swimwear retails from $70 to $450 and cover-ups range from $35 to $250.
The store carries Karla Colletto, which combines tailoring with future-forward fabrics; Carmen Marc Valvo, who shows on the runway in New York; La Perla, the intimates designer that moved into swimwear; and Robin Piccone, with its innovative details and modern styles. The younger customer favorites include Juicy Couture, Betsey Johnson, Lucky Brand and Ed Hardy. The hip customers in their 30s and 40s are drawn to LaBlanca, a stylish, fashion forward line. For the world traveler, Shirley & Co. carries Becca by Rebecca Virtue, inspired by exotic locales around the world; Jets from Australia, by designer Jessica Allen; Roidal from Spain; and Gottex and Profile by Gottex from Israel. The conservative woman who appreciates classic designs can find DKNY, Ralph Lauren and RL by Ralph Lauren. Women who want to camouflage their figure can look to Miraclesuit, the slimming lines of It Figures and Roxanne. For the full-chested woman, go for CoCo Reef with its two-piece suits in bra sizes. Plus-sized women can look to Longitude or Christina swimwear. And for a different look, find the hand-painted designs of Anne Cole or Vitamin A, which defines West Coast style.
Shirley & Co. is located at 23 Summit Square Center in Langhorne and 120 Yorktown Plaza in Elkins Park. For more information, visit www.shirleyandco.com or call (215) 579-7005 for the Langhorne store and (215) 884-5401 for the Elkins Park store.