Walk into the C. Lady off Pisgah Church Road and you’ll run into Rose, the three-year-old labradoodle-golden retriever mix who’s a much-loved fixture of the store.
“Some customers have given her toys, and she brings their toy to them when they come in,” owner Lois Howard says.
Howard and her assistants have also been giving customers this kind of personalized attention for 27 years. From one-on-one advice and wine in the afternoons to notifications on new products, sales, and events, the Contemporary Lady, or C. Lady, is one of Greensboro’s options for stylish clothing and accessories for women over 30.
So what does it mean to be a “contemporary lady”? Howard, a registered nurse originally from Nova Scotia, says it’s all about “living in the now.” Her products reflect the latest fashions and run from “dressy casual to business casual, with some cocktail” attire.
“We’re not a short skirt store, [but] none of our clothes are matronly,” she says. “They’re certainly in fashion and make the most of what you have, face and body.”
Current trends include animal prints, tunics, shorter and asymmetrical tops, and fabrics that won’t wrinkle. Howard says anyone coming in for clothing can get the whole shebang.
“We like to put jewelry with it and make it a complete outfit,” she says.
Howard sources her clothing from the United States and Canada, and much of the jewelry comes from local vendors, so you can take pride in knowing that you’re supporting our economy. Plus, you won’t run a great risk of wearing the same thing as someone else.
“All our vendors are unique to us in Greensboro,” Howard says. “I don’t have [anything] that [other stores have].”
She also emphasizes the affordability of much of the inventory.
“There’s a little bit of a buzz in town that we’re expensive,” she says. “We have some expensive things, but we also have $29 necklaces and $79 tops and sweaters. Not everything in here is out of reach.”
The C. Lady has “very loyal customers,” including Dr. Terri Shelton, UNCG’s vice chancellor for research and engagement. Part of it has to do with compliments customers receive on their outfits, Howard says.
Her advice for anyone wanting to update their style?
“Get a couple of really good pieces, and add accessories. You don’t have to break the bank. Just a few good pieces that can make something pop.”
Howard will bring accessories — exclusive jewelry, fashion jewelry, silk scarves, ponchos, hats, and gloves — to her booth at Taste of the Gate City. Her merchandise constantly rotates; she has a new line of jewelry from Ginga in Myrtle Beach, and she’ll also have on hand the fused glass creations of Sleepin’ Dog made by Nancy Brooks, a juried artist from Virginia.
But those who fall in love with the C. Lady’s style would do well to visit Howard’s brick-and-mortar location at The Village at North Elm. They can even meet Rose, who is named after one of the sisters in the British sitcom “Keeping up Appearances.”
“I like making women look good,” Howard says. “I think when you look good and feel good, it gives you good self-esteem.”