Veda Dossett, manager and owner of Caroline's, has been offering women a touch of elegance in her downtown Kingsport shop for 18 years.
Go anywhere these days that isn't a Wall Street board room or the set of "Mad Men," and you will see that dressing down has become the norm.
Jeans have become the fashion equivalent of fast food - available, affordable and all too common. In a grunge culture, Caroline's Boutique stands out the way a swatch of silk shantung shines in bolts of grey flannel.
Veda Dossett, manager and owner of Caroline's, has been offering women a touch of elegance in her downtown Kingsport shop for 18 years. Petite and slender with wavy blond hair in an updo and pearls at her throat, Veda's style and looks are reminiscent of Grace Kelly - old Hollywood.
"I'm all about the glamour," she says of her personal style. She describes Caroline's brand as an unique high-end boutique that features women's clothing, small antiques and jewelry. Sandwiched between racks of dresses and separates are small, carefully-chosen antiques, fine and costume estate jewelry.
After teaching school and following her attorney husband, Tom, around the world, Veda opened Caroline's with her daughter after whom the store is named. After some years, Caroline relocated to Johnson City and Veda continued with the business. It's basically a one-woman show - Veda does the buying and merchandising, the pricing and also manages and sells. Her clientele ranges in age, so she selects merchandise that appeals to different age groups as long as those groups love fashion and looking elegant.
"We feature timeless, well-made, classic styles that compliment women of all ages," Veda says.
Several of her clothing lines can only be found in Kingsport in her shop. Joseph Ribkoff and Cheryl Nash are two brands that she mentions. Another top seller is the Lisette Pantalon trousers.
"Kathie Lee Gifford has a spot on early morning television that she calls 'My Favorite Things.' She mentioned these slacks, saying they combine the comfort of leggings (they have no zippers or buttons), with built-in tummy control and the look of well-made slacks. The next day, the Lisette website crashed because they couldn't handle all the traffic from online buyers. I had the good fortune to be able to carry those slacks in my store," she says.
Of course, as Veda reminds me, no outfit is complete without accessories and she loves to help customers select jewelry to complement their new clothes. And, with a plethora of costume and fine jewelry to choose from in her stock, that is no problem. She shows me two shelves devoted to costume pieces that originally came from Bergdorf Goodman's in New York. Another case holds several antique gold and diamond items and, her personal favorite, a large citrene and diamond necklace.
In the midst of unique jewelry and tasteful fashion, the most valuable item Caroline's features is not something tangible.
"I love getting people things when they are in the dressing room or helping them complete a new outfit," Veda says.
That is personal customer service and it never, ever goes out of fashion. And, as long as Veda and Caroline's are in business, it never will.
Caroline's is open at 132 Center Street in downtown Kingsport from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.comments powered by Disqus