What goes into the $180 price?

Founder Darlene Campbell has been selling shirts since 2011, but she only learned how to sew them in 2015 when her pattern maker insisted: "You can’t lead where you haven’t been.” He'd run a Brooks Brothers factory before launching a custom shirt business, so she listened. Under his tutelage, she sharpened collar points, aligned collar stands, and attached sleeves to armholes without any puckering. It was hard work.

That's why the biggest factor in our price is the fair wage we pay to a single highly skilled tailor who worked her way up from sweeping the floors of a Manhattan garment factory to sewing samples for top designers. You can read how we discovered each other here. Today she sews for just a few companies from her own studio in Queens, and we are honored to be one of them.

Fabric is the second factor in our price. After working hard to achieve outstanding fit and construction, it doesn’t make sense to use an inferior fabric. A rougher fabric (from short staple cotton) with a wider weave (sort of like thread count) wouldn’t lower the cost of our shirts enough to make a difference, but it would affect how you feel about spending over a hundred dollars on a shirt with fabric that doesn’t “feel good”. We work with long staple Egyptian cotton from a highly respected and family-run mill in Turkey.  

Some day we will grow to a level where we can benefit from economies of scale with lower (but still ethical) production costs and higher fabric minimums. However, we don’t anticipate lowering the price of our shirts because growth will mean hiring new people to help us. Currently two people do everything at Campbell & Kate!

We appreciate that purchasing a slow fashion piece means fewer garments in your wardrobe, and we are honored that you are considering a Campbell & Kate shirt as one of them. If you are currently on a limited budget and cannot invest in slow fashion, please take a look at the bust-friendly alternatives on our sister site. Every woman with a fuller bust deserves to feel fabulous in clothing that fits.

Why do you charge a new client fitting fee?

This is our solution to two complicated issues. On the one hand, clients need the freedom to try multiple sizes. On the other hand, we’ve learned the hard way that unlimited free shipping and returns are unsustainable.

With a fitting fee, we don’t have to raise the price of our shirts for clients who already know their size. If a first-time client purchases and keeps a shirt, the fee is credited toward its price. If she decides not to keep a shirt, she receives a refund minus the fitting fee (so $160).

Why is your fit process so complicated?

Putting you in the right shirt is a collaboration. We know that sending us your measurements and answering our questions is not the way that most women shop, but the result is worth it.

And curves are complicated.

Curious about some of the factors that make fitting women with fuller breasts into dress shirts complicated? Here are a few:

  • Woven fabric is less forgiving than knits.
  • Bra size doesn’t necessarily correlate to shirt size.
  • Wearing a less-than-ideal bra size affects the fit of anything worn over it.
  • Personal preference--some women like things looser, some like them tighter.

We hear this a lot: “If men can buy dress shirts off the rack with just two measurements, why can’t women?” We sympathize with the question. However, a man’s neck circumference and arm length are nothing like a woman’s bust line. It’s an oversimplification, but large breasts require a 3-dimensional shirt, and men can get away with a -dimensional shirt.

Why does it take 2-3 weeks to finish a shirt?

We fit your order into our tailor’s work flow with the other small companies she sews for. A button down shirt requires a lot of concentration, so sometimes our tailor will batch your order with other shirt orders so that the only thing she is thinking about is Campbell & Kate button down shirts (not jumping between shirts and stretch leather leggings, for instance).

If you're in a hurry, consider some of the bust-friendly alternatives on our sister site.

Why do you offer only one style?

We’ve focused on the one shirt that every woman needs in her closet. It’s super versatile and can be dressed up or down. It’s taken a lot trial and error to get this one style right, and we continue to iterate.

Because our shirts are made one at a time, you CAN change some of the details. For example, you can choose contrasting fabric on your collar or request different cuff styles. We especially like the ruffles that this client chose! One client even requested snaps instead of buttons.

We dream of developing more styles, and we welcome your suggestions.

What about 38+ bra bands?

We have been able to fit many women who wear cusp sizes into our shirts, and we’re happy to try to work with you.

We have also met many women with large chests who wear size 18 and up, and we would love to create our shirts for you. Although we have developed samples in extended sizes, our fit tests have shown we have a lot more work to do.

Would you like to make this happen sooner? Please send an email to lab@campbellandkate.com if you're open to supporting our project through a crowdfunding campaign or another arrangement.

What about petites?

Our current sizes fit many petite women, and we’re able to shorten the hem or torso length for women who need it.

However, we’d love to create a pattern specifically for the full-busted petite. Our founder is 5’3” and fully aware of the challenges of dressing a frame that is both petite and busty. She is also especially sympathetic to the cusp-sized busty petite.

If you would like to support such a project through a crowdfunding campaign or other arrangement, please reach out to lab@campbellandkate.com.

Who is Kate?

Surprisingly, she isn’t one of the two people behind the scenes at Campbell & Kate, but she was a part of the company’s development from the time Kathleen Fasanella introduced her to Darlene by email on July 19, 2007. Kate joined our meetings with patternmakers and graders and gave her trusted feedback afterward. She lent her technical books, suggested improvements to the design, and helped work through the seemingly insurmountable sizing issues that arose during the process. Darlene sometimes doubted that we could create our dream shirt; Kate never did.

Darlene told Kate, “If you’ll go into business with me, we can call the company Campbell & Kate!” Kate had already experienced the challenges of starting a successful clothing line and was ready for a different career. However, Darlene loved the new name and kept it.

How should I wash my Campbell & Kate shirt?

Ideally, we advise washing your white shirts in hot water, fluffing the wrinkles out in a dryer for 5-10 minutes, and either hanging them to dry or ironing while still damp. You may also be interested in the pre-ironing freezer prep method (developed on linen shirts in the Caribbean!). Personally, our founder often simply dries her shirts completely in the dryer and resorts to spray starch before ironing. Dry cleaning is an option, but the fluid can accelerate yellowing.

Colors should be turned inside out before washing in cold water. Hanging to dry will preserve the color longer. Dry cleaning is less damaging to dark colors and prints.

Two great ironing tools: tailor's ham and sleeve board.

What if I drop food on my shirt?

So far we’ve found that all stains are treatable. You can find a lot of solutions online, but spot dabbing hot water and blue Dawn dish washing liquid is our tailor's favorite for general stains. For oil stains, here's the best strain treatment we’ve found, plus a quick video demo on Instagram.

What’s up with your website?

We admit it’s a relic, but don’t let it deter you from trying our amazing shirts. We’ve poured most of our resources into perfecting our patterns and processes. One day we’ll build a beautiful new site, too.