About Us

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About Us

The Dress Boutique at Merle Norman Burlington stocks thousands of dresses and gowns for every occasion, and we love helping women and girls of all ages navigate our collection to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Whether you’re planning the perfect prom ensemble, searching for a tasteful evening gown or seeking a show-stopper for a company cocktail party, our consultants make it their mission to help you discover the dress of your dreams. They’ll also guide you through our sizeable stock of shoes, accessories, and cosmetics to help you pull together a cohesive and polished look for your special event.

The pieces we carry are unique – you will not find them in a department store, and the selection we offer is unrivaled – most boutiques have a few hundred dresses, but we provide thousands of pieces for every body type, every occasion, and every style.

By providing a huge range of options and unmatched customer service, we make sure that every girl and woman who visits The Dress Boutique is empowered to create a look that makes her feel comfortable, confident and dazzling on her special day.

Our Story

By 1986 Wanda Shelton was 23 years old with a college degree. She joined the staff at Merle Norman Cosmetics in 1981 and had been managing the business during her last year at Elon University. She fell in love with the customers at the small boutique and wasn’t ready to give up her job managing Merle Norman Burlington to pursue the career college was supposed to kickstart.

The business, amazingly, was for sale at the time. Wanda was encouraged by her mother and father, Ray and Carlene Shelton, to pursue her dream and buy the business. At 23 years old, the banking system was not fond of large loans with no collateral for a young person. Wanda’s parents obtained the loan for her as they had total faith she would succeed. She was able to pay back the loan within 10 years and has made the Merle Norman Cosmetics store of Burlington, North Carolina her own. The growth of the business would not have been possible without Wanda’s mother, Carlene by her side as her manager. Together, they were able to change womens’ lives by empowering them to look and feel their best.

The cosmetic business was quite rewarding, however Wanda wanted to expand and grow. Merle Norman had a large extravagant convention every year requiring cocktail dresses and long gowns in which to celebrate the event. She searched high and low but to no avail. It was a difficult item to find! She thought others could share her frustration so she went to the Atlanta market seeking these gowns. She found a nice line, bought 1 for herself and 20 for the store. They sold out in a couple of weeks, so she bought 40 dresses. When those sold out she purchased 100, then 500 and then 1,000. Within a few years, she needed to remodel and expand the store to make room for more dresses.

Today, The Dress Boutique at Merle Norman of Burlington stocks thousands of dresses in sizes 000-24 ideal for prom, reunions, cruises, quinceañeras, cocktail parties, weddings, galas, homecoming and other special events. It also carries accessory collections, shoes, daywear and, of course, the Merle Norman cosmetics that started it all.

Store Hours



At this time, appointments are required for Bridal, Prom, Formalwear and Merle Norman consultations. Please call to reserve your amazing experience.