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The company that would eventually become Cato Fashions was founded in 1946 by Wayland Henry Cato and his two sons. The elder Cato had more than 20 years of experience in retail with United Merchants before he decided to go out on his own, so he was well prepared to run the new family business. The company has been headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, from the start, though the family opened its first stores in South Carolina. During its first two decades, Cato grew steadily by opening new locations and acquiring competitors.

The company went public in 1968, but relatively poor performance on the stock market spurred the decision to go private again in 1980. Improved sales throughout the '80s set the stage for another IPO in 1987, and the company has been public ever since. Cato Fashions has carved out a niche for itself by selling high-quality, on-trend apparel. The company operates more than 1,000 stores under the Cato masthead in 32 states. The average Cato store is about 4,500 square feet, and most stores are located in strip malls. Cato apparel is manufactured by various vendors and sold exclusively under the store's private label. Additionally, the parent company operates the Versona and It's Fahion brands.

Women's Merchandise


The Cato women's collection in divided into two broad categories based on size: juniors/misses (sizes 4 to 16) and plus sizes (sized 16W to 28W). Apart from the fits of these two collections, the categories include very similar apparel. Tops are casual and on trend. They include options like blouses, tunics, tees, tanks, popovers, ponchos, crop tops, button-down shirts, v-necks, camis, and more. You'll also find plenty of cardigans, sweaters, shrugs, and pullovers for light outerwear. Cato dresses range in style from casual to dressy. Popular cuts include shift dresses, maxi dresses, blouson dresses, sheath dresses, skater dresses, shirtdresses, and jumpsuits. The two-piece dressing category includes options like matching tops and skirts or pants.

In bottoms, you'll find an assortment of palazzo pants in bright colors, as well as linen pants, track pants, leggings, jogger pants, ankle pants, and more. The brand's pants make frequent use of unique tribal patterns. Cato's denim category includes jeans, capris, and shorts in a variety of washes. Popular types of jeans include bootcut, ankle, and skinny, as well as jeggings. Shorts and skirts are available in many different lengths, depending on the type of occasion you want to wear them for. The Cato "athleisure" line features versatile loungewear that can also be worn as activewear--including comfortable shorts, pants, tanks, and active dresses. Beyond regular apparel, the brand makes shoes in styles like pumps, wedges, sandals, flats, and shooties. Accessories include jewelry as well as handbags, wallets, scarves, hats, and belts.'s Rating of Cato

The signature brand from Cato Fashions is also its most inclusive. You can choose among a very wide range of casualwear that suits practically every sense of style. Women with more conservative taste might prefer the brand's muted designs, but those who love pops of color and bold prints will also be easily satisfied. The brand's commitment to being on trend is clear, and these boho chic clothes can make you look like a fashionista without needing to spend an arm and a leg. The family business is still run by a Cato almost 70 years after it was founded, and the company is known for its longstanding commitment to quality. We give Cato 4.5 stars out of 5.


  • Established 1946
  • Trendy casualwear
Sold at:
Cato stores and online
Types of items:
Blouses, tunics, tees, tanks, camis, popovers, ponchos, button-down shirts, sweaters, cardigans, shrugs, pullovers, dresses, skirts, shorts, palazzo pants, track pants, linen pants, leggings, jeans, capris, loungewear, shoes, accessories
Related brands:
Versona, It's Fashion
Our rating:
All Cato items

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