Chloé: A 60-Year Tradition of Pretty Prêt-à-Porter

If you’re lucky enough to count Chloé among the labels in your closet, you’re well aware of this long-standing French brand’s power to transform an ordinary outfit into a work of effortless chic. In the last decade or so, Chloé pretty much cornered the market on boyish romance, blending menswear-inspired details with the frankly flirty.

What you may not know, however, is that Chloé has been enhancing the wardrobes of women since its founding in 1952, when its creator Gaby Aghion coined the term “prêt-à-porter” and revolutionized the way the French (and ultimately the rest of us) would soon dress. After moving from Egypt to Paris in 1945, Aghion noticed a serious hole in the market. 1950s Paris did not lack for skilled couturiers, but consumers looking for high-quality non-custom clothes were out of luck. Enter Chloé, which soon became known for its exquisite, off-the-rack designs that changed the way women define personal style.

Sixty years later, we still count on Chloé for feminine, body-conscious designs that are fiercely flattering and stand the test of time. Though the house has seen a variety of prestigious head designers over the years—from the unstoppable Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney to the beloved Phoebe Philo and its current artistic director Clare Waight Keller—it maintains its unique aura of soft strength.

So when it comes time for your annual (or seasonal) wardrobe purge, it’s no coincidence that your Chloé pieces always fall into the “keeper” pile. From ethereal frocks and structured coats to high-waisted pants and spot-on accessories, these are staples that seem to work year after year, no matter how you evolve. That’s the lasting power of Chloé.

Above, Sibyl Buck sports Chloé’s colorblock blouse and skirt. Below, we envision some of our favorite pieces from Spring/Summer 2012 on style icons past and present.

1. Double quarter strap sandal; 2. Pleated trouser; 3. Double-breasted trench; 4. Colorblock blouse

We can imagine a young Charlotte Rampling striding around Paris in high-waisted pleated trousers with a silk colorblock blouse. Paired with a bold double-breasted trench and double-strap wedge sandals, this is one unstoppable outfit with a retro twist.

1. Draped blouse; 2. Susan studded ankle boot; 3. Military straight-leg pant

Jane Birkin epitomized tomboy chic with a softer side, so a draped blouse and military pants would suit her quite nicely. Pair them with these unapologetic studded boots for a hit of rock’n’roll.

1. Pleated shorts; 2. Quarter strap sandal; 3. Rolled-sleeve blouse

French actress Clémence Poésy knows how to turn up the flirt factor, but she always keeps it subtle and fresh. She’d look just right in these peachy pleated shorts and rolled-sleeve blouse. Low black sandals keep the ultra-feminine look grounded.

Now check out our top 1o summer satchel picks from Chloé…