Paul & Joe's Sophie Albou sympathizes with customers who question the retail calendar. "The resort delivery can be frustrating; women want to buy clothes and wear them right away," she says. Her pre-collection, she insists, offers a wide enough range for beach vacationers and city slickers alike.

Despite the nods to nautical—thick cable-knit sweaters, brass-buttoned coats, and wide-legged pants with front pockets—Albou steered more toward a broader, breezy sensibility. Lace in dusty pink and blue made repeat appearances as a pencil skirt, cigarette pants, and a men's blazer. Tiny cats and dolphins showed up as prints on a tunic dress, a boat-neck top, slim pants, and bikini bottoms. And a silk crepe covered in lipstick kisses easily wooed as blouses and drawstring shorts.

On the rare occasions Albou strays outside her comfort zone, the results can be mixed. Take the jumpsuit designed to look like two pieces; initially, it seemed clever in a trompe l'oeil way. But there's no reason why a blouse and trouser pairing could not achieve the same look—and minus the logistical hassle. What was clever was the way Albou allowed a few standout pieces—a sheath that plunges beautifully in back and a sleeveless blouse with scarf tails in an Escher-esque print—to anchor the brand's easy wardrobe updates. These aren't clothes to save for special occasions, but that's exactly why the collection works so well.