Competence is an underrated virtue. Surely we all keep a mental list of those people in our lives who just plug along quietly, demonstrating excellence on deadline. They come in handy, those folks. Count Monica Paolini and Sean Monahan among the competent ones: As the designers of Sea, Paolini and Monahan make clothes that are well made, well priced, and dependably appealing. They waste zero effort trying to be fashion stars and have built a sizable business pretty much on their own and almost completely under the radar.

Anyway, they've earned some kudos. This season's Sea collection was a predictably solid affair, composed largely of easy-to-wear patterned knits and silk pieces in a variety of scarf prints. There was a new emphasis on handknits and outerwear, all of which served to further elaborate Sea's tomboy-cute aesthetic. A few pieces stood out as really special: A boxy coated canvas coat, for instance, had a directional slickness; ditto the micro-pleated leather skirt. Meanwhile, the folk Russian scarf print in dark jewel tones looked rich, especially so in a simple tank with a ruffled hem. These pieces and others suggest that Monahan and Paolini are ready to rise to the challenge of refining their line and attacking it with a bit more ambition.