Pre-fall marks Francesco Fucci’s third collection for Theory, and he continues to nudge forward its American sportswear legacy with refinement, sensuality and a modernist élan. Novelty came via subtle and chic injections of utility details on spare silhouettes, grounding the collection in reality.

Realism, in fact, has been a touchstone for Fucci as he seeks to elevate Theory. Tailoring has been softened, fabrics are wrinkle-free and there’s a sense of ease that allows women to carry the garments work-to-dinner without worry. The reality check extends to the look book, where jackets and even coats were tied around the waist to mirror the way young women dress and to show that the elegant clothes aren’t so precious or serious.

“I’m not reinventing anything,” Fucci said during a walk-through. “I’m exploring more of the basis of what we created the past two seasons: refining, construction, optimizing.”

On one hand, he focused on the casualization of tailoring — suiting with clean patch pockets, a trench with button snaps, or a robe coat over a denim-looking jacket and pant set that served as a great example of modern sportswear. On the other hand, there was feminine allure in the silky, boudoir-leaning dresses made for day, as in a fluid rose pink dress and a black slip styled over pants. Playful layering tied it all together, with a harmonious blend of hard and soft working beautifully in tonal sets, especially a dusty blue look consisting of an airy button-down and chinos, or a textured off-white sweater over a miniskirt and trousers.