A stylish woman sits on a carpeted floor, leaning against a couch, wearing a jacket, crop top, skirt...


Chlöe Bailey Stays Unbothered

The singer can rile up the internet with just one post. As she readies her new album, she’s tuning out the noise.

by Naomi Elias

Chlöe Bailey floats into the leafy back patio of a Highland Park restaurant in red-carpet-ready glam. Her locs are pulled into a sleek ponytail, her makeup is giving smoky vixen, and her eyelashes are practically sculptural. Chlöe’s outfit, on the other hand, suggests she’s headed for a night in, from her navy loungewear right down to her Crocs, which are decorated with cutesy charms: a teddy bear, a wave, a rainbow, a banana, an oat milk carton.

“I tell people all the time, I have two modes,” says Chlöe, who came straight from the photo shoot for this story. There’s the Chlöe who dominates the stage with heart-pounding dance routines, Olympic-level hair-ography, and operatic vocals — sometimes alongside her younger sister, Halle, with whom she makes up the Grammy-nominated duo Chloe x Halle. And there’s Chlöe in what she calls “drab mode.” “Eight times out of 10, I’m in no makeup and sweats. Right when I go home, I’m wiping my makeup off, and this is me the majority of the time,” she says. “I’m working on finding the balance.”

There’s one place where that balance comes easy to the singer and actor: Saint Lucia, where she recorded much of her upcoming second album, Trouble in Paradise, and frequently vacations. On the Caribbean island, everything blurs together: work and pleasure, beachside glamour shots and makeup-free selfies. “I definitely am going to buy a home there one day,” she says. The easygoing sounds of Saint Lucia — calypso, gospel, Afrobeats, Carnival band music — reverberate throughout the project (due later this summer). If her first solo album, 2023’s In Pieces, was about “appreciating the sadness of heartache,” she says, Trouble in Paradise is the opposite: “a coming-of-age celebration of being a woman and having fun, not taking life too seriously.”

Y/Project top, MISHO earrings, Pandora bracelets, David Yurman ring
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Letting things roll off her back is indeed becoming part of Chlöe’s brand. Last month, on a TikTok livestream, a fan asked her for advice on coping when it feels like “life is beating your ass.” Chlöe’s response? “Arch it! Arch it up even higher. Get some pleasure out of it.” Chlöe swears she didn’t think it was going to go viral — “I don’t know if it’s the songwriter in me, I just always am cracking jokes and thought of it on a whim” — but later, as we leave the restaurant, she beams at a new notification on her phone: her merch bearing the cheeky slogan is now live.

And who better to become pop’s new good-vibes-only guru than Chlöe? On social media, the singer is used to shaking off criticism about everything from the clothes she wears to the music she makes. “I think people like to find stuff to nitpick about me because I don't give anybody anything to nitpick about,” she says. “I’m a pretty chill person. I just mind my business and make my art. So people got to pick on something.”

“It’s fun knowing that I have that kind of power where someone seeing my natural body will cause a lot of conversation.”

The feedback used to weigh on her more. But the star, who turns 26 in July, is finding a new kind of resilience as she grows up in the industry. “I’m a very soft, kind person and a lot of times it gets mistaken for weakness,” she says. “A lot of people think because I am kind, that they can walk all over me and I don't know what I'm talking about. But I just smile and wave and keep my thoughts to myself and let people underestimate me.”

Burberry jacket, skirt, and tights; CDLP top; Gianvito Rossi shoes; MISHO earrings; Necklaces (from top): Jenny Bird, Emanuele Bicocchi, and Pandora; Rings: Lady Grey (left hand) and Joanna Laura Constantine (right hand)

Chlöe’s “arch it” mantra wasn’t her first brush with going viral. As kids growing up outside of Atlanta, she and Halle started posting covers of pop hits on YouTube, and boom: Their striking looks and otherworldly harmonies caught the attention of talk-show producers, talent-competition scouts, and, eventually, Beyoncé, who signed the pair to her Parkwood Entertainment company in 2015. They’ve released two acclaimed Chloe x Halle studio albums so far while also pursuing individual projects. Halle starred as Ariel in last year’s live adaptation of The Little Mermaid and had her first son, Halo, in December. Chlöe threw herself into solo music, pumping out seductive bangers like the booty-forward anthem “Have Mercy.”

A few months ago, though, Chlöe found herself in a musical rut. “My brain just needed a reset, and it needed to find the joy and magic within music again. When you live in a world where everything is so numbers-based and so analytical, it can start to suck the fun out of creativity.”Then she remembered some advice Beyoncé once gave her and her sister: “You have to let the world catch up because you're always ahead of the curve.”

“It’s OK to celebrate other incredible women and also be like, ‘I’ve got to step my game up!’ I grew up running track. I’m a very competitive person.”

In other words: If you believe in what you’re doing, you don’t have to explain yourself. “What I kind of love about my art is that it sneaks up on you,” Chlöe says. “When In Pieces came out, not many people really got it. But now a year later, people are like, ‘Oh, it’s genius! It’s beautiful! It’s amazing!’ And if you think about it, that's how it has been with me and my sister’s previous work as well. No one ever gets it when it first comes out.”

When Chlöe first started releasing music on her own, some listeners balked at how she presented herself. Her lyrics seemed raunchier. Her outfits hugged her skin and showed off her curves. On social media, some of her followers complained she was using her sexuality to force a rebrand instead of just expressing it naturally. The way Chlöe sees it, “I was always wearing tight stuff and showing my butt. The juxtaposition of my sister and I just diluted it a bit.” And anyway, by the time she dropped “Have Mercy,” she was a fully-grown 23-year-old.

anOnlyChild hoodie, Calvin Klein top, Off-White pants, Nicolò Beretta shoes, CDLP boxers, Pandora earrings, Rado watch, Pandora rings
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“People are so used to seeing me as a little girl, when I pose in what they would call sexy [outfits], the quickest thing that a lot of haters would like to say is: She has no sex appeal,” Chlöe says. “That really makes me laugh because it just doesn't make any sense to me! I mean, I am quirky, but I am sexy at the same time. You can be both!”

Her time in Saint Lucia has made her feel more free with her body. “Being in the Caribbean, everyone has their ass out, no bra,” she says. “It’s so liberating.” In May, she posted a storm of thirst traps taken on the island: in a feline pose while wearing a sexy leopard print swimsuit, crouching low on a yacht in an up-to-there black one-piece. “Apologies in advance…” she wrote in one caption, as if bracing herself for the commentary. “I don’t know why celebrating yourself is so taboo,” Chlöe tells me at the restaurant. “It’s kind of fun knowing that, as a woman, I have that kind of power where someone seeing my natural body will cause a lot of conversation. We all have an ass. We all have privates, titties. I don’t get the hoopla.”

Besides, she continues, “your sexiness doesn’t come from your body parts. It’s from the inside. I’m losing weight from all the dancing, so some of my butt is leaving. But I was like, ‘Wait a second — it’s still sexy when I turn around in the mirror.’ Even though my butt is smaller, it’s not about the ass. It’s about your inner confidence. When you have that fearlessness, anything will be sexy.”

Y/Project top and skirt; Casadei boots; MISHO earrings; Bracelets (left to right): Alexis Bittar, Pandora; Pandora rings

When trolls weren’t policing her body, they were questioning her musical direction. After Chlöe teased the breezy uptempo single “Boy Bye” in April, one X user begged her to “go back to real R&B” and suggested she was pandering to white listeners. The tweet sparked something in Chlöe, who shut it down with delicious ease. “I don’t have to listen to you baby xox,” she wrote, adding a shrug emoji. Chlöe says she’s always experimented with different sounds in her work, and she’s not interested in picking a lane for the sake of an easy label. “Any music I do will easily and quickly be categorized as R&B because I’m a Black woman,” Chlöe says, sounding unbothered. “If someone who didn't have my skin tone made the same music, it would be in the pop categories. That’s just the way it’s always been in life.”

“When I’m boxing with my trainer, there have been several faces I have pictured on the other side of those gloves.”

She takes inspiration from barrier-breaking Black divas before her — not just Beyoncé, but also Whitney Houston, whom she calls one of her biggest idols. “Early on in her career, when she was doing the big pop records, she got a lot of flak for that: being told she wasn’t Black enough and wasn’t catering to the base that made her,” Chlöe says of the late singer. “To see how she persevered and has become one of the most iconic, legendary artists that we’ve ever seen, shows that music has no race, it has no genre, it has none of that. It’s just a feeling and it’s a vibration. And that’s why I was really proud of Beyoncé doing Cowboy Carter, because Black people originated country music. It's just showing that possibilities are endless.”

It also helps that Chlöe’s part of a community of like-minded artists charting their own paths alongside hers, like fellow genre-buster Tinashe (whose hit “Nasty” Chlöe has already volunteered to help remix) or U.K. shape-shifter Bree Runway (whom Chlöe recruited for the “Have Mercy” video). “I'm really grateful to have grown up in this industry with my sister because it’s like a built-in sisterhood [mindset], but healthy competition is amazing,” Chlöe says of all the young female artists crushing it right now. “It pushes you. It allows you to become better. It’s OK to celebrate other incredible women and also be like, ‘I’ve got to step my game up!’”

If there wasn’t a little competition, “then that’s boring, number one, and number two, that means there’s nothing exciting [in pop music], so I think it’s good,” Chlöe says. “Plus, I grew up running track. I’m a very competitive person.”

Louis Vuitton sweater and skirt, Dion Lee hoodie, Gentle Monster glasses, Pandora earrings, Rings: Pandora (right hand) and David Yurman (left hand)

When Chlöe needs to blow off steam and can’t escape to Saint Lucia, she has a few other outlets. She might call up Halle and ask to chat with her nephew for a pick-me-up. (“I will literally take 50 screenshots of our FaceTime calls,” she says of Halo.) Or she might unwind with some Legos, which she’s been avidly building since fifth grade, when she was the only girl in her school’s Lego club. “It’s very therapeutic and calming,” she says. “I was at Alicia Keys’ studio last year, and she had them all over her wall. I was like, ‘I love you even more and have never felt so seen.’ I don’t know if [Legos] are a thing with creative women — the act of building something from nothing and seeing it come to life, it's so rewarding.”

And there’s always the option to box it out at the gym. “When I’m with my trainer, there have been several faces I have pictured on the other side of those gloves,” she says. “And then by the end of the session, I’m great.”

Chlöe doesn’t get into who those faces might be, and she is tight-lipped about her dating status — “I’m happy” is all she offers — but she does say the romantic woes on Trouble in Paradise were inspired by “multiple situations.” “The story of this album is like when you have a summer fling,” she explains. “You’re a hopeless romantic and you fall in love, deep. You know it won’t last forever, but it feels too good to really care.”

“We all have an ass. We all have privates, titties. I don’t get the hoopla.”

There are a few collaborations on the record, including Anderson .Paak and Jeremih, but the guest appearance fans will likely be swooning over is a team-up with Halle called “Want Me,” the sisters’ first new track together in three years. “It’s weird, because it’s almost like I wrote the song for two without knowing it,” Chlöe says. It started as a heart-to-heart between girlfriends. “I was talking to one of my engineers, and she was telling me about this guy and how into her he is, and I was sharing a similar story. I was like, ‘But am I that much into him? Why is it that the ones we want don't want us like this?’ I immediately wrote it down in my notes, and the song wrote itself in, like, five minutes.”

She wanted to keep that conversational feel in the song — and knew the exact person for the job. “I got in my sister’s head and was like, OK, what is going on in her life right now?” Chlöe says. “We both have our own lives. She’s a mom now, we’re both traveling, we're constantly passing each other in the sky. And I was like, ‘Sis, we're going to be in New York at the same time, I would love for you to be on the record.’” There they were in the studio: Halle in the booth, Chlöe at the soundboard, and Halo in her lap. “It just felt like old times,” she says.

“Want Me” was one of the last songs to come together for the album, which Chlöe turned in to her label a few weeks ago. As we finish up our hang, she tells me about the delivery she can’t wait to order when she gets home — spaghetti, vegan meatballs, garlic bread — and can fully enter “drab mode.” But in the following days, she’ll be back to working on even more new music. For another album? “Mhmm,” she replies. For herself, or with her sister? “Just songs for now. I never know where they’ll end up,” she continues. “When you have a creative bug, you don’t want to let it go.” The former track star is happy to run ahead and let the rest of the world catch up.

Top image credits: Coperni jacket; 6397 shirt; Dion Lee shorts; Larroudé boots; Jenny Bird earrings; Necklaces (from top): Emanuele Bicocchi and Carina Hardy; Rings (left to right): Pandora, Nickho Rey, Erin Fader jewelry, Erinness

Photographs by Danielle Levitt

Styling by Oliver Vaughn

Set Designer: Cooper Vasquez

Hair: Fesa Nu

Makeup: Kevin Luong

Manicure: Yoko Sakakura

Talent Bookings: Special Projects

Video: Alex Van Brande, Devin O’Neill

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

Editor in Chief: Lauren McCarthy

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert