Pauline Trigere's father was a tailor and her mother was a seamstress. After leaving school, Trigere was employed as a cutter by a fashion house in Paris when she met American designer Adele Simpson, who convinced her to move to New York City. In 1937, Trigere moved to New York, and soon became an assistant designer at Hattie Carnegie.
Trigere opened her own design house in 1942. In 1952, she won her first Coty Award. She began designing jewelry in the 1950s. Trigere was known for mastery of cutting and tailoring, and sophisticated structures, especially on her coats and dresses.
She created the first reversible coat, as well as popularizing coats with detachable sleeves and sleeveless coats. Her clients included fashion icons such as Lena Horne, Claudette Colbert, and the Duchess of Windsor. Trigere remained active in fashion design until she died in 2002.