Smart & Stylish
Working as a construction litigation lawyer, Laura Chong felt uninspired by the workwear available to corporate women, and spying a gap in the market, launched her own fashion line – designed by corporate women, for corporate women.
Empowering women to be feminine and express their personal style in the office, while still conveying that power woman attitude, Laura Chong founded 400 Co. in 2013 – bridging a gap in the market between work and weekend.
“I hated having two wardrobes – my work wardrobe and then my weekend wardrobe. So 400 Co. has been an awesome solution to the ‘what to wear dilemma’,” she says.
Having initially launched the label while still working as a lawyer, Laura took a two-year break in 2014 to run the business.
Always, always, always bring your own sense of style to the office. You want to be memorable.”
“I have recently gone back to legal consulting part time, which I love because it keeps my design head in the corporate space. It's all part of the ‘work/life balance’ for me, 400 Co. satisfies the creative side of me and the law allows me to be analytical and give commercial advice to others.”
profile: Who/what inspires your designs?
laura: I actually source a lot of my inspiration from the power women we dress in store daily. They are always the first to say what they do and don't like. I love having that feedback and it means that we are designing clothing for real women that is both practical and beautiful.
In terms of collections, a lot of my past collections have been inspired by places with a particular woman in mind. For example, our upcoming spring/summer 2017 collection is inspired by St Tropez and seeks to push the boundaries of work to resort wear. I like the idea of busy corporate women swanning into the office in her resort-inspired workwear. So think vibrant colours, but in suiting. Sounds crazy but I think it's just another way that women are proving that they can do anything.
profile: What are your top tips for dressing for the workplace?
laura: Always, always, always bring your own sense of style to the office. You want to be memorable. First impressions count and in any work setting you want to be sure to be remembered for your power woman office attire, as well as the witty words that come out of your mouth. Others will remember you first for how you look and then for how you made them feel, so be sure to put on a sassy dress and accessorise with a smile.
My biggest tip for personal style in the office is to add a few statement pieces in your work wardrobe that have pops of colour or prints, as these are what stand out from the crowd.
profile: What are the upcoming trends when it comes to workplace fashion?
laura: Femininity is a trend that is always in style, but we are seeing a lot of bold colours coming out in spring, paired with soft blouses and silk prints. Suiting is also pushing the boundaries, so women are no longer limited to the boring grey loose-fitting suit. We are seeing a lot of flattering skirt suits in richer colours like royal blues, ivory and even watermelon.
Key pieces every businesswoman needs in her wardrobe:
- Fitted suit jacket
- Matching skirt or pant combo.
- A white silk blend blouse that can mix and match with anything.
- A print blouse to make a bit of a statement.
- An event dress is a must too – but we recommend staying away from black and going with a little colour to stand out (red or blue are great).