Professional Toronto Image Consultant and stylist Dominique Vaughan Russell, specializing in image enhancement
Consultation Tips Consultation

Dominique's Tips

Respect and Trust

Respect and trust are built and gained very differently in different cultures. Do unto others as they would want done unto them, not necessarily how you would want done unto you. However, putting yourself in their shoes is often easier said that done as you don't always know what their shoes are. Take the time to find out. It will be well worth your while.

Different perspectives

Always think about who you are with and where they are from. Whatever it is you are doing may look a whole lot different from their perspective.

When in Rome...

Cultural Intelligence is based on the premise of ..." When in Rome, do as the Romans". Treating people as they wish to be treated goes a lot further than treating them as you wish to be treated. Take all the possible variences in cultural beliefs and values into consideration before acting. What could be a gross Faux Pas in your culture may be completely acceptible behaviour in theirs, and vise versa.

Hair cuts

When you are looking for a new hairstyle, or are using a new hairdresser, be very specific about what you want. Bring a picture if you can find one, or you may end up with a big surprise you were not prepared for. Leave nothing up to interpretation, and never give the hair stylist free reign unless you are completely indifferent as to the end result!

Dress for the life you want

When you wear clothes that make you feel great, you sparkle! It's tough to feel like a million bucks when you are schlepping around in sweats and a baggy T.

Important International holidays

It is always important to remember when other cultures are celebrating important holidays. Expecting 'business as usual' on their 'holy' days would be unrealistic and not well received.

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence is being aware that we are NOT all created equal. Our countries of origin, our birth parents countries of origin, our societies and cultures.... everything and everyone we have come into contact with since birth, has moulded us into the people we are today. What is right for us, is not necessarily, and most likely isn't even close to being right, to someone on the opposite side of the world. Let us show some respect for their way of thinking and meet half way.



Perceptions are reality!

They are when it comes to getting picked for the job,

getting promoted,

getting a date...

Or a second date or the second interview, or the corner office....


Which would you pick?

The dull bruised shrivelled looking apple, or the shiny red crisp and tasty looking apple...

The shiny apple every time.

The other one may be organic, may be sweeter and juicier, but we won't find out, because the perception, the appearance, the IMAGE of the red apple won out.

Dress for success and stand out amongst the competition

Restaurant Cell Phone etiquette

While the rules of etiquette may seem old-fashioned they are based a lot on common sense. Silence your phone in restaurants. Don't answer unless there's a very good reason such as a sick kid back home or a call pertaining to the meeting you are having. And if you do answer, excuse yourself from the table. None of the other diners want to hear your conversation or have their meal interrupted.

Wardrobe audit tip

How do you know if you have not worn something in over a year?

Turn all your hanger hooks so they face outwards. Mark the date in your calendar and a reminder in a year. When you have worn something, turn the hook around. After a year, you will easily be able to identify what has not been worn!


Take the fear out of networking by simply changing the word and your perception of what "networking' is.

Not too many people enjoy networking because it has a very negative connotation. It used to be that we gathered together to collect as many contacts as we could , there was a lot of pressure to have our 'elevator speech' honed to perfection and impress the people we met in 30 seconds or less!

Rethink the whole idea as a way to get to know people. Communication is key. Spend a little more time with each person and really get to know something personal about them ... when you meet again you will be able to connect on a personal level with them and a relationship will be formed rather than a 'business contact'.


Staying Cool

When the temperatures soar, layering is still key.

Offices are often overly airconditioned so a lightweight cardican or jacket is a must. This is also essential for business meetings and working with clients. Men can get away with a short sleeved shirt and women a sleeveless top while working, but in an executive position, a jacket is always more professional.


Did you know that image is based on

55%  Visual [how you look and act]

38% Vocal [the tone of your voice]

7% Verbal [what you say]

This is why your Packaging [branding] is so important, people's perception of you is based 55% on how you look and present yourself to them.

Tie Dimples

For the discerning tie wearers amongst you, a single dimple just under the knot is essential, and will create a polished and professional look which will separate you from the amateurs.


Confidence is not the same thing as self-confidence… you can fake confidence, but self-confidence comes from within, and gaining confidence can help in securing your self-confidence. When you’ve had a few wins by appearing confident, your self-confidence will improve exponentially. Similarly, gaining more self-confidence perpetuates more confidence. It’s a win win!

Networking tip

Always keep your right hand free at a social networking event. If you are holding your glass and plate in your left hand this can be tricky, practice how to do this without spilling or looking awkward.

Business cards

Business cards should always be handed face up, and facing the person you are presenting it to, preferably with both hands as that is a sign of respect, especially in asian cultures.

The same goes for receiving cards. accept them with both hands and take a moment to read it and make a positive comment on some aspect of the card.

Do not ever shove it in your back pocket, or write on it in their presence!


R.S.V.P. is derived from the French phrase repondez s'il vous plait, and means "please reply". For hosts it is important from a practical point of view to know how many people to count on and how much food and drink to buy. As a guest it is a simple courtesy to respond promptly, even if it is to send your regrets that you will not be able to attend.

Cell Phone Etiquette

Give your dining companion the respect of your undivided attention, whether conducting a business meeting over lunch or dining with a date, there is nothing more rude than having a phone conversation at the table. If you are expecting a very important call, it is acceptable to leave the phone on the table, either on vibrate or silent, and advise your companion/s that you may have to take a call if it comes in.

If you do have to answer the phone, excuse yourself from the table and speak briefly in the entrance hall or away from other customers. Nobody needs or wants to hear your conversation.

Tips of your toes...

From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, cleanliness and grooming is an absolute must.

Never leave the house with dirty fingernails. For you men, they must be trimmed and clean at all times, and women should never have chipped nail polish. That goes for the toe nails too!

Dressing for Summer

As the temperature goes up, the clothes come off. Looking well put together and appropriate can be challenging when the temperatures start to soar and the humidity makes it impossible to be comfortable. Stick to clothing made of natural fibles that breathe such as cotton, summer weight wool and linen as much as possible. Hang your suit jacket up in the car, and make sure your skirt is smoothed out under you to avoid wrinkles. Bring deoderant!


First Impressions

It isn't What you know, it's Who you know. Getting the right people to know you means making a good first impression. People make their judgements within the first 5 seconds of meeting you. Knowing the finer points of what to wear and how to carry yourself to make that all important first impression a positive and lasting one is vital to your success in both personal and business relationships.

Savvy Investing

  • Understanding the value of buying off price towards the end of the season: your ROI is higher. The cost per wear is drastically reduced, making you a very savvy investor. This is a great time to invest in those good quality classics and designer brands that cost a fortune at the beginning of the season, but are drastically marked down at the end of the season. Because the quality is that much better, and the styles do not go out of fashion as quickly on these items, your return on your investment is very much higher.

Travel light

  • Collect as many sample size packets and bottles of product as you can and keep them for short weekend trips. The makeup and beauty supply stores love to hand out samples of their latest products, sometimes all you have to do is ask. Keep them handy for your shorter getaways. This cuts down on possible leakage problems, and you'll be amazed at how much space and weight you'll save.

The Perfect Fit

  • The fit of your clothes is much more important than the name on the tag. Nobody can see the tag, but they sure can see how the garment pulls or sags in all the wrong places. Invest in a full length mirror and a small one so you can turn around and see yourself from behind. Are your pants sagging or cutting up the middle, is your hem drooping, does your jacket pull across the shoulders....Invest in some good alterations, they will make all the difference.

Walking Tall

  • Forget the old "chest out, shoulders back" routine; who wants to look like a posturing rooster! Instead, walk as if pulled by a string from the top of your head. This will stretch your neck and spine. it will keep your head straight without you even realizing it and you will gain at least an inch in height.


  • Smile when picking up the phone ; the caller will hear it in your voice. A helpful tool to remind you to smile is to have a small mirror standing next to your phone so you can pretend to are speaking to the other person.