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Ask Tamara: Presentable PJs

By | Ask Tamara | No Comments

OK, before I even begin I can hear some of you saying: “Are you going to take away my baggy sweats? Do I have to look good when I SLEEP??” I have a few answers to that but suffice it to say that during the holidays, there are plenty of occasions when giving a little bit of creative thought to your PJs can make or break your: week-long stay with the in-laws, having your spouse’s family stay over for the first time, going away up north or down south with a group of friends… 

Lounge in what you will, but as they say: Opportunity never rings twice. Now that the holidays are here, that doorbell can ring at any second – and that’s no time to try  to pull together a presentable outfit!

Lounge clothes and PJs are all about looking and feeling good at home.  After a long day at work, who wouldn’t want that?  Presentable PJs are all about feeling warm, cozy, cocooned, and even luxurious!  There’s no reason that feeling warm and ‘comfortable’ must be in direct opposition to this. There are plenty of ways to spruce up your stay-at-home outfits, from wearing a adorable, oversized sweater with thick, cushy leggings to wearing a silky & sexy camisole under your pajama set.

*In fact, look out for my Jingle Jammies Boxing Day Brunch post, where you’ll be able to see a fun, real-life play on Presentable PJs!  


Presentable PJs

Set 1
: Topshop; Bottoms: Full Tilt; Poncho: Uniqlo; Slippers: SM

Set 2
: BKE; Bottoms: Juicy Couture; Robe: Topshop; Slippers: Woolrich

Set 3
: SO; Bottoms: Topshop; Slippers: YesStyle


Ask Tamara: Dressing For Dinner Out

By | Ask Tamara | No Comments

The Holiday Season seems like it should really be renamed the ‘Social Season’, doesn’t it? Bookings upon bookings with friends, family, co-workers, ex-co-workers…the calendar gets full pretty quickly and figuring out how to keep those ‘going out’ outfits fresh can seem overwhelming. 

Tis the season to have fun again, so try creating an outfit that’s trendy and fun for others to remember you by!  Building your social wardrobe with separates that you can wear over and over again means that you won’t feel restricted to only enjoying them in December, but you can rely on them throughout the winter! After all, you’re not going to hibernate throughout all of January – March…are you? 

For the ladies

Hat: Vivian
Watch: Bulgari
Necklace: Yves Saint Laurent
Bracelets: R.J. Graziano
Top: Narciso Rodriguez
Pants: Alice & Olivia
Blazer: Day Birger Et Mikkelson
Clutch: MICHAEL Michael Kors
Shoes: Chrissie Morris

*PS: I love that jacket so much that I bought a very similar one myself! So much fun – and shockingly versatile – to have a topper that isn’t the usual ‘black blazer’!

For the guys

Watch: Timex
Belt: Diesel
Shoes: Neil M
Coat: Mr. By Roland Mouret
Sweater: S.N.S. Herning
Pants: Helmut Lang
Scarf: Peacocks
Gloves: Celtek

Be a Savvy Shopper This Season!

By | Ask Tamara, Organizing | No Comments

According to a Deloitte Consulting survey, 50% of Canadians will be on a strict budget this holiday season. When CTV News Channel asked for my comments as a Shopping Expert (they giggled when I suggested ‘Shopping Ninja’), I could only give a quick run-down of my Savvy Shopper Shopping Tips for the holiday season, but really, you need to know them all! As the Social Season drawers ever nearer, starting now is the best way to ensure you’re ready to celebrate. Here’s how: 

1. Make a budget: 

  • Without a firm number, it’s guaranteed you’ll overspend. Keep one in your head, and you’ll be able to plan towards it 
  • Include gifts, of course, but also wrapping, cards, decorations,and hostess gifts. All the incidentals that get forgotten.
  • First line of defence: shop with cash only will help you maintain your budget – once it’s done, it’s done
  • Second line of defence: If you prefer debit or credit cards, keep only the cards with the best terms in your wallet.  Leave the others at home for the season 😉

2. Make a list:

  • Include each recipient plus how much/what you intend to give
  • For cash gift recipients consider lower ‘Cost Per Gift’ options like home-made care packages. They may seem ‘homey,’ but gifts like these are fondly remembered and perceived as extra thoughtful
  • Rank your list  

3. Look for Promos

  • Join email lists of your favourite retailers or the favourite retailers of your gift  so you can be in the know of any limited-time or pop-up promotions in advance of the holidays
  • Know that retailers are also feeling the economic crunch and are doing everything possible to entice you to shop more, and more frequently. Pay attention to weekend or pop-up sales, even if they seem early. I have already seen ads for 20% off holiday decor, and it’s only November!
  • If a retailer has a ‘gift-back’ promo, convert your gift card into more gifts for others, top them up if they are unusual amounts, or divide them into multiple stocking stuffers
  • Shop the daily deal websites for lower-priced service based gifts like spa services, restaurants,  house cleaning – that is a GREAT  way to thank a hostess!

4. Keep Your Receipts & Tags ON!

  • First, make sure to ask for a gift receipt to include when you give the gift (it’s good etiquette)
  • Keep your originals in a single envelop, and take them with you whenever you shop. Many stores offer a price adjustment on merchandise that’s been marked down from regular price (within a certain timeframe, usually 14 days from purchase date). 
  • If you miss the price adjustment period, but the tags are still on your new, untouched, tagged gifts, you may be able to purchase a replacement and return the original.

5. Shop with Strategy

  • Wear comfortable clothes & shoes, you don’t want to ditch shopping efforts because your feet hurt or you’re too hot.
  • Leave your coat in the car – why schlepp extra weight if you don’t have to? Besides, the lines at a mall coat check are insane (and carry a cost).
  • Carry only what you need (including that list) so you’re unencumbered, but include some trail mix & a bottle of water just in case. Shopping can be hungry/thirsty work. 
  • Go Early – early in the year (best selection), early in the week (lower mall traffic), early in the day (best selection, lowest mall traffic, plus bright-eyed & bushy-tailed staff!)
Winter is the time to be social, festive, and showing the people in your life how much you care – no matter what the budget.  With these tried & true Savvy Shopper Shopping Tips you’ll be well on your way to doing just that!
Happy Shopping!

Ask Tamara: How do I build a winter coat wardrobe?

By | Ask Tamara, Women | No Comments

It might hover around 15C this week, but with the surprise snow storms surrounding us, winter truly is just around the corner and the cold weather is on the way.  I’m often asked whether it’s ok to wear the same winter coat for every occasion. The first thing that pops into my head is: “Would it be ok to wear the same outfit for any occasion?” Unlikely, right?

The short answer is ‘No.’ Not only is it unnecessary to wear the same coat every single day for 6ish months, but it makes it hard to be occasion appropriate. I’m careful about using the words ‘investment’ and ‘clothing’ in the same sentence (and don’t get me started on ‘investment’ as it refers to mascara), but in the case of winter outerwear, investing in a well-edited selection of jackets, coats and winter accessories will not only put you in good stead for any occasion from walking the dog to a formal affair, but having options will also lift your spirits when the depth of February hits. *shudder* 

To give you an idea of how to gauge what’s appropriate when, think of your winter outerwear as an outdoor outfit OVER your indoor outfit. Sound strange? I bet you can think of times when the only thing other people have ever seen you in all winter is your winter coat! (Your fave coffee barista, the CEO you only see in the parking lot, your commuter friends, that cutie in the dog park). Here are the basics for a Winter Coat Wardrobe, that will guarantee you have options for any occasion or temperature: 

  • Transitional pieces such as vests, ponchos, leather jackets, and jackets with removable sleeves are great for layering with long sleeved sweaters and shirts underneath.  These pieces are generally comfortable when the temps are between 12 – 18°C.
  • Mohair/cashmere/wool coats are great for work and evening wear.  The better the fabric composition of these coats, the dressier and more of an investment they will be.  This said, they are well worth it when you consider the Cost Per Wear. Depending on the weight and quality of the fabric, these coats are generally comfortable temperatures in temps between -5 – 12°C.
  • Short parkas hit around the hips to the mid-thigh.  Perfect activewear, they are a go-to choice chilly days with lots of outdoor activity like playing with the kids, weekend warrior activities, any winter sport).  Try to find a parka that has a detachable hood so that you’ll have the option of using it when you wish.  A perfect winter wear option when the temp is 0°C or below, and when there is a windchill.
  • Full-length parkas that are knee-length or longer, and usually with a removable hood, are great for blocking out frigid weather while remaining lightweight.  These are ideal for for activities from being out with the dog, waiting for transit, or long walks on chilly winter days. They can be sporty or chic, so depending on the one you choose they can even be work-appropriate!  I find these to be ideal when the temp dips below10°C, and when there is a serious windchill.
Winter Outerwear
Winter Outerwear
Transitional Pieces
Transitional Pieces

Winter is often the longest season, so building a great selection of jackets and coats is a good investment in keeping you warm, fashionable, and in good spirits in the cold weather.  Now that you can navigate the main building blocks for building a Winter Coat Wardrobe, you’ll want to have some supporting pieces in place too. Boots and accessories like hats, scarves, and gloves can provide extend the variety within a well-edited wardrobe and complete the ‘Outerwear Outfit.’ Stay tuned for our upcoming post about how to choose winter accessories to go with those coats!

Hot, Hazy + Humid: Summer’s Triple Threat

By | Ask Tamara, Beauty & Wellness | No Comments
I’m always a fan of special occasion days or weeks and this week has been National Sun Awareness Week! You know the dangers of overexposure to UV rays, and you know your supposed to protect yourself from them, but finding practical, effective ways to protect yourself from intensified UV rays while still enjoying the spontaneity of summer can be a bit of a challenge.

That said, nothing can erode your tailored image quite like accidental sun burns and reverse raccoon eyes. Something about them subconsciously screams ‘PAAARTYYY!’ Don’t let summer’s Hot, Hazy, Humid triple threat put a damper on your summer style. Here are our Trademark Tips for staying protected and image savvy every day:
    1. Daily SPF for Body: Using an unscented lighter formula or a body lotion that has an SPF of 15 or higher built in makes it easy to apply right out of the shower when you’re moisturizing anyway. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A product as simple as Vaseline® Daily Sun Shielddoes it. Because it’s a daily moisturizer formula, it won’t conflict with your fragrance or lead your co-workers to break out the margaritas when you walk by. Have a travel size with you to re-apply pre-patio.
    2. Daily SPF for Faces: Because faces, necks, and chests are more often exposed to sun and capture lots of rays, I prefer a high SPF in a super lightweight, non-greasy lotion. Neutrogena® Healthy Defence SPF 30is my current choice. Great on it’s own, under your moisturizer and/or under make-up.

  • Reapply: This has always been a thorn in my side: how do you reapply without messing up your make-up, or greasing up your skin as the hours go by? Then: EUREKA! New mineral SPF powder like Bare Escentuals provide natural SPF protection, keep skin matte AND keep make-up in tact (YAY!). Guys, this is great for you too, to ward off the greasiness of repeat lotion application.
  • Headgear: The scalp can be highly sensitive to sun’s rays and needs special protection. While it’s been a trend to incorporate UV protection into hair care products to protect hair colour, until now I haven’t come across a combination product for hair control and scalp protection. Axe Buzzed Look Creamfor men that not only provides control for short hair, but also provides the benefit of SPF for the scalp itself. No more burnt scalps guys!


Sunscreen isn’t the only way to find refuge from the sun’s rays while keeping your image in tact this summer. Stay tuned for two more upcoming posts in this Summer Series for more tips.

Give Meaning to Spring Cleaning

By | Ask Tamara, Organizing | No Comments

Tackling an unruly wardrobe is so satisfying! (OK, that’s why I do what I do!)

As hard as it is to decide to let go of some of clothing you’ve had around for a while, if it’s not satisfying these three things, it’s better to move on.

All of your clothes should:

1. Fit your body, today
2. Fit your lifestyle needs/goals
3. Make you HAPPY!

Even two out of three may not be good enough. That’s ok, it just means that you’ve evolved, and so has your idea of image and style. We will find new things that are perfect! But what to do with the things that you’ve piled up as a ‘cast away’ pile? Very, very rarely would I suggest that clothing should be tossed out. The only times are when the items that you’re moving away from are either intimate wear or are beyond any reasonable use to another person.
You can Give Meaning to Spring Cleaning by selling or donating your old clothing items to give them the opportunity to make someone as happy as you have been when you wore them.

Trademark Spring Cleaning Tactics:

1. Consignment: Got items that are 2 years old or less, high quality vintage (think about this one carefully), and are in excellent condition? Sell them! I particularly like Ex Toggery, Off The Cuff and Second Nature Boutique.Not only will someone be able to enjoy them as much as you did, but you can use the reclaimed funds as part of your ‘Clothing Budget’ for the coming season. How smart! (You might also find some really great pieces there yourself)

2. Success Program Donations: Consider donating good condition business appropriate items, between 2 – 5 years old to Dress for Success or Dress Your Best. Both organizations assist economically disadvantaged individuals prepare for success in their professional pursuits. You may also be eligible for tax receipts for your donations.

3. Drop-Box Donations: The remainder of your items will likely be very welcome to the recipients of donations from Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village, or a program affiliated with your house of worship.

No matter which combination of options you choose, you will know that your spring cleaning has had extra meaning this year.

When One Closet Closes…

By | Ask Tamara, Organizing | No Comments

Transitioning your closet from one season to another – especially the big ones: Winter to Spring and Summer to Fall – isn’t just about packing everything up into garment bags and bins and stuffing them into the basement. Noooo!

It’s really the opportunity you have to give a final once over to the beloved clothing that has joined you for the ride over the past few months before you store them away for another year.

So, before you stuff them away (and please don’t really ‘stuff’ any of them away) here are FOUR tips for clothing storage:

Top 2 Toe Tactics:
1. Where’s the Wear? Check linings, collars, cuffs, hems, ESK (elbows, seats, knees) of all clothing and outerwear items for soiling, tears/wear, stains, and discolouration. Launder or dry clean all pieces prior to storing for the season. Even if it looks clean, body oil and perspiration are two of the most common stain/wear culprits – and pests, like moths, love them both. Even if you don’t think you have pests, if any have laid eggs, they’ll be impossible to find until they’ve eaten their way through your garments.

2. Threadbare? Don’t You Dare! Aw! This must have been a favourite piece of yours. We may be able to replace it (in the case of basic sweaters, jackets, jeans) or it might be worthwhile to have a seamstress use it as a pattern to recreate a new piece to love. Either way, it’s time to say goodbye to this piece. If it’s a lining that’s torn, you might consider replacing it! But only if it’s a piece you can’t live without. Lining repair cost and labour intensive work.

3. Bare Your Sole: Shoe vamps stretched out? Pointed toes turning up like the Wicked Witch of the West? It’s time for a new pair. Salt stains, scuffs or worn through heel taps? Take them to a trusted shoe repair and ask them to: 1. Clean and Protect 2. Replace the heel or the heel taps 3. Resole the ball of the foot with a thin rubber tread in a colour that matches the sole of the shoe. You’ll get more seasons out of those shoes than you expected and you’ll look fresh and well-heeled (pardon the pun!)

4. Protect What You Love: Store your off-season clothing, hung or folded, in closed containers with cedar blocks, in a temperature controlled environment away from direct light to prevent fading. Avoid mothballs! They are not only made of nasty chemical that can harm humans and animals, but they also impart a distinctive and nose-wrinkling odor to your clothes.

Follow these tactics and your favourite clothes will be ready for another season’s worth of adventures just when you need them!

To Everything There is a Season

By | Ask Tamara, Organizing | No Comments

When that first day of warm-ish weather hits, when the breeze is just right and the sky is a bright, clear blue, I’m always compelled by thoughts of….cleaning.

Yes, I should be outside relishing the weather, but somehow it’s opening up all the windows, turning up my favourite cleaning music, and getting knee-deep in the process that feels most satisfying that first day.

I know not everyone has the same rabid, ‘Monica Geller-esque’ desire to break out the cleaning fluids, and even I’ve had a few anti-cleaning excuses run through my head before, I wonder if they sound familiar to you?

‘But it’s SO much work!’
‘It might snow again in two weeks, why bother?’
‘Is gets SO much WORSE before it gets better….better leave well enough alone’

Half way through June you’re wondering why you can’t find your shorts amid your winter sweaters….Seasonal Closet Clean-Ups are a big job! Like anything, it’s easier to accomplish if you break it into steps.

Trademark Tactics:

1. Start with your Fall/Winter clothes: Organizing and storing these items will help you mentally prepare for the new season.
2. Move on to Spring/Summer, and ask yourself:
Have you loved/worn it in the past two years?
Does it still still fit?
Is it worth altering?
Do they still fit your Style Words and goals?

You know my motto…
Clothes should do 3 things:
1. Fit your body, today
2.Fit your lifestyle needs/goals
3.Make you HAPPY!

In this case, even two out of three may not be good enough. If they don’t – let them go.

3. Of the things you decide to let go of, decide what to do with them. I have lots of suggestions on how to Give Meaning to Spring Cleaning.

4. Divide your newly edited items into three categories: Reshelve, Revive, Revamp!

5. The final step – once your Fall/Winter items have been tucked away, and your Spring/Summer items fill up your closet happily, create your shopping list for the season based on what needs to be replaced and what new items you’d like to build into your style.

What Does a Image Consultant Pack for Vacation?

By | Ask Tamara, Organizing | No Comments
I  think we can agree that it’s been a wild winter this year, can’t we? So, not to rub it in, but I’m headed for vacation next week to sunny Miami and I can’t wait! The stresses of customs combined with the lengthy waits at the baggage claim have made me decide to pack for this 7 day trip in a carry-on.

You’ve seen me pack in a carry-on for a business trip with the Report on Business, now I’m going to apply the same techniques when packing for a week of fun.

My trip is a City Vacation, and it will be hot during the days and cool at night. While we will definitely hit the beach & the pool, it’s not a ‘lay on the beach and rotate every 45 min’ kind of trip. There will shopping & wandering (hello Miami Deco & Versace’s Mansion!), dinners & evenings out (salsa dancing I hope!), and even gym-going….I know.

This kind of trip seems to require a lot of different kinds of clothing for difference kinds of activities but, done strategically, you can still be properly attired with lots of variety and YES: make it all into a carry-on bag.

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but I’m going to share MY OWN wardrobe pieces with you right now. Ready? Here’s what I’m bringing to Miami (outside of cosmetics, workout gear & socks/personals):

Steel Blue Stretch Cotton V-Neck T, Charcoal Grey Easy-Fit Tank, Mauve Matte Silk Jersey Asymmetrical Top, Steel Blue & Cream Floral Bustier

Charcoal Grey Cropped Skinny Pant, Dark Indigo Flare Jeans, Cream Self-Belt City Short
Mashable-Packable Multi-Coloured Strapless Day Dress, Steel Blue Matte Jersey Off-The-Shoulder Dress
Steel Blue Linen Blazer, Coral Pink Linen V-Neck Sweater
Chambray Tunic/Cover-Up, Green/Turquoise/Coral Pink Paisley Bikini, Turquoise Bikini
Nude Heels, Brown Wedge Sandals, Charcoal Grey Shimmery Thongs, Deep Purple Scarf, Brown Leather Shoulder Bag, Shell Coloured Shimmery Suede Clutch, Brown Wide Belt, Gas-Spill Metallic Twist ‘n Tie Belt

And yes, it all fits in a carry-on! There’s even enough room for a travel companion…sorry Minouchka, not this time!

What I love about this capsule: 1) The colour palette mixes a constant neutral (Charcoal Grey) with 4 flattering colours (denim blue, mauve, steel blue, and coral pink) that work well in warm weather, 2) The fabrics mix well together and for different levels of dress because they are light weight, smooth textured, and 3) Every piece does multiple duties so there’s lots of bang for buck!

So where’s the work out gear? I put it into my gym bag of course! This Lug Puddle Jumper also makes a perfect tote bag for travel. Lots of compartments and a tonne of internal space, I fit in two sets of workout gear, gym shoes, weight gloves, my laptop, iPod & earphones, and a slew of other odds & ends for the plane ride (like my laptop, trail mix & kale chips).
Ooh! One last tip: I choose to wear some of the heartier clothing on the plane so it doesn’t take up valuable packing space. My ‘travel outfit’ will be the jeans with the chambray tunic, the jacket, accessorized with the platform shoes (with cute crochet sockettes for the Toronto portion), wide belt, large brown purse, and purple scarf. Upon arrival I can peel a layer or two off and feel perfectly suited for the Miami warmth!

Play with this capsule! I bet you can think up far more than just a week’s worth of outfits here! And I’ll show you some of the combos I wore when I return!


Get Dressed UP When You’re Feeling Down!

By | Ask Tamara | No Comments
Get Dressed UP When You Feel Down!

This year, January 17th has the dubious honour of being ‘Blue Monday’, known as the most depressing day of the year. If you woke up with that ‘down’ feeling today, now you’ll know why!

There’s an neat calculation that identifies this day and pseudo-science/marketing ploy or not, I’d love to focus on how to face a dreary day with as much gusto and happiness as you can muster!

Tamara’s Top 5 Tips for Dressing Up When You’re Feeling Down

1. Choose colour – for yourself and for others!
Reds evoke activeness, positivity and energy, add a little to your outfit to coax an outgoing attitude.
Oranges a dose of wardrobe vitamin C! Known as a bright, fun, and conversational, a touch of orange may help promote social feelings and feelings of excitement.
Yellows The colour of spontaneity, yellows appeal as cheerful, warm, and inspired.
Purples inspire creativity, drama and draw people in. Use it to bring out your charm and allure!
2. Get Tactile
Choose fabrics that feel good on the skin give yourself a light touch every time you move and may give those around around you a cue to ‘be nice’. There’s nothing like super soft cottons, silks or cashmere to give you a bit of a lift. They feel luxurious, special and comforting – all great mood boosters!
3. Go To Your Go-Tos
Today’s the perfect day for your no-fail outfit, the one that fits to a T and is complete with the right accessories. What could be better than setting yourself up for confidence boosting compliments?
4. Get Grooming!
Today’s the day to put a little extra effort in making it a great hair day, and having your favourite cosmetics in place – even if that’s just a little moisturizer and chapstick.
5. Put on a SMILE!
You’re never fully dressed without it, and nothing does more to increase your face value 😉 (how could I resist)

Kind of like going to the gym is normally the best thing you can do to fight lack of motivation, putting a little extra effort in your wardrobe routine goes a long way to combatting those ‘I just don’t wanna’ feelings. Use these tips and you’ll start to feel happy in no time!

Want to learn more about how to dress happy? Check out our services!