What does the queen of the White House press corps wear to her annual ball? Since it was The Glow Up’s first White House Correspondents’ Dinner this year, we had to know: How does 21-year veteran journalist, CNN contributor and White House press corps firebrand April Ryan get her glow up?
Not to humblebrag, but here at The Glow Up, we talk to a lot of celebs and luminaries. But I had a full-on fan-girl moment when knocking on Ryan’s hotel-room door at the Washington Hilton last Saturday afternoon. After all, this is the woman who takes on Sarah “Smoky Eye” Huckabee Sanders on a daily basis and bravely asks the questions we’re all wanting answers to (like, “With all of this turmoil ... has the president at any time ever thought about stepping down?”).
Tough questions like that don’t always go over well; just weeks before the correspondents’ dinner, Ryan received death threats for daring to question the president’s staying power. Lesser personalities might not have been able to take the pressure—let alone be eager to dress up and hold court.
But April Ryan is such a queen that not only was she ready to hit the red carpet at last weekend’s event, but she graciously allowed us to preview her gown beforehand. Where does Ryan find the time to pick out a dress while picking apart the untruths coming from the Briefing Room podium? Reliably, Ryan turns to gown guru Byron Ransom.
Ransom is creator and owner of Ransom’s Boutique in Towson, Md., where he’s spent the last 22 years outfitting Maryland’s elites (Ryan is a Baltimore native) for every type of special event. In fact, he and Ryan first met 17 years ago, when he styled her wedding. They’ve worked together ever since.
We caught up with Ransom to ask him the secrets of styling a high-profile personality like Ryan, and how he keeps his star client happy and returning for more. He tells us he relies on a couple of foolproof style strategies:
Somebody like April is definitely what you would call a petite woman, because of her stature. With that in mind, that’s the first thing, because as a stylist [that’s] what makes certain outfits: not just buying a dress, but you want to buy a look. And so, you’ve gotta nail what’s their body style, and then match that with the correct body form of a dress. ... So that’s the first thing: body style to body match, in terms of the garments. And then, secondly, for me—especially with people that are very high profile—their personality; that you’re putting them as something that also defines their persona.
And while Ryan might be petite, she definitely has a big personality. Does she always agree with Ransom’s style decisions? Laughingly, he says:
We would fight, but even if she left, she’d call back [like]: “You know what? You’re right. I’m going to get that one. I need that gown. You’re right.” So this has been an ongoing, now almost 18-year thing.
The two work so closely in tandem, Ransom has even shopped with Ryan for undergarments to go under her special-event dresses. And she’s not his only notable client; he’s also worked with Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for the last decade, even styling her to accept her award at the 2016 The Root 100 gala.
Watching Ryan prepare for this year’s event, you could literally feel a shift in the air when she stepped out in the black satin gown with crystal cuffs and neckline chosen for her by Ransom. Looking herself over in the mirror, her confidence was palpable:
“I like this. I can do this; I can handle it,” she said.
And handle it she did. As we know, the evening would ultimately turn out to be a very awkward one. But Ryan remained the epitome of grace, dressed like a queen by her secret style weapon, Byron Ransom.