Mary Beth Ramsey
Mary Beth Ramsey is a Transformational Stylist. She helps men and women transform their life and business through dressing to match their business and authentic being.
Mary Beth grew up in a creative family and started sewing when she was 5 years old. She made most of her own clothes from scratch, wining first place awards at the city, state, national and international levels. She won a sewing machine when she was only 17 years old. Her construction background comes in handy when fitting celebrities; she knows if an alteration is worth doing, how long it will take, and how to pin it for the tailor.
Hollywood has been hiring Mary Beth to dress their actors for the camera since 1996. She has worked on many TV shows and movies including the hit TV shows Modern Family, Beverly Hills 90210, Heroes, My Name is Earl, Hannah Montana, Judging Amy, Lopez, Married, Baby Daddy, 90210, and Bones; and the movies Can’t Hardly Wait, Training Day, Masked and Anonymous,, Just Like Heaven, and Neighbors 2.
Mary Beth also spent four years traveling the world helping entertainers look great while they performed on stage.
With this lifetime worth of fabric, fashion and style knowledge, and what looks good on camera as opposed to in real life, Mary Beth is now passionate about helping entrepreneurs look their best on camera so they can get their message out to the world.
Find her here.
2:45 Misconception of executives not landing a job and discussing the importance of executives looking the part for interviews/meetings.
5:25 What is the first step in preparing a wardrobe for a job interview or important meeting.
6:38 Discussing the downside of wearing dated clothing—giving tips such as taking dated clothing and tailoring it to look more trendy and current.
8:40 Mary Beth shares a story about someone getting a position over other equally qualified candidates because of their wardrobe.
9:31 Maureen shares a story about a time when the out of someone she was speaking with was so distracting, she couldn’t focus on the conversation.
14:35 Mary Beth describes the difference between someone like Mark Zuckerberg (who always wears hoodies) and someone who is looking to join a team for the first time. She explains the important of understanding a company and their brand.
15:40 Maureen explains the difficulty of understanding how to dress on camera (Zoom)—is it different from dressing for an in-person interview? Mary Beth discusses how it is different and shares advice on how to prepare for an interview or important meeting on screen.
19:30 Mary Beth explains why it is important to dress head-to-two when on Zoom and your bottom half isn’t viewable.
20:51 Maureen discusses how her clients experience awkwardness when they dress up for an interview and they quickly realize their interviewer is not. Mary Beth shares some tips on what the interviewee may not realize at that time—for example, that interview might be being recorded and shared with a position higher up, later on.
23:15 Mary Beth compares her experiences in dressing actors in Hollywood to dressing executives and entrepreneurs for virtual calls.
25:56 Mary Beth shares with us the details on the courses she teaches and where you can find her online and how to get in touch with her.
My name is Maureen farmer, and I am the CEO and founder of Westgate executive branding and career consulting and today it's my pleasure and honor to get to speak with Mary Beth Ramsay. Mary Beth is a transformational stylist. She helps men and women, transform their life and business through dressing to match their business and authentic being. Mary Beth grew up in a creative family and started sewing when she was only five years old. She made most of her own clothing from scratch, winning first place awards at city state, national and international levels. That's amazing. She won a sewing machine when she was only 17 years old. Her construction background comes in handy when fitting celebrities. She knows if an alteration is worth doing, how long it will take and how to pin it for their tailor. Hollywood has been hiring Mary Beth to dress their actors for camera since 1996. She has worked on many TV shows and movies including the head TV shows Modern Family, Beverly Hills 90210, heroes, My Name Is Earl, Hannah Montana, Judging Amy Lopez, married, baby daddy, 90210, and bones and the movies Can't Hardly Wait, Training Day, Masked and Anonymous, Just Like Kevin, and Neighbors 2. Wow that is quite the list. Mary Beth also spent four years traveling the world helping entertainers look great while they performed on stage. With this lifetime worth of fabric, fashion and style knowledge, and what looks good on camera as opposed to real life. Mary Beth is now passionate about helping entrepreneurs look their best on camera, so they can get their message out to the world. So welcome Mary Beth—thank you for joining me today.
Thank you for having me. You made me sound so amazing.
Well, you are obviously! So, the work that I do in my business is I help executives look good on paper. I do know what's important for executives when it comes to their value proposition. The key messaging that they need to communicate to their targeted audiences. And I also know—I don't advise but, I know what looks good and what doesn't look good when it comes to clothing for things like job interviews, so I would love to start there. I had written a post a couple of years ago on my blog called the Elephant in the Room: Age Discrimination in Your Job Search. And what I have found is that a lot of executives believes that it's their age that is standing in their way of getting a job offer. When oftentimes it's not, and I'll leave it there for you to kind of pick up.
Yeah, it's often when someone doesn't get a job, they think it might be their messaging or how confident they are or lack of confidence when they walked into the room, or what was on paper or they were too old or too young or, you know, the younger generations know more than them. Sometimes, it's their appearance when they walk into the room and how they put themselves together, including hair, makeup, wardrobe. Wardrobe is a big part of it because it covers your whole body. And so if you're wearing something that's dated or too trendy or not trendy enough, or just wrong. Wrong colors or too tight, ill-fitting. The person who's interviewing you or your client or potential client, it's that 30 second first impression that you're giving off. And there's no way around it, even if we don't like it we're being judged. We are so, it's best to show up appropriately for whatever job you're seeking or whatever client you're talking to, to really represent your best foot forward.
Yes because by association that executive will be representing the brand of the company in the marketplace. And so the employer, when they see maybe an outdated, outfit or something that's ill-fitting, they would be uncomfortable and not confident in putting this candidate in front of the client for example, even if their their resume and all of their marketing materials were outstanding.
Yes, correct. And really the way you're showing up in an interview, you're putting your best foot forward. You know you've taken so much time putting your interview together and, you know, really preparing how you're going to speak and what you're going to say. And so if you don't prepare your look as well—That's how you're going to present yourself when you go out to make calls on your clients—the clients for that business that you're applying for. So yeah, they're going to expect when you walk into the room for the interview, that's how you always dress. That's your best. If your best doesn't match the business or their ideal client base, then you probably won't get the job.
That's an excellent point. What do you think is the first step in preparing a wardrobe for a job interview for example, how would you advise someone?
Well, really you have to look at first, what company/position you're applying for. So, is it executive? Which to me means more suit looks and more proper, or is it a store at the mall, which might be more trendy, or fashion-forward. But if you're talking about executives it's really like, let's pull out your suits that you already have, you know, you might not want to buy or invest in a high price to suit, just for an interview, not knowing if you're going to get the job are not. So, pull out your suits. Look at them, are they dated, can they slide by. And if not, if they are a bit too dated can they be tailored to make them look more current?
I never thought of the tailoring part of this—great idea.
Yeah, so like in the 80s and 90s suits were you know, shoulder pads and bigger shoulder pads, boxy or baggy pants, pleated pants. And if you just tailor them in, you know, make the sleeves, a bit slimmer, the body slimmer, the legs slimmer, you can alter it to make it look a bit more current, but alterations are expensive so you might just go down to J. Crew. You know, at a lower end store, maybe even Macy's, or Zara has suits as well. You can get a whole suit for probably $150. And that might be cheaper than alterations. And you can always use a shirt, or a scarf tie as personality depending on how executive the interview is, you know, I would research the company—are they bankers, financial planners or is it a little more fun or a little more relaxed. If it's a little more casual maybe you can show a little more personality in your ensemble, rather than, you know, French cuffs and a tie with, you know, maybe you don't have to wear a tie. But really, you know, you're interviewing for the job you want—maybe not the job that they're offering you. but if you ultimately want to climb the ladder in that company, you might want to dress for that ultimate job.
So dress up versus dress neutral?
Yes, it's always better to dress up. I heard a story a week or two ago about someone who dressed up for the job like wore a suit for a job—like restocking in the back room or something, a job where you wouldn't have to wear suit, but he wore suit and he got the job and afterwards said, you know, why did you hire me from all those other candidates. And the guy said because you showed up in a suit. Yeah, so it does make an impression.
I think it also shows a sign of respect for others when you take the time to do that.
It does, it's a respect for yourself and for others. Knowing you've done the research or knowing that this means something to you—this job means something, so you're dressing for it.
I remember a time when I was speaking with a person at an event. And she's very very articulate ,very very smart. And she disclosed to me that she was not making the gains in her career that she thought she would have similar to her peers. And based on that first impression, it was at an industry meeting. I scratched my head because she was dressing in a way that I thought—not that it was inappropriate but, it was inappropriate for that venue or for that situation. And so what happened was when I was speaking with her, all I could focus on was her clothing because it just stood out as different from everyone else in the room.
Right, right. So, the funny thing about clothing, if it's right, maybe no one will notice. But if it's wrong, everyone will notice. So, it's better to figure out what to wear in this circumstance, it's like, you know, with any circumstance, if you're going to a wedding you're going to, as a woman or a man you're going to wear a dress or a suit, if you're going to funeral you're going to wear darker colors, a wedding you wear brighter colors spring, maybe spring colors. If you're going to church you would, you know, be more conservative, if you're going to have a drink with friends, maybe you would be less conservative so it's all taking all of that into consideration and dressing for a circumstance or you know that the event you're going to, whether it's an interview, or the job, or, you know, going shopping or going hiking or going camping all of that requires a different work, or a different, not necessarily a uniform, but you know a different look, different clothing. So you know if you were, you know, wearing a tuxedo to hike. People would notice.
That's so true and that's exactly what happens during job interviews. As a former recruiter myself and as an executive career coach, I've seen it all. And it really astounds me what some people will think is appropriate. And even though a suit is appropriate, a suit from 1982 is not appropriate today because to your point, if all people can see is the suit or your clothing, it takes away from the intimacy and the relationship building of that particular conversation. Right. Right. And it's all about influence in the positive way not in a manipulative way but in a positive way, building relationships and at the end of the day, the person who's interviewing the candidate wants to know, you know, can I trust this person with my brand? And what a lot of people don't always think about in the interview scenario is that this is the company's due diligence process. This is how they're mitigating risk by ensuring that the person they bring into the organization is appropriate and has a good reputation, has their own good, solid personal brand. So, even though a person can look outstanding on paper, and outstanding you know in a digital world out there. Maybe they are a speaker. Maybe they're an author, maybe they're both. Maybe they're an industry leader. I'm going to be talking to a gentleman next week, who os baed on Bay street in Toronto. So Bay Street is is like the wall street of Toronto, that's where the stock exchanges are and where a lot of the financial organizations are in Canada. He was meeting with the CEO of a very big company, and he was shocked to see a 90's style suit worn by this very well known CEO. And so I guess ff you don't, if you're not aware of it, then you might not know that you need to do so. I think it's, it's one thing to know okay if I'm going hiking I need hiking shoes, but not feeling the same way about an interview—yes I wear a suit to an interview but it needs to be, you know, a current suit.
Right, some people who are interviewing you might not know what's current and what's not, but they'll know what stands out and if it's completely wrong they will know. So, it's like Mark Zuckerberg always wearing hoodies, we know that. Does it look professional? No, but it is what it is it's his brand it's what he's doing. So, when he first started being seen, he probably got noticed and talked about, but now it's just him. But it's always better to dress up for the part because then you know if you don't get the job, you know that it's not that. Then you can work on your presentation or your speaking skills or your resume. Clothing is such an easy thing. It's not like you have to go to school for five years to get a degree. You know you can go down to the local store and have a sales clerk help you if you don't have access to someone like me, you can just go out down and they can help you.
That's an excellent point. I've got a couple of questions here—one that comes top of mind and one is, I was working with a gentleman—he was a pharmaceutical executive, and of course during COVID-19, this was being recorded in September of 2020 and COVID is, you know, we're just on the heels of the first wave as they say. And so all of his interviews for the company that he was hired by were all done over zoom. And so we struggled with how you dress, so I'd love to toss that over to you, because I know you do you have a course on this.
I do I do, I'm doing a course right now. We're going to do another one, we're going to keep doing them because it's, it's very needed right now—everyone's on zoom now, people are interviewing on zoom and do teaching courses, presentations, dating and everything. My expertise comes from Hollywood and looking at the monitor and making sure that the actors look good on camera. No matter what they look like in person that they look good on camera because that's what the audience sees. And so, in my course we talk about all sorts of things, but basics with clothing would be like stripes, you know, a lot of prints are bad. Prints are really hard on camera, because they move, they strobe, they're distracting. So, if the shirt is moving. It looks like it's a waving and you probably have seen this, your eyes are going to go there and you're not going to listen to what they're saying. So you're going to be distracted and they might tell you this amazing story or this, you know, you might be talking about your experience, and why you're such a good candidate for the job and you're perfect for it but they're not going to hear any of it. Because of the shirt or the tie or whatever is moving around. And also, something that's distracting is noisy fabrics. Well, I'll grab one, if I have one right near me. Maybe you can understand by hearing since this is a podcast. So I'm holding a jacket, and it's it's really noisy. Can you hear that?
Oh, I can.
You might not think about that, but when you're on zoom or whatever if you're talking with your hands, and the fabric is moving against each other—Corduroy might do this, corduroy pants would make that sound in your thighs when you walk. If the microphone is right near you, whatever microphone you're using. That is just going to pick that up and you're not going to be able to be heard. And similar with necklaces or if you're wearing a lapel mic or have a microphone, a necklace might hit it. When you move, if you're moving around and have a charm bracelet, that might be enough to make this distracting noise on your Zoom interview or Zoom presentation.
How would you recommend executives dress for a zoom interview, should they dress up the same?
Yes, yes, I would, I would recommend dressing head to toe. Maybe not shoes, if you want to wear shoes, but put on your pants, don't stay in your sweatpants. You might stand up. You probably won't, but I, I've been to networking events on zoom, where, just by chance I go to reach something and I'm not necessarily, I'm not talking, I'm not the focus. But if I reach over to grab something, you can see my pants. So if I was in sweatpants and somebody was paying attention and watching me, that wouldn't look good. So, even though we all know that people are dressing casual at home and we're working, if you're showing up to an interview, whether it's on zoom or not, you need to be prepared. but I would dress as you would in person. I would do your hair, any makeup that you would normally wear. Simple jewelry, it's not distracting, not moving. What you would wear in a corporate environment or executive environment, and probably a suit, depending on what what it is. A suit and tie, shirt, blouse.
I've seen this happen before where clients have dressed up for an interview, but the interviewers have not dressed up, they've dressed casually. I find that that's a little bit unsettling for the candidate. You have no control over them and you have no control over how the interviewer is going to be dressed, but it does feel a little awkward when, when somebody is, you know, not necessarily in sweatpants or anything like that but might be in a really casual shirt and then you show up in this suit and tie it feels a little awkward.
Yeah, I could see how that would be. I think that might be a shock the moment that you see them that you're dressed nicer, more upscale, but then you have to pull it off as "no, I'm confident, I'm here, I dressed this way" because often, maybe the person who's interviewing is just doing the interview process. If it's recorded—that interview, the person interviewing might not be the person who's hiring you. The person hiring might not have time to interview 50 or 20 people and they just want to do the second interview. when it comes down to like the top five candidates. And then the real person will be interviewing you.
That's an excellent point. It would make absolute sense to record it for the purposes that you've just listed here. And I hadn't considered that before. That's fantastic. Yeah, and I think not just a current clothing, but also a current haircut. I've seen that distraction before as well, and it, it really can throw off, how a person appears to another. It's a sensitive issue too. I mean it's difficult to give people that feedback, and when they work with us—if they need that feedback, they will get it from us. So I don't know how you approach that with your clients, having worked in Hollywood and worked with all of the individuals that you've worked with you're probably pretty good at giving that kind of feedback.
Usually you know I work mostly on TV shows and movies where the actors are playing a character. We are all in a collaborative way where we're dressing the actor to be a character so hair and makeup department is doing their hair and makeup for the character and we're dressing them for the character. It would be like us dressing, you know, you for your executive interview. The last show I was on we did a high school, and all the kids were graduating and they were doing interviews to get into the college that they want and we dressed them in suits, you know, playing, you know, high school seniors 18 year olds and they're all wearing their version of a suit. You know you don't have to spend a lot of money to do any of this either like go to Supercuts or equivalent of a walk in hair salon, like that, you know, $20 to $30, get your hair done. And maybe a little bit more if you want it styled, you do it in the morning of your interview. If you don't know how to do your makeup you can go to the, you know, you could go down to the mall and get your makeup done or, or just watch tutorials on YouTube. But most women, kind of know how to do it. But there's colors involved that make it better, you know. And, you know, then we can really go into lighting and camera angles for your zoom interview as well so well.
You know I teach all of that in my course. I partner with my friend who does hair and makeup. So, she teaches that and I teach the wardrobe and we're also teaching, you know, a little bit on lighting, it's not our specialty but because we've both had about 25 to 30 years individually in Hollywood, we know what looks right on camera, what's distracting and what's not.
This feels like a natural segue into you and your business, I'd love for you to talk a little bit about your business and about your course and how anyone can reach out and directly work with you.
I'll first talk about the course because that's what I was talking about so it's like a four week course and we do like a week on backgrounds and set design, what's going to be in the frame and paying attention to everything, like what you see, like, especially with an interview you don't want to shoot it in your bedroom with the messy bed behind you or the messy desk, even the messy office because that's what your interviewer will see. And notice, 'Oh, they're messy, they don't take care of their homes and they're not going to take care of their office, they're going to be messy'. Then we touch on lighting and camera angles. And I do a whole, you know, two hour class on on what to wear and what not to wear on camera, and Laura does a whole two actually was three hours on hair and makeup. It's very extensive and my individual business is helping entrepreneurs, look good, basically on camera or on stage. Which now is your stage, is pretty much on camera, and really matching your personality to, who, what your business is through clothing and helping you gain confidence, which basically I'm doing exactly what I did in Hollywood. In Hollywood, I created a character or so I'm creating your character or you telling me who you are, what your job is, what your home life is. Who are you, and let's create your character through your clothing so when people see you, they know who you are. So when you walk through the door for the interview. They know that you're going to get the job done your go getter you're, you're going to close clients, you're going to sell and be the best seller or whatever the job is. And then when you go home. We can do outfits for that as well. So I really help people get rid of what they don't need anymore. You know a lot of us hold on to clothes that are memories from the past or, you know, (more so women do this) hold on to those clothes that you know the outfit that we bought when we were on vacation or the, the outfit that we were on the first day with our husband or wife or something you know those, those emotional pieces that we don't wear anymore, but they're holding us back into the past so if you really want to be successful in this new career move into a new job market, you get rid of those clothes that allows the energy to flow in your life, in your closet in your world and to bring in all those new experiences and not necessarily to bring in new clothes but to bring in life experiences more finances more relationships, better home life, you know, spirituality all areas of your life improve by cleaning up your wardrobe.
Well, it sounds like you're very passionate about this, I'm absolutely intrigued. I'll be looking into the course and I can't wait to have an opportunity to learn more about what you do, and I know that anyone listening to this recording today is going to take away a lot more than they like they thought they were, because I know I have too. So, so why don't you tell us a little bit about how we can get in touch with you before we sign off for today.
All right, so my website is transformationalstyles.com it's plural—transformational styles with an s.com, and my email is my name, MaryBeth @ transformationalstyles.com.
Wonderful. Well thank you so much for your time. It's been an absolute pleasure, and I look forward to catching up with you probably on LinkedIn.
Yes yes! I'm very active on LinkedIn as well so yes thank you.