The Bachelorette’s Stylist Talks Dress Disasters, Why Kaitlyn Bristowe Is His Favorite & More

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Stylist Cary Fetman. Photograph by Joel Barhamand 

They say a first impression is everything. And whether you like it or not, your clothes have a lot to do with that. So it’s no wonder why The Bachelor/Bachelorette folks called upon Cary Fetman to be the show’s in-house stylist. Fetman knows a thing or two about fashion, having worked with legends like the late Joan Rivers, Oprah Winfrey, and Sarah Jessica Parker prior to his reality TV days. In his 13 years of being the show’s resident stylist—having dressed the Bachelor and Bachelorettes for a total of 35 seasons…and too many dates to count—Fetman’s had a hand in helping make fairytale romances come true. But what really goes on when the cameras aren’t rolling? How does Kaitlyn Bristowe pick her outfits? And have there ever been any on-camera fashion blunders? Here Fetman candidly dishes on it all, from the style advice he got from Oprah to how purple socks caused a social media uproar, to the number one thing women should avoid when dressing for date night.

Yahoo Style: What was it like transition from being a red carpet stylist to an on-screen one?
Cary Fetman: It’s more fun, but a little bit more challenging. Here, I’m not dealing with celebrities. I’m dealing with real people trying to fall in love. The experience of watching them go from being nervous and scared in the beginning to excited to falling in love…I just found that intoxicating.

YS: And how is it different to dress someone for the red carpet versus on screen? Are there things that you think about now that you didn’t think about before?
CF: No, because you know what? Everyone wants to feel beautiful. Oprah and I started a long time ago and she once said to me, “If I don’t feel pretty in that mirror, I’m not going to look pretty on the camera.” So for the last 20 years, that’s been my philosophy. The girls have to feel beautiful and if they don’t, I need to know why so I can fix it.

YS: Has there been an instance where you’ve thought: “Oh shoot. I shouldn’t have!”
CF: Yes, with Joan Rivers. I put her in what I thought was going to be a really cool top with a blue collar and it looked like she was wearing an airplane neck rest.

YS: What about on The Bachelorette?
CF: There have been many times where we’re sitting in a room with the monitor and I’m like, “I think it’s pretty. I think it’s good.” And then two months later when it’s airing I think, Was I on drugs that night?

YS: How is it dressing the Bachelors versus the Bachelorettes?
CF: The men are always slightly easier because there are only so many things you can do—a suit is a suit! But when I first explored with colored socks, people were horrified. [Host] Chris Harrison was like, “Oh my God. People were tweeting about you putting me in these purple socks last night…” and I thought, They’re socks, what’s the big deal?

YS: And how about for the ladies?
CF: They are so much more exciting and fun. I get to play around and do more because of the accessories, the shoes, and the glamour in general.

YS: Do you tend to accommodate their style or do you push them to try new looks?
CF: The show is not about me; it’s always about the person. I step into the girls’ life for a 10-week period and I always tell them: “There’s no attitude about this. You need this to be about you and not about me. The only thing I ask of you is the truth. If you don’t like it, tell me. If you love it let me know why so I can see who you see in the mirror.”

YS: Do the suitors dress themselves? Always?
CF: Not always. There are a couple of dates in the middle of the season where I step in and help dress someone for a special date. And for the finale I help everyone.

YS: Is that stressful?
CF: Well, it’s just the last three, so it’s easy and fun. I get to live through someone else’s life and get to see the excitement, the nerves, and everything. And I get to have a hand in the end!

YS: What’s more difficult—dressing the Bachelorette for dates or the Rose Ceremonies?
CF: Rose Ceremonies are the easiest part because all I do is make someone feel glamorous, which isn’t difficult to do with a gown. The day sportswear is a little more work because I’ll be like, “Just try it!” But if it doesn’t work, I’m the first one to say just take it off. And it’s no big deal.

YS: Are you on call at all times?
CF: Pretty much. Because we don’t know what kind of hiccups can happen.

YS: Have there been any?
CF: Last season [on The Bachelor] someone was wearing a ball gown and after coming out of the bathroom, a producer had decided to go in and help her zip her dress and it broke. They actually had to hand-sew it. The date was two hours from where I was, so they were on their own!

The Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe and Cary Fetman. Photograph by Joel Barhamand 

YS: What’s it been like working with The Bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe?
CF: She’s one of my favorites who gets away with a lot more.  Because of her personality, she gets away with things that I maybe wouldn’t have the same patience for with someone else. We hit it off from the very beginning. [Laughs]

YS: Are there any designers that you like to dress Kaitlyn in?
CF: For evening she keeps going to Randi Rahm and Mac Duggal. For sportswear she’s doing a lot of Elizabeth and James.

YS: Oh, that’s very prim and proper—not like how she described her style.
CF: We always do something with an edge to it. We’ll pair it with a piece of edgy jewelry, like the horn or tooth, to put our own twist on it.

YS: Do you have any date night style tips?
CF: First, confidence. And if you’re wearing something that you’re not sure about, change it. Even if the mirror is lying to you and being really mean, listen to it because you’ll be bothered all night. It’s not worth it.

YS: Is there anything we should know about date night shoes?
CF: I’m all about heels. It can change everything about your look! But if you’re one of those girls who doesn’t know how to walk in heels, I would suggest practicing and finding a fatter heel. Do not be the girl who walks around wobbling!

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