Cary Fetman may not go behind closed doors for those "fantasy suite" overnight dates on ABC's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," but the shows' longtime stylist confesses, "I've seen them all in their underwear."
In other words, the man responsible for dressing the stars of the prime-time reality dating soap gets to know his clients intimately.
This season, his fetching assignment is "The Bachelorette" Ali Fedotowsky. The 25-year-old from Massachusetts is the sixth lady to play the role of the desirable beauty who seeks marriage on a testosterone-filled group date.
Earlier this year, Fedotowsky walked away from a chance at love with Bachelor Jake Pavelka when her employer (Facebook) ordered her back to work -- or else. She chose her career over the hunky pilot and claims to have regretted the decision almost as soon as she drove away.
Which explains how Fetman got his latest muse. Before this season's May 24 premiere, he stopped to chat with StyleList.
StyleList: Ali needed a look that would turn 25 heads. How did you approach dressing her?
Cary Fetman: The first time I dressed Ali was for the "After the Final Rose" special [when she was introduced as "The Bachelorette" in March]. I put her in this off-the-shoulder black dress. The look was very dramatic and sexy and suited her because she has great shoulders. I found she is very, very smart. So I kept thinking, "sophisticated."
SL: Ali is as a self-proclaimed tomboy. Did she like the sophisticated look?
CF: Sometimes! All the girls come to me with a strong sense of style. Ali's was more strong. I would give her something, and she would do something a little different with it. It was more of a collaboration than me saying, "Here, put this on." I would call the overall vibe "tom-glam." She likes to dress up -- and appreciated the way the guys' jaws would drop when she walked in the room -- but also likes to be comfortable. She's probably happiest in a T-shirt and jeans.
SL: Ali seems to have a thing for yellow. It seemed like every cocktail dress she wore on "The Bachelor" was yellow.
CF: It is absolutely her favorite color, and for a good reason: it makes her happy. I love how she looks in it, but it would have looked a little stupid to have her wear one color. It would have become like her uniform. That said, I had fun buying yellow things for her. This season the stores had a lot of terrific yellow in a variety of shades that were very flattering. It's just not the only thing you are going to see her in.
SL: Are the clothes gifted by designers?
CF: I buy almost everything with very few exceptions -- which is very different from other shows I've worked on. I like it this way because everything Ali is wearing, you can, in theory, go out and buy. Some of the fans seem to have fun tracking down the clothes and accessories. I like that it's accessible fashion.
SL: What designers and brands did you like for her?
CF: I love her in Pamela Dennis. Pam just knows how to dress a women. Ali also looked great in all the sportswear in the Elizabeth and James line. She especially loved all of her Alexander Wang T-shirts.
SL: The male contestants vying for Ali's affections have to bring their own clothes. Did they pack well?
CF: The guys are so much easier than ["The Bachelor"] girls, who can be crazy. The girls show up with tons of things and sometimes they go too sexy. For the most part, the men get it right; simple conservative suits, lots of dark colors, casual things for hanging around.
SL: In the previews, I did see a guy showing Ali his T-shirt with the slogan "Rated R" on it.
CF: The only problem I have with the guys is that they don't read our rules: [For legal reasons] we don't allow trademarks, logos, things like that. I did have one guy show up with a suitcase full of clothes supplied by one company that had logos on everything. After I was done taking things away, he had three pieces left. We had to go shopping.
SL: Can you give us any dish about this season?
CF: We always talk about clothes making statements, but on this season, I had a kick watching some of the things the guys do to get Ali's attention. On the first night, there's a moment involving a sunroof that I just thought was classic. I was very impressed with the thought the men put into making a first impression.
"The Bachelorette" premieres on ABC on Monday, May 24, at 9pm E.T.
For more reality TV scoop, read how "American Idol" stylist Miles Siggins approaches dressing his male clients.