Co-hosts Bachelor Pad Chris Harrison Melissa Rycroft

"Bachelor Pad" co-hosts Chris Harrison and Melissa Rycroft. Photo: Craig Sjodin, ABC

Hollywood stylist Cary Fetman is the man behind the fairy-tale designer gowns and custom suits that stylize the fantasy-suite romances on ABC's reality dating shows "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."

For ABC's "Bachelor Pad," Fetman's gone decidedly casual.

The spit-swapping reality hit features former "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" contestants cohabiting and conspiring as they compete for $250,000. This time, pie-eating contests and bikini Twister substitute for dramatic proposals.

We asked Fetman, whose clients include Joan Rivers, to dish about what co-hosts Melissa Rycroft, Chris Harrison, and the cast are wearing as they sunbathe and back stab at "The Bachelor" mansion.

StyleList: You must have had to approve the swimsuits with all the bikini Twister and hot-tub antics. How much double-stick tape is involved?
Cary Fetman: I am there, as a precaution, watching in the control room and taking copious notes to give to the edit guys, because believe me, there are things being exposed that no one needs to see. But I'm not dressing the contestants. They chose their own suits, and I don't tape them.

SL: Melissa Rycroft is pregnant! Did you know when you were filming?
CF: No! She was in her first trimester and didn't say a thing. But believe me, you would have never known. Nobody has a body like this girl. She was like my own personal Barbie. She had lost 10 pounds since "The Bachelor" from being on "Dancing With the Stars." She's a size 0 or 2 and very lithe and athletic. If she hadn't told me, I would have never guessed.

SL: You dressed Melissa for her ill-fated proposal from "Bachelor" Jason Mesnick. How did you approach her wardrobe this time?
CF: We were so anti-"The Bachelor," which is all about the romance and fantasy and usually very formal. I went for light clothes with a sense of playfulness during the day. For elimination nights, I did hot and sexy. I could do anything with her: a jumpsuit down to her navel, short-shorts, a sexy dress. She was a blast. She's in a really good place in her life. Her husband [Tye Strickland] came to see us and is such a sweet man. She's so incredibly happy.

SL: Labels you loved for her?
CF: I did Alice + Olivia, Haute Hippie, Rich & Skinny, Alexander Wang, Planet Blue, and I mixed in things from the boutiques on Robertson [in Los Angeles]. I did one Pamela Dennis dress but not too much showroom designer stuff. My approach was to keep her wardrobe for each look between $50 and $300. I am very big on the idea of the audience feeling like the wardrobe is accessible, so I can tell them how to copy the look at a lower price.

SL: So tell us!
CF: Be really conscious of fit. I put a T-shirt and shorts from Forever 21 on Melissa because they fit like they were custom made. That's the key. It's about the mix. I'll go to Forever 21 or Zara for these shows, but I might put a T-shirt from those stores with a more expensive jacket or vice versa. When you dress like that, you look more approachable. Designer from head to toe doesn't look real to me.

SL: I have to ask about the purple polka-dot tie and checked shirt Chris Harrison wore last week. The critics were not kind!
CF: I heard that, but I say, finally, we are able to break out of the "Bachelor" mode of keeping him so staid. Chris always has a professional look and we wanted to change it up. The tie was Tom Ford . I knew we were taking a risk. I said, "You are going to look hot or you are going to look not!" In person it looked hot; on the television monitor, it wasn't as great. It was way too many colors and patterns. But the thing I love is that it's not "The Bachelor" and we are taking more risks.

SL: You'll be dressing Melissa for the show's finale. What's your take on maternity clothes?
CF: I have been inspired by this group of hot, young actresses who have taken maternity out of the Dark Ages, where everyone was wearing the same big look. I hope Melissa will keep it young and fresh and hot. I dressed Julia Louis-Dreyfus through her two pregnancies and Lisa Rinna and a few others. I learned that while A Pea in the Pod does fantastic things, you can achieve great looks without going the whole maternity route.

SL: Who's the best-dressed contestant?
CF: No doubt [swimsuit model] Gia [Allemand]. She has an innate sense of style that is incredible. She's got Hervé Léger dresses that are like, "Wow!" And the way she puts things together is incredible.

SL: You dressed "The Bachelorette" Ali Fedotowsky for her engagement to Roberto Martinez. Has she come to you for wedding gown advice?
CF: I watched her fall in love and I would love to be part of [the wedding], if it happens. It would be very exciting to witness the next step and be involved. Even if I was just a guest, I would be thrilled and honored.

SL: What kind of wedding dress would you put her in?
CF: A yellow one [Fedotowsky is obsessed with the color]! No, seriously, something soft and flowing and feminine like she wore to the final rose ceremony. That's a style she loves and it suits her. Of course, she'll have to have her sneakers on.

Speaking of "The Bachelor," read what former winner Vienna Girardi has been up to since her nasty split from Jake Pavelka.