On Tuesday night, we will finally know who gets Tayshia Adams' final rose on what has been the most unprecedented, if not dramatic (fine, Chris Harrison, we'll give you this one) season of "The Bachelorette" yet.
It's been an eventful journey, for many reasons. Obviously, it was filmed amid a global pandemic, which initially required filming to be postponed, then had production go into a bubble and saw producers get really creative when it came to planning a variety of dates (including hometowns!) within the grounds of the La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs. Then, there was the much speculated-about titular bachelorette switch-up five episodes into the season, after original lead Clare Crawley got engaged to contestant Dale Moss.
Naturally, this all created some very specific challenges for the wardrobe department, helmed by Cary Fetman.
On "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," Fetman (who's been a part of the show since 2008) and his team are tasked with outfitting both the lead(s) and Harrison throughout the season. Before Covid-19 delayed filming in the spring, the plan was for Crawley and the men vying for her heart to travel (as is typically the case on the franchise), specifically to cold destinations. For obvious reasons, that was no longer viable once production resumed later in the year. Instead, "The Bachelorette" would take place at a single location — a sprawling resort in California. Fetman had to shelf pretty much everything he'd planned up to that point.
"I needed to start completely over again," he tells Fashionista, over the phone.
Though Fetman and his team had already mapped out the wardrobe for the season — and even done the fittings with Crawley — there wasn't really anything from the original pull that would work with the new setting (and the fact that it would be hotter than 100 degrees every single day of filming at La Quinta).
"Fortunately, Clare and I had worked together and I've been friendly with her for over five years," he explains. "I know that Clare is much more of a jeans-and-tank-top girl and that trying to get Clare into fancy clothes or colors and things like that would be more of a struggle. If Clare could just wear the same shorts and tank top every day, she would be thrilled. But as I tried to explain to her at least ten times, 'You're the lead. It gets boring to the fans if that's all you're wearing.' Not quite the same with Tayshia."
The one-location set-up was helpful in that, should there ever be an issue with a garment or a need for tailoring, Fetman could send them to the same person locally (or in L.A.) throughout filming. In any other season, he and his team would have had to find people on the ground at each filming destination. Also: "We were able to have the clothes in one part [of the hotel] and not be packing them every week, trying to divide up suitcases like we normally do," he says. "The downfall of that was that all the clothes were always in a room, so it could sometimes get overwhelming, when you're seeing everything you own... and [you're not able to] just concentrate on what we're doing that night, what that date is."
"Everybody thinks that I force these girls into sequins, but the truth is: I'm so over sequins at this point," Fetman admits. "Every season, they walk in like, 'No, I'm not going to.' Especially with Tayshia, I had so many dresses with no sequins. But there must be something about when a girl puts on a Randi Rahm gown — I don't know because I've never tried one on, but there has to be something about it, because they all go to it."
Before he starts building out a lead's wardrobe, Fetman will try to get on the phone with them and ask them questions about their style preferences, the pieces they love and the way they want to look on the show. "I definitely need their input before I even begin, because I need to know where their head is," he says. "These are not actors, they're not playing a character — they're looking for love and they're going through all these emotional highs and lows. The one thing I won't allow myself to do is ever tell them that they have to wear something, or presume to tell them what they should wear."
From those conversations, Fetman gathered that Crawley wanted to stay close to her personal style off-camera, which leans more casual. Adams, meanwhile, was interested in the opportunity to wear things she might not be able to normally. "She lives on the beach and is like, 'My everyday wear is jeans and a tank top or something fun. I want the full 'Bachelorette' treatment. I want you to make me feel as fun as we can,'" he remembers. "I have to hand it to her, she did."
When the producers told him that Adams would be coming in to replace Crawley, Fetman remembers holing up in his hotel room for days, ordering clothes from wherever he could find stock. Because he had already done this once before this season, though, "I could at least remember where I may have seen something [when I shopped for Crawley]," he says.
The timing of this switch had an unexpected benefit: It coincided with the summer sales. That created a lot of opportunities in terms of the brands Fetman had access to.
"It seemed like the more expensive designers were the ones who had already shipped [merchandise] that now the stores were having markdowns on," he says. "I went crazy over shoes. I went crazy over accessories. I just had a blast shopping for her."
Throughout her episodes, Adams has worn gowns by franchise mainstay Randi Rahm, as well as pieces from contemporary labels like Galvan, Iro and Jonathan Simkhai and luxury brands like Balmain and Alexandre Vauthier. If you looked on Twitter the night the show aired, much of the commentary would be about how good her style was.
Fetman says he wasn't necessarily shopping differently — "it's still Net-a-Porter, Saks, Neimans, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, all of the regulars that I do" — but rather that he was able to get a lot of designer items he normally wouldn't be able to afford at a discount. An example: the knit Balmain mini dress Adams wore to brunch with former "Bachelorette" JoJo Fletcher (below), which he scored on sale. "I would never have put a Balmain for an afternoon dress," he notes.
Then, of course, there's the fact that Adams... well, looks good in everything.
"She can wear something that was camel that would blend into her skin or she could do a hot color — both would equally looked great on her," Fetman explains. "Things that normally I would stay way from, thinking this might wash somebody out... not with Tayshia. It was amazing how the neutrals were just as pretty as the brights."
Some personal favorites of Fetman's from this season: the black Fall 2020 Randi Rahm dress with gold detail Adams wore to a rose ceremony, the Cushnie tulle top and tuxedo trouser set she saved for Zac Clark's hometown, the white leather Iro dress that the stylist admits was a bold choice for summer in Palm Springs.
"You could just tell when she felt beautiful. That's a rush for any stylist," he says.
Fetman is just coming off of production for the latest season of "The Bachelor," starring franchise newcomer Matt James, which premieres on Jan. 4. ("He's a blast," the stylist says of the new star.) But there are learnings he's taking from working on "The Bachelorette" — and every past "Bachelor" franchise show he's done, for that matter.
"The beauty of this show — and this is I think why I haven't gotten bored after all these years, I used to say it was because we traveled to so many fabulous places... I still love it because every season, it's a brand new learning thing," he explains. "Each time, it's a new person with a new style, a new type of body, a new kind of good and bad of what makes it easy, what makes it hard... I think I will keep learning, too."
"And fashion changes so much," he continues. "When Chris did the show going back over the old seasons, I looked back at some of the things I put people in and I was horrified by the evolution. But then I remembered: Men used to wear double-pleated pants with suits back then. Fashion has evolved, so has the show, so has what I do and the people who come onto the show... especially the guys, getting more comfortable taking chances with fashion. In the beginning, the guys would do nothing more than a blue button-down shirt... Those days are completely gone now. There's no more of that feeling of, 'Hey, I can't do this the way that I want.' That part of it has really been fun."