For those among us that dutifully follow The Bachelorette, today is filled with anticipation of tonight's big finale (i.e. you're probably staring at the clock right now). Reigning Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher has undoubtedly won over America's hearts, and her journey to find love comes to an end tonight.
Chances are that either Jordan or Robby will be getting down on one knee (spoiler alert—this is what she'll be wearing for the occasion!), but what we really wanted to know was what goes into dressing the unavoidably scrutinized Bachelorette for so many dates? So we went straight to the source to find out.
Cary Fetman is the show's long-time stylist and the current JoJo fashion whisperer. Knowing that Fetman is a guru on the subject of dressing for a date, we couldn't wait to pick his brain. As expected, he was full of knowledge on the subject and provided us with a slew of insight into JoJo's style, dressing past contestants, and how to apply his advice to your life.
Keep scrolling for all the juicy details on exactly what goes into ensuring the Bachelorette always looks stunning, and get the details on all the outfits that Fletcher has worn this season here!
WHO WHAT WEAR: You’re pretty much an expert on what to wear to a date. What do you think is an absolute no-go for a woman to wear on a first date?
CARY FETMAN: All those rules have been kind of thrown out the door. I will never understand a woman—unless they’re doing something very physical—going into a date wearing yoga pants as opposed to doing something sexier or prettier. But the idea that everyone has to have the perfect black dress is kind of old now and not true anymore. If it was my choice, I would say put on a pair of heels because it changes how you stand; it gives you confidence. I think the perfect black dress has been replaced by the perfect blouse and jeans. [For] the first time in my life, I’m coming around to thinking you do not need the perfect dress or shoes. As long as you feel beautiful in it, then I say you’re pretty good for that first date.
WWW: We've noticed that JoJo always has a great outerwear element on the evening dates. Do you have any tips on the best coats/jackets to wear with night-out dresses?
CF: That’s so funny, because JoJo hates to wear coats. She says it ruins the outfit, and we’d get in fights all the time, especially during fittings, and she’d say, “I’m not going to wear a coat. I’ll wear a leather jacket, but I’d rather be freezing than wear [a coat].” I’d explain to her how cold it can get at 2 a.m. when you’re sitting on a bridge. The great thing is that she may have fought it, but then she kind of went along with it, because there’s nothing worse than turning blue when you’re on camera. I say this for all women: It doesn’t ruin the outfit. It actually enhances the outfit. As long as it’s pretty and long (or a tiny bit longer than the outfit), or it has some kind of detailing that makes it great, or you throw on a cute cropped leather jacket, there’s really no outfit that does not look hotter when you start off with the right outerwear.
WWW: JoJo has 1.5 million Instagram followers and counting! What role does social media play when it comes to dressing the girls? Has it changed the process over the years?
CF: It has changed my life completely. Last year, Chris Harrison made me go on [Instagram], and I was the last of the people to do it. Just with myself, I see how the comments both help and have even me worrying about what the people are going to say, and is it worth taking the chance? JoJo and all of these girls come into it knowing what people have said about past Bachelorettes. They could be beaten up or loved, just depending upon how social media is treating them. It’s made them so much more careful and so much less willing to take chances. I, on the other hand, find it even more important to push them and take a chance.
We had a dress that I wanted [JoJo] to wear for one of the events, and she said, “I will be crucified on social media if I wear that.” And I said, “But so what?” The same people who hate it will love it. You can’t rule your life by what others are going to say on social media. Once in a while, [the girls] embrace it or choose to be in on the joke with me. I remember Michelle Money (she was one of the contestants years ago) coming to me, and she had a really beautiful, normal dress, and then she had this sheer dress that she had gotten, and I said “Listen, I can tell you this—you will be the talk tomorrow. Now whether or not you want the talk is up to you. You can’t really allow the people who are going to hate it to signal to you what you should do.” And she wore it and she was a sensation in it. The Bachelor loved it, I thought it was amazing, and social media and the press loved it. So it’s a huge part of it. It just depends on how frightened you allow it to make you.
WWW: Would you consider JoJo to be a fashion girl? How willing is she to try out new trends?
CF: Oh yes, she’s a fashion girl. She’s fun to play with. She’s willing to do a lot of things, but she also has certain restrictions. We would get into a lot of disagreements, and I’d say, “That’s why we have the tailor here—stop being crazy.” She had a very strong view, and if she didn’t see it exact, then she didn’t like it. She had a big influence in the fashion end of it. But then she’d say to me on the next one, “Okay, you let me win this one, so I’m going to let you win that one.” And that was pretty much the give and take, so I think that’s why she and I got so close. I also think it’s why it’s been a really good season, because she was willing to take chances, but I often knew where her heart was, and I’d say “Don’t even show it to her, she’s just not going to [wear it].”
WWW: What are your tricks for making JoJo look sexy but not over the top?
CF: Well, according to social media, a lot of times I do cross the line. She doesn’t like her [breasts] shown a lot. She doesn’t love for that to be a thing, yet somehow I got away with showing them more than I actually realized I was doing, because that’s not her favorite way of dressing. I think when JoJo feels great, there’s just a sexiness about her. When she doesn’t feel great about it, you can see it—she’s a little slouchier. But when she’s feeling really pretty or feels like she’s hot, there’s a different way she presents herself. There’s a different walk, there’s a different movement, the way she sits is different. And I think that’s almost all women. When you see yourself in the mirror and you feel sexy, I think it comes across that you are sexy that day.
WWW: What is your favorite look of the season so far?
CF: My favorite is a look that we’re not even going to use, because it was way, way, way too much for the finale. It was a spectacular dress. I’ve liked this season a lot. I loved what she wore last night—I thought the Cavalli was great. That cobalt-blue Randi Rahm gown is probably my absolute favorite because it took its own suitcase, so you know I had to love it for me to schlep around an extra suitcase throughout the world, trying to just make sure that dress didn’t get crushed. I have loved when she’s worn the short cropped leather jackets over the black dress. I loved when she wore the gaucho outfit. I loved when she wore the brown suede pants with that blouse. I loved when she had a bit of a cutout. I’m not as crazy about the two-pieces as I am [about] a little bit of a cutout. I find sometimes that less is more, in that there’s some sexiness. She’s just got such a great body. And she puts on that smile and as a stylist, you say “Okay, that’s what makes the outfit.”
WWW: What about of the all the seasons you’ve worked on?
CF: Each season, I’ve found something that I was crazy over. As a stylist, as you finish one look, you kind of just let it go because you’re already moving on to the next. Each one of them is so different, so you can’t do your favorite look, because it’s constantly changing and has to fit their look, so it’s not really about you; it’s about them.
WWW: Are there certain brands that are the biggest crowd-pleasers (i.e. the ones that the Bachelorettes and the fans of the show always praise?)
CF: I don’t read her fan page, so I don’t know what she’s been getting, but I’ve noticed that the things that are a little more classic and things that are more relatable to the audience are the things that get more likes on my Instagram. Relatable pieces rather than some of the fancy pieces, although that blue gown was off the charts. Now that I have Instagram, I find that people want to go and buy it themselves. I always try to mix something expensive with something affordable. So if I have one great jacket, I’ll put it with Zara jeans or an Old Navy tank top, as opposed to making sure that each piece is expensive. I love the idea of fantasy mixed with reality, so that our audience can see that they can do it too, or they can do something similar to it. It’s more about the look. You don’t have to copy the look if you can’t afford it, but there’s, you know, Forever 21. You can certainly find something that’s similar to what I’m doing and be able to wear it, as long as it’s right for your body.
WWW: What colors would you recommend someone wear when being photographed? Are there any colors or trends in particular that should be avoided?
CF: There are old rules, like photographers don’t like you in black, and photographers don’t like you in solid white because it absorbs all the colors for photography. But when you’re doing a TV show, the brighter colors do make your face light up and a soft color around your face makes it look very soft and pretty, so it just depends on what you’re trying to achieve that day. But the key always is with whatever you’re wearing, just make sure that you feel beautiful in it.
WWW: You have to prepare the Bachelorette’s wardrobe for quite a few trips. What are the packing or vacation wardrobe-planning tips and tricks you swear by?
CF: Since we do this so early on, whatever you have in your bag for that week is really what you’re working with. You have to plan it out. You never know how you’re going to feel on the day, but at least instead of just throwing a bunch of shirts and a bunch of pants, or a couple of dresses, you really need to lay it out and see. So that way, you kind of know that you’re not getting crazy with your overpacking. We have to a little, because when we’re going there, we sometimes don’t even know what the date is and we don’t know what the weather is going to be. We leave four weeks before we even get to some of the places, and so we’ve been traveling with the suitcases ,and if all of a sudden a storm comes through or it turns exceptionally hot or exceptionally cold, everything planned can be completely thrown off. So what we do is we try to figure out where she’s going and what she’s doing.
With JoJo, every time we were getting ready to go to another place, we would unpack her suitcase for that week and we would try to pack what she was going to wear. And that made a huge difference—having her hand in it as opposed to waking up in the morning and being handed an outfit, like some people like (I mean, the boys are so completely different). She was a part of [choosing the outfits]. She would find out a week before what the date was, so by the day before she was going, she’d have a real idea of where she was going. That’s not to say that the morning of [the date] it didn’t change and we’d be scrounging around or going through a suitcase from two weeks before. We may not have thought we were going to use something that we’re now searching for because that would be the perfect top for those pants. But I think if you make the outfit rather than just packing a bunch of things, it makes it easier.
WWW: Can you share any funny or stressful fashion moments you’ve experienced working on the show?
CF: Every season, there’s something. I think it was last year where [one contestant] was wearing a big ball. It was a fancy date and was an hour and a half away from there, and one of the executive producers went into to the bathroom with her to help her and as they were getting ready to zip up the dress, the dress just split, and I wasn’t there. So they’re calling me in this panic about what to do, and I just kept saying to them, “That dress is so tight; you can’t hold it with just thread. It’s going to keep breaking, so just put safety pins and then put a piece of masking tape going down the back, and just hope that people get the idea.”
Also [another] dress from last season was a completely tight stretch lace dress that just kept falling apart every time I would sew it. Half an hour later, she’d be back in with me trying to sew it again. There’s times when they go out in the morning and it’s supposed to be sunny and beautiful and all [of a] sudden it’s pouring. People have made fun of when they look at the shoes she’s wearing and say, “Why is she wearing a wedge with that dress?” And I think to myself, Because if you’d have been there this morning, you’d have seen that she had a great shoe that went with the dress, but we found out that it’s cobblestone and that people are slipping and sliding as they’re walking. So you have to be willing to change on the dime, and I think that sometimes the audience, not knowing the ins and outs of what goes on, just misses that there are reasons sometimes things just don’t make sense—why all [of a] sudden wedges show up with a cute sundress or why she’s wearing flats as opposed to pumps, which would make more sense. So I think that if they knew all of the things that go behind it, it would make more sense to them.
Shop JoJo-inspired pieces:
You can't go wrong with a cropped leather jacket, according to Fetman (and us).
The perfect date-night match for your cropped leather jacket.
Speaking of pretty outerwear…
Do you have a favorite JoJo outfit from the season? Tell us, along with who you think she’ll pick tonight in the comments below!
Opening Image: @joelle_fletcher
Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.