While the main objective of "The Bachelor", ABC's long-running competitive dating show, is to fall in love with said bachelor, the female candidates' second and often equally imperative objective is to look good doing it. After all, with as little as just one night (or six weeks, if you're lucky) to make an impression, how you style yourself matters, plain and simple. It's just one key way to show the bachelor who you are.
And there are plenty of opportunities to make a fashion statement. From fancy dates to the always thrilling (read: painfully boring and stultifying) Rose Ceremonies, the "Bachelor" contestants get to do their own hair (curling irons galore!), wear all sorts of shiny things (satin and rhinestones, obvi) and hopefully top it all off with a lovely red rose. And, most importantly, the majority of the clothes they wear are their own -- not provided by a producer or on-set costume designer but packed in their own suitcases.
Thus, as of last night, I find myself embarking on a journey (to use the show's jargon) to track who wears what on Season 16 of "The Bachelor" - the good, the bad and the sparkly.
Below, a rundown of last night's premiere:
Chris Harrison gets the ball rolling with all sorts of introductions, but all I can think about as he makes his entrance is how damn perfect his tie widths are. Wherever he gets his neckwear, I want to pick a few pieces up for the men in my life.
In some pre-filmed mini bios, a select few contestants (read: the ones who will be the most dramatic to watch and/or make it the farthest on the show) are introduced. As far as fashion goes, I'm a big fan of Lindzi, who rides horses and leans thoughtfully against wooden fences to give us a great view of her chunky white watch.
Amber T. loves guns and wearing head-to-toe camo. I can't say I'm a fan of either of those things. (She also loves eating cow balls, which I also could do without.)
Kacie, a dental hygienist, has got a cute look and a great head of hair. I'm not loving her her flashy gold chain-link necklace, but overall, no major fashion errors.
Courtney is this season's professional model (there's always at least one). Obviously she's gorgeous but her clothes are fairly non-descript. What's eye-catching, however, are her brows: she's got them dramatically shaped, thick in the front and thinned out towards the end. Definitely not a girl-next-door beauty look - which seems about right, given that the previews make her out to be this season's Mean Girl.
Jamie, a registered nurse, looks cute in a tiered strapless dress and a wide belt, although I cannot condone that amount of bronzer. Next we get a sartorial tour of the globe in the form of Lyndsie, who tries on outfits from all the places she's lived, from Arizona to England to Japan.
Then suddenly, the clouds parted and a gift was dropped into out laps: a blogger! From New York City! Jenna, possibly the first-ever professional blogger on the show, has the NYC wardrobe down pat: ombre hair, a sheer maxi skirt, minimal makeup. Obviously I'm biased (being a New York-based writer myself) but I love Carrie Bradshaw's - er, Jenna's style.
Alas, then Shawn shows up, dashing our fashion dreams. The single mom seems sweet enough, but she commits several cardinals sins, including shiny colorful satin for daytime and a stark, streaky highlights-lowlights hair situation. Someone needs to revisit her colorist.
Then there's Nicki, a divorcee from Texas. Great brown hair and fairly cute style, with the requisite cowboy boots and big jewelry to represent her home state.
Then... Ben! While his clothes were producer-picked and approved, he does look quite nice in the black and white: nearly perfect, if only the tie were a few millimeters longer. But I'll overlook it.
Then he meets the ladies in all their glittery glory.
Rachel, the first out of the gate, makes a statement in red with a crystal-encrusted belt. Run of the mill "Bachelor" attire, but I'm liking her blunt bangs. Erika goes for the full-on sparkle - and a sheer skirt and cut-outs. Oh dear.
As an antidote, we meet Amber B., who mixes it up in a pretty, colorful print halter dress. Elyse is up next, in something super glittery to offset her verrry tan skin. OK, fine.
Then comes Jenna, little miss fashion blogger. And surprise, surprise - I love what she's wearing! Her ombre tresses look great and the loose, layered cut of her white cocktail dress is flattering yet sexy all at once (no excessive cleavage here). I'd have picked a different color shoe (the black is a harsh contrast to the white frock) but overall, I give it a definite two thumbs up. Girl's got style.
Courtney's up next, looking chic and understated in an LBD and no jewels. I'm impressed with the restraint and think she looks fab. Emily follows suit, wearing a one-strap black gown and no jewelry in sight - she's a winner.
Next steps out a sash - I'm pretty sure there's a woman wearing it (her name is Samantha), but all I can see when I look at the former pageant winner is a large swath of off-white satin covering her outfit. Not the best look.
Casey (not to be confused with Kacie) looks fine.... until the camera pans down and I see the bottom of her dress is sheer. Well, it was good while it lasted.
Amber T. (the cow ball-loving gun girl) has ditched her camo for another busy print, this time in yellow and black. I'm OK with prints, but I'm not adoring the color combo, which is a little harsh on the eyes.
Holy Kentucky Derby, that's a big hat! Holly (from Kentucky, natch) fascinates Ben with a oversized fascinator - she gets noticed, but Ben can't even find her cheek to kiss as she says good-bye. Not a good strategy.
Nurse Jamie arrives looking... like she's wearing every trend at once. Side cutouts, super sparkle, uber cleavage. Shira, an actress, also glitters in sequins and the third sheer hem of the night (when did these make a comeback and why was I not informed?).
Blakeley is wearing a lovely dress with Grecian-style pleats in white and pink. But are those feathers hanging from her ears?
Then there's 72-year-old Sheryl, grandma of Brittney. Sheryl didn't bother dressing up (although navy certainly works for her) and her granddaughter looks super sparkly but also classy - the all-over champagne hue is lovely.
Nicki from Texas comes next, looking quite pretty in a flattering strapless gown. Dianna's dress doesn't fit quite as well, with the thin straps falling down as she makes her way towards Ben. Jennifer has better luck, hitting it out of the park in a navy gown that accents her amazing red tresses. Seriously, I want that hair color. She looks like The Little Mermaid come to life.
Lyndsie, the resident Brit, also wears navy but the crinkly material and unsexy cap-sleeves just aren't working. We barely get a glimpse of Anna's silvery one-strap dress before she bolts into the house - Ben was stunned at her quick escape, as was I.
Monica makes a stronger statement in a purple mermaid-hem gown - the dress is only OK (I'm not the biggest purple fan) but I like that she went with a ponytail, standing out amongst the rest of the wavy-haired gals.
Jaclyn gets out attention even more in an LBD, the short helime of which allows us a good view of the shoes... are those Christian Louboutins I spy?
Single mom Shawn gets a second chance to sartorially redeem herself- and again goes with neon satin, this time in lime green. Someone toss this woman an LBD, please?
Or a short sparkly gray dress, for that matter. Kacie looks amazing in her glittery frock - that, my friends, is how you wear sequins. I'm excited to see what else Kacie's got in her suitcase.
And last but not least, Lindzi the horseback rider makes a grand entrance on a horse, looking totally charming in her black velvet equestrian helmet (that miraculously gives her no hat hair!) and a red carpet-worthy black strapless gown. I love this woman already - and so did Ben, giving her the First Impression Rose later in the night.
It was a lot to take all at once (satin, cut-outs, bronzer, sequins, bronzer, sheer, mermaid hems, more bronzer) but there were some highlights. Luckily, our Best-Dressed Ladies so far - Jenna, Lindzi, Kacie, Emily & Courtney - all received much-coveted roses and will be sticking around.
Who did you think was a fashion winner - and who needed to rethink the contents of their suitcases? Tell us in the comments and stay tuned for next week's recap!