Behind the Scenes With Carrie Underwoodâ€™s Stylist, Trish Townsend
How long have you been working with Carrie Underwood?
How did you meet?
The record label introduced us right after she won “American Idol.” They hooked her up with a New York City stylist, but it just didn’t work out, while re-shooting her video “Jesus Take the Wheel.” I had never met her, but I went to Atlanta and pulled a bunch of clothes, and she loved what I selected. We get along very well — she has a great appreciation for people who can just hang out with her and her family.
I’ve noticed her clothes are all about color and vitality. How would you describe her style?
Feminine, pretty and appropriate for the occasion. We have to be careful because she is a little over 5'3". The dresses can’t be too heavy, so I keep it light and keep it fitted.
She wears every color in the rainbow, too. Her skin tone goes from fair to tan, depending on where she’s been on vacation! But she looks great in almost every color — except those with any gray in them. Those colors get murky on her. And, it also has to do with who she is — she is a happy, spiritual kind of person — so I don’t see her in dark, depressing colors.
How far in advance do you pull dresses or looks for her CMA shows?
I am always on the lookout. She is on such a go this month: BMI party, an awards show, an after-party for that … then a performance at the Opry, then L.A. … but we have all of her looks ready.
I thought I had pulled everything, but I happened to find five more dresses recently. She ran to my hotel room and tried everything on in just a few minutes, and we had three more options. We try to keep it really simple; we don’t want her just trying on hundreds of dresses. And these designers have a lot of passion for each piece, so we try to appreciate that.
Has anything that was unusual or unexpected happened while prepping for an event?
Everything works pretty smoothly for us, but the first time we had anything go wrong was at her very first CMAs. The makeup artist was putting gloss on her and dropped the wand on the gown … you know, that really oily gloss. But Carrie is not a diva — she went the whole night in that dress.
If I wanted to emulate Carrie’s red-carpet look for the holidays, what are three things I should buy?
Velvet is really big right now — even for guys. But I don’t like black velvet for Carrie, because it sucks up all the lights; look for something with color. And we both love sparkle. Also, don’t go too heavy on accessories … we let the dress speak for itself; something that’s pretty but not ostentatious, and paired with beautiful shoes.
What other projects are you working on?
Carrie and I both have a love for animals, and I started a shelter with my sister called SPA — a Safe Place for Animals — in Tennessee. I also try to foster dogs and have a few rescue dogs. Carrie’s mom even has a shelter too. I also started a thrift store where the money is donated to animal shelters. People don’t realize how much capacity they have to help others — even items from around the house or change can be donated to help others in need.
OK, here’s our lightning round of one-word-answer questions. Ready?
Favorite color? Pink.
Favorite fabric? Chiffon, maybe.
Favorite midnight snack? Wine and cheese — it’s all that’s OK in the house after weeks on the road!
Guilty pleasure? Sleep.
Quality you most admire in a person? Tenacity.
Favorite getaway? Austin, Texas — to my friend’s ranch.
Item or trend we’ll never see one of your star clients in? I never say never …
— Interview by Kim Martin
Get Trish Townsend's inside scoop on Carrie Underwood's best red carpet looks.
Photos (left to right): Bryan Bedder/Getty Images; Vince Bucci/Getty Images; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images