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Carrie Ann Inaba's 'Dancing With the Stars' Blog: Why Monday Night Was Very Emotional For Me

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Adam Taylor/ABC

Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba joins us again to blog about her style — and all the backstage scoop — on the show’s 16th season. In her kickoff post, she shares very personal and sad news with PEOPLE.

Monday night was the season 16 premiere. And I know that this is supposed to be a style blog, but tonight I wanted to write about my father, Rodney Inaba, who has inspired me in so many ways — including my style.

However, first let’s start with the details of what I wore: I chose a black Theia gown with some metallic geometry down the front, along with some really incredible jewelry by Supreme, Swarovski and Open Hearts, plus vintage costume jewelry earrings. I like to mix it up, and I’m not afraid of wearing real gemstones right next to faux or vintage pieces of no known value.

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I think that’s what style is about. It’s about wearing what feels good to you, no matter who made it or how much it costs. Style is a personal choice and a reflection of who you are. It’s not about how much something costs. It’s about how it makes you feel. Fashion should always make you feel good.

I love that Kit Scarbo, my stylist (who is also a rocking costume designer) puts all the pieces out in my tray for me to choose from without any regard for their price tag or name value. It’s all about the aesthetic. And we approach it like a puzzle, finding the right balance. Sure, it’s nice to wear top of the line diamonds, but it’s also nice to wear some things that don’t make you worry about needing added security!

Monday night’s fashion choices were important because it was the premiere … but also for other, personal reasons. I needed to feel safe and comfortable. You see, last night was really emotional for me.

My father, Rodney Y. Inaba, passed away this past Thursday morning and it’s been a really challenging time. Losing a loved one is something that is so very hard to understand and cope with. I’m filled with a tremendous sadness but also a relief, for he is in a better place now.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it through the show with all the emotions that have been overflowing. But I felt my father’s spirit was with me last night, supporting me and cheering me on. And I dedicated the show to him, in gratitude for all that he taught me about life; for his bravery, his courage, his huge heart and his love for the underdog.

He was a special man and to know him was to love him. He was a pioneer, an entrepreneur, an animal lover and he was never afraid to speak his mind. I think I got some of this from him. I’m grateful for the gifts he has bestowed upon me. And in honor of my father, I chose to do the first show and not take the time off because in my heart, I know he would have wanted it that way.

I want to thank my team (hairstylist Anna Maria Orzano, makeup artist Jojo McCarthy and my stylist Kit), Len, Bruno and the ABC and BBC family for supporting me throughout this challenging time and for helping me through the first show.

Dad, I know you’re up there dancing in joy (he used to do a little ballroom/social dancing when he was in the service). I love you.

–Carrie Ann Inaba

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