'Idol' style makes itself heard
By Karen Thomas, USA TODAY
When it comes to style, American Idol (Tuesday on Fox, 8 ET/PT) contestants have come a long way. In four seasons, they've gone from blue-jeans-wearing, down-home crooners to fashion-forward hipsters.
This season, the stage has sparkled with trendy square glasses and sexy hats on the fellas and daring hairstyles, metallic tops and designer shoes on the gals.
"No matter what they put on, it looks right," Idol judge Randy Jackson says. "They've got more style than any group we've ever had."
Many came into the competition looking good. But that doesn't mean they can escape getting pointers from the show's stylists — some more than others.
Nadia Turner, Jackson says, is this season's strongest example of a style maven who needs little help. She has worn one-shoulder tops, ultra miniskirts and, for one memorable performance, an 8-inch-high mohawk.
Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis have their own fashion sense. The long hair, '60s-style jeans, duster jackets and boots are "appropriate" for their rock 'n' roll style, and they won't get much tweaking, says head stylist Miles Siggins, who steps in at the finalist stage.
The show "could do a whole Bon Jovi makeover on them, but how would the public take that?" asks Hollywood stylist and Idol fan Brian Primeaux. This season's contestants are so polished, "you could sign a deal without any restyling."
Besides rehearsing for each week's performance, contestants have seven days to shop for killer clothes. Each performer gets enough money to buy "one great outfit," and Siggins recommends that the Idol wannabes spend their budget on Tuesday's performance costume.
If the current crop seems a bit more style-savvy, it could be because the age limit was bumped up from 26 to 28, bringing in slightly older, more sophisticated pop-star rivals. Of the eight finalists set to perform tonight, four are over 26.
"Most of them this year seem a lot more mature than years in the past, in part because they increased the age range," says Siggins, who has styled final contestants for three seasons.
Post-Idol, fashion and the right look can be even more important. Former Idol champ Kelly Clarkson, for example, continues to hone her sense of style.
"She's so above and beyond stylistically (compared with her Idol days)," Primeaux says. "Image is part of the music biz."