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LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
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Dress You Up
Sure, Being Able to Hit Those High Notes Helps, but Image Maketh the Idol. Or as Simon Would Say, It's the Whole Package. Luckily, the Final 12 Know How to Wow the Crowd and Strike the Right Fashion Chords Too
Smith has opted for trendier clothes since the judges termed his turtleneck-and-slacks audition ensemble too old for him. But the former Texas choirboy is never fully dressed without a smile. "It's the most beautiful thing I have on my body, period," says Smith. "It best shows my character and who I am, which is a happy person." Though it didn't always work in his favor. "When he played little league football I'd tell him, 'Boy, get serious and play some ball!'" recalls Rickey Smith Sr. "But the coach would tell me it's real rare when you get a kid who always smiles, so just let him be."
She just turned 18, which means you can't tell her a thing. Especially about style. Take her mini makeover with PEOPLE fashion gum Steven Cojocaru. "I was going to make her Britney-esque," says Cojocaru, "but she said, 'I can't wear just a tank top. You have to cover me up!'" Rasmusen is equally stubborn about lipstick. "I am obsessed with it," she says. "I never go without." She's particularly partial to M.A.C.'s Pink Freeze but "I have about eight other pink shades and three different lipliners," she confesses. "I really love pink lipstick!"
Since her audition, the oldest Idol has dispensed with the specs onstage and gone for (cautiously) sexier getups. But the focal point of her look has always been her long, flowing locks—what she calls "my own unique thing." Adds Idol hairstylist Dean Banowetz: "She's a full-figured woman, so it's all about hair and makeup—just like Oprah." But no pricey salon products for her. "I have to buy five cans of mousse at a time, so I need the cheapest stuff possible," says Locke, "which is normally Suave. It works great for 99 cents." Don't be fooled by the thrifty hair care, though. "She's a diva in the making," insists Cojocaru. "She arrived with a duffel bag full of shoes."
The North Carolina crooner has gone from geek to chic thanks to contact lenses, trendier clothes and a less brassy do—plus a little help from his Idol friends. "Initially he was quite resistant," says Idol stylist Miles Siggins, "but now he's opened himself up to being changed." The show's fashion police first persuaded Aiken to ditch the suit he wore for the semifinal performances, then targeted his cowry-shell necklace. But the biggest change was Aiken's idea. "I've stolen Ryan Seacrest's hairdresser," he says, "and we have exactly the same hairstyle every week."
If her up-dos are any indication, everything's coming up roses for this Memphis belle. "My signature style is the flowers in my hair," says Trenyce, who also swears by hair extensions. "It's kinda frilly, sassy and sexy." She hunts for blooms to match every outfit, from the $1 fake rose she found at a craft shop to the bloom she swiped from an arrangement on me set of the show. "If it's there, she's using it," says hairstylist Banowetz. "It's really cute and different." Trenyce also has definite ideas about fashion, alternating between funky casual wear and elegant gowns. Says Siggins: "She knows how she wants to portray herself."
When Cojocaru did mini-makeovers of the Idol crew, he didn't have to do much for Caldwell. "She came in looking good," says Cojocaru. "She seems comfortable in her own skin." Not only has the Texas native shown style savvy throughout the auditions, she even had it as a kid, says her friend Amanda Bishop. "I met her in fourth grade and I thought she was gorgeous. And she's not worried about what anybody thinks of her." A self-proclaimed bargain hunter ("My boots cost me $20!" she brags), Caldwell admits she loves to shop. "When she has money," says Bishop, "she will spend it."
Studdard's supersize—he wears a size 5XXXL shirt—means that he can't always shop at the same stylish L.A. stores as the other finalists. "Most of the kids can just go to the Beverly Center or the mall for clothes," says stylist Siggins. "[Ruben] has to go find where there are things to fit his size." Even so, Studdard doesn't shy away from showing his style. "Look at the Godfather," says Studdard. "He was a big dude, and he was the smoothest dude ever, with his tailormade suits and stuff." Unlike Brando, however, Studdard usually eschews formalwear in favor of his trademark numbered football jerseys, which he uses as a shout-out to his buddies back home in Birmingham, Ala. "205," says Studdard. "To represent my area code."
The earnest Marine isn't known for his razzle-dazzle either onstage or off, and the same goes for his wardrobe. "I'm a down-to-earth, ordinary person," says Gracin. "I like wearing button-down shirts, untucked, with a nice pair of jeans." Military regulation doesn't allow much messing with his hair either: Locks can't touch the ears or the collar, so Banowetz usually just spikes Gracin's do with a flatiron. "He asked me the other day, 'Can you do anything with my hair?'" says hairstylist Banowetz, "and I'm like, 'Dude, it's an inch long.' "
"I don't like to have one style or signature item," says Clark, who resolved to took funkier after his first audition (he now favors Sean Jean jumpsuits, Hard Knock Life jeans, and Puma sneakers). "I'm always gonna be different every time people see me." For help with his style, Clark turns to best friend Sherry Evans, 22, who takes him shopping at the Glendale Mall and on Melrose Avenue for looks "with personality." Clark also displays his diversity through his hair. "He can do headbands, hats, have it braided or wear it as an Afro," says Hairstylist Banowetz. "He likes to mix it up." Clark is more shy when it comes to flaunting his physical form. "My vision for him was Marvin Gaye meets Lenny Kravitz, and at one point I wanted him to take off the tank he was wearing," says Cojocaru. "But he didn't want to show a lot of skin."
Yes, her clothes choices tended towards the trendy. But for her locks, DeMato—and remember, she's a cosmetologist—was sticking with the tried and true, wearing hers up a lot in the first auditions. "It's so pretty when she wears it down," says Banowetz, "but she could never really get it really straight." The tress distress was eventually solved, with the help of a flatiron and Tigi's Maxxed Out Massive Hold Hairspray.
During his days on the show, Grigsby's style could be defined by two simple concepts; a hat on the head, and the color blue on the body. "He's basically a hat person and he'll wear any kind," says stylist Siggins. "We totally embraced it," adds Banowetz, who says Grigsby's "minimal hair" helped with the hats. "He looked great in them." Then there's the color blue, about which Grigsby is still over the moon. "I wear it all the time," he says. "My birthday is September 15 and I'm a Virgo, which makes my birthstone the sapphire."
From start to untimely finish, Olivarez stayed true to her fun, funky style with lace, leopard print and faux fur—not to mention her hot pink do. In fact, she toned down the show. "My favorite color is orange, but orange hair is just a little too much," says Olivarez, a color assistant at an Atlanta salon. "Pink is cute." And addictive. "She's chemically dependent on color; I love that," says Banowetz. "She's a product junkie." Which ones? Redken Water Wax and Aveda Firmata Hairspray. Without them, she says, "my hair wouldn't sizzle."
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