American Idol Flashback
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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes1 of 31
By Abby Gardner
The new season of American Idol is about to begin and the show won't look quite the same. This season we'll have Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez on the judging panel. But that's not the only thing that's changed over the years. Let's take a look back at the style evolutions of some past contestants, the judges and Ryan Seacrest.
THEN: Kelly Clarkson2 of 31
Styling was not at the forefront of the production process during the first season of the show. In fact, the original American Idol once told me that they were given a stipend and taken to a mall to pick their clothes for performance shows. Oh, how times have changed.
NOW: Kelly Clarkson3 of 31
Kelly's still an easygoing girl when it comes to her style. But we're glad to see that she no longer wears stripes in her hair and has ditched the corset-meets-Stevie Nicks look that isn't really flattering on anyone.
THEN: Justin Guarini4 of 31
When it came to Justin, it was all about the hair. Well, that and some seriously patterned shirts. Those corkscrews had young girls swooning all across the country.
NOW: Justin Guarini5 of 31
The grown-up haircut looks handsome on the former runner-up. But one has to wonder if the cut has hindered his career. We haven't heard his voice in quite some time.
THEN: Jennifer Hudson6 of 31
J. Hud is arguably the most successful contestant to not win the title. I mean, the girl's got an Oscar! But she's also a serious contender for biggest transformation. I don't think she'd dare wear these matchy-matchy accessories now.
NOW: Jennifer Hudson7 of 31
Not only has Jennifer gone seriously glam with her sleek and chic clothing choices, the Weight Watchers spokesperson has also dropped a number of dress sizes — after having a baby at that!
THEN: Kellie Pickler8 of 31
During her run on the show, Kellie had a "cute girl next door in the South" thing going on. Think off-duty pageant girl.
NOW: Kellie Pickler9 of 31
Now, along with some, um, "chest enhancements," Kellie has upped the ante to full-on gowns and glitzy country star dramatics. Note the full-length gloves.
THEN: Carrie Underwood10 of 31
Speaking of country girls, one of the biggest success stories is Miss Underwood. Her singing got me from the beginning: the big hair and awkwardly tied belt ... not so much.
NOW: Carrie Underwood11 of 31
Ah, this is more like it. Carrie still rocks curls, but they're now much more tame and flowing. And she dresses like the true country diva she is. That tiered gown is stunning.
THEN: Clay Aiken12 of 31
The world first met Clay as a geeky, spiky-haired boy who could wail. But his style choices were often met with some of the harshest critiques from Simon Cowell. Anyone remember the red Michael Jackson-esque jacket? Awkward!
NOW: Clay Aiken13 of 31
He's now a Broadway star with a much smoother look. This blazer is a huge improvement.
THEN: Kimberley Locke14 of 31
Dressed like she was heading to a sophomore year biology class, Kimberley didn't exactly wow anyone with her fashion choices.
NOW: Kimberley Locke15 of 31
This gray shift dress is much more flattering to her lovely curves. And it definitely takes her out of that high school phase.
THEN: Ruben Studdard16 of 31
Oh, Ruben. We loved how you represented your hometown by literally wearing its area code on your clothes. But we wouldn't exactly call it fashion.
NOW: Ruben Studdard17 of 31
Luckily, the big man has grown up and into well-tailored suits and pocket squares.
THEN: Adam Lambert18 of 31
They didn't call him Glambert for nothing. No contestant has ever made quite the beauty statement like Adam did. Long live his "guyliner."
NOW: Adam Lambert19 of 31
We're happy to report that Adam has not turned down the drama when it comes to his styling. In fact, he's taken it to the next level: flashier costumes, more makeup and hats!
THEN: Taylor Hicks20 of 31
We loved that Taylor never tried to cover up his gray hair. The Caesar cut, however, was pretty dated.
NOW: Taylor Hicks21 of 31
Much better, sir. Much better. That old cut really only worked on Clooney in the early days of ER.
THEN: Sanjaya Malakar22 of 31
Many a lady had serious hair envy when it came to Sanjaya's flowing locks. From mohawks to the "Farrah flip," sadly, his hairstyles caused more buzz than his voice ever did.
NOW: Sanjaya Malakar23 of 31
What is Sanjaya without his locks? I think that question has yet to be answered.
THEN: Jennifer Lopez24 of 31
And now onto the esteemed judges and host. Check out Jenny From the Block before she had her glam squad always at the ready.
NOW: Jennifer Lopez25 of 31
Bronzed skin? Check. Lighter, straighter hair? Check. Plunging necklines and glamorous designer dresses? Check. Now this is the J.Lo most of us know and love.
THEN: Ryan Seacrest26 of 31
Why hello there, young Seacrest. Methinks you were having a very 90210-meets-boy band fashion moment with that buttoned-up collar and vest.
NOW: Ryan Seacrest27 of 31
These days, Ryan prefers designer suits from Burberry. We can't say we blame him. And, of course, he's always famously well-groomed.
THEN: Steven Tyler28 of 31
The Aerosmith frontman looks every bit the '70s rock god with his wild mane and signature scarves hanging off his mic stand.
NOW: Steven Tyler29 of 31
As rock stars are wont to do, Steven hasn't changed his look much over the years. The hair is still killer. And we wouldn't mind getting a better look at his accessories collection.
THEN: Randy Jackson30 of 31
This shot of Randy playing bass with Journey back in the day really says it all. My favorite part is, of course, that stellar coif. You can't argue with hairstyle that literally comes to a point.
NOW: Randy Jackson31 of 31
Randy's dropped quite a few pounds and no longer makes statements with his hair. But that doesn't mean he's abandoned his flashy style completely, as evidenced by those gold shoes.