Over the past five years, American Idol has seen its share of controversies (hello, Corey Clark!), but few have been more polarizing than this season's questionable fashion choices. Whether it's the strange influx of gauchos or Bucky's sometimes horrifying hair, the getups sported by this year's contestants can always be counted on to elicit conversations the following morning. Since we here at EW aren't immune to the discussions, we thought we'd go straight to the source Idol stylist Miles Siggins, who helps dress the top 12 contestants and host Ryan Seacrest to answer our burning questions about the couture conundrums.
Was there ever talk of stealing some of Paula Abdul's hair dye and giving Taylor's gray locks a little color?
''Yeah, there was talk about it originally,'' admits Siggins. ''There's a lot of guys who are gray out there. There's nothing wrong with it. It would have been the same as putting Mandisa, who's kind of huge, on a diet. She's comfortable the way she is, which is fantastic. [And] he's very comfortable the way he is.''
How much input are the kids allowed to give when it comes to their outfits and their general look for the evening?
As much as they want. ''Because it's a competition, we can't force anything on them,'' says Siggins. ''Because it would be favoring somebody. I can strongly advise, which I do with some people. I want them all to look their best when they go out, and not have to second-guess their clothes.''
And where do you guys shop for clothes? (We're looking at the outfits on stage each week and thinking to ourselves, ''Melrose…definitely Melrose.'')
Siggins says the garb comes from all over the L.A. area: ''It's department stores one week, and a high-end boutique another. Sometimes we'll find a top at the department store and then find an amazing pair of pants at the boutique. It's quite a mixture.''
What's the clothing budget for Idol? Given the huge ratings, it must be astronomical, right?
Errr...not so much. Siggins reveals that the weekly clothing budget is a mere $400 (!) for each contestant. How exactly does that work? ''If you have a very limited budget, '' he says, ''you tend to get a bit more creative. It's more fun this way. If I had unlimited funds a couple of the girls would been wearing Galliano and Dior.''
Ryan seems to have stepped up and chosen some really great attire this year. Was that a conscious effort on your part?
''We decided to go a little bit sharp this season,'' says Siggins. ''I started on season 2, and it was a very European thing: jeans, T-shirts and a jacket. Last season he tended to wear more of his own stuff. So he'd wear the T-shirt-and-jacket thing again. This year, we both sat down and said, 'Let's just step it up.' He looks fantastic in a suit. A really skinny suit with a skinny tie is such a good look for him.''
So...what was up with all those gauchos? Was there a sale at Old Navy?
Siggins wasn't about to take the bait on this one: ''That's when they're dressing themselves. I don't actually start until the top 12. That's the concern when we step in making sure they do look individual.''