Dressing Candice Glover: How "American Idol" contestants get their style

loberle@islandpacket.comApril 6, 2013 

As a finalist on "American Idol," a transformation takes place. Entering into the Top 10 on the show, the contestants begin receiving the full star treatment, with hair, makeup and wardrobe being professionally done for them before every photo shoot, dress rehearsal, performance and results show.

"You see a little Cinderella type of story," said Nra Kudelka, who styles the women on the show.

For most contestants, this makeover brings dramatic change. Just two short months ago, they were regular people, with regular jobs, living regular lives -- in regular clothes.

When St. Helena Island native Candice Glover left her job as an excursions coordinator to compete on "Idol," she also left behind the Fripp Island Resort blue polo that she wore to work.

These days her uniform reflects her aspirations.

STAR POWER

The "American Idol" makeovers help give the rising stars a newfound confidence.

"It helps you have more star power," Kudelka said. "You can see everyone growing and becoming more of an artist and getting a signature style to them."

The signature style for contestant Burnell Taylor is bowties. Lazaro Arbos is known for his bright colors, wearing a turquoise blazer in the Top 10 and a yellow blazer the next week. Janelle Taylor favors a more neutral color wheel, with lots of peaches and beiges for a country look.

For Glover, it's been blazers, high heels and leggings.

"She's curvy, but she's got curves in all the good places," Kudelka said. "She's definitely open to fashion. And she wears the clothes really well, so it's fun to dress her."

While purple is Glover's favorite color and has become a trademark of her fanbase, she hasn't worn the color on the show yet, except for a streak colored in her hair.

When it comes to on-stage attire, the singer sticks with a different hue.

"I love black," Glover said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Kudelka said black is the color of stars, a dramatic choice that emits a powerful aura.

"Most artists in concert usually wind up in a black something," she said.

Black clothing also opens the door to brighter accessories, or the "statement pieces," Kudelka says Glover wears so well.

"Whether it's the big earrings or a big necklace, she loves bold pieces, and she really can handle good statement pieces," she said. "Because we like such fun jewelry on her, it gives it a nice palette, a blank slate."

Just as the dramatic effects of black clothing lends itself to the recent themes on the show -- The Beatles and classic rock -- wardrobe choices are largely based on the song.

The clothes must match the hair and makeup, which must go with the lighting and staging, which are all dictated by the contestant's song choice.

If Glover plans to stand still during a performance, as she did when she sang Ben E. King's "I Who Have Nothing" in the Top 10, she wears her heels a little higher -- that is, until recently. This past week, she wore a pair of lower-heeled, black Torrid boots because they were the most comfortable for her toe, which she broke playing an April Fools' joke on fellow contestant Lazaro Arbos.

Softer outfits are assembled for ballads and edgier ones for rock songs. Kudelka likes to put a big ring on Glover, so when she holds the microphone there's a nice shine on her hand.

"It all has to make sense," Kudelka said. "Everything is pieces to the puzzle. Everything is taken into consideration. But in the end, it's a singing competition, and everything will revolve around what the song is and who the artist is."

GETTING THE LOOK

While the contestants receive help and guidance from the stylists on the show, they have the final say in what they wear.

"If they hate it, they don't wear it," Kudelka said. "It's about them feeling good and feeling confident. So they have the final say."

Each contestant is given a wardrobe budget to shop with, which they can choose how to spend. Their wardrobe is a combination of what the contestants have bought on their own and what Kudelka and Seth Chernoff, the stylist for the male contestants, have bought for them.

"Everyone has the same amount of money to spend," Kudelka said. "Everyone has the same playing field, which is really important to 'Idol' and to competition. No one has special treatment."

But that's speaking relatively because it still feels special to the contestants.

"A lot of these kids have never had the chance to wear certain designers before," Kudelka said. "Most of us don't have people shopping for us or have a rack of clothes that was tailor-made. That's a new experience for them, so they get excited about that."

Kudelka said the show values the importance of the contestants' wardrobes to the quality of their performance.

"They want the kids to come out looking great and feeling good," Kudelka said. "If they're confident in their look, they'll give a better performance. It goes hand-in-hand, and they're aware of that."

But you don't have to look further than the typical mall to find many of the contestants' clothes from the show.

The Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah has Ashley Stewart, Forever 21, Torrid and Macy's, all stores Glover has worn clothes from on the show.

Kudelka said the show aims to keep the wardrobe simple and make it accessible and relatable for the viewers.

"We try to make the clothing something that people want to emulate," Kudelka said. "Even if they can't find the exact piece, they can do something similar to it, and it's not that hard."

Glover has been commended by the judges throughout the season for her stage presence and confidence when she performs. And Kudelka has seen her masterpiece in movement.

"When she sings, she's such a dynamic performer that it kind of brings the clothes to life," Kudelka said.

Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.

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Shared dreams, shared support

THE CLOTHES

Top 10: "I Who Have Nothing," Ben E. King

Top: Sherri Bodell

Pants: Forever 21

Ring: Luv AJ (stud)

Earrings: H&M

Shoes: Nine West

Top 9: "Come Together," The Beatles

Vest: Bar II

Top: Alfani

Pants: Ashley Stewart jeans

Bracelet: Forever 21

Shoes: Torrid

Earring: PRB Private Collection

Ring: Mode Plus

Gold cuff: H&M

Gold and Rhinestone bracelets

Top 8: "Heard It Through the Grapevine," Marvin Gaye

Top: Sheri Bodell

Shoes: Torrid

Leggings: Torrid

Earrings: PRB Private Collection

Mode ring: Stephanie Somers

Group, Top 8: "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," Diana Ross and the Supremes

Candice:

Top: Michael Kors

Leggings: Torrid

Shoes: Torrid

Ring: Ashley Stewart

Ring: PRB Private Collection

Angie Miller:

Top: Rachel Roy

Shorts: Topshop

Belt: H&M

Earrings: Rachel Roy

Black and gold cuff: PRB Private Collection

Gold ring: All for the Mountain

Amber Holcomb:

Dress: Tony Bowls

Bracelet cuff: LUV AJ

Earrings: PRB Private Collection

Top 7

Solo:

Tank: Calvin Klein

Jacket: Bar 111

Leggings: Ashley Stewart

Necklace: Top Shop

Shoes: Torrid

White and silver ring: Ashley Stewart

Black and silver ring: Mode Plus

Earrings: Alexis Bittar

Group: (with Burnell Taylor)

Tank: Calvin Klein

Jacket: Alfani

Pants: Two by Vince Camuto

Shoes: Torrid

Rings: Mode Plus

Necklace: Top Shop

Earrings: Top Shop

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