Talent Recap

10 Famous ‘American Idol’ Contestants, Then and Now

Kevin Winter/Getty Images, @carrieunderwood / Instagram

Reading Time: 3 minutes

American Idol has been discovering talent since 2002. Many of the show’s past contestants have gone on to have flourishing careers in music. They’ve also evolved their personal style over the years.

We thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and look at 10 former Idol stars, then and now. Some of them have hardly aged a day, although their fashion sense may have changed.

10 Former ‘American Idol’ Stars, Then And Now

Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX, Taylor Hill/ Getty Images

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly was the first singer to win American Idol. She competed on the show in 2002 rocking some pretty interesting outfits. Kelly has lightened her hair since then, but she still likes to bring the drama — with some added sophistication.


Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX, @justinguarini / Instagram

Justin Guarini

Justin was the runner-up in the first season of the show. He rocked some pretty colorful outfits and his curly hair became instantly recognizable. He’s cut it shorter over the years, but these days he’s back to the longer style — although his fashion is now more understated.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images, @carrieunderwood / Instagram

Carrie Underwood

Carrie won Season 4 of American Idol in 2005. During her time on the show, she sported long blonde hair not too different from the style she wears now. But instead of tight curls, the country star prefers a more laid-back, wavy look these days.

Ray Mickshaw/WireImage, @tasiasword / Instagram

Fantasia Barrino

Fantasia won the third season of American Idol in 2004. The singer is currently pregnant with her first child with husband Kendall Taylor. She’s still rocking a short haircut, and hasn’t lost her love of accessories since her time on the show.

M Becker/American Idol 2009/Getty Images for Fox, @adamlambert / Instagram

Adam Lambert

In 2009, Adam was the runner-up in Season 8 of American Idol. He was known for his theatrical rock ‘n’ roll style. These days, Adam still loves an edgy look and black nail polish, although he’s styling his hair up instead of down and sporting facial hair.

Ray Mickshaw/WireImage, @iamjhud / Instagram

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson made it to seventh place on American Idol Season 3 in 2004, and has gone on to have an incredible career. She still likes long nails and the color pink. Although she tries out various hairstyles, she still rocks her natural curls from time to time.


Ray Mickshaw/WireImage, @clayaiken / Instagram

Ruben Studdard & Clay Aiken

We’re putting these two together, because they’ve remained friends since their time on the show in 2003. Ruben won the second season while Clay was the runner-up. In 2018, they starred in their own Christmas show on Broadway, with some more modern clothes.

Ray Mickshaw/WireImage for Fox Television Network, @katharinefoster / Instagram

Katharine McPhee

In 2006, Katharine was the runner-up in Season 5 of American Idol. One of her most iconic looks during her time on the show was a long yellow dress with a slit up the leg. As it turns out, Katharine still has that dress, and she posed in it on Instagram just last year.

Lester Cohen/WireImage, Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Jordin Sparks

In 2007, Jordin won Season 6 of American Idol when she was just 17 years old — making her the youngest winner in the show’s history. Now 31, the singer still has the same gorgeous smile, but her personal style has evolved to be even more sophisticated.

Check out this season of American Idol on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET to spot some future style icons, and guess who may eventually change up their look.

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