It’s always a gas watching the 'American Idol' contestants transform from fashion caterpillars to butterflies as the show winds down.

At the start they're kind of regular folks; mostly cool kids, a little frumpy maybe, often without a hint of style.

But in the finals, fashion gets oh-so-seriously considered by stylists, and sometimes it’s just too-too. The same holds true for hair and makeup – sometimes it’s good but, truth told, it doesn’t always work.

We are huge Siobhan Magnus fans, but Simon Cowell put it mildly when, referring to her getup he said if someone were meeting her for the first time “they would be a little confused.”

Indie-shmindie, this part Bjork, part Scarlett O’Hara, part Rhett Butler ensemble was trying too hard. The fringed white boots added insult to injury, but what really got us were the uber-glossy lips (yuck) and the too-mature hair bob. It turned a broody song into a Julie Andrews’ number.

Her opposite this night was Crystal Bowersox, who delivered the fab vocals (despite a little bronchial infection) in a plain, off-the-shoulder black tunic, jeans and cowboy boots, a bit of jewelry – necklaces with stones of turquoise and jade, and a single crystal and feather earring. No gilding the lily … no need. Though admittedly, the subtle makeup  – including golden eye shadow – amped up her pretty factor.

Katie Stevens has come a long way from her prom dress days, and it was a clever move for her to don a retro number for this show devoted to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. She worked the short, hot-pink frock with a boat neck, accessorizing wth loads of chain necklaces and a belt at the waist. We weren’t wild about the cutout back or the dark hose. That said, she looked darn cute, sounded good, and we loved the sassy ponytail. Kara Dioguardi said, “You never looked better and sounded better.

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Some of the boys played it too safe. Andrew Garcia, where are you? From a singing standpoint, we know he can do better, and the boring suit with canary-yellow polo shirt … it didn’t work. One thing that remains best unchanged … his eyeglasses which he’s worn from the start. They’ve become his signature, with the audience using their image in signage

Safe worked for Lee Dewyze – an untucked white shirt, with black tie topped by a dark jacket – he looked cool and comfortable. Less was more.

Poor Aaron Kelly looked anything but comfy in his stiff, inauthentic ensemble -- a Nehru-style dark jacket with the sleeves double-rolled with a green plaid shirt. Just like his song, “The Long and Winding Road,” it didn’t fit the kid.

With all the glorifying of Casey James’ looks, and his performance, well, we intensely disliked the white dinner jacket with slim lapels and black piping. The quiver in his voice and the crimp in his “Goldilocks” mane -- the whole look smacked of handsome Tiny Tim. Remember him?

Michael Lynche seemed to be channeling the Rev. Run in his dark outfit with cross necklace, while Tim Urban’s pop-star duds -- a faded coral Henley topped by a camel pinstripe jacket -- were a tad cliche, but he looked good.

Randy Jackson wanted a wig styled like Tim’s new hairstyle, which he called a “Beatles-ish type of ‘do.” This is something we’d like to see.

PHOTOS: See what everyone wore on "American Idol" | "Idol" top 12 party with "Glee" stars

REWIND: See the winners and top finalists from each season of 'American Idol'

MORE: Read all of our other 'American Idol' posts

TALK: Who looked best, and worst? Click on "Add a comment" at the bottom of this post, or e-mail me and I'll post it for you.

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