Some dressed her in frills and lace; some put her in tunics and leggings. But nearly all of the scores of contestants in the Times Free Press "Dress Lauren Alaina" paper doll contest had the "American Idol" star in fancy frocks and cowboy boots.
Lauren Alaina Suddeth, the 17-year-old Rossville, Ga., native showed a fondness for frilly dresses and Western footwear when competing on Season 10 of "American Idol."
On July 17, the Times Free Press featured a cutout of Suddeth for readers to dress using their own creativity. Many glued the cutout on cardboard and dressed the paper doll in fashions ranging from casual to exotic. Entries were judged by members of the Times Free Press design staff.
In a recent interview, Suddeth said if she picked the winner of the paper doll contest, she'd look for "a short floral dress with cowboy boots or anything that looks like I'm going to prom but still country-looking."
Christiana Schmidt, 10, of Hixson, created a look that fit the bill. She was awarded first place and receives two tickets to the American Idol Live Nashville show Saturday at Bridgestone Arena.
Christiana dressed Suddeth in a sequined, hot pink, off-the-shoulder cocktail dress accessorized with rhinestone-studded silver cowboy boots (painted with silver fingernail polish).
"I love Lauren Alaina," the excited 10-year-old said in an interview. "I have not missed one episode of 'American Idol' this season."
The Red Bank Elementary School fifth-grader said she's familiar with the singer's style.
"I call her a sparkly cowgirl because she likes cowboy boots with all these bright pink colors covered in sparkles. I wanted to make her dress look like something she would pick out. And I definitely wanted it poofy."
Christiana said she is thrilled about seeing Suddeth in concert.
"My grandmother (Julie Schmidt of Rossville) took me to Coolidge Park to see Lauren Alaina when she came home, and we also went to the Fort Oglethorpe parade. It was really crowded and hard to see her, but I did get to hear her sing."
Entries were submitted by males and females ranging in ages from 7 to 92.
Rita Smith, 92, of Signal Mountain, said she's a fan of "American Idol," and she supported Suddeth from the beginning of the season.
"I watched every week and with Lauren Alaina being so close to our home, I wanted to support her all I could," Smith said. "I think she's a very sweet girl, and I think it's great that everything came together for her. So when I read about the newspaper's contest, I knew it would be fun to see if I could make a resemblance of her."
Smith designed a knee-length, multicolored gingham skirt with silver-ribboned lace hem; a denim jacket trimmed in green rickrack; long silver earrings and knee-high brown boots.
Tina Cummings of Ringgold, Ga., used scraps of items found in her tornado-ravaged property on Cherokee Valley Road to design her paper-doll outfit.
"I had all these things lying around in the yard because our house was destroyed by a tornado. We're living in an apartment while we rebuild. Lauren Alaina actually rode down our street, and it was shown on the 'American Idol' show," said Cummings, 55.
The strapless yellow and white dress, featuring a fringed hem, with coordinating hat, was made from Cummings' chenille bedspread shredded by the tornado. A mirror shard was used as a necklace, and tiny flowers on a wreath found on the property accessorized the outfit.
Though her home was destroyed, Cummings said she and her husband were not injured.
Rossville resident David Howard, 46, dressed Suddeth in a sophisticated skirt and top. The graphic-design artist said his mother urged him to enter the contest.
"I kept up with 'American Idol' and watched Lauren Alaina's performances. I was disappointed when she got second, so when my mother said I should enter the contest, I said 'Why not?' "
Howard said he researched fashion trends before sketching out a few ideas.
"I went to a craft store to get scrapbooking materials, and then to the jewelry section and picked out some things that would pull it all together," he said.
The result was a blue, tapered miniskirt with a white embossed panel trimmed in faux alligator trim. A fitted top, featuring a faux alligator open collar, is accessorized by a waist-length silver and blue topaz necklace and matching bracelet.
Throughout the season, Suddeth's style was the subject of numerous fashion stories and blogs.
Local fashion expert Emily Goodin, owner of Boutique Couture in downtown Chattanooga, said the "American Idol" audience saw Suddeth's style mature since her July 2010 audition in Nashville.
"From the small-town, country girl to the lovely young lady she is today, in just a short time Lauren Alaina blossomed in front of our eyes," Goodin said in an earlier interview with this newspaper. "You can tell that Lauren loves the drama of color. We saw that in her first audition when she was in the multicolored dress with bright makeup. However, I think she's learned how to work color into her wardrobe with an improved sense of style."