Katharine McPhee Was 'Strategic' With Her American Idol Look, Owns Nine Biker Jackets

When Katharine McPhee began competing on the fifth season of American Idol in 2006, her strategy was more complex than it seemed. Rather than just relying on her beautiful singing voice to win over the public, she crafted a compelling story for her fans by deliberately dressing down.

"On Idol, I was very strategic with my look. I specifically wore very little makeup, did very little with my hair," our February cover girl told us. "I wore beat-up jeans and a simple jacket and I covered my body up because I knew that viewers like seeing transformation."

In reality, however, the reality-show-runner-up-turned-TV-star has harbored a love for fashion since childhood ("I salivated over fashion magazines!")—even though she had little time for it. "Music was pretty much all I did growing up," she explained. "But I loved clothes."

These days, working on her hit series Smash allows her to indulge both interests. Between filming, she works closely with costume designers on her character Karen's outfits, which has also helped hone her personal style. Off-set, she opts for labels like Rag & Bone, Sophie Hulme and Gucci and is currently obsessed with biker jackets. (She owns nine!) But even though her look and job title have drastically changed in the last seven years, one thing hasn't: her drive.

"In five years I’d love to have done a play and a few movies, and of course I hope Smash keeps going," she told us. "The thing is, work is the thing I love the most."

Read more about Katharine's life in New York, wardrobe essentials and Idol memories in our full interview, here.