Slideshow: See All the Best Actress Winners From the Oscars for the Past 30 Years

Jodie Foster at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Oscar dressing hasn’t always been the fashion equivalent of the NFL draft, complete with teams of celebrity stylists, designers, and sponsors (with pro sports-style budgets) partaking in actress’ red carpet preparations. Once upon a time thespians dressed for the Academy Awards like they might for any other special event — say, a formal ball, a bar mitzvah, or Spiderman-themed wedding (Cher). Clicking through the refreshingly normal-looking women (i.e., not Cher) who populate the first half of these slides, one can practically hear the shift in 1995, when Uma Thurman’s pale periwinkle Prada transformed the red carpet into a runway for designer-loaned looks. Beaded muumuus  gave way to ballgowns, peaking with Gwyneth’s bubble-gum pink Ralph Lauren in 1999. Since then, dresses have seemed safe by comparison, showing less of the actresses’ personalities and far fewer of the singularly stylish missteps of the ‘80s and early ‘90s — which makes sense considering they’re dressing by committee. The promise of Joan Rivers’s criticism may also compel one to play it safe, but she would probably be the first to bring back Cher in Bob Mackie. Click through to see the Oscars’ red carpet style evolution, including mother-of-the-bride dresses, top-to-toe emerald green, and what appear to be palazzo pants, on the Best Actress winners of the past 30 years.

See the Best Actress Winners From the Oscars