STYLE
04/27/2012 11:55 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Penelope Cruz's Style Evolution: From Pretty Young Thing To 'Sexiest Woman In The World' (PHOTOS)

Penelope Cruz once said, "The most difficult thing in the world is to start a career known only for your looks, and then to try to become a serious actress. No one will take you seriously once you are known as the pretty woman." But with her thick, dark hair, big, brown eyes and bright smile, it's pretty hard to not typecast her as the beauty she naturally is.

Born in Madrid to hairdresser Encarna and retailer Eduardo, Cruz started prepping for the spotlight at a tender age as a classically trained ballerina. As a teenager, she worked her way into acting hosting Spanish TV shows and later won a Goya Award for her performance in "The Girl of Your Dreams" before transitioning to American cinema in "All The Pretty Horses," "Blow" and "Sahara."

Known for portraying sensual yet strong female characters, these traits are ever-present in Cruz's red carpet style. From menswear-inspired suits to cleavage-baring gowns, the brunette beauty has also mastered playing dress-up.

As Cruz celebrates her 38th birthday on April 28th, we're taking a look back at the leading lady's style over the years. Vote on all her looks in the slideshow below.

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Penelope Cruz's Style Evolution (PHOTOS)

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified Monica Cruz in 2005 as Penelope Cruz.

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