Nicole Richie almost always looks good ... if the year is 2005 and beyond. Before that, she was a nuclear hot mess. But for the past seven or eight years, when she's on, she's on.

Sporting a floor-sweeping gown like the one below makes her look like a princess. But that wasn't always the case.

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

When she first burst on the scene as Paris Hilton’s lesser-known sidekick, she was a chubby Hollywood rich kid with a pierced nose and skanky dreads, not to mention baggy pants and flip-flops.

Current Nicole probably gasps and rolls her eyes at Past Nicole. We don't blame her, honestly. She was sloppy and unkempt, and even though she likely had access to the income to dress nicely, she was young and didn't seem to care how bad she looked.

Amanda Edwards, Getty Images

Then she met uber-stylist Rachel Zoe and everything changed for the better -- for both of them. It all started with a bang, er, bangs.

Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

Once she chopped those swoopy, face-flattering bangs into her hair, she looked more sophisticated and sexy. And Richie's collaboration with Zoe quickly transformed her into a more elegant fashionista, putting boho chic and the layered look on the map. From that point on, she began her acceptance into the fashion world, and she and Zoe are credited with authoring that style.

She can wear a pair of destroyed jeans and a floppy hat, but she'll mix it up with studded booties. Her knack for accessorizing perfectly keeps every outfit as chic as possible.

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

While she and Zoe famously fell out years after coming together in a fashion collision (and have since made up), Richie continues to look good 9.9 out of 10 times that she leaves the house. Her missteps? Those are few and far between, even as a mom of two. Her closet is enviable and her knack for putting together flawless ensembs is second to none.

There's a fashion rule that as long as you're wearing one Chanel item, the rest can be from the Gap. Richie certainly subscribes to that school of dressing.

Her signatures are her aforementioned sideswept bangs and maxidresses, both of which epitomize Cali chic and West Coast cool.

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

She also helped put Balenciaga motorcycle bags on the fashion map. The bags, which were at the height of their popularity in 2005, are now considered iconic "it" bags. Richie has several shapes, sizes and colors in her collection, so yes, we'd love to raid her walk-in. Her daughter Harlow is a lucky little girl who will inherit tons of amazing pieces.

Matthew Simmons, Getty Images

Richie also isn’t afraid of edgy fabrics like leather.

Julien M. Hekimian, Getty Images

Or daring silhouettes with classy strategic cut-outs.

Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

Or anything-but-basic black. This one shows skin in all the right, tastefully non-vulgar places.

Nicole Leather
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Her boho chic sensibilities are reflected in her House of Harlow line, which features retro sunnies and stylish clutches.

She also is not afraid to hike a hemline or wear leopard-print shoes. But she's got great legs, so she can.

Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

What's Right:

Richie is petite, and she knows what works. Skinny jeans and leggings tucked into boots is her go-to street style look. Notice the striped Balenciaga moto bag.

Splash News

But she also rocks bell bottoms, adding edge by trading predictable denim for leather.

Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

She has a sunny, Cali-in-the-‘70s vibe and she wears it well. So many people credit actress Sienna Miller with popularizing boho chic, but she often looks sloppy. Richie is always, always polished and put together.

Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Even when she's rocking a sundress and crown/hairline braids, it's effortless beauty.

Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Her pregnancies were not months during which she let herself go, either. She didn't resort to velour and Juicy Couture tracksuits while carrying her offspring. She piled on the layers, always looking in-step.

David Livingston, Getty Images

She has her hallmarks but always looks different, thanks to her uncanny knack for accessorizing. That’s her strongest suit: the hats, the scarves, the vests, the sunglasses.

Brad Barket, Getty Images

What’s Wrong:

Well, besides the obvious, aka anything she wore pre-2005, like this ill-fitting blue satin potato sack? We can hardly believe it's the same woman.

Carlo Allegri, Getty Images

Our one "complaint" is that sometimes, because she's so tiny, clothes hang on her and layers can overwhelm her. She's been criticized for being too thin and for being a popularizer and promoter of the so-called "heroin chic" look, but other than that, we find ourselves constantly “oohing” and “ahhing” over her clothing choices.

She also has the benefit of staff to help with kids, giving her more time to put together her looks. Regardless, we're green with envy over her closet, and however she does it, we applaud her style.

More From StarCrush