Instead of baring it all for the world to see, these days, stars have gracefully taken to revealing glimpses of skin through strategically placed cut-outs—a touch more modest, but definitely just as sexy.

While cut-outs are definitely more prevalent than ever, both on and off the red carpet, they’re surprisingly not a novel concept. The openwork detailing can be traced as far back as the 1930s, as seen on such luminaries like Bette Davis (above). Considered one of the greatest actresses in cinema history, it’s no wonder she was one of the firsts to sport cut-outs. For her Ex-Lady publicity shot, she was snapped striking a bold pose in a white skin-skimming minimalist gown that boast a dramatic keyhole. It was sexy without exposing too much skin.

From then until now (more specifically: Taylor Swift‘s 2014 ACM Awards look), cut-outs have been seen on stage, in movies, and more. Click through to see how cut-outs have evolved through the decades.