It wasn't easy for a starlet to get through this decade with her cover-worthy popularity intact. These women survived waning attention spans and editorial capriciousness to emerge with their newsstand cred unscathed. Number one isn't who you think it is.
Will the choice of cover subjects on fashion magazines matter as much in the next decade? Probably not, not with every other medium, new and yet-to-be-invented, competing to give readers fresh images of the stars, and with all magazines struggling to survive the death of their business model. But in a decade that arguably saw the peak of their power (at least if you measure by circulation), the covers of Vogue, Elle, InStyle, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Lucky, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and, until 2007, Jane were benchmarks of what was considered beautiful, relatable, and most of all, saleable. With the exception of top 15 runners-up Gisele Bundchen and Kate Moss, models were replaced by actresses. The key to winning this particular contest: longevity and versatility, with long-running romantic woes providing a possible alternative. Unless, of course, you're Gwyneth Paltrow or Nicole Kidman. Then your total is skewed by four to five Vogue covers.
15. Keira Knightley (12) (tied with Britney Spears)
Sexyface and exquisite bone-structure make a potent combination. But with the exception of Knightley's three Vogue covers in four years, women's magazines seemed to be constantly trying to find the cozier side of Knightley's clavicles.
14. Britney Spears (12) (tied with Keira Knightley)
Spears wasn't always a women's magazine mainstay, and even less so a fashion one, but the end of the decade saw her graduating from Rolling Stone peek-a-boo to relatable features about being a mom, including two covers of her pregnant. That, plus standing up her interviewer.
13. Sandra Bullock (13) (tied with Scarlett Johansson)
The endlessly likable Bullock isn't flashy. She transitioned better from a tomboy rep to a ballgown than to Cosmo's enforced sultriness. This was another turtle-and-hare-style, consistent player.
12. Scarlett Johansson (13) (tied with Sandra Bullock)
Although her men's magazine covers were unfailingly titillating, women's magazines vacillated between presenting Scarlett Johansson as the girl next door or showing off her curves.
11. Halle Berry (14)
Let us consider it some type of progress that the era of "Halle Berry, jungle girl," has apparently come to an end with the actress growing older. (Or maybe editors getting a clue?) That said, who knew it was possible to find an unflattering photo of her? Harper's Bazaar did.
10. Jennifer Lopez (15) (tied with Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow)
Reportedly deemed too "trashy" for Vogue at the turn of the century, Lopez finally got her shot in 2005, but had to settle for spinoffs Vogue Living and Fashion Rocks for the rest of the decade. Harper's Bazaar and InStyle were only too happy to have their chance, putting Lopez on the cover three times each this past decade.
9. Cameron Diaz (15) (tied with Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow)
Diaz's ability to comfortably cover both W and Cosmopolitan three times each shows that playing both to the mass crowd and the fashion elite equals, well, lots of play.
8. Gwyneth Paltrow (15) (tied with Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz)
Coronated by Anna Wintour and a fashion darling from the start, Paltrow was rarely found on the cover of the one of the service-y women's magazines, where the emphasis is on down-to-earth relatability. That unaddressed yearning, we can posit, is what brought us Goop.
7. Sarah Jessica Parker (18)
SJP is the classic example of an actress that women like but that will never be found on the cover of a men's magazine, unlike almost every other woman on this list.
6. Jessica Simpson (19) (tied with Renee Zellweger)
Jessica Simpson's prominence here can apparently be attributed to her inability to turn down an offer to be on a cover. Her range would be the widest — Elle several times, Jane, Lucky — except that sadly, Vogue has never come a-calling. And probably never will.
5. Renee Zellweger (19) (tied with Jessica Simpson)
A favorite of InStyle (four times), Vogue, W, and Harper's Bazaar (three times each), the star of the two Bridget Jones movies remained a fashionable choice despite her films' largely mass appeal.
4. Jennifer Aniston (22) (tied with Nicole Kidman)
It may seem like Jennifer Aniston has been on every magazine printed this decade, but when you subtract out the tabloids close-reading her every movement, it's impressive yet not game-changing. Known to be a reliable seller in magazine circles (if not necessarily at the box office), the key for Aniston was ponying up quotables about her love life. (The out-of-context "What Angelina Did Was Very Uncool" ending up on the cover of Vogue was a low point for everyone involved.)
3. Nicole Kidman (22) (tied with Jennifer Aniston)
Nicole Kidman never really went away, at least in the ladymag world. Her porcelain features may have lost some of their mobility, but there she was year after year, setting a record for the decade with five Vogue covers, yet pouring her heart out to Marie Claire about Keith Urban's alcoholism.
2. Angelina Jolie (24)
The evolution of Angelina Jolie's magazine covers neatly mirrors her own transformation: from revelations about blood and bisexuality to imperious queen of Hollywood. The Internet is rife with catfight-esque comparisons between Aniston and Jolie covers, and maybe Vogue was being impish photographing both of them in red dresses on the beach. In any case, in our minds, nothing has quite equaled the Vogue cover above.
1.Drew Barrymore (26)
The surprise queen of the decade has survived a lot more than magazine editors' fickleness. Having spent her entire life in the public eye and overcome early addiction, she emerged as both a likable actress and, increasingly, a Hollywood power to be reckoned with. Quirky, girlish appeal as well as the ability to pull off couture equals ladymag gold.