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12/13/2012 at 06:30 PM ET

Taylor SwiftRick Diamond/Wireimag

In 2006 — long before she dated Harry Styles, Conor Kennedy, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer and Joe Jonas — Taylor Swift was a cute, curly-haired country singer who’d just hit the music scene. And according to the photo at left, she also had a thing for statement gloves.

The star turned 23 today, and in honor of her birthday we dug up this photo of her at her first Country Music Awards in November of 2006. The then-16-year-old chose a dress that seemed better suited for a woman three times her age: a black satin fishtail gown paired with elbow-length gloves and a pearl bracelet. Also worth noting? Those ringlets!

The ensemble is a world away from the designer creations Swift prefers now. But we guess with style, as with boyfriends, you have to try a few things out until you find what’s right for you. Tell us: Are you surprised to see Swift in such a mature look at such a young age?

–Jennifer Cress

PHOTOS: SHOP STAR STYLE — FOR LESS!

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