The award was first given for films made in 1948. Initially, separate award categories were established for black-and-white films and color films. Since the merger of the two categories in 1967, the Academy has traditionally avoided giving out the award to films with a contemporary setting.
The Academy Award for Best Costume Design is given out annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for the best achievement of film costume design of the previous year. Films that are eligible for the award must meet a series of criteria, including the requirement that the costumes must have been "conceived" by a costume designer. For this particular criteria, each submission is reviewed by the costume designer members of the Art Directors Branch prior to the ballot process. Further rules include that the nominee(s) be only the principal costume designer(s), that the five films that receive the highest amount of votes will become the ceremony's nominations for final voting, and that the final voting will only be undertaken by active and life members of the Academy.