Fashion

Dolly Parton’s most iconic fashion moments, from rhinestones to double denim

Whether she’s wearing head-to-toe rhinestones or a candyfloss pink fairytale gown, Dolly Parton always turns heads in her iconic outfits. Here, we take a look back at some of her most iconic fashion statements.

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

So said Dolly Parton – as in, yes, the country music legend, actor, and philanthropist – and there’s no denying that she’s lived by her own wise words ever since she first performed before the public at the tender age of 10.

Parton, though, has also said that she’d “never stoop so low as to be fashionable,” and here’s where we disagree with her.

Why? Because fashion, at its heart, is an artform in being true to oneself. It’s an opportunity to play dress-up, to express yourself through the clothes you put on your body, to experiment, and to have fun

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In this writer’s humble opinion, Parton’s penchant for glorious, glamorous, over-the-top outfits ticks every single one of those boxes. There is, after all, a very good reason she’s been described as a “walking exclamation point”.

And so, with this in mind, we’ve decided to take a whirlwind tour through some of her best and most fabulous looks to date.

Prepared to be dazzled. Big time.

  • Think pink

    Dolly Parton, 1978

    Parton’s earlier looks were reflective of the feminine beauty ideal: think soft pinks, delicate materials, and romantic ruffles (as you can see from the cover of her 1978 album, Heartbreaker).

  • Sparkle and shine

    Honestly, every single outfit from Parton’s Pure And Simple tour is iconic, but we’re big fans of this sparkling rhinestone dress (with fringed sleeves, no less!).

  • Working 9 To 5

    Dolly Parton, 9 To 5

    Parton made a splash in pink lace and faux fur at the premiere for her movie, 9 To 5, posing on the red carpet alongside co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

  • A ray of sunshine

    Dolly Parton, 1978

    Parton opted for head-to-toe yellow during the cover session for her album Heartbreaker back in 1978.

  • The girl-next-door

    Dolly Parton, 1977

    Channeling her inner cowgirl, Parton made a point of donning beehives and bellbottoms as big as her stage presence.

  • All that glitters

    “All that glitters ain’t always gold,” says Parton of this outfit. 

    “Sometimes it’s pink!”

  • It’s easy being green

    Dolly Parton

    Parton won big at the 1978 American Music Awards, and she did so in a bright green jumpsuit with flowing cape-like sleeves adorned with clusters of colourful fabric flowers. 

  • Backwoods Barbie

    In 2008, Parton released her album Backwoods Barbie, the cover of which saw her dressed up in a leopard print dress and bright pink trench coat. And, yeah, you better believe the look was custom made by Steve Summers, her creative director and personal clothing designer.

  • A rhinestone cowgirl

    Dolly Parton

    Parton attended the premiere for her award-winning movie, Steel Magnolias, dressed in a floor-length gown completely covered in rhinestones. 

  • Lady in red

    Dolly Parton

    Parton donned a shimmering red sequin gown (with gold embellishments, naturally) for her 1990 performance on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.

  • Off-duty

    One of Parton’s favourite casual outfits, the singer shared a throwback photo of her look with her fans on Instagram.

    “For every drop of rain, a flower grows,” she wrote alongside it.

    “I hope this photo makes you smile!”

  • Dolly Parton

    As reported by Grand Ole Opry, Parton grew up in a one-room cabin that she called home alongside her parents and 10 of her siblings.

    “Money was tight, so her mother sewed a coat for Dolly using scraps of fabric, which inspired one of Dolly’s best-known and most personal songs, Coat of Many Colours.”

    It makes sense, then, that she donned a sequin blazer of many colours later on, doesn’t it?

  • Dollywood

    Parton opted for a figure-hugging denim jumpsuit and cowgirl boots when she visited her very own themepark, Dollywood.

  • The queen of NBC

    Dolly Parton

    In 2015, NBC released Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, an American made-for-television drama film based on the singer’s childhood. And you better believe she turned up in style to the photocall, oozing glamour in red and gold.

  • Back to pink

    Dolly Parton

    Parton was a stunner in a pink chiffon Robert Behar dress at the 78th Annual Academy Awards.

  • Feeling blue

    Parton has always been good at colour blocking, mixing and matching different shades from one palette. Case in point? This bold blue look.

  • Magnificent in monochrome

    Dolly Parton
    Dolly Parton

    Parton turned heads in a black and white gown at the at the 53rd annual CMA Awards

  • Never leave a rhinestone unturned

    “I’ve always said, never leave a rhinestone unturned,” says Parton. 

    “Pretty sure I’ve stayed true to that, especially when it comes to fashion.”

  • Going dotty

    Dolly Parton

    Parton stayed true to her own style when she appeared in Heavens To Betsy, an unaired CBS television comedy, back in 1994. 

  • Have a holly Dolly Christmas

    Dolly Parton
    Dolly Parton

    You better believe there was a sequel to that NBC special we mentioned earlier, and it was called Dolly Parton’s Christmas Of Many Colours: Circle Of Love. To celebrate the release of season one, Parton donned a form-fitting red gown (with a fringed skirt and added sparkle, obviously) and a Santa hat. 

  • Shimmer and sheer

    “One of my favourite combos: shimmer and sheer,” says Parton, of the white rhinestone jumpsuit she donned on her Pure And Simple tour.

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