Dressing like Dolly: Parton's most shoppable looks

For more than 50 years, the country singer has celebrated the tacky and joyous. As she announces her own fashion range, we round up some of her style highlights

In 1977, when the TV journalist Barbara Walters took Dolly Parton to task for her style, the singer was unfazed. “I would never stoop so low as to be fashionable,” she said. “I can afford to piddle around and do-diddle with my make-up and clothes and stuff because I am secure with myself.” This week, the singer announced that she is to launch her own clothing range – not so much a stoop, but a celebration of her style. For more than 50 years, she has honed a signature look that hovers somewhere between deeply tacky and profoundly joyful. Each year, Parton and her creative director create some 300 outfits — tight, glittering confections capturing an uber-feminine aesthetic. Let’s have a look at a few of their highlights:

The Grammys, 1977

Parton at the Grammys in 1977.
Parton at the Grammys in 1977. Photograph: Ron Galella/WireImage

Over the course of her career, Parton has enjoyed 47 Grammy nominations and eight wins. More importantly, she has taken each ceremony as an opportunity to unveil a dazzling new outfit. In 1977, up for awards in the pop and country categories, she chose this remarkable hot pink catsuit and rhinestone tank-top combo, which, quite frankly, deserved a prize itself.

On tour, 1977

Parton standing outside her tourbus before performing in Detroit, Michigan, in 1977.
Parton standing outside her tourbus before performing in Detroit, Michigan, in 1977. Photograph: Donaldson Collection/Getty

In 1977, Parton was making a musical do-si-do from classic country to mainstream pop, and her look at this time underwent a similar transition: tight blue jeans, a knotted plaid shirt and hair worn in a pale bouffant whip, it placed a disco spin on country-queen chic.

Heartbreaker album, 1978

Heartbreaker by Dolly Parton.
Heartbreaker by Dolly Parton. Photograph: PR

The cover for Parton’s 20th studio album had a misty-eyed, boudoir feel, casting our hero in layers of pale pink chiffon and metallic pink mules. This ability to move between the artificial, hyper-sexualised look of plastic bosom and cinched-in waists and softer, romantic ensembles is a key element of the singer’s style.

9 to 5, 1980

Parton in 9 to 5 with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman.
Parton in 9 to 5 with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

Parton’s move to feature films came in 1980, in this hugely successful comedy about three women and their hideously misogynistic boss. Parton’s character’s trademark look was a knitted dress in an unlikely shade of sherbert orange that seemed to be clinging on for dear life.

Steel Magnolias premiere in New York, 1989

The Steel Magnolias premiere.
The Steel Magnolias premiere. Photograph: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Impeccable in her role of small-town beautician and font of all gossip, Parton joined her cast-mates for Steel Magnolias’ New York premiere looking as if she had recently succumbed to a rhinestone epidemic: gown, bolero jacket, choker and earrings all glittering magnificently.

Glastonbury, 2014

Glastonbury in 2014.
Glastonbury in 2014. Photograph: James McCauley/Rex

Wearing all white to a famously muddy summer festival was a beautifully audacious move from the queen of country music. The nails were red, the hair was backcombed into the middle of next week and there was a kind of glittery sporran. Glamour rarely seen at Worthy Farm.


Laura Barton

The GuardianTramp

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