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Exclusive: Dolly Parton shares surprising style secrets including her most expensive pieces

The 9 to 5 singer has just released her new book Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones

Dolly Parton
Laura Benjamin
News Director
23 October 2023
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There are few women in the world who can carry off rhinestones and glitter like Dolly Parton. With her teased hair and tight, sequinned clothes, the iconic country singer has created a unique image that is all her own – and now she has put pen to paper to reveal the secrets behind her legendary wardrobe.

Speaking exclusively to HELLO! magazine just ahead of the release of her style book Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones the living legend has revealed all about her style influences – and while she thinks her imitators are 'crazy' she is also incredibly flattered they think enough of her fashion savvy that they want to emulate her iconic looks. 

Dolly Parton wearing a white outfit
The iconic country singer has created a unique image that is all her own

The country singer's signature style

Speaking to HELLO! exclusively about her thoughts on others who are influenced by her sartorial choices, Dolly, 77, replies: "I think… 'Are you crazy!? Are you sure you wanna wear that?'

"Actually, I'm always complimented when people say they're doing this or that like me because I have never, to this day – taking nothing away from any of the designers or any of the great people that work with me – thought of myself as a fashion horse or a fashion icon. I make jokes of that.

"I just wear what I'm comfortable in and I feel prettier and better in some things than others. But if somebody wants to wear something I'm wearing, well I think that's a great compliment. If somebody wants to write a song similar to something I've written, I think that's a great compliment. If people imitate you, they say it's a form of flattery."

Dolly Parton wearing a black and gold outfit
A photo from her new book Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones

Dolly's most expensive clothes

While her shoes are the most worn items in her wardrobe, the most expensive ones are her show clothes, which includes items by her longtime stylist Steve Summer and designer Bob Mackie. 

"I've always been one of those people that I don't mind how much I spend on my costumes," she tells HELLO! "But I am not the kind of person that would spend thousands of dollars on one outfit off the rack. I'm just country enough and still simple enough the way I grew up that I couldn't imagine paying some astronomical price for one piece of clothing that I'll probably wear once or twice a year. 

"I have a lot of off the rack clothes that we kind of 'Dolly–ise' through a little sewing shop that we have in town. If I want beautiful things designed for shows, then I'm willing to spend for that. No matter what else I'm wearing, whether it's casual or it's fancy, I'm always wearing my high heel shoes."

Dolly Parton's new book
Dolly Parton's new book is out now

Her new book

In Behind the Seams, which was released last week, Dolly – who was brought up 'dirt poor' in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains with her 11 siblings and now lives just outside Nashville with her husband of 57 years, Carl Thomas Dean – shares for the first time secrets behind her lifelong fascination with fashion, which has delighted her millions of fans during her decades-long music career. 

"When we were putting the book together, you'd be shocked to think of all the things that went through my mind," she recalls. "I try to remember everything – what I was feeling, what was going on in my life at that time – and so it's a bittersweet kind of thing because great things were not always happening for me in my career, or maybe I'd lost someone I loved. 

"It's really a mixture of things and I think that's why the book and things like this are so important to me when I put them out there. It takes me all the way through the whole experience that I was going through at the time."

Dolly Parton looks incredible in gold jumpsuit:

Dolly's fashion range

Her look is so iconic – famous looks included the beaded top and trousers she wore while performing at Glastonbury in 2014 and the strapless gown she opted for at the Steel Magnolias premiere in 1989 – that there is constant speculation she may one day launch her own fashion range. 

"I've often thought about having my own line of clothes, and I think someday I will. I'd like to have different versions – some dress up things 'cause I'm known for shiny, rhinestones and all, but I also would love to have a comfortable line that you could dress up with jewellery if you wanted to go out but that would be casual during the day. So yes, I will someday have that!"

As she ponders her next move, HELLO! asks Dolly if she thinks she would be the same person without her trademark rhinestones and big blonde hair. She replies: "Well, not the Dolly you know. I would be the same Dolly inside, without the big hair and clothes and all, [and] my heart would be the same same, my creativity would be the same – I just wouldn't get out the house much!"

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Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones by Dolly Parton (Ebury Press) is out now.

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