Dolly Parton never stops working and never ceases to amaze us. The 77-year-old is preparing to have a legendary end to 2023 with the release of her new book (Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones) on Oct. 17 and the release of her first-ever rock album (Rockstar) on Nov. 17. It’s Dolly Parton season, y’all!
On Monday (Oct. 9), The Guardian published an interview with Parton – who was promoting her new book and album, but also talked about her fashion style and how she has always stayed true to who she is. Even when her family didn’t approve of the clothes she wore, she chose to do things her own way.
Her style, according to her, was inspired by the ‘town tramp’ – a local woman who she described as ‘flamboyant’ with ‘bright red lipstick, long red fingernails.’ She would often look for this woman when she took trips into town with her family because she idolized her look, her style, and her overall aurora.
“She had high-heeled shoes, little floating plastic goldfish in the heels of them, short skirts, low-cut tops, and I just thought she was beautiful,” Dolly Parton said of the infamous ‘town tramp.’ “When people would say, ‘She ain’t nothing but trash,’ I would always say, ‘Well, that’s what I’m gonna be when I grow up.’”
Her fashion style and outfit choices became a hot topic of discussion when she was younger – and not for the right reasons. Both her father (a sharecropper) and grandfather (a preacher) disapproved of the way she dressed, but she never let that get in her way of expressing herself – she stayed true to who she was.
“I was willing to pay for it. I’m very sensitive, I didn’t like being disciplined – it hurt my feelings so bad to be scolded or whipped or whatever. But sometimes there’s just that part of you that’s willing, if you want something bad enough, to go for it,” she told The Guardian. She wanted it bad enough, so she went for it.
Of course, it wasn’t just her family members who opposed her style – record label executives also tried to get her to tone it down. Still, she never let that stop her. While she admits she cared (and still cares) what people think of her, she never cared so much that it kept her from being her or doing things her own way.
“That was what my mama always used to say: to thine own self be true. I put a lot of stock in that,” she said in her interview. “Everything I do, whether it’s my personality, how I conduct myself and business, or whatever, if I do it my way, according to what I understand and believe, there’s a strength in that.”
Dolly Parton Praises Her Mother and Father for Who She Is Today
Dolly Parton is one of the most successful recording artists of all-time and has a 67-year career to show for it. If you ask her, she owes a lot of that success to her parents – who she says gave her all the tools she needed: her mother’s creativity and spirituality, and her father’s work ethic and business mind.
“I like to think that I got the best of my dad and my mom. It’s kept me as a businesswoman, knowing what I need to do, not just to get out and sing,” she says of her parents’ influence. And it’s those tools that helped her create an empire worth more than $500 million and a catalog of more than 3,000 songs.
Writing songs is something she says she never stops doing – she started when she was just 7 years old and, while she has retired from touring, still writes songs to this day. In fact, she makes it a point to write down any ideas she has for a song or chorus the second she thinks of it – that way, she doesn’t forget it.
“I’ve always got something around to write on – chewing gum papers, napkins in a restaurant – I never know when an idea is going to hit me, and I do not like to lose them because usually they don’t come back. I’m sure I’ve lost so many great ideas because I didn’t have pen and paper,” she told The Guardian.
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