Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Dolly Parton's Style Was Called 'Cheap' & 'Hillbilly' — She Does Not Spend a Lot of Money on Clothes

Gracious Egedegbe
Apr 27, 2022
12:30 P.M.
Share this pen

Dolly Parton is one of America's most recognized entertainers. Yet, her fashion sense has subjected her to lots of criticism. Continue reading to know what people have said about the singer's appearance.


American Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Businesswoman, and Humanitarian Dolly Parton has never ceased to amaze her millions of fans, not only with her many talents but also with her looks. 

She continues to make the cover of the most influential magazines after 70, and she is living proof that age is just a number. 

Country singer Dolly Parton performs onstage wearing a yellow dress, in 1975, Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images


Despite her good looks, Parton has been significantly criticized due to her fashion style. Many netizens believe that the Hollywood icon pays little or no attention to what she wears. 

While Parton is a woman who has acquired wealth, it is not surprising to see her style slammed, as she was greatly affected by her poor childhood. One of 12 children, the singer, was born in a one-room cabin and grew up poor in rural Appalachia. 

Her parents were farmers, and money was always a challenge for the family, who struggled to get by for the longest time. The poverty was so much that Parton's family could not afford clothes.


The songwriter once recalled when someone gave them a box of rags for clothes, and her mother put them to good use. Indeed, Parton's childhood was a difficult one mired in poverty.

She wrote about it in many songs, including "Coat of Many Colors." The icon revealed that the song reminds her of her childhood and how her parents relied on faith to help them through the difficulties. 


Apart from "Coat of Many Colors," Parton also opened up about her childhood in her book "Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics." She wrote: "And I didn't know what was awaiting me. I didn't know what I was going to do." She continued:

"But I knew I didn't have to worry about being poor because I couldn't have been any poorer than we were there at home. I thought, 'I can make a living.'"

Parton also penned down: "I grew up poor and ragged, just a simple country girl. I wanted to be pretty more than anything in the world. Like Barbie or the models in the Frederick's catalog. From rags to wishes in my dreams, I could have it all."



To date, Parton is known for her signature blonde hairstyle, red lipstick, and high heels. During a question and answer session with Wired, the actress revealed the inspiration behind her fashion style. In her words:

"I actually patterned my look after what they called 'the town tramp' in my hometown when I was a little girl."


The Hollywood icon explained that there was a confident, beautiful woman she admired so much as a child. According to Parton, she had never seen anybody pull off the piled-up yellow hair, red lipstick, and high heels the way the woman did. 

However, the singer mentioned that people would always say the woman looked like trash. Irrespective of what they thought, Parton was sure she wanted to look like a beautiful woman when she was older. Parton would always say:

"That's what I'm going to be when I grow up - trash." 


At 76, the songwriter is entirely living that childhood dream. During a chat session on the "Skanlav" show, the icon revealed that it does not take much time in the morning to dress up like "Dolly Parton." 

She does the same makeup every day and would adjust the shade if need be. In addition, Parton mentioned that she loves wigs and would choose the one suitable for her mood. Overall, the actress said dressing up takes 20 to 30 minutes every morning. 


Despite Parton's love for looking good and her wealth, she once revealed that she does not spend large amounts on clothes. In her words:

"I'm not the kind of person that would go out and spend $3,000 on a coat or one outfit. I know I look like a material girl, but I'm really not."

Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton performs onstage at "Dollyverse Powered By Blockchain Creative Labs on" during the 2022 SXSW Conference And Festival at ACL Live at The Moody Theater on March 18, 2022 in Austin, Texas. | Source: Getty Images



For Parton, the three essential things in her style are: "My makeup, and my hair, and my high heels." Although many fans consider Parton's unique style beautiful, some netizens have also criticized it. The humanitarian once confessed that people always wanted to advise her to change her looks. 

According to Parton, she was advised to go simpler with her hair and the way she dressed; else, she would not be taken seriously. She said:

"The way I look and the way I looked then was a country girl's idea of glam, just like I wrote in my 'Backwoods Barbie' song. People wanted me to change; they thought I looked cheap. But I patterned my look after the town tramp." 


In addition, Parton also noted that her family was called hillbilly, but she always took it as a compliment and never an insult. The singer admitted:

"We were really redneck, roughneck, hillbilly people. And I'm proud of it." 

Parton is determined to look on the bright side of things and pay less attention to negative comments from social media users. She even jokes about her appearance and once joked that she looked like a clown. 

Dolly Parton, nominee Best Song for Travelin Thru from Transamerica. | Source: Getty Images



Undoubtedly, when it comes to physical appearance, Parton is an idol to some of her fans. However, the icon does not consider herself pretty, hence, her use of heavy makeup, showy clothes, and high heels.

Parton has also relayed that she is not comfortable during photoshoots if she does not have her eyes and lips looking a certain way. Sometimes, Parton would sneak to the dressing room to adjust her makeup. Regarding her outfits, the Grammy Award-winning singer stated:

"It's hard to find stuff off the rack that fits, so my clothes have to be tailor-made. I'm only big on top; I'm a tiny little person. But I wear my high heels and my hair as high as I can get it."


Musician Dolly Parton attends the 1983 Carousel of Hope Ball to Benefit the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes on October 8, 1983 at Currigan Hall in Denver, Colorado. | Source: Getty Images

Aside from thinking she is not beautiful, Parton also believes she does not deserve compliments. However, the singer will always be worthy of every compliment given to her, seeing how she inspires many people.


Despite all the compliments about her looks and impact, Parton will love to change a few things about herself. The songwriter says she wants very long legs and will also want to do more plastic surgery.


Parton had gone under the knife once before the revelation. However, the movie star noted that she would not have spoken about it if she was not caught. 

But after being asked multiple times, she owned up to it and expressed her desire to have another surgery.



Being comfortable with her fashion style is one of Parton's admirable qualities. Due to her class, she has gained popularity, even though not everyone likes it.

Her poor childhood may have caused some complexes in her appearance, but she also developed good morals, knew what she wanted, and learned to love herself early.

Singer Dolly Parton at the opening night of "33 Variations" on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on March 9, 2009 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images


Parton says she wears old-fashioned clothes, but she is not bothered by what people think. For the star, "being real" and comfortable are most important. In her words:

"I have to be comfy with me."

Parton is not ashamed to go for occasions and even contests for which her appearance is suitable. For example, she once participated in a drag queen look-alike contest, and although she did not win, Parton was happy to be applauded.

So, while many think of Parton's style as cheap, she says it takes a lot of money to look "that cheap." Irrespective of criticism, the actress will always be an inspiration to many people.