When it comes to fashion and style, Dolly Parton knows what she likes. The country music legend has been rocking her signature look — one she’s said she modeled on the “town tramp” — for decades. Now 74, the “Jolene” singer is still donning sequined outfits, sky-high heels, and her famous wigs. In fact, Parton is so rarely seen without a wig that when she shared a throwback photo on Instagram of her natural hair, fans were astonished.
Parton has made no secret of her love of glitz and glamour. But her look has a practical aspect as well. In an early interview, she opened up about why she opted to wear a wig rather than show her real hair. While she said she loved the convenience of not having to style her mane, she had another reason for donning fake hair. It had to do with her height.
Dolly Parton is just 5 feet tall
Parton has a big stage presence, but physically, she’s no giant. The singer-songwriter stands 5 feet tall. Her height is one reason why she gravitated toward tall wigs, she said in a 1974 interview with The Tennessean. (The interview was included in the 2017 book Dolly on Dolly).
“I’m little, I’m only 5 feet tall,” the “I Will Always Love You Singer” said. “I’ve always had a complex about being short, so I like my hair high.”
By pairing high heels with high hair, Parton is able to create the illusion she’s taller than she really is
Wigs are also convenient, Dolly Parton said
Aside from giving her 5-foot frame a lift, Parton has other reasons for preferring wigs.
“I wear wigs for the convenience of it, but my own hair is blonde and long, and when I fix my own hair, I fix it the same way. I wear wigs just because I don’t like to sit for long under a hairdryer and I don’t like to spend all day primping,” she told The Tennessean.
“A lot of people think, from the way I look, I spend hours and hours getting ready,” she added. “[B]ut I can be completely dressed in 30 minutes.”
Another reason Parton gravitated to wigs? She did a lot of damage to her natural hair over the years.
“I teased my own hair for years and years and it’s real damagin’ to your hair,” she told Rolling Stone in a 1977 interview (also included in Dolly on Dolly). “[S]o about three years ago I started wearin’ wigs because it’s convenient.”
Parton said people expect her to look a certain way
Eventually, fans came to expect Parton to look a certain way, from the wigs to bedazzled clothes, she told Rolling Stone.
“[P]eople came to expect that of me and I come to expect it of myself, the flashy clothes and jewelry and all the gaudy appearance. I guess I did invent that part of me. I was always fascinated with fairytale images … stars are supposed to shine and maybe I just want to be a star.”
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