Top 3 Dolly Parton Outfits from the Perspective of a Character Designer

Dolly Parton is known for many things such being an actress, singer, songwriter, humanitarian, and many, many more. Along with all of those things, the one thing that clearly sticks out about her are her outfits. With my background as an Animation Major and Art Minor, I will be looking at 3 of Dolly Parton’s most iconic looks from the perspective on a character designer.

 

Dolly Parton during the 2016 Country Musical Festival

Dolly Parton’s 2-piece outfit during her performance in the 2016 Country Music Festival has to be my all-time favorite. I love the multicolored blazer that goes along with her white slacks. The contrast of the pants to the blazer helps bring the attention to the upper half of Dolly Parton’s body. In character design, triangular shapes give a sense of direction. With most of the triangles on her outfit pointing upwards, it continues the flow of leading the eyes to the upper body, and in this case to Dolly Parton’s face. That is the main reason I love this outfit: the flow of the outfit leading the eyes to her face. Even though the blazer itself is sparkly, multicolored and over the top, it is all to emphasize her face. Her face is not hidden among her outfit, it is emphasized by it.

 

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers concert at MTSU in November of 1986

Not only is this outfit iconic, this outfit was actually worn in a 1986 concert at Middle Tennessee State University (my university!). The white base of the dress goes really well with the red, white, and blue sequins all over the dress. To again reference triangles, the sequins at her bust go into a triangular shape, but this time it points downward. This leads the eyes to her legs, which she is showing off with the slit of this dress. The sequins continuing down the skirt part of the dress also lead the eyes downward, as they go straight down and follow the flow of her body. This dress is particularly great on a character design standpoint because although it is busy at the core, the other areas of her body (head, arms, and legs) are left bare. The tapered off sleeves help give the dress a nice flow to reveal her forearms and hands, the scoop neck that her dress has reveals her chest, leaving more room for her face, and the slit in her dress reveals her legs. Overall, this dress is stunning!

 

Heartbreaker album, 1978

Dolly Parton’s outfit in her 1978 album Heart Breaker brings both elegance and sassiness to the overall tone of this outfit. The light pink hue of the outfit really sets the initial tone of innocence and femininity, while the flow and shapes give a more suggestive and sassy side. Again with triangles, this dress also has triangular shapes to help lead the eye. With her shirt being a V-neck, it leads the eyes downward towards her legs, which she is again showing off with the slit of this dress! One lovely element of this dress is the corset-style of the upper body, giving the outfit a more vintage look. Because her dress has sleeves fully covering her arms, this takes attention away from her arms and hands and more to the exposed areas. Depending on her pose, either her legs and facial area are exposed or just her face. Because of this, her face becomes the main focus of this dress. Even though her dress collar points down to lead to her legs, it also opens up to the shoulders to give more room for her hair and face.

 

Overall, Dolly Parton's style is very unique and all of her outfits continuously emphasize her face and often emphasizes her legs. She also seems to love to incorporate triangles, whether intentional or not, to accentuate her appearance.