On the eve of the opening of her very first theme park (and her 40th birthday), country legend Dolly Parton appeared on the cover of People, talking about tin cans. “When we was kids, we would always drink out of one,” she said in the story, which published in November of 1986. “It seems to keep things colder. Even at my beautiful homes, I’m always drinking out of a tin can, which drives my secretary nuts. I’m saving coffee cans to drink out of and she’s throwing them out and it makes me so mad.”
At the time, Parton had already been a successful songwriter and performer for 20 years, but that didn’t make her put on airs. Born into a “dirt poor” family with 11 siblings and raised near the Great Smoky Mountains, she never let fame shift or alter her down-home persona. “I still like to pee off the porch every now and then,” she said in her ‘86 People cover. “There’s nothing like peeing on those snobs in Beverly Hills.”
From the start of her career to the opening of Dollywood to now, her only notable change has been her admirably extravagant and even downright experimental style. She’s an icon of having a sense of humor about self-presentation, and in hundreds of lavish looks, she’s proof that you don’t have to wait till after 5 p.m. to start dressing up.
Now the proprietor of an Instagram full of inspiring #dollyisms, Parton turns 71 years young today. To celebrate, take a peek back through her best looks of the past few decades.