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Behind the Seams

My Life in Rhinestones

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A beautiful celebration of Dolly Parton’s iconic sense of style through entertaining personal stories, interviews with friends and family, music, and archival interview and performance clips.

In Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, global superstar Dolly Parton shares, for the first time, the full story behind her lifelong passion for fashion, including how she developed her own, distinctly Dolly style, which has defied convention and endeared her to fans around the world.
 
Featuring behind-the-scenes stories from Dolly Parton’s life and career, this audiobook spotlights her most unforgettable looks from the 1960s to now. The sky-high heels, famous wigs, bold makeup, eye-catching stage clothes—she shares them all. Along the way, Parton discusses memorable outfits from her past and the daring styles that continue to entertain and inspire today. 
 
Filled with candor, humor, and lots and lots of rhinestones, Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones is a shining tribute to one of the most beloved musicians in history, a treasured keepsake for anyone who loves Dolly Parton, and an indispensable guide to forging your own path to beauty and confidence.
 
Includes a Bonus PDF with exclusive images from Dolly’s private costume archive
 
This audio is narrated by the authors with contributions from many of Dolly’s lifelong fashion collaborators:
Dolly Parton, Holly George-Warren, Rebecca Seaver, Allister Ann, Ann Roth, Art Streiber, Aurelia, Bobbe Joy, Cheryl Riddle, Debra McGuire, Fran Strine, Iisha Lemming, Jason Pirro, Jim Herrington, Randee St Nicholas, Riley Hanratty, Robert Behar, Stacia Lang, Stacie Huckeba, Steve Summers, Timothy White, and Vance Nichols
Introduction


Clothes are like songs. Just as hearing certain music brings back particular memories, so it is with certain outfits. I’m so fortunate that, from the beginning of my career, I’ve had close friends and relatives who have taken good care of the clothing that is important to me. From personal items like the little bolero vest I wore while performing as a child and my simple wedding dress to such gorgeous costumes as the red dress that turned me into Miss Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to everything I’ve ever worn onstage, each of these garments signifies something important—a place in my life, a moment in my career, a time when I felt like me. I treasure them all.

Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones tells the stories behind some of my favorite outfits, both on and off the stage. It also paints a picture of the evolution of my own personal style that I first developed growing up in the backwoods of East Tennessee. I always loved makeup. I wanted to be pretty. Back then, any woman who wore makeup in the mountains was considered trashy. But I didn’t care. When I started buying my own makeup, I also started dressing according to how I felt, which meant wearing tight, low-cut outfits that my mama made. I remember feeling powerful enough to go up against Daddy or Grandpa to say, “Now, that’s not that tight. It ain’t cut that low. It ain’t that much.” And they’d say, “Yes, it is!” But I’d be willing to get my ass whupped for it. I would sacrifice for how I wanted to look.

The same thing happened when I moved to Nashville in 1964 to become a country star. Just like I had to persist to get my songs heard and ignite my recording career, I had to resist a lot of “advice” telling me to tone down my look or choose a different type of wardrobe. In these pages, you’ll learn I never listened to any of that. From early on, I loved the big hair and makeup, the long nails, the high heels, the flashy clothes, and—as soon as I could afford them—the rhinestones! But believe it or not, I had to fight for that look!

In this book you’ll see how, as a young artist, my self-confidence was enhanced by developing my own Dolly style and then sticking to it. I didn’t care about trends. Instead, I worked hard to look the way I pictured myself. Although my style has evolved as the years have gone by, I’ve stuck to the motto “To thine own self be true” over the past six decades—and still do. Much as the fictional characters that populate my songs uncover essential truths about me and the people I’ve known, my clothes and makeup also reveal the real me. Maybe they’re both “made up,” but they reflect my innermost self, my own personal truth.

I’ve had lots of help telling the story you’re about to read. You’ll hear from some of my designers, tailors, hairdressers, makeup artists, and photographers, and from my longtime creative director, Steve Summers, and his team, all of whom have been essential in transforming my ideas into reality. Early on, my personal assistant and friend, Judy Ogle, began assembling my clothing archive. She did a great job of saving and looking after all my things. Without her, so many of the pictures, so many of the clothes wouldn’t be here. Before she retired, she archived everything she could—that was her mission and her calling. My niece Rebecca Seaver, who learned from Judy, has been an integral part of my career for years and has curated the special collection you’re about to see, selecting these pieces from among thousands of garments that she and her crew care for. Nobody in this world is better suited to working in my archive. She is perfect because she has been there from the very, very beginning, and she also loves clothes. She grew up with me. Everything I did she was part of, and she knows every dress I ever wore— how it looked, how it felt, how it smelled. No one else could have put together the ideas for this book better than Rebecca. She has selected items spanning six-plus decades—from complete outfits to accessories, shoes, and wigs—to fill these pages.

I hope that as you gaze upon my life in clothing, it will inspire you to develop, and celebrate, your own sense of style. I value my freedom to look like and be my own true self more than anything else, and I hope this book will also give you the confidence to look like and be the person you want to be. Whoever you are, be that! And enjoy your journey behind the seams.
“[A] lavish, coffee-table winner.”Parade

“The book is an encyclopedia of iconic pop-culture moments; it’s a visual feast for fashion enthusiasts and a treasured keepsake for Parton’s loyal fans. But even more so than that, it serves as a reminder that Parton’s superpower—and perhaps even the reason for her record-breaking longevity in Hollywood—is her authenticity.”The Cut

“In this effervescent full-color volume, Parton recounts the vivid tales behind the clothes. . . . Throughout this graciously and generously illuminated book . . . [her] personal style shines brightly. . . . An unforgettable personal and professional history of a beloved country music performer . . . [and] a must-have treasury for diehard Dolly fans and armchair fashionistas.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Enriched with insights . . . , this is both a lush visual feast and a testament to the originality and self-possession that made Parton a force to be reckoned with: an entertainer who refused to accede to trends, was firmly in control of her own sexuality, and expanded the stylistic possibilities available to female performers. Fashion lovers and country fans alike will be enchanted.”—Publishers Weekly
Dolly Parton is the most honored and revered female singer-songwriter of all time. She has garnered eleven Grammy Awards and 51 nominations, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, Parton was inducted as a member of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2020, she released the bestselling coffee table book Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. To date, Parton has donated over 200 million books to children around the world with her Imagination Library. With James Patterson, she co-authored the #1 New York Times bestseller Run Rose Run. In 2022, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. View titles by Dolly Parton

About

A beautiful celebration of Dolly Parton’s iconic sense of style through entertaining personal stories, interviews with friends and family, music, and archival interview and performance clips.

In Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, global superstar Dolly Parton shares, for the first time, the full story behind her lifelong passion for fashion, including how she developed her own, distinctly Dolly style, which has defied convention and endeared her to fans around the world.
 
Featuring behind-the-scenes stories from Dolly Parton’s life and career, this audiobook spotlights her most unforgettable looks from the 1960s to now. The sky-high heels, famous wigs, bold makeup, eye-catching stage clothes—she shares them all. Along the way, Parton discusses memorable outfits from her past and the daring styles that continue to entertain and inspire today. 
 
Filled with candor, humor, and lots and lots of rhinestones, Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones is a shining tribute to one of the most beloved musicians in history, a treasured keepsake for anyone who loves Dolly Parton, and an indispensable guide to forging your own path to beauty and confidence.
 
Includes a Bonus PDF with exclusive images from Dolly’s private costume archive
 
This audio is narrated by the authors with contributions from many of Dolly’s lifelong fashion collaborators:
Dolly Parton, Holly George-Warren, Rebecca Seaver, Allister Ann, Ann Roth, Art Streiber, Aurelia, Bobbe Joy, Cheryl Riddle, Debra McGuire, Fran Strine, Iisha Lemming, Jason Pirro, Jim Herrington, Randee St Nicholas, Riley Hanratty, Robert Behar, Stacia Lang, Stacie Huckeba, Steve Summers, Timothy White, and Vance Nichols

Excerpt

Introduction


Clothes are like songs. Just as hearing certain music brings back particular memories, so it is with certain outfits. I’m so fortunate that, from the beginning of my career, I’ve had close friends and relatives who have taken good care of the clothing that is important to me. From personal items like the little bolero vest I wore while performing as a child and my simple wedding dress to such gorgeous costumes as the red dress that turned me into Miss Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to everything I’ve ever worn onstage, each of these garments signifies something important—a place in my life, a moment in my career, a time when I felt like me. I treasure them all.

Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones tells the stories behind some of my favorite outfits, both on and off the stage. It also paints a picture of the evolution of my own personal style that I first developed growing up in the backwoods of East Tennessee. I always loved makeup. I wanted to be pretty. Back then, any woman who wore makeup in the mountains was considered trashy. But I didn’t care. When I started buying my own makeup, I also started dressing according to how I felt, which meant wearing tight, low-cut outfits that my mama made. I remember feeling powerful enough to go up against Daddy or Grandpa to say, “Now, that’s not that tight. It ain’t cut that low. It ain’t that much.” And they’d say, “Yes, it is!” But I’d be willing to get my ass whupped for it. I would sacrifice for how I wanted to look.

The same thing happened when I moved to Nashville in 1964 to become a country star. Just like I had to persist to get my songs heard and ignite my recording career, I had to resist a lot of “advice” telling me to tone down my look or choose a different type of wardrobe. In these pages, you’ll learn I never listened to any of that. From early on, I loved the big hair and makeup, the long nails, the high heels, the flashy clothes, and—as soon as I could afford them—the rhinestones! But believe it or not, I had to fight for that look!

In this book you’ll see how, as a young artist, my self-confidence was enhanced by developing my own Dolly style and then sticking to it. I didn’t care about trends. Instead, I worked hard to look the way I pictured myself. Although my style has evolved as the years have gone by, I’ve stuck to the motto “To thine own self be true” over the past six decades—and still do. Much as the fictional characters that populate my songs uncover essential truths about me and the people I’ve known, my clothes and makeup also reveal the real me. Maybe they’re both “made up,” but they reflect my innermost self, my own personal truth.

I’ve had lots of help telling the story you’re about to read. You’ll hear from some of my designers, tailors, hairdressers, makeup artists, and photographers, and from my longtime creative director, Steve Summers, and his team, all of whom have been essential in transforming my ideas into reality. Early on, my personal assistant and friend, Judy Ogle, began assembling my clothing archive. She did a great job of saving and looking after all my things. Without her, so many of the pictures, so many of the clothes wouldn’t be here. Before she retired, she archived everything she could—that was her mission and her calling. My niece Rebecca Seaver, who learned from Judy, has been an integral part of my career for years and has curated the special collection you’re about to see, selecting these pieces from among thousands of garments that she and her crew care for. Nobody in this world is better suited to working in my archive. She is perfect because she has been there from the very, very beginning, and she also loves clothes. She grew up with me. Everything I did she was part of, and she knows every dress I ever wore— how it looked, how it felt, how it smelled. No one else could have put together the ideas for this book better than Rebecca. She has selected items spanning six-plus decades—from complete outfits to accessories, shoes, and wigs—to fill these pages.

I hope that as you gaze upon my life in clothing, it will inspire you to develop, and celebrate, your own sense of style. I value my freedom to look like and be my own true self more than anything else, and I hope this book will also give you the confidence to look like and be the person you want to be. Whoever you are, be that! And enjoy your journey behind the seams.

Reviews

“[A] lavish, coffee-table winner.”Parade

“The book is an encyclopedia of iconic pop-culture moments; it’s a visual feast for fashion enthusiasts and a treasured keepsake for Parton’s loyal fans. But even more so than that, it serves as a reminder that Parton’s superpower—and perhaps even the reason for her record-breaking longevity in Hollywood—is her authenticity.”The Cut

“In this effervescent full-color volume, Parton recounts the vivid tales behind the clothes. . . . Throughout this graciously and generously illuminated book . . . [her] personal style shines brightly. . . . An unforgettable personal and professional history of a beloved country music performer . . . [and] a must-have treasury for diehard Dolly fans and armchair fashionistas.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Enriched with insights . . . , this is both a lush visual feast and a testament to the originality and self-possession that made Parton a force to be reckoned with: an entertainer who refused to accede to trends, was firmly in control of her own sexuality, and expanded the stylistic possibilities available to female performers. Fashion lovers and country fans alike will be enchanted.”—Publishers Weekly

Author

Dolly Parton is the most honored and revered female singer-songwriter of all time. She has garnered eleven Grammy Awards and 51 nominations, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, Parton was inducted as a member of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2020, she released the bestselling coffee table book Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. To date, Parton has donated over 200 million books to children around the world with her Imagination Library. With James Patterson, she co-authored the #1 New York Times bestseller Run Rose Run. In 2022, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. View titles by Dolly Parton