Last week I came across leather good artisans: King Ranch Saddle Shop and decided to collaborate with them to create a style piece inspired by their beautifully hand crafted boots and Texas made designs. The premise is: what I would wear to see my favorite Country Artist. I’ll be totally honest- I was raised on Snoop Dog, The Cure and a bunch of nineties rave style techno. My entire life- country music was just something that didn’t make sense to me. I grew up in a small University town in California and I always thought that Country was just something that the local kids listened to when they had their parties out off a backroad somewhere. I once found myself at one of those parties- and I just remember thinking… that it was really dark… at least at a rave you have your glow sticks right?
But then seven years ago I moved to Nashville and Country Music started to find it’s way in to my heart. There is just something undeniably soulful, pure and honest about the communication of Country Music that seems to embody everything I love about the South.
After living in California my entire life- Tennessee captured my heart completely. It’s a place where people love God, family, guns, and freedom in a way that is heartfelt and authentic. It’s a place where men still open doors and a woman can still feel like a lady. Even the rowdiness you encounter still contains this indescribable essence of “rebellion in the name of freedom”. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting and working with some country legends as well as newer stars and they all have that true authentic country soul. It’s an authenticity that cannot help but to pervade the lyrics and sound- and if you’ve ever enjoyed a muggy, firefly filled Tennessee night with friends on a back porch somewhere- you know what I mean.
I will never claim to be any sort of expert on the subject but, if you want to experience music that reaches down into your soul and fills you with the rich storytelling of the American South- it’s Old Country all the way- and although there are plenty of newer acts in the Country Genre- when it came to which artist would inspire this post- it was Dolly Parton undoubtably. Dolly is a Goddess- the “Glenda the Good Witch” of Country Music. One could write books upon books (and they have) on her talent and brilliance- and as a Style Icon- she inspires like no other.
Being the lover of vintage that I am- I combed through images of Dolly’s retro style then luckily happened upon a vintage western wear section at City Thrift in Clarksville. This, combined with Old Country Vibes and the amazing Dolly mural by Scott Guion at the House of Blues Studios in Berry Hill, TN – were the inspiration to my overall Concert style.
When I use the term “inspired” I take it liberally. I’m a big believer in using the concept of inspiration to enhance your own personal expression- you don’t need to be literal- you can let inspiration take you to wherever you want it to. I allowed the western theme to intermingle with the soft sixties and seventies color palette and mixed it all up with my own eclectic retro vibe spurred on by Dolly’s strong spirit of play and color in her personal style. This $3 floral denim skirt from City Thrift in Clarksville (Thrift Tip- small towns have the BEST finds) pairs perfectly with this denim hand me down bustier from my big sis, a hand crafted necklace that was literally given to me by a tipsy stranger at a movie premiere party (I complimented, she insisted), hand beaded and gifted earrings- also from the sis and a $5 pair of golden Goodwill heels. Literally an $8 outfit. Young Dolly would be proud.
One of the reasons I love vintage so much- is the history and enduring quality of the clothing. So I was very interested to research how the design process at King Ranch aligned with my own philosophy on clothing. The brand has a rich history with everything hand crafted from the meticulously restored John B. Ragland Mercantile Building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today’s King Ranch is active in industries as diverse as publishing, retail and eco-tourism. They create beautiful clothing and furniture in a way that utilizes and enriches local culture. For my second Dolly inspired look- I created a look around my favorite pair of fringe boots. I see girls prancing up and down Broadway in this style all the time and the movement is just dreamy. The subtle color and Southwestern detail on these has me swooning. I went the all denim route again with this incredible $5 western jacket and $2 from City Thrift. Combined with the same beaded earrings from my sis, some $7 Jordache cut offs and a $1 scarf from Goodwill. When you only spent $15 on your outfit- you might even have room to splurge on beautiful boots that will last a lifetime. (And if you don’t you just keep on thrifting!)
If I have learned anything doing this piece- it’s that Dolly, Denim and Country Music are good for the soul. Also- if you live in the Nashville area- go check out the beautiful murals of Country music legends surrounding the House of Blues Recording studios- they are vibrant and amazing.
Special Thanks to Anthony Tenorio who I came across taking pictures of the art and who kindly replaced my tripod for a few shots.
I hope your week has a little Dolly in it!
Love and Thrift,