Sarah Colley was a drama coach and dance instructor working for a traveling theater company based in Atlanta when she developed the character that made her famous.
Based on Colley’s parodied impression of a small-town girl, Minnie Pearl would eventually become one of country music’s most iconic comedy figures, spending more than 40 years as part of the Grand Ole Opry and as a cast member of the television show “Hee Haw.” Her signature crowd greeting of “How-DEE!” is as synonymous with her character as the outfit she wore.
When most people think of Minnie Pearl, they first remember her hat. Minnie Pearl wore her straw hat adorned with flowers and a price tag dangling off the side, so no Minnie Pearl costume would be complete without it. The hat is easy to replicate.
Purchase a straw hat from a discount department store, as well as some artificial flowers, a heavy thread, such as embroidery thread and some card-stock paper. Pin or glue the flowers around the hat. Cut a medium-size price tag out of the card-stock paper and attached it to the hat with the thread, ensuring the tag dangles off the side.
The dresses Minnie Pearl wore are symbolic of her loud presence. Her dresses featured large boisterous floral prints or wide gingham plaids, typically square open necklines adorned with lots of ruffles, as well as puffed or ruffled short sleeves and a calf-length hem.
Unless you are adept at sewing and want to make your own dress, you may be better off checking around local thrift stores for something similar. If you still have trouble, check the sleep and loungewear department of your local discount department store. Most stores such as Wal-Mart carry women’s button-down duster gowns, which usually have the open neckline and busy floral prints.
You may have to make some adjustments to the silhouette, as dusters usually have a pretty square shape. This can be done relatively easy with a belt or safety pins if you don’t know how to use a sewing machine. Simply gather the excess at the waistline and hold it with a safety pin in the back. To create puffy sleeves on the duster, simply use a small hair-tie around the cuff of the sleeve, as long as it fits comfortably around your upper arm.
Aside from the attention-grabbing hat and dress, Minnie Pearl was a simple country girl in her attire. She never wore jewelry and always pinned her hair up under the hat. The hemline of her dress fell at the calf but Minnie was not the type to show her legs. To complete your costume you will need to wear a pair of cotton stockings and black Mary Jane shoes.