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Dolly Parton Jokes Her Husband Was 'Jealous' of Her Viral Cheerleader Outfit: 'He Got a Kick Out of It' (Exclusive)

Dressed like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, Parton performed at the NFL team's game on Thanksgiving Day

<p>Ron Jenkins/Gett</p> Dolly Parton performs in Arlington, Texas in November 2023

Ron Jenkins/Gett

Dolly Parton performs in Arlington, Texas in November 2023

You can take Dolly Parton out of the country, but you can’t take the country (or the cow girl!) out of Dolly Parton.

PEOPLE caught up with the global icon on the launch day for her new baking mixes with Duncan Hines, and she says that the chocolate cake she bakes for her husband Carl Thomas Dean isn't the only thing he's a fan of — just take one look at her viral Dallas Cowboys cheerleader outfit.

Just days after releasing her latest album Rockstar in November 2023, Parton took the stage at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Kickoff Halftime Show during the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game, and she was aptly dressed for the occasion in a white vest with blue stars, blue crop top and white shorts.

<p>Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images</p>

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

“It turned out pretty cool and my husband liked it. He said, ‘Those shorts were a little too short.’ I said, ‘Jealous?’” Parton recalls with a laugh.

“And I said, ‘They weren't as short as the other girls!’ He was just being funny. I think he thought — because everybody's making a to-do over it — he thought, well, maybe you shouldn't be showing your butt at that age. But anyway, he got a kick out of it too," she adds.

Related: Dolly Parton Reacts to Keanu Reeves Wearing Her Playboy Bunny Costume His Mom Designed: 'The Sweetest Guy'

Parton and her husband have been married since 1966 — more than half of Parton’s life — and she just celebrated her 78th birthday last Friday. Her favorite gift was actually a very thoughtful, if belated, one she just received, she tells PEOPLE.

“It was a glass heart of Carl and I when we were younger, and it was carved into the glass inside. You put it on a little light or a little podium and then it has a battery, and you can turn it on," she says. "We go around and around and around. I think those very personal gifts like that are always so sweet.”

Dolly Parton/instagram Dolly Parton and husband Carl Thomas Dean
Dolly Parton/instagram Dolly Parton and husband Carl Thomas Dean

When Parton isn’t cooking or performing, she and Dean enjoy spending quality time together.

“My husband and I like to travel around in our little RV, our little camper, and just go out and have a picnic by the river. I love to go back home to East Tennessee, visit friends and family, and I love to read. I'm an avid reader, so any great book that I get my hands on, I like to do that. I'd rather read than watch TV,” she says.

Related: Christie Brinkley Nominates Dolly Parton for SI Swimsuit After Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Outfit Response

As for Parton’s tips for feeling confident no matter what she wears, be it an apron in the kitchen or a tiny cheering costume, she says she holds having fun at the forefront.

“I try not to get into anything I don't think I can pull off, just like that little Dallas Cowgirl outfit. I really thought, well, I'm just going to do this for fun, because I mean, I've never been to one of their halftime shows, and they're so famous, the girls," she says of the cheer team.

"All the guys love them, my husband included, and I kind of did it for him. I thought, well, if I can pull this off, it'll be cute, and if not, then they'll just think if some older woman did a stupid thing!" she adds. "I just thought it was cool, and it evidently was because it turned out to be a big sensation. And so, I may have a poster made, a pinup, and donate all the money to the Red Kettle.”

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With that in mind, Parton has one message for all the naysayers.

“Oh, I say, ‘To hell with you," she says. "'I'm going to do as I please.’”

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