For thirty years, Dee’s on Shelbyville Road has been making custom hats right down to the big day. Whether you’re a planner or a last-minute type, odds are, this fabled crew of designers can take your ensemble to the finish line in a style victory.
Photos by Kevin Talley
The creative crew at Dee’s has earned their reputation as the go-to spot for on-point headpieces. With thousands of yards of trim, thousands of feathers, hundreds of hats and thirty years of experience, they can custom-design a creation that will match your dress, shoes, lipstick… or all of the above. They easily make more hats than anyone in town; last year’s tally came in around two thousand. Yet no two are alike. “We take a lot of pride in the fact that no matter how many custom hats we make, each one is unique,” says owner Kathy Olliges.
To create these Derby-season confections, a team of eight work ten to twelve hour days, behind closed doors, surrounded by the piles of frothy bows, feathers and trim that are the tools of their trade. Style success stories from Dee’s are near legend; it’s hard to talk Derby without hearing a story of how someone ran to Dee’s with a dress and no plan and came out with a millinery triumph drew rave reviews all over Churchill.
While you might expect to pay dearly for the thrill of a custom hat made almost on demand, the reasonable prices are another factor behind their fashion-hero status. “You can spend as little as $45 on an unadorned hat or as much as several hundred; the average price of a custom hat is around $225,” says Olliges. You can save even more if you bring in your own hat to be embellished; they’ll even remove trim from last year’s and transform it into something up-to-the-minute. But don’t expect to watch them work. While you can select your trim, you have to leave while they whip it all together. (It’s probably too stressful for both parties to have the wearer and designer standing side by side through the process.) When do they finally close the doors? “We stop at 8:00 on Friday night; we’ve had to push people out the door,” laughs Olliges. “And then we all go home and take a nap!”
IF YOU GO
Dee’s is located at 5045 Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews. Call 502-896-6755 for more information.