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Radley Stories

Style Notes

All about Fashion Wellies: Discover What are Wellies and More

03 May 2022

What are wellies? Discover all there is to know about fashion wellies and why they are a staple in British weather with our handy Radley London guide.

What are Wellies?

Wellies or wellingtons are waterproof boots designed to protect your feet from wet weather and muddy ground. Classic wellies end just below the knee, although the more modern styles also come in medium and short ankle lengths. Practical and essential for outdoor explorers and dog walkers, trendy wellies have also become a staple at outdoor music festivals.

Different Names for Wellies

Wellington boots have earned many different nicknames over the years. These have occurred as slang, global variations or simply just by shortening their given name.

●        Wellington boots, wellingtons

●        Welly boots, wellies

●        Rainboots

●        Galoshes – sometimes used in Canada and European languages, however, in Britain, a ‘galosh’ is a rubber boot designed to be worn over a normal shoe.

●        Waders

●        Gumboots, gummies – used in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa 

The History of Wellington Boots

Arthur Wellesley, also known as the Duke of Wellington, commissioned the first pair of wellies in the early 1800s when he asked his shoemaker, Mr George Hoby of St James's Street, London, to create a pair suitable for wearing with tighter, lightweight linen trousers. These boots were crafted with leather with a wax treatment to make them waterproof. As people idolised the Duke of Wellington and began to dress like him, wellington boots began to gain popularity.

The rubber welly as we know it wasn’t invented until 1856, when the North British Rubber Company produced the country’s first ‘gum’ boot. As the style resembled those worn by the Duke of Wellington, they were given the same name. These rubber wellington boots were provided to soldiers in the First World War as a solution to ‘trench foot’.

Soldiers brought their wellies home at the end of the war and they were soon adopted by farmers and gardeners who recognised their practicality for working outdoors. Soon after, wellies became ordinary wardrobe items for men, women, and children and the fashion wellies trend began.

Similar to the boots first commissioned by the Duke of Wellington, leather knee-high boots are a popular alternative to the rubber welly. These have been regularly seen on fashion catwalks and are favoured by many celebrities, such as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge .

What to Consider When Buying Wellies

Shape: Stylish wellies come in ankle, medium and knee-high lengths, so consider which of these you would prefer. You’ll want to think about when you’ll be wearing your wellies and for how long – are you looking for a pair to use for gardening, when the grass might be wet? If so, a short pair of ankle boot wellies will be ideal, as they protect your feet but are also easy to slip on and off as you go between house and garden.

If you’re a dog walker looking for wellies to wear across muddy fields and through long grass, you’ll want a taller style. These are practical for keeping your feet and legs warm and dry.

Style: The fashion wellies trend means there are so many different styles, from bold patterned designs like leopard or floral print to plain wellies in every colour you can imagine. Wellies are the one wardrobe item that don’t necessarily need to coordinate with your clothing – in fact, they’re perfect for adding bold colour to your look. These eye-catching trendy wellies are commonly chosen by festival-goers, but also make popular options for dog walkers and children.

Alternatively, one of the most iconic welly colours is camouflage green. This dark shade blends in with the surroundings when you’re out exploring, while its darker hue cleverly disguises any mud or dirt.  

Size: It is very common to buy wellies in a bigger size. This gives you extra room to wear them with thick or thermal socks that will also protect your feet from cold. However, if you’re only planning to wear your wellies to summer festivals, you won’t need to layer on the socks. Before you wear your new stylish wellies outside, make sure they fit snugly and don’t rub.

What To Wear With Wellies

The beauty of wellies is that they are versatile and practical. Here are some of the ways we love wearing our fashion wellies, but don’t be afraid to try styling yours with whatever outfit you like!

Dog walking jeans – We love our dogs and we love treating them to long and exciting walks in nature. Essentials: a tennis ball, treats, waste bags and wellies. We wear ours with fluffy socks and a pair of old jeans that we don’t mind getting a little muddy.

Leggings or tights – Wellies are a common choice during winter months when it’s drizzling, hailing or snowing. On these occasions, we find  wellies are best worn with thick, comfortable socks and cosy leggings that keep us super warm and dry.

The festival look – The fashion wellies trend also plays a key part in festival wardrobes as the boot is perfect for the muddy field locations. At festivals, stylish wellies can be paired with anything, from shorts or skirts, to dresses and tights. At festivals such as Glastonbury or Reading and Leeds, the visitors and celebrities are regularly seen wearing a pair of trendy wellies.

Welly Boot Accessories

There are a handful of extra accessories that can be worn with your wellies to give you some extra comfort. The most common accessory is wellington boot socks or welly boot liners, which are designed to cover your feet and legs up to the top of the welly, providing another layer of comfort, warmth and protection.

There are several other accessories made for use with wellington boots, which have become common household items. These include welly boot jacks, which help you remove your dirty or muddy wellies without touching them, and welly boot racks. They are popular in family homes as they hold multiple pairs and keep muddy soles off the ground.

Cleaning your Wellington Boots

Due to the nature of wellies, they inevitably get dirty and need to be cleaned. To keep them in good condition throughout their life, it’s important to look after them as you would any other shoe. Don't worry, we've got some tips on how to clean wellington boots.

Whether it’s your stylish wellies worn at a festival or practical wellies worn on your dog walks, it will help to wait for mud to dry before trying to clean it off. Once it’s dry, the mud can be removed and you can give your wellies a wipe over with warm, soapy water. For the sole, a bristled brush is perfect for scrubbing away the mud and dirt.

 

Now you know all about wellies. But to be completely prepared for wet weather, you'll need a handy umbrella and find out All About Umbrellas with our guide over on Radley Stories.