Muddy road

Wellington boot: a durable and waterproof boot made of rubber or polymer for both men and women.

It’s practically February, which means it’s practically March, which means it’s practically spring! Maybe not quite, but it’s definitely spring shopping time, and a functional necessity for the weather is a rubber Wellington boot. But, can your practical footwear be stylish, too?

In the 18th century, the Hessian boot was a popular and practical footwear option worn by the military. Comfortable, adorned with tassels, made of durable leather and designed for practicality in equestrianism, these boots were fashionable and sensible. In the early 19th century, Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, asked his shoemaker to create a more fashionable and practical form of the Hessian boot, resulting in the first Wellington boot. The original Wellington boots were made from luxurious calfskin, had a lower heel than the Hessian boot, and stopped midway up the calf. Some Wellington boots were designed to cover the knees to aid in the protection of gunshot wounds in the kneecaps during battle. In the mid-19th century, a rubber Wellington boot was created in France, a country where the majority of its citizens worked in fields wearing wooden clogs. The rubber versions were a massive success, allowing farmers to have dry feet all day, and the modern Wellington boot was born.

Wellington boots are extremely practical. They are used today in a variety of professions for their cleanliness and durability, and are found in food production and packaging plants, surgical rooms and chemical plants. For colder climates, inserts made of fur, knitting or cotton allow these spring boots to transition to winter use. Rain boots, as they are called in North America, have also found themselves associated with a higher level of fashion in the past few decades. Princess Diana rocketed Hunter brand Wellingtons to fame, leading to a flux of designer Wellington boots. Brands such as Burberry, Tretorn and Coach all make or specialize in high-quality Wellington boots. However, these boots haven’t truly become a part of high fashion yet, and the Wellington won’t be found on most runways, red carpets or high-fashion events today.

Modernly worn by the average person for rainy, muddy weather, it has become easy to make a fashionable statement and express your personality with a Wellington boot. Though they may not be adorned with tassels, as the Hessian boot was, Wellington boots come in a variety of colours and styles. From a Paddington-bear inspired bright yellow to every colour of the spectrum, these practical boots can add a neutral tone or a pop of colour to a dreary rainy day. Wellingtons are also sold in a range of prints and designs, allowing the wearer to make a bold statement and remain dry. Wellington boots are made in numerous styles, and can be found with a higher heel, buckles and embellishments. Today, expressing your personal tastes and originality in a Wellington boot is effortless. For inspiration, check out these examples:

Cheerio | for the fashionista | for the colour-seeker | for the icy northerner | for the high-fashion man | for the trendsetter | for the vintage enthusiast

What do you think? Can Wellingtons be high fashion?


This piece was written by Rebecca MacDonald, Fashion Columnist at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Thursday!