Last updated on March 11th, 2016 at 04:03 pm
Wellingtons are perfect for the winter weather, keeping your feet warm, dry and clean when you’re busy enjoying the outdoors. However they are a little different to your normal shoes, they have to be cleaned differently, they have a different history and they are harder to style. Here are all the answers to your top questions about wellies – so you can make the best of the British weather.
Where Do Wellies Come From?
The 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley wore them and popularised them, they then became a hunting and outdoor wear staple for the British aristocracy in the early 19th century.
The first pair of rubber gumboots were made in 1853, in France by a company that is now known as AIGLE, who to this day, still sell boots. During WW1 and WW2, rubber boots were supplied to the soldiers. By 1946, the wellington boots were popular within families.
The term ‘gumboot’, which is another word for wellingtons, appears to have originated in New Zealand from the 19th Century. This name for the boots was believed to come about because the boots were made from gum rubber.
What Are Wellingtons?
Wellingtons are waterproof boots usually worn for casual outdoor activities like walking the dog, playing outdoors, short walks, farming, some sports such as horse riding and traditionally, hunting. They are most commonly worn on wet or muddy ground or in rainy or snowy conditions, so they are also sometimes known as rain boots. Men’s wellies, women’s wellies and children’s wellies are very similar in style, they usually only vary in colour or pattern.
Rain boots can be made of leather although, leather was only really used for rich families, and rubber Gumboots are much more common. These days your wellies are usually made of either rubber, Polyvinyl Chloride or Halogenated Polymer. Welly boots usually come to just below the knee, although, you can get ankle length ones. Knee high wellingtons are more popular because they offer greater protection against splashes of mud and water and offer a warmer, snugger fit.
Wellies: Size and Fit
Wellington boot sizes are the same as normal UK sizes. Therefore, you should get your wellies in your normal shoe size, or if you’re planning to wear several pairs of thick socks with your wellingtons, get one size up, so you can still wear them comfortably.
Wellies are supposed to be tight enough to make sure your feet don’t slip out but loose enough so you can put thick socks under them, without them pinching any part of your feet or legs.
If standard wellies are tight around your calf, we do sell a range of wide calf boots. Do not try to stretch your rubber boots if they do not fit, this could damage the rubber.
Like normal shoes, you can take wellies off by pulling them, but that’s a little hard to do without making silly face because of the shape of the long narrow leg! If you put the front of one foot at the back of the other foot, and work your leg out you’ll find this much easier. Then do the same with the other foot.
Choosing Wellington Boots
Choosing wellies is all about what you’re going to use them for.
For example: if you’re going to a festival in a rainy month and you know you’re going to need some wellies, brightly coloured, funky patterned wellingtons would be great for the occasion.
For dog walking, you may want to get some boots with a little more grip on the sole, but otherwise, most wellingtons that grab your attention should be suitable.
Most wellies will keep your feet at least a little warm, but for extra warmth in cold or snowy conditions you can put a pair or even a couple of pairs of thick socks on before you place your boots on. This is why it’s sometimes helpful to grab the next size up.
The lifespan of your rubber boots depends on how much you use them and what activities you do when you’re wearing them. Also, one of the biggest factors is how well you take care of them. Like any other shoes in your closet, wellies should be kept clean and dry, stored upright and out of direct sunlight.
The colour of your wellies is really up to you, it’s a matter of personal preference. There are lots of funky patterns and bright colours if you want to make a statement and there are also some subtle boots in plain black or green for a more understated look.
Wearing Wellies: Your Style Guide
You can easily wear jeans with wellies, they make a good pairing for a casual outfit. If you’re wearing straight or boot cut jeans, you can tuck your boots in underneath your jeans. If you’re tucking your jeans in to your wellies to keep your legs cleaner and they roll up inside when you pull your boots on, fold your jeans, only once, so the bottom hem is further up your calf and the fold is near your ankle.
If you’re wearing tights with a skirt, put some thick socks on over the tights to keep your feet warm and to protect your feet from rubbing and developing blisters. Skirts can go with both long wellies or ankle wellies too.
Wellington boots go with most clothing choices. They go with jeans, tights & skirts, leggings. However, if you’re wearing your boots all day, base your outfit around your wellies and let the wellies be the statement.
Wellington Boot Care
A clean rag, soaked in hot soapy water will do to clean the exterior of your wellingtons. To clean soles, use a soft-bristled scrubbing brush or an old tooth brush and scrub the sole to remove any mud.
To clean the inside of your wellies, use hot soapy water with either laundry liquid or washing up liquid, dip a clean rag into this solution and run it over the inside of the boot a few times. After, use a clean rag and clean non-soapy water, to rinse the inside free from the soap.
Wellies should always be air dried but you can stuff your boots with crumpled up pieces of old newspaper to soak up extra moisture, after a few hours, remove the paper. If the boots are still wet, repeat the process. Never dry wellies by putting them into direct sunlight, as it can damage the rubber and colours may fade. Likewise, never put rainboots into a washing machine or a tumble dryer, as again, it may damage the rubber.
If your wellies start to smell, mix a spray bottle, full of a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Spray it into the wellington and this will get rid of any bad smell. This works because vinegar kills odours, though you do not want to put concentrated vinegar into your wellies.
Wellies are a great constant to have in your home for all the family. So when unexpected snow comes around or if you don’t want to ruin any of your shoes with rain or mud, you have your wellies as an alternative. They come in so many patterns and colours so you can get a pair that suit you and your closet. Are you ready to jump in some puddles? 😉