Wellies – you don’t think you need them, until, well, you really do. And so whether it’s that sudden unexpected snow blitz in April or a drenched festival over the summer it pays to have some prepared just in case.
Which isn’t to say that it’s all necessary-but-not-particularly-chic when it comes to the world of wellies. The king of the Wellington boot, Hunter, has done a great deal in recent seasons to help you look good in the rain, making the rainproof shoe a must-have among the fash pack, splashing colour and streetwear-inspired branding onto its centuries-old rubber duck boots.
They’ll never be a permanent fixture in your shoe rotation, granted, but it’s savvy to have a good-looking and durable pair to call upon when every other boot style you own is rained off.
Key Buying Considerations
Wellies are function first, fashion second. They’re meant to keep your feet warm and dry, a cause significantly aided by having a neoprene lining at least 3mm thick behind the outer layer (if it’s positively arctic outside aim for 5mm).
Chances are you’ll also be stomping around quite a fair bit in your wellies when the time comes, whether that be walking the dog or trundling around the festival site. Vibram soles are the best for big-time walkers, offering the best traction on the widest range of surfaces.
Fitting wise, you don’t want to buy wellies that are too snug as your feet will expand during long, hot walks which may create rubbing on the side. Height-wise, they should rise no taller than the top of your calf and sit just below your knee – any higher and you’re in Catwoman on the cover of Country Life territory. Allow for about 2cm around the calf to fit your normal trousers and look for a strap on the side to tighten and loosen.
Which leads us into how to style them. You’ll need a good raincoat obviously. Down below, jeans and chinos are your best bet, always tucked inside the boot, never hanging loose on the outside which just defeats the point of the wellies’ weatherproofing. Glorious, sashaying, wide legged trousers, no matter how much we dig them at the moment, need not apply.
The Best Wellies Brands In The World
Slicker branding has played a big part of the stylish reinvention of heritage brand Hunter, which has been making rubber boots since 1856. As has a re-mixing of the traditional silhouette to include the moc toe Chelsea boot, as stylish a welly as you’re likely to get.
Festival style is all about standing out, which makes the wellies at retailer ASOS perfect for anyone wanting to make a sartorial splash by the main stage. Silver boots that look like they belong on the feet of moon miners stand out.
Barbour is synonymous with the great British countryside, so much so that you only have to roll the name off your tongue and people assume you’re from the Three Counties. Wellies are the final piece of the full Barbour outfit that includes a waxed jacket and a crisp pair of chinos. Styles are traditional with classy touches like cotton and tartan linings as well as leather trims.
Sweden is a country of unparalleled natural beauty. It also gets quite wet. Which is probably why Swedish sneaker and outerwear brand Tretorn has managed to concoct some pretty handy waterproof rubber boots. Easy to slide on, they are decked out in cushy faux fur inside and have an environmentally friendly footbed that replaces the petroleum formulations most often used.
The godfather of contemporary British fashion, Paul Smith, has grown his business into a worldwide empire through re-interpreting British classics with a dash of quirky frivolity. Which brings us to these Paul Smith wellies, designed in the classic mould with a colourful stripey strap on the side, and a winking doodle inside.
SWIMS originally started off with just a single product, the galosh, a rubber boot used to slip on over your nice work shoes so they don’t get muddy. Since then it has taken the galosh’s practical nature and used it throughout a whole range of lifestyle products which includes its Chelsea-style rain boot with non-chafing technology on the inside, and vulcanized rubber on the outer.
The wellie is still a very English phenomenon. In the depths of North America though and at Canadian boots brand Sorel (now owned by massive American outerwear company Columbia) it’s all about the snow boot. These are proper boots meant to withstand the harshest of conditions with top-grade materials like tough as nails nubuck leather and sherpa wool linings.
Anyone looking outside the Wellington sphere for waterproof boots should cast their eyes over the Wintergrip range from British bootmakers Dr. Martens. Offering the collection up in some of its most classic and stylish styles, the leather is water resistant so it won’t stain from the wet weather while the chunky sole features a sturdy grip to keep you up on two feet.
Slovakian footwear company Novesta is quickly building a reputation as one of the best sneaker brands you’ve never heard of. Alongside its minimal trainers, it also does a range of colourful rubber Chelsea boots, perfect for a dash of colour to your wet weather ‘fit and as a rainy day alternative to the wellie.
For those country types who aren’t so bothered about the Barbour branding, there’s British high street brand Joules, who has a solid range of wellies featuring the traditional long length ones, down to mid-height and dinky ankle boots below.
Those who take their wellies seriously should already be quite aware of master rubber craftsman Aigle who has been producing some of the best wellingtons in the world since 1853. The shock-absorbing cushion will have you bouncing around the field like a trotting pony in the dressage, while the lugged sole will make sure you don’t slip up.
Founded by British Olympic sailor Jeremy Musto, this clothing brand started life kitting out seafaring types before expanding into equestrian and hunting gear. Its waterproof boots are designed more with heavy duty sailing in mind, with many of them kitted out in the latest textile innovations and worn by the pros in some of the biggest ocean races on the seven seas.