MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 26: Model walks the runway at the Philosophy fashion show during the Milan Women’s Fashion Week on September 26, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)

By now in the season, you’ve likely started checking off the different boot styles that you may need in your fall and winter wardrobe: black ankle boots, knee-high boots, combat boots, and perhaps one pair that makes a statement be it with a logo or a bold heel. But while style is important, there’s one quality your boots should have this (rainy and cold) time of year that’s even more essential: utility. Which is where Wellington boots come in.

Named after and popularized by the first Duke of Wellington, the rainboot is a staple in every Brit’s wardrobe. While the Duke’s were made of leather and coated in wax to make them waterproof, today’s Wellington boots are made primarily of rubber, range from ankle- to knee-high length, and, more often than not, have a lug sole to make them even more durable against the elements. Despite becoming the wet-weather essential everywhere since then, thanks to fall collections from brands like Ganni, Bottega Veneta, and Prada the traditional rain boots have undergone a fashion makeover this season. 

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 30: A model walks the runway at the GANNI show during the Copenhagen Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2020 on January 30, 2020 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Yuliya Christensen/Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY – FEBRUARY 22: A model walks the runway during the Bottega Veneta fashion show as part of Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020-2021 on February 22, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Arguably the most talked-about shoe at Milan Fashion Week, the Bottega Veneta Puddle Boots, in the mere few months since they became available to shop, have inspired quite the list of mixed reviews online. (In an Instagram poll I conducted, responses were split between “Hell no” and “Yes x100000.”) Available in chartreuse, chocolate brown, bubblegum pink, tan, and black, the boot is 100% biodegradable and bulky in shape, making it stand out no matter how gloomy of a day it is outside. Ganni took a less divisive approach to the boot style, with yellow, black, and red lug-soled boots in ankle- knee-high-length styles. 

But Wellington boots aren’t just trending on the runways. With cottagecore, an aesthetic based on a simple way of living and spending time in nature, taking off on Instagram and TikTok, photos of people in Hill House Home Nap dresses, cardigans, and Wellington boots, on hand-knit picnic blankets splayed out in an open field somewhere dominated feeds early on in the pandemic. (A typical cottagecore video will likely also include a spread of farm-fresh foods and the vinyl version of Taylor Swift’s Folklore album playing in the background.) What you won’t find are heels or thigh-high boots. In cottagecore, it’s rain boots year-round. Just ask Hill House Vintage founder Paula Sutton, a Norfolk, England, influencer with an affinity for garden-ready frocks, brogues, and lace-up Wellingtons. 

In a marriage of sorts, cottagecore and high fashion came together during Milan Fashion Week in September — when models at Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s garden-themed show graced the grassy runway wearing paint-stained jeans, picnic-print frocks, and green- and navy-colored knee-high rain boots. “I had so much time to reflect on things this year, and I rediscovered simple pleasures,” Serafini told Vogue. “I was moving toward something very easy and simple: painting, gardening, enjoying the open air.” Sound familiar? For the final look, Serafini sent out a model wearing a white, tulle wedding dress. She wore with it a pair of, you guessed it, Wellington boots. 

With the weather getting colder and wetter by the day, the need for outdoor footwear that actually fits our needs is becoming increasingly important. It’s a good thing, then, that autumn’s most utilitarian boot is also its most stylish one. Shop our favorite fall ‘20 rain boots below.

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