It's logical, when you think about it, that different places have their own signature looks. Everyone knows New Yorkers favor all black. California girls, according to research by cultural anthropologist Dr. Katy Perry, prefer daisy dukes with bikinis on top. The Texan uniform has long been assumed to be jeans and cowboy boots —and those are certainly not unpopular. But to be a real Houstonian is to have a pair of wellies in your closet (or maybe in the back of your pick-up truck).
Wellies, also known as galoshes by those who like ugly words and Paddington Bear, are basically just a pair of rubber boots. Popularized by the Duke of Wellington (hence the name), they were produced in great numbers during World War I due to their utility in muddy battlefield trenches and found civilian popularity thereafter, particularly among the British aristocracy.
In Houston, the alternative to owning wellies is training American Ninja Warrior-style to parkour jump, stretch and lunge over puddles for up to four days after any significant rain storm, to accept ruined suede and leather and spend all day at the office with damp feet, or to wade barefoot through (yuck) standing water. Hard pass on all of the above.
During my first week of classes at Rice University (also known as my first week as a Houstonian), it rained every single day, and after a few days of trying to navigate muddy trails to class in sandals, I broke down and ordered my first pair of Hunter Boots in classic black. At over $100, they seemed like a fortune, but stayed in my closet long after any other shoe I bought at 18, and they served me just as well on the wet streets of New York after graduation as they did getting around a frequently soggy college campus. The only natural disaster they couldn't survive was puppy teeth.
Hunter Boots are still the welly standard, so much so that Kate Middleton raised eyebrows when she was seen in pricier French Le Chameau boots in 2012. Those who want their rain boots to read expensive can go for Burberry's version with the brand's signature check. Other waterproof options include the original rubber-soled L.L. Bean boot, first produced in 1912, which is so popular that the company can barely keep them in stock every fall, selling 600,000 pairs in 2016. Sperry makes several rubber-sole options as well, although I would note that rubber soles may not be enough to protect from Houston's hella-deep puddles.
Though I'm still partial to the old-fashioned matte green and shiny black, nothing brightens a rainy day like wellies in bright colors and prints. I'm drawn to the Ted Baker-like floral on these Chooka boots, not to mention the adorable stripes and dog print (!) on Joule's version of the welly — and the price point is adorable too, with both under $75.