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An American who offered a stylish British friend the harmless compliment “I love your pants” may feel confused when they are met with stunned silence or - more likely - a fit of giggles.
What Brits call trousers, Americans call pants, and to those in the UK, pants are what you wear underneath them - the well-meaning American has just inadvertently praised their friend’s underwear.
The many subtle yet important differences between US and British English can lead to some confusion, especially for us at Joules, and even more so since our collection took off in the States. Allies we may be, but let’s take a deeper look into what separates us from a fashion language point of view.
What you call rain boots in the US, we would simply call a welly or even its full title: Wellington boot. The difference stops there as both the UK and the US get to enjoy the beautiful Joules prints on offer in our rain boot or welly products.
The waterproof boot was popularised by British war hero and politician Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington. Wellington was a titan of 19th-century Britain who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and served as Prime Minister – twice.
A famous innovator, Wellington asked his London shoemaker to adapt the kneelength leather Hessian boot by removing the trim, shortening it to the mid-calf and cutting it to fit tighter around the leg.
The hard-wearing design was perfect for riding and quickly made a splash with the British upper and middle classes seeking to emulate the wildly popular public figure. Years later the Wellington name was applied to rubber waterproof boots used in wet and muddy conditions, particularly on farms and across the countryside.
The benefits of this tough and protective boot were also appreciated by workers in mines, chemical and food processing plants, hospital operating theatres, boats, and more recently the sterile environments needed for high-tech manufacturing.
In defence of our mates (or buddies!) across the pond, calling them ‘rain boots’ is perhaps a bit more logical than naming them after a 19th century British commander – but us Brits love a bit of quirky tradition!
Whatever you call them, the boots have evolved from purely utilitarian items only available in drab colors into the eye-catching footwear enjoyed by everyone from style-conscious city center dwellers to residents of remote country estates.
We have become famous for our brightly colored and printed rain boots. Our evergrowing collection features eye-catching patterns, beautiful floral and animal prints, including adorable bees and playful dogs.
Our customers love our vibrant designs, especially puddle-jumping children and the young at heart. We also have a pair of sleek and stylish glossy black field rain boots for those who don’t like to compromise on style as they do chores in the backyard.
We have also written the next chapter on the welly’s history of innovation with our popular Wellibobs. These ankle rain boots have all the features of their taller cousin but in a handy short ankle style. Designed to pop on and pull off, they’re waterproof, feature a water-dispersing sole for better grip and include a removable faux-fur insole to keep your feet warm.
We also offer an innovative roll-up rain boot too. These handy and beautifully engineered boots fold up into their own drawstring bag so they can easily be brought along wherever you go. They’re lightweight too, which makes them perfect for festivals, school trips, holidays and simply to keep close by in case of unexpected downpours.
The rain boot or welly has a rich and fascinating history. It started as a custom riding boot for one of the most famous military leaders in history, then became a vital utility item for workers in wet, muddy, and difficult conditions, before evolving into a handy yet-stylish everyday item for people of all walks of life.
For more information on rain boots, check out our care guide which is filled with information about how to make the most of your lovely new rain boots.
Another difference between America and Great Britain is the word for the useful and versatile padded vest – ‘gilet’ or just 'vest' in the US and ‘bodywarmer’ in the UK.
Gilet is the French word for ‘waistcoat’, from the Spanish ‘jileco’, itself adopted from the Turkish ‘yilek’.
We offer vests that are lightweight and a little sporty, filled with soft faux down that provides warmth without the weight. A perfect way to combat the cold, and a great stand-by when a sudden-chill sets in or the sun starts to dip at the end of a summer day.
They are popular among active people who enjoy country and outdoor activities such as horse-riding, fishing, and cycling because they keep you warm without restricting arm movement.
If we are looking at British vs American fashion, the differences aren’t all that great in the grand scheme of things so whether it’s a rain boot or a welly, a gilet or a vest, one thing stays the same: that typical Joules quality and sense of go-anywhere adventure.