What To Wear: Welly Ball

The Wellington Boot


1. a knee-length waterproof rubber or plastic boot.

Ignoring the fact that the title of the event makes it sound like some sort of country-side equivalent to football, Welly Ball makes unusual demands on the guests’ wardrobes. As one of the aforementioned guests to this year’s event, and one who doesn’t actually own a pair of wellies, I am especially invested in the question of sartorial propriety. Given my welly-less position, my aim is to justify the omission of the titular boot from one’s ball outfit. What alternatives exist for a fashionable man or woman who doesn’t own a lovely pair of Hunters or Le Chameaux?

The best place to start, I think, is to consider the visual impact of someone in ball-wear and wellies. This combination is uniquely St Andrews’. Wellies suggest rustic traditionalism, an agrarian simplicity and a fondness for the bucolic. By contrast, a tuxedo or a ball gown seems contemporary and sophisticated, urban and corporate even. What is achieved by the marriage of these two ideas (aside from a right-winger’s wet dream)? I would say that the effect is a confident juxtaposition that just seems to click. A ball gown and diving flippers (another piece of niche rubber footwear) would look daft. A ball gown and wellies, though inappropriate for the weekly shopping trip, is inspired. 

Branching outside the realm of the wellington boot for rural inspiration, the Barbour jacket seems like an obvious choice. For the gents, how about ditching the DJ and throwing on a waxed cotton number instead? Ladies may wish to wear one over a dress, keeping you warm and well-dressed.

welly ball 1

Note: shoes are not to scale…I hope

Moving beyond St Andrew’s favourite brands, the brave and the bold might wish to opt for a deer stalker hat to really stylistically ingratiate themselves with one of the favourite pastimes of the welly-wearing classes. Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond in a match made in fan-fiction heaven.

well ball 2

Note: I know this clown is wearing a necktie. I do not condone this, it was merely the only image available

Why stop there? The true welly ball avant-garde could sport tweed plus-fours instead of tuxedo trousers, or underneath a dress. Surely this is the logical culmination of the fashion conundrum  Welly Ball has inadvertently begun? This option is perhaps, on reflection, a little ridiculous. Not even Kanye West, let alone the St Andrews student body, is ready for such intense party-wear. Toning the satire down a notch, it may be best to keep it simple and go with the recommended wellies after all. Dress like the other guests, don’t be a show-off and focus on having a good time instead. Despite my best efforts, I guess I am just going to have to shell out on a pair.