What do your wellies reveal about you?

THE humble wellington boot has long been the symbol of functional footwear, but a new study has found a person's choice of "welly" reveals far more about them than a love of country life and an enthusiasm for muddy pursuits.

The report has been commissioned by a rural dating agency to help lonely hearts find their perfect partner by looking to their feet.

But with fashion's recent dalliance with the rubber footwear bringing wellies to the high street in range of guises, the study is likely to be as relevant to someone seeking a Kate Moss as a Lady Camilla.

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Ruralromances.com, which commissioned the study, said wellies speak volumes about their wearers and provide some valuable personality clues for prospective partners.

Company founder Henry Wild said: "People always joke about wellies in the countryside but they are an essential not a luxury so we hope many will agree with our observations on what their wellies say about them."

Among the "welly-types" identified on the site are the "high-maintenance" wearers of ultra-expensive brands such as Le Chameau; the traditional "farmer's wife" likely be spotted in non-slip Nora boots; and the fashionista label lover who wont' go near a puddle unless her feet are clad in Pucci.

But the study also warns that there can be a cross over between true country lovers and their urbanite cousins when it comes to choice of Wellington.

While the famous Hunter brand generally signifies wealth, whether inherited or earned on the cat-walk, some would-be country types are attempting to sneak their way into the green-welly brigade with "inferior" footwear. The welly report's findings have won the backing of psychology experts.

Cary Cooper, Professor of Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, said: "Looking at someone's wellington boots will tell you about either the person they are or who they want to be, as with most items of clothing.

"If they are wearing wellingtons associated with the aristocracy they may be social climbers and if they are wearing boots with a zany print they are almost certainly attention seekers."

Kay Davidson, corporate designer and personal stylist, said: "Wellies have gone from being very twinset and pearls to being the must-have item for celebs.

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"The bright colours and designs mean that celebrities can still express themselves which is so important to them."

A designer identified in the study as offering welly boot chic is Thomas Pink, which sells a chic pink and navy pair.

A spokeswoman said: "Our boots are mainly worn by women who are from the city and still want to look chic for a weekend in the country. They are definitely not for true country types."

According to the report, by far the most publicised and trendy wellington is the Hunter.

Originally the boot of the landed gentry, Hunters are the aristocratic, leather boots worn by the hunting, fishing, shooting fraternity including the Royal Family and can cost hundreds of pounds for hand-made versions. Prince William owns a pair, as does Princess Anne.

"These are often worn by the wealthy but also by active types with boundless energy and enthusiasm and like to be the life and soul of a party or gathering," the report says.

A spokeswoman for Hunter said: "I would definitely agree with the description that Hunter wearers are outgoing and gregarious. People who wear our boots are unpretentious people who live, work and spend leisure time outdoors and in the countryside."

While the description may suit many Hunter wearers, the brand has also been seen on the feet of supermodel Kate Moss who hardly falls into the country life category.

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Psychologist Dr Belinda Papadopolous warned against judging people too much by their boots. "Clothing has always been used to make a statement about yourself and even to make political statements so it makes sense that wellingtons might tell you about someone's personality. However, you don't want to base your judgments too strenuously, as clothing can also act as a disguise to someone's true state of mind."

Celebrity boots

CELEBRITIES don't often face the dilemma of what to wear in muddy fields, as they are most commonly sighted gliding down red carpets at glamorous parties.

However, since even A-listers can't control the weather, wellingtons have been adopted as the must-have accessory for music festivals and concerts.

After Kate Moss wore hers at Glastonbury, Charlotte Church was quick to follow suit.

Gwyneth Paltrow modelled Hunter wellingtons as she supported her husband, Coldplay's Chris Martin, at Glastonbury. Scots singer Sharleen Spiteri of Texas also donned Hunters for the event.

Sadie Frost was spotted at Reading Festival wearing pink patterned wellies in brilliant sunshine, proving it doesn't even have to be muddy for stars to be trendy.

The Hunter wellington seems to be the rubber boot of choice for the glitterati. It scores highly with the fashion-pack, such as Stella McCartney and model Lily Cole.

Meanwhile, Hollywood's golden couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt modelled them in the movie Mr and Mrs Smith, and Sarah Jessica Parker, renowned for her fashion credentials, has sported them on New York's streets.

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Other fashionable personalities such as Tara Reid, Kirsty Allsop, Donna Air, Chris Evans, Jack Osborne and Cat Deeley have all been quick to wear Hunters.

2006 heralds another year of festivals and, most probably, fields knee-high in mud. Trend-spotters will be watching avidly to see what will replace the Manolos and Jimmy Choos for a week in soggy fields.