Search: wellington boots
Why: Coraline wears yellow wellies. Also, it's raining. Also, I might wear my own wellies to Disneyland tomorrow (if it's still raining).
Answer: They were worn and popularized by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington! He instructed his shoemaker to modify the 18th-century Hessian boot, which looked like this:
(They always had tassels.)The resulting new boot was fabricated in soft calfskin leather, had the trim removed and was cut to fit more closely around the leg. The heels were low cut, stacked around an inch, and the boot stopped at mid-calf. It was suitably hard-wearing for battle, yet comfortable for the evening. The Duke can be seen wearing his namesake boots, which are tasseled, in this 1815 portrait:
"Considered fashionable and foppish in the best circles and worn by dandies," they remained the main fashion for men through the 1840s. In the 1850s they were more commonly made in the calf-high version, and in the 1860s they were both superseded by the ankle boot, except for riding."
The More You Know: Those first boots were made of leather. Then Charles Goodyear (tires!!!) invented the vulcanization process for natural rubber. In 1852, some guy bought the patent to manufacture footwear and began the company A l'Aigle (now AIGLE) in France. In a country where 95% of the population were still wearing wooden clogs while working on fields, the introduction of the wholly water-proof Wellington-type rubber boot became an instant success: farmers would be able to come back home with clean, dry feet.