Fashion & Style

What to wear with gladiator sandals

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gladiator sandals
Celebrities are certainly onboard when it comes to gladiator sandals
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When you decide what to wear with gladiator sandals show some leg!

Gladiator sandals are open toed, flat soled (traditionally) and consist of multiple straps. The shoe can reach to just above the ankle, to mid calf or very high up on the leg depending on the style you choose.

What is a gladiator, anyway?

In ancient Rome, this person was either imprisoned or a slave and was ordered to fight to the death in a public arena against wild animals or another person for the amusement of the onlookers which, is, of course, a barbaric form of entertainment. Whether or not they actually wore this type of footwear has been debated but actor Russell Crowe ("Gladiator") certainly looked good in them!

What do they look like?

The straps on a gladiator sandal can be wide or thin, woven or knotted. A strap runs along the foot top connecting to a series of straps, branching off to the sides, creating an interesting and very visual pattern of webbing.

When a shoe, such as these, doesn't provide a lot of coverage on the top of the foot, the part covering the tops of the toes is called the vamp. The spaces between the shaft straps and vamp leaves skin exposed. 

Today's version of the gladiator sandal is not necessarily flat, as were the original. They comes in various designs, heights, sometimes consisting of thick wedges and tell heels. The footwear is available in leather, plastic and rattan and in various colors. Some are stamped, beaded or adorned with embroidery. They are very cool looking.

What to wear with gladiator sandals?

Consider wearing a short or ankle-length dress or skirt. If you have a good body, wear them with short-shorts. Cropped pants are a good choice. You want the shoes to be seen, not covered up.

Emphasize the gladiator aspect: Pair these shoes with a glistening, gold Cleopatra/Goddess tunic or with a simple white cotton dress. 

The high leg gladiator goes up really high on the leg. It is the focal point of your ensemble so keep the rest of your outfit relatively simple so the shoes and clothing don't vie for attention. 

Consider a metallic pair. Couple silver metallic sandals with a cool colored dress or gold shoes with warmer colors. 

Do Not

Don't buckle the footwear over jeans. Wear them underneath the jeans or not at all. 


A good way to balance out substantial footwear, which these are, is to combine the shoes with chunky accessories, such as bracelets and necklaces.


If you have thick or muscular gams you may want to avoid footwear that wraps all the way up the leg. This will make your legs look bigger. Conversely, those with very slender legs may find chunky sandals are overwhelming. 

Try on a pair and study yourself in the mirror. Because the straps cross the ankles this leads to a horizontal line cutting the length of the legs, which can make the legs and the wearer look shorter. 

Generally, a shorter skirt or dress looks better combined with this footwear than, for example, a calf-length (tea length) because the tea-length and strappy, chunky footwear combined cuts the wearer's height and length of legs, making the person look shorter and potentially heavier. 

If you are going to wear this style, show it off. Go big or go home! Let the shoe be the main attraction. Reveal some leg and skin. 

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