They’re baaaaack….and let me tell you, they don’t look altogether happy.
Remember a handful of fashion seasons ago when tall gladiator sandals were all the rage? Well, it looks like they’re bad for round two, and they’re mad as hell.
Don’t get me wrong; I love a well-appointed gladiator sandal as much as anyone, but if there’s one thing that has to be said about them, is that they’re not the most practical of footwear. As great as they look, even themes comfortable pair of gladiators is still a series of small leather lashings that hug, rub, and squeeze your legs with reckless abandon.
It also has to be said that this season’s crop of gladiators seem to be particularly feisty with all of their bells, whistles, embellishments, and extreme proportions (see above photo).
However, it cannot be denied that there is a certain bohemian appeal to the gladiator sandal that no other summer shoe can possess. The Gladiator manages to have both the weight and presence of a heavier winter boot, the edginess of a rock star, and the soft, flower-child appeal of the 70s all rolled into one. Think you want to give this re-emerging trend a try but don’t know where to start? Fear not. I’ve done all the calculations, and come up with three design features that will make your first gladiator experience a positive one.
No. 1: Avoid Overly-Embellished or Busy Designs
While a gladiator sandal that has been lovingly crafted out of hundreds of little beads, fringe bits, and other odds and ends might seem appealing on the shelf, they very rarely work look as enticing once you put them on your body. At best, they’re a bit heavy-handed and busy, and at worst, it might look a little like cultural appropriation of some sort of tribal ceremonial gear (as above).
Tall gladiator sandals are quite a busy accessory, so when it comes to the design, keep it simple. Choose a pair with nice clean lines, and for a leg-elongating look, choose a pair in either a burnished neutral like gold or copper, or classic tan leather. Black works too, but bear in mind they lend themselves to a heavier, more rock and roll look, and if you have shirt legs, they may cut-off the silhouette, making you look shorter.
Pair your gladiators with either short shorts and a flowing top, a knee length floaty bohemian skirt or dress, or a maxi dress with an open high slit in the front. Choose simple designs in your dress too. Patterns work, but just don’t make them too complicated; you’ll have quite enough going on with your sandals to carry the look off, trust me.
No. 2: Choose a Pair With a Zipper Either Up the Back or the Side
Gladiator sandals have a lot to do – they’re tall, they’re top-heavy, and the network of intricate little straps need to all fall in the right place and be spaced-out evenly in order for the look to really work. If you want to stand a chance of a.) keeping everything where it ought to be, b.) not being crippled by rubbing and pinching straps halfway through your day, and c.) actually being able to get them on and off without a team of expert stylists at your disposal, do yourself a favor and get a pair that has a built-in zipper. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
No. 3: Get a Pair That Either Goes All The Way to the Knee, or Stops At the Ankle
Anything that cute-off the line of your leg at mid-calk can be a bit tricky to wear, especially if you are short. Calf-high sandals tends shorten the line of the leg and make you look a bit…”cankley”, even if you’re not – not a look any of us would really choose if we had a choice. Luckily, we do have a choice. If you don’t want to go the full , knew-high gladiator, instead choose an ankle-high pair that stops at the thinnest part of your ankle. The bonus to a shorter pair? You an also wear them with this season’s must-have cropped jeans!
Additionally, you can also afford to sport a little more embellishment on a pair of gladiators that doesn’t go all the way to the knee, so if you really can’t get the thought of that pair of sandals with the fringe and pom-pons out of your mind, now’s your chance to take them for a spin!