Gladiator sandals are a type of open toed footwear with a T-bar design, which is distinguished by their use of several straps. The straps run parallel across the foot. They ensconce the foot and are bound to the sole, which is typically (though not always) made of leather. This footwear is designed to resemble the ancient Roman footwear worn by mighty warriors called gladiators. These were fighters who battled in great contests, for entertainment purposes. Thus gladiator shoes have a very ancient history with roots that are checkered in violence.
However, there are many differences between the actual shoes worn by gladiators in ancient times and the gladiator sandals for women seen in the market today. In fact, the modern varieties are more inspired by the footwear seen in the award winning film directed Ridley Scott rather than the original ones. One of the biggest differences is the gender demarcation; while in ancient times, these shoes were largely worn by men, nowadays, they are largely worn by women. They are also designed to be comfortable and stylish, rather than being designer to help the wearer fight and move around easily.
The thing that gives a typical antique look to the modern girls’ gladiator sandals is the use of parallel straps running across the foot, leaving the toes open. These shoes are actually very comfortable and, the open toed design makes it largely preferred for summer months. They started off as casual wear footwear, but designers today have produced many high fashion varieties that are appropriate for parties as well. In fact there has been a lot of experimentation with the basic design in recent years. The result is that there are many different varieties of gladiator shoes, each more beautiful than the next. In some, the straps only stretch across the foot up to the heel, while in others the straps continue till the ankles, till the calves or even all the way till the knees.
The fanciest of all would be the gladiator heels, which combine a certain amount of height with the visually pleasing concentric circles design. Thus, women can get the advantage of added height along with the unique, quirky gladiator style. The heel length can vary from small kitten heels to towering stilettos, which are 4-5 inches long. You can pair these high gladiator sandals with fun, party-wear ensembles and semi-casual dresses for day time events.
Gladiator wedges are a more comfortable sub-type. They also add the height of heels sans the pain of balancing and walking around. Interestingly, it was on high-fashion ramps that gladiator wedges were first seen. Most of them have a very stylish, sophisticated and elegant look, which is at odds with the typically casual and girlish vibe of most wedge heels. For some reason, the combination of the concentric circle design and wedge heels works wonderfully well.
However, the most popular and in-demand variety is still that of the gladiator flats. They come with absolutely no heels, and this, combined with their open-toed design, makes them a breeze to walk around in. They are ideal beach wear shoes and are generally a very trendy item during summer months. However, though they do have this summery vibe, they can be paired up with a wide variety of ensembles, including glamorous dresses and formal skirts. This versatility is what makes them an excellent investment for any summer wardrobe.
The classic gladiator shoes are made of leather or faux leather, but nowadays, designers are experimenting with other materials as well. This includes plastic, suede and different varieties of textiles. There are certain distinctive styles which have become particularly popular. The metallic gladiator shoes with silver, gold or bronze straps are a common sight at parties, while the beautiful leather and suede shoes are typically paired with formal ensembles. There are also many Indian style gladiator shoes with pretty ethnic designs displayed on the individual straps. Alternatively, a simple gladiator design, utilizing just 2-3 straps, can be used to make party-wear ethnic sandal look more stylish.
Varieties of Gladiator Sandals
Gladiator sandals are extremely stylish and can be worn with a wide variety of ensembles, depending on the type. Their versatility makes them apt for Indian, western and fusion ensembles. For instance, a pretty Indian kurti and leggings combination would be perfectly completed with a pair of ankle length gladiator flats in a matching color. The stylish gold and silver varieties would pair beautifully with sarees and salwar kameez with gold and silver work on it. However, it is important to remember that with garments like sarees, gowns and lehenga cholis, high heels work best. They create the most flattering drape for such floor length outfits.