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Gladiator Sandals: A Timeless Summer Style

CEO Tinh Phung
Summer is just around the corner, and it's the perfect time to update your shoe collection with a classic style that will take you through the season and beyond. And what better way to embrace...

Summer is just around the corner, and it's the perfect time to update your shoe collection with a classic style that will take you through the season and beyond. And what better way to embrace summer than with a pair of gladiator sandals? These chic bohemian shoes have something to offer everyone, whether you prefer flats or knee-high strappy heels.

Gladiator sandals have been around since ancient Rome and have become the ultimate summer footwear over the years Gladiator sandals have been around since ancient Rome and have become the ultimate summer footwear over the years (Credit: Andre Silva Pinto / Shutterstock)

Gladiator sandals may be a style that has stood the test of time, but they continue to make a stylish comeback as soon as the temperatures start to rise. These are the shoes you'll want to have for your next tropical vacation or as your go-to summer footwear.

The Timeless Style of Gladiator Sandals

Gladiator sandals are characterized by wide cross straps and a stiff sole, often incorporating braiding or leather cords. The name "gladiator sandals" comes from the association with the gladiators of Ancient Greece and Rome, who wore these shoes into battle to keep their feet cool and protected.

Gladiators of Ancient Greece and Rome wore gladiator shoes into battle to keep their feet cool and protected on the battlefield Gladiators of Ancient Greece and Rome wore gladiator shoes into battle to keep their feet cool and protected on the battlefield (Credit: Roibu / Shutterstock)

While gladiator sandals have a timeless appeal, they only recently made a comeback in mainstream fashion. Hollywood's love for Ancient Greek and Roman film plots played a significant role in turning these centuries-old shoes into a fashion trend .

These sandals have a mythological connection as well. The Greek God Hermes is often depicted wearing gladiator sandals with wings on the back, and these sandals also appear frequently in ancient Greek architecture, including at the Parthenon.

More Than Just Flat Sandals

When we talk about gladiator sandals, we're not just referring to traditional flats. The term "gladiator sandals" encompasses a wide range of shoes that feature the synonymous cross-strap design. These shoes can take on various forms, including ones that don't resemble traditional sandals.

The most common type of gladiator sandals you'll find are the ones that resemble the classic style. They usually have a flat sole, an open-toe silhouette, cross straps, and an ankle strap. These sandals are a fashionable alternative to sneakers or slides and the perfect way to show off a fresh pedicure.

1. Ann Demeulemeester Flat Gladiator Sandals; 2. Bed Stu Claire Woven Gladiator Sandals; 3. Vince Kenna Leather Strappy Ankle-Tie Sandals 1. Ann Demeulemeester Flat Gladiator Sandals, $573; 2. Bed Stu Claire Woven Gladiator Sandals, $164.95; 3. Vince Kenna Leather Strappy Ankle-Tie Sandals, $280

But gladiator sandals have also evolved and taken on new forms. Designers have reimagined the style, offering flat gladiator sandals with a platform sole for those who want a little extra height without opting for traditional heels.

1. Sandro Eliane Gladiator Sandals; 2. Sorel Cameron Platform Gladiator Sandals; 3. Dr. Martens Blaire Leather Gladiator Sandals 1. Sandro Eliane Gladiator Sandals, $385; 2. Sorel Cameron Platform Gladiator Sandals, $130; 3. Dr. Martens Blaire Leather Gladiator Sandals, $100

Additionally, gladiator sandals with a "tie-up" design have gained popularity. These sandals feature the cross-strap motif carried up the calf, similar to how gladiators would have worn them into battle. Today, these silhouettes have a more seductive feel and come in various styles, from flat soles to stiletto heels.

1. Valentino Garavani Rockstud Gladiator Flat Sandals; 2. Ancient Greek Sandals Wraparound Ankle-Strap Flatform Sandals; 3. Black Suede Studio Lana Strappy Sandals; 4. Staud Nicola Gladiator Heels 1. Valentino Garavani Rockstud Gladiator Flat Sandals, $1,200; 2. Ancient Greek Sandals Wraparound Ankle-Strap Flatform Sandals, $220; 3. Black Suede Studio Lana Strappy Sandals, $268; 4. Staud Nicola Gladiator Heels, $395

Gladiator Sandals in 2023: A Timeless Trend

You'll be glad to know that gladiator sandals are definitely in style for 2023! You can find a wide range of gladiator sandals from your favorite high-street brands, such as & Other Stories and Reiss. Luxury designer brands like Giuseppe Zanotti, Valentino, and Jimmy Choo have also put their unique twist on the classic style.

Gladiator sandals first made their mark in mainstream fashion during the 1960s, thanks to style icons like Sofia Loren, Jackie Kennedy, and Barbra Streisand. These fashion-forward women helped make gladiator sandals the timeless trend they are today. Back then, these sandals were styled with miniskirts and patterned shirts for a quirky yet feminine look.

Perrie Edwards, Bella Thorne, Irina Shayk, Maria Sharapova, and Rita Ora show how to wear gladiator sandals Perrie Edwards, Bella Thorne, Irina Shayk, Maria Sharapova, and Rita Ora show how to wear gladiator sandals (Credit: Lia Toby / WENN)

Gladiator sandals also experienced a resurgence in the mid-2000s when Y2K fashion dominated trends. It's no wonder that these shoes are once again appearing on runways. Celebrities like Zendaya have been spotted wearing gladiator sandals in photoshoots, while fashion houses like Balmain have made them a central element of their recent runway collections.

Zendaya wears brown gladiator sandals in Valentino Zendaya wears brown gladiator sandals in Valentino’s Rendez-Vous campaign for Spring 2022 (Credit: Zendaya’s Instagram)

A designer who has particularly embraced the gladiator sandal style is Amina Muaddi. Known for her cult-favorite footwear designs, Muaddi has created several shoes that reimagine the classic silhouette. In a recent collaboration with AWGE, she even introduced crystal-embellished gladiator knee-high heels.

Amina Muaddi x AWGE LSD Crystal-embellished Satin Sandals Amina Muaddi x AWGE LSD Crystal-embellished Satin Sandals, $1,510

Whether you're on a budget or looking to splurge, there's a pair of gladiator sandals out there for everyone. These shoes offer a perfect opportunity to try something new or invest in a style that adds a classic touch to any outfit.

Style Tips for Every Occasion

When it comes to summer fashion, gladiator sandals are incredibly versatile and can be paired with almost any outfit. For a chic and effortless look, style your gladiator sandals with a colorful mini dress.

You can choose between gladiator flats or opt for a stiletto style to transition your look from day to night.

Anaak Sofia dip-dyed cotton dress; Staud Nicola leather gladiator sandals Anaak Sofia dip-dyed cotton dress, $401; Staud Nicola leather gladiator sandals, $325

Gladiator sandals are also a perfect match for another summertime staple: denim shorts. If you're heading off on vacation, pack a white shirt, denim shorts, and gladiator sandals for a go-to look for sightseeing.

If you're transitioning from the beach to a poolside bar, slip into your gladiator sandals and add a chic cover-up to elevate your look.

Lilla P Short Sleeve Back Seam Tee in Loose Knit Slub; Madewell The Dadjean Cuff Denim Shorts; Giuseppe Zanotti Danse Du Feu Gladiator Sandals Lilla P Short Sleeve Back Seam Tee in Loose Knit Slub, $68; Madewell The Dadjean Cuff Denim Shorts, $84.50; Giuseppe Zanotti Danse Du Feu Gladiator Sandals, $1,350

So, what do you think of gladiator sandals? Are they a staple in your summer closet? With their timeless style and versatility, they're certainly worth considering for your summer shoe collection.

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