How to Fashion Gladiator Sandals with Different Outfits

As fun as these sandals are, gladiators are definitely a big trend this season. These stylish pieces have been around for a few years now, and they undoubtedly continue to be worn for a while yet as they are comfortable, versatile and look good. Traditionally known for their flat soles and thin straps that wrap around the foot and often the leg, today’s gladiator sandals come in many different styles and materials, absolutely the perfect ones for your wardrobe.

However, although their versatility could take them from casual to elegant in just the change of an outfit or sandal finish, especially for women these fashion staples will mostly look best when paired with a long leg and reasonably feminine fashions. Larger women sometimes have difficulty pulling this fashion off, especially if they have short legs. Of course, in this case, there is certainly no reason for plus-sized women not to wear gladiator sandals.

sandals for plus size women fashion lookGladiator sandals for plus size women fashion look

Learning how to wear gladiator pieces perfect for any women’s figure isn’t that difficult, but obviously there are some rules to follow. Here are some ideas for wearing gladiator sandals successfully, and find out more about these stylish shoes.

The Basic Rule of Gladiator Sandals
First of all, remember that gladiator sandals can make your feet look wide and your legs look short if they have too many straps. When paired with more masculine apparel, gladiator sandals can tend to create a mannish appearance, which some women find unsuitable or undesirable.

Secondly, consider your leg and foot shape when purchasing a pair, and also consider your own shape when wearing them. For example, avoid swamping short, chubby legs in heavy, knee-high gladiator sandals and wear chunkier styles with pants, rather than skirts or dresses. To create the ultimate leg and foot elongating visually, you can try a gladiator style with a solid strip that bisects the foot in the center to enhance a vertical line on your frame and to create a long and lean silhouette.

Thirdly, know the types of gladiator sandals based on its height, which divided into three styles including ankle-high, mid-calf, and knee-high.

Ankle-high sandals for womanAnkle-high gladiator sandals for woman

For the ankle-high gladiator sandals, which are flats with no heels, unfortunately, these strappy sandals are leg length suicide that can be very risky for muscular and short legs or thick ankles. So select the most flattering style suitable for your foot shape. Flat gladiators that stop just before the ankle or wrap around just above it look good on most women.

If you have full or wide legs, choose ankle gladiators in nude colors that are similar to your skin tone to make your legs look slimmer and longer. Heels are also slimming on women with thicker calves and ankles, because they draw the eye upward instead of to the straps around the foot. So if you insist on wearing flats, just select styles with a T-strap or 2-3″ heel to counter the shortening effect.

Knee high SandalsKnee-high and mid-calf gladiator shoes for women

When wearing medium (mid-calf) to knee-high length gladiator sandals, always think about balance of the entire look. These call for being the whole point of attention of your outfit, so don’t overdo the clothing and accessories, and just focus on the sandal.

Bright colors and eye-catching styles will swamp the outfit and draw all the attention to your feet, which may not be ideal if they’re not your best assets and you feel self-conscious about it. And if you are trying to brighten up your outfit, then this is good, but watch out if your sandals are just a part of the overall look.

To achieve the elegance with high gladiators, let the sandal be the focus. Pair them with wardrobe that sits above the knee, such as mini-skirts, mini-dresses, or short shorts that allow the length of the sandal to shine. Also pair these sandals with pieces that have simple colors such as black, white, or other single color outfit with minimum details, so that the eye-attention will focus more on your gladiator sandals.

Pick the Right Material, Colors, and Details
Just like any other fashion rules, you will want to emphasize what best in you and disguise what is not. Materials, colors, and details of your gladiator sandals can also do something to achieve what you want depending on your foot shape and length, as well as on what fashion styles you want to present. Unless you want to make a fashion statement and make your feet look smaller, make sure to select details that are scaled to the size of your feet, ankles and calves.

For instance, if you have slim and short legs, select the simplest gladiator sandals possible to avoid overwhelming them, and if your legs are very thin, opt for sandals with details and bright colors to visually add more width to them.

As for the strappy details, straps that go straight across the foot can made the foot appear wider than it is, this is great if you have long thin feet, but if your feet are wide you would look better with diagonal straps that will make the foot appear slimmer. Moreover, if you have slim ankles and feet opt for thinner straps and less details in general – wearing large straps will only make them look smaller in comparison and overpower your legs, and make you look shorter. The same rule applies if you have thicker ankles and feet, go for wider straps and not least a sturdier heel.

Depending on styles you want to pull off, a simple gold gladiator can take a gold shimmer evening dress from ultra-formal to ultra-fabulous. If your wardrobe contains mostly casual, light clothing, the traditional leather gladiators are probably best for you. These classic styles are perfect for running around on a hot summer day, looking great with a white cotton summer dress, as well as with any colorful sundresses, shift dresses and sheaths to create the “bohemian meets roman goddess” look.

On the other hand, if you like to dress up perfect for casual chic days, or casual fridays at work, or if you want to add glamour to a cocktail dress or fancy jeans, the snakeskin gladiator is another style that we love. You might also want to look for heeled gladiator sandals or flats with gold or silver fabric or grommets and studs.

Undoubtedly, a more sophisticated colorful gladiator can dress up a sundress or white jeans, tailored trousers or shorts, and of course, gladiators add a bit more style and sophistication than flip flops and beach slides do. During this summer season you’ll see gladiator sandals in all hues and finishes, from crocodile skin to leather, neon to metallic, all this makes them extremely versatile to dress up in on a Friday night.

in basic designs and neutral shades for a safety styleGladiator Sandals in basic designs and neutral shades for a safety style

Gladiator Styles for All Foot Shapes
Choosing gladiator sandals in basic designs and colors – especially black – can never go wrong with any wardrobe and with any color combinations. Then, after you feel comfortable with the basic ones, you might want to build your look with more interesting details such as studs, buckles, and beads, or with shiny texture, statement straps, heels and platforms designs and so on.

Not to mention, you can also try more experiments with bright hues like purple, red, blue, yellow and green, or even with metallic like gold or silver to complement the look. Once you’ve discovered which type of gladiator sandal suits you best you can pretty much wear them with anything. One more thing, just make sure your feet are in tip top condition with perfectly painted toenails and no cracked heels.

with heels or flats paired with mini, midi, or maxi dressesGladiator sandals with heels or flats paired with mini, midi, or maxi dresses

Gladiator with a dress
You may try channeling the Roman vibe by pairing your gladiators with a long tunic dress or maxi-style halter dress. Most gladiator sandals are versatile, and look good with either plain or trendy dresses, mini or maxi. As for printed and colorful dresses, then again you still have to think about balance. If you’re wearing a print dress, make sure the color of sandals is solid-colored and the design is simple. However, if you want to make a bolder style impact, find a pair of sandals in one of the colors on the print – or in a color that complements the colors on the print.

with denim, chino, and tailored pantsGladiator sandals with denim, chino, and tailored pants

Gladiator with pants and trousers
Not only that gladiator will look fabulous with mini outfit, these pieces will also look great with trousers that fit close to the ankle, such as cropped pants, chinos, or harem pants. For a sophisticated yet chic office outfit, choose a pair with heels, while for an effortless and timeless, casual look, grab a pair of wide legged jersey or linen trousers, roll up the pants a little for a laid-back vibe, and show off your gladiator sandals. And, if you want to look super slender and tall, you can combine the colors of your sandals, hosiery, and pants in skin tones or neutral shades.

with heels or flats paired with skinny pants and leggingsGladiator sandals with heels or flats paired with skinny pants and leggings

Gladiator with leggings and skinny pants
Sporting leggings or skinny pants with gladiator can be super flexible that you are free to choose what style you desire to compose. The simplest way to wear gladiator sandals is to pair them with your favorite pair of jeans to hide your ankle and calf at the same time showing off your pretty pedicure and fun, strappy sandal. However, you may as well enhance your glam vibe by pairing your leather skinny pants and sheer blouse with flattering gladiator sandals. For a dressy look, wear a chic tee and cardigan, or choose a colorful T-shirt and layers for a simpler, fashionable outfit.

with denim shorts, mini shorts, and BermudaGladiator sandals with denim shorts, mini shorts, and Bermuda

Gladiator with shorts
As mentioned before, gladiator sandals will look fabulous and extremely flattering to be worn with outfits that sit above the knee or at the ankle. Mid-calf or knee-high gladiators look better with short or mini outfits, while ankle-high gladiators are perfect with outfits in any length, as they look great with Bermudas and even mini shorts.

Try to fashion any designs of shorts when you pair your gladiator sandals, including tailored dress shorts to up the chic-factor of the look, or ripped denim shorts for a more casual and urban look. You can also opt for cropped pants or mid-thigh styles to achieve the classic look – although you still need to consider your feet and body shape when wearing these pieces.

with mini skirt, pencil skirt, or A-line skirtGladiator sandals with mini skirt, pencil skirt, or A-line skirt

Gladiator with a skirt
When pairing gladiator sandals with a skirt, especially maxi skirts or dresses, the bohemian vibe will mostly come to mind. A ruffled Bohemian skirt or loose A-line skirt and lots of jewelries look fabulous with either flat or heeled gladiator sandals. As for mini-skirts, if you’ve got short and petite legs then flaunt them in mini-skirts to make them look longer with the gladiator sandals.

Making your legs longer and slimmer visually, heels are one of the best options to choose, while to decide whether heels are best with skirt, look at the hem of the skirt. Longer skirts that reach to at least mid-calf look better with flats, while knee-length and shorter skirts are best complemented by heels. Additionally, flats look super cute with a full circle skirt, while heels make a pencil skirt-outfit look trendy. You can also match a pair of taller gladiator sandals that wrap around the ankle and the calf with skirts, but avoid these, if you have curvy calves because they will fit too tightly.

Gladiator sandals with LBDGladiator sandals fashion look with Little Black Dress

Knee high for Plus Size WomenKnee-high Gladiator Sandals for Plus Size Women
question by Melissa Penman

Wearing Gladiator Sandals that are Loose around Calves
question by Cyn

Loose Gladiator Sandals Style Gladiator sandals that are loose around calves

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18 comments on «How to Fashion Gladiator Sandals with Different Outfits»

  1. katom says:

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

  2. Rachel Bell says:

    I love the gladiator look, it’s been around forever(literally!!) I have been rocking a wedge recently, great with cropped jeans or shorts.

  3. Melissa Penman says:

    I love the gladiator look .I’m 6’2′ an 50 yrs old.I’m all legs buy s plus size. can I wear I knee high gladiator with s short skirt?.an is it age appropriate.
    Thank you

    1. dee-nee says:

      Hi Melissa,

      I’m honestly one of those who support women in all ages (and sizes) to fashion in whatever style they want.
      We broke the rules on appropriate dressing decades ago, and todays I don’t think we need to worry about age-appropriate dressing anymore.

      On the other hand, speaking of age-appropriate dressing for 50 yrs old. The important thing is to make sure we dress with our own personal style.
      Meaning we are sure that we love the outfits, the styles and we are confident with it. Just make sure you don’t dress to be someone you’re not
      Because once you’re over 50, you know yourself pretty well. So wearing clothes that aren’t really “you” diminishes your self-confidence.

      Back to your question …
      Yes, knee-high gladiator with short skirt is still age-appropriate for 50 yrs old (as long as you love to wear it).
      If you are considered plus sizes, take a look at the picture in the article featuring fabulous plus size women who wear gladiator boots

      Thank you so much with your comment, have a fabulous day

  4. tila guzman says:

    Thank you for taking time to post these pictures it gave me the right idea for how to wear my gladiator heels

    1. dee-nee says:

      Hi Tila,

      Thank you so much for the comment. I’m very glad you like it

      Have a wonderful day Tila 🙂

  5. Cyn says:

    I recently bought a pair of gladiator sandals that close up close to my knees but it is kinda big around my whole calf. Do I look ridiculous wearing it loose on my calves?

    1. dee-nee says:

      Hi Cyn

      If you ask me personally, yes I think wearing gladiator sandals that are loose around the calves looks pretty silly, plus it isn’t comfortable to wear.
      On the other hand, saying whether this style definitely looks good or not good to somebody’s personal style wouldn’t be fair if in fact the person loves to wear it, not to mention, I also don’t know what type or design your sandals are

      So, I guess, everything depends on you, if you think those gladiators look good on you, just wear it and be confident with it
      I can’t put images in this comment box, but you can see some pictures I chose for you at the article above, showing a lady who wears loose gladiator sandals.
      And, honestly, I think she looks fabulous with those gladiator sandals, so you probably can follow her styles

      Somehow, I see gladiator sandals that are loose around the calves look a bit sloppy, which is good if you want to create an easy, casual outfit.
      Make sure the sandals is totally flat (no heels at all) and pair it with chic attire so that your appearance doesn’t look too “sloppy”.
      Actually, even some stores including freepeople offer gladiator sandals that are loose around the calves.
      Again, it depends on your personal choice as well styles or designs of the sandals itself.

      Moreover, if you want to fix the straps and make it fixed for your calves, please check this site for a great tip, or you can just go to the shoemaker and have them fitted for you.

      Hope it helps Cintia
      Have a great day 🙂

  6. Mimi says:

    Love the advice. I’m in my 30’s and I don’t want to look trashy with the glafiator heels but I love them!!!!

  7. Shena Grimes says:

    Hello, Atricle was very informative. Can you Pls. Tell where I can Purchase Full Leg Gladiators. I’m A Plus size And cannot Find any to Fit My calves. Thank You So Much.

    1. dee-nee says:

      Hi Shena

      There are some stores that sell Knee Gladiator for Plus Sizes, including :
      makemechic, lolashoetique, zappos, or amiclubwear (I picked pages that show the largest size so that you get the ideas what the maximum sizes the store has)
      Ebay and Amazon also got plenty of these pieces with certain keywords like plus size gladiator, plus size knee gladiator, knee gladiator, etc.

      As for finding gladiators that fit to your calves, many people prefer to go to the shoemaker and have them fitted for you.
      Or you could pick easy designs with straps that are easy to customize. I have these two for you : Alexander Wang – Aline leather sandals and Fame Game – White
      These two shoes have straps that pretty much easy to fix, for example changing the buckle’s placement or adapting the front lace to your size.

      Another option is to find Custom Gladiator Boutique like Stuart Weitzman
      or check to get the right shoemaker for you

      Hope it helps Shena, and have a great day 🙂

  8. Noelle says:

    Hi love your post where are the black sandals in the top middle of the picture labeled “Gladiator Sandals in basic designs and neutral shades for a safety style” from I would love to get my hands on them 🙂

    1. dee-nee says:

      Hi Noelle

      Sandals you mentioned is Caitlyn Gladiator Sandal by Dolce Vita, found at Free People.
      They are currently unavailable at Free People or Lyst
      But you could google up with keyword: Dolce Vita Womens Caitlyn Gladiator Sandal, Dolce Vita Caitlyn Gladiator Sandal, Caitlyn Gladiator Sandal, etc.

      Hope it helps Noelle, have a great day 🙂

  9. alejandra says:

    Omg! I’m looking for the alfit for the bright color shirt dress and knee high gladiator sandels. I love that looking!!

  10. Nicole says:

    Can you please tell me who makes the loose ones on the bottom left of the article? I love them!

    1. dee-nee says:

      It’s Romana Floral Sandal by Jeffrey Campbell but currently out of stock at Free People
      You might try other similar product such as this one (but not in florals)

      Thanks much for your comment Nicole
      Have a nice day 🙂

  11. Tonia says:

    Can you wear gladiator sandals with nylons and a skirt.

  12. Karine says:

    Can you please tell me were to find let one on 22 pic…

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