When I first came across this picture of Mary Kate Olsen wearing these sandals, my only thought was to the poor gladiators who must be offended by being associated with such hideous footwear, which more closely resemble a giant game of calf tic tac toe than anything a real Roman would wear. And can you imagine the tan lines?
I've been seeing versions of the knee high gladiator sandal everywhere lately. Personally, I'm turned off by any shoe that resembles a torture device, but there's no denying that the gladiator is back and bigger (literally) than ever.
In trying to decipher what would motivate designers to create the scariest leather concoctions not available for purchase at a fetish shop, I did a little research into the history of the gladiator sandal. The obvious first stop was IMDB, where close examination of still shots from the 2000 classic "Gladiator" proved that not only did Russell Crowe not wear gladiator sandals, he wore closed-toe boots. It makes perfect sense to avoid the open-toed look when your job is not to get eaten by a large, hungry tiger.
Historical accuracy aside, there's absolutely no excuse for a Mary Kate-style gladiator sandal, especially when there are so many cute, less extreme, versions available. I love these sandals for their strong, masculine overtones, which work so well when paired with a feminine, pretty outfit. They're practical for walking and look great with shorts or miniskirts to tone down to sexiness of showing off a lot of skin. And they're versatile enough to dress up or down, depending on your mood. For those of us who prefer battling makeup meltdown to live animals, it's a great shoe for feeling like you could conquer anything. Here are a few of my favorite styles: