Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sandals - the Gladiator Style - Masculine or Feminine?

Closet Content Analysis: Sandals

Choices: Gladiator Battles

Isabeli Fontana. Photo Source: Patrick Demarchelier, Vogue, September, 2008.
What varieties of footwear are referred to as "gladiator"? For me, it is a simple sandal that essentially laces or buckles up the leg to the knee. That describes the ones that gods, goddesses and gladiators wear in the movies or the likes of Isabeli Fontana wear for fashion shoots.

Vogue writer Laird Borrelli-Persson outlined a short history of the gladiator sandal in her 2015 spring trend piece

My question is: Is the "caged" sandal that reaches the ankle and stops there, also referred to as gladiator? "Google images" confirms that all sandals, whether ending at the ankle or knee are known as "gladiator" sandals.

BrianD relates what happened in 2007 when he saw a post online about gladiator sandals. 

Photo Source: Brian Davis
"Oddly enough it was from a guy and he was sharing pictures of his Nine West Jobilyn gladiator sandals . . . I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I started seeking a pair for myself. The funny thing is I went to the same Nine West store where I bought my first pair of Nine West flats and it was the same sales girl that sold me this pair of gladiator sandals. Unlike regular sandals, gladiator sandals have that "caged" feeling because they are buckled up around your ankles . . . I was soooo excited when I bought those Nine West Jobilyn gladiator sandals.  They were really "in fashion" for women. Although they were pretty feminine they still had a unisex feel to them. I guess you could say I was happy how they looked on me.  The double buckle strap ensured they didn't slip off my feet (and) . . . gave them a nice look but was somewhat difficult to buckle and unbuckle . . . A lot of years had passed between getting my first pair of Glads and my first pair of Tory sandals . . . I didn't buy another pair of women's sandals till April last year. YUP, you guessed it, my Tory Burch Millers . . . Now that I am a complete Tory diehard customer I'd have to say I like my Tory sandals better than my Nine West gladiators. First, the soles are rubber or rubber like material and they have great traction and they are very thin and therefore don't look so "clunky" like most men's sandals. They are easy to slip on and off. I have the TB Millers in lots of fun colours. And lastly they have the iconic Tory logo over the top of your foot. So while the gladiators look more masculine or unisex, it is the TB Miller (or any TB sandals) that I now prefer.

Photo by Brian Davis
 When Brian wrote, "I didn't buy another pair of women's sandals till April last year", I have always thought the gladiator sandals were gender-less. I tended to avoid them because they look too bulky to be worn on my feet. As Brian has shared, he likes the thinner sole on women's shoes. Men's sandals do not need to have a heavy sole for most purposes either so the Nine West Jobilyn gladiator sandals look as "uni-sex" as any shoe I have ever studied and as far as gladiators go, these are a winner. Similar to Brian, I do prefer the TB Miller's insofar as sandals go.

Over the past year or two I have taken photos of sandals and shoes at the markets I have visited here in the south-west. This collage demonstrates a smattering of gladiators and you can decide who wins or loses the battle. They are definitely unisex since we cannot discern which are female or male feet and that is the biggest plus for the gladiator sandal.

Photos by JoyD. This collage was made using http://PhotoCollage.net


  1. Gladiator sandals seem to be reappearing in my part of the world. It has been warmer than normal and more people are wearing sandals cuz of this. Gladiators do have somewhat unisex look to them but still offer the person wearing them a touch of a feminine look. (Although the gold ones in the first picture aren't really unisex) I think they the title for this post is perfect because they can be both masculine or feminine.

    For me personally I LOVE my collection of TB Miller sandals. Although they stray away from a unisex look, they are comfy and suit my personal style.

    Another great post, thanks for sharing and I'm glad I got to be part of it.

    1. See, now, I disagree. The TB Millers may be a tad lighter in overall look but that general look is worn commonly by both males and females. Sorry mate, but you may becoming part of the norm ;-) I beg your pardon, Brian but you know, this whole male - female thing, especially when it comes to clothes, is just not important. Those who criticize, laugh, or comment negatively are so bound up in their own restrictions that they are the last ones who should comment. Whatever photos I have seen of you, you look great and to be perfectly honest, I probably would not even notice what you were wearing on your feet.

    2. Haha, Your comments made me laugh but also made me think! Lately I have seen lots of guys wearing white flip-flops or capri(ish) type pants. The gender lines for clothes are almost becoming European like here in Canada. Or should I say "who cares what you wear." And you're right! It's not that important, you just need to feel comfortable wearing it. OK, I also have to agree, people who comment in a negative way must be insecure with themselves.

      THANKS for your kind words about looking great in my pictures, you're so sweet. :)


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