I wasn't quite sure what to think about this trend when it first came into the public eye with Ashley Olsen's Chanel knee-highs last summer. But it was kind of like a pug dog – so ugly it's cute. Then came Mary Kate in her spartan-style heels by Azzadine Alaia. It brings one thought to my mind: If I wore something really ugly AND had a twin, I would ask her to wear something similar and just as ugly and then everyone would think I started a cool new trend!
I'm not sure I'd take it as far the Olsens, Natalia Vodianova, and Jennifer Connelly in the Balenciaga gladiators that look like they'd draw blood, or the Givenchy gladiators that look a bit S&M. Not only do all these styles look uncomfortably restrictive, but can you imagine the tan lines you'd get from an hour in the sun? You're asking for leper legs on top of the stares you'd get in public from the shoes themselves.
It was starting to seem that the only wearable gladiator sandal we real humans (aka: not models, actresses, or fashion icons) were going to get were flats. But thank goodness for ready-to-wear and knock-offs. Comfort met sanity somewhere in between those Balenciaga blood-suckers and the traditional flats and we got gladiator-inspired heels that stop comfortably at your ankle.
The Linea Paolo Brittany Gladiator Sandal ($140) is a modern take on the gladiator sandal with contrasting snake-print fabric on the heel and down the center. The Carlos by Carlos Santana Magnum Sandal ($100) has a cushioned foot bed for extra comfort (and a 4 ¼ inch heel). The gorgeous graphite colored Guess gladiators ($114) are lightly padded, have a 1/2 inch front platform, and 3 3/4 inch wrapped heel.
The Stuart Weitzman Zoom Platform ($299). has an all-over patent leather upper on a cork base with an adjustable buckle closure. The Guess Eulia Pump ($110) has double ankle straps with metallic buckles detail and a hidden platform. The Luna Rosa by Pazzo Jailhouse Sandal ($100) is made of crackled metallic leather and shaped into a sky-high platform sandal with a thick T-strap.
The L.A.M.B. Gina Metallic Gladiator is made of snake-embossed leather with a sky-rocketing 5 inch heel for $325. The brown Calvin Klein Ness Sandal ($110) has an adjustable buckle at the ankle strap and threaded detailing on the straps. The fascinatingly futuristic gladiators from Alexander McQueen ($900) are sure to keep your feet safe with all these buckles – and they'd better come with a security system for this price.
For more chic styles, check out our Spring Shoe Guide.