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How to wear Gladiators when you’re short

The Gladiator Shoe Challenge: first in a two-part series

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So a few weeks ago we made a huge discovery: gladiators are a polarizing topic of conversation. Seriously. We had no idea that so many of you would be so passionately against gladiators.  You see, every season it’s our job to identify trends (the process is rather complicated and I wish some sort of MIT-worthy algorithm were involved – or perhaps even if Nate Silver weighed in… – but who needs mathematicians when you have Linda Fargo and our genius team?) and this season the shoe of the season is gladiators*.


Now I get it.  I know what you’re thinking (yes, I read every comment posted on our FB page and I take each of them rather personally) – gladiators only may be ok when you’re 7’3″ while sporting Karlie-Kloss-on-a-good-day-worthy legs.  But before we go into that, let’s be honest for a moment: gladiators are pieces of structural art.  You almost have to step back and admire the architecture that goes into them (if even just the hijinks required to photograph them sans-leg).  It’s the artistry itself that makes them so compelling… and at times confusing.


So back to those who aren’t 7’3″ and blessed with meme-worthy legs: how can we wear gladiators?  Is it even possible to be short and wear them?  Well, I’m 5’1″ and am always up for a shoe challenge.  And this one’s so curious that we’re actually breaking it up into two parts — this post is the first in our series.  And today we’ll be looking at how a short person can wear gladiators that hit at the ankle (ie: Nicholas Kirkwood’s jeweled stiletto gladiator sandal).


Here’s the good news about ankle-strap gladiators: they work for just about anybody.  Ankle-strap gladiators are for whoever feels comfortable in an ankle boot or bootie.  And Nicholas Kirkwood’s studded ankle-strap gladiator was no different. Plus, the stiletto heel gave this pair a softer, feminine feel that said strappy sandal more than warrior kicks.  Although from up-close this particular style seems rather formal, I wore it day-time casual, with (!) jeans.  Saturday was excessively relaxed: distressed light-wash jeans with a gray t-shirt and military-style jacket (seemed somewhat fitting for the Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show); Sunday was a bit more glammed up since it was Easter and we were visiting the New York International Car Show — black wax-coat jeans, white tee and an ancient beaded Stella McCartney/H&M collab jacket (perhaps I was a bit inspired by visions of Vegas tradeshow gals decked in leather?).  As the days get warmer, I’d love to see them worn with leather shorts (hey Cushnie et Ochs!) or a duster of a denim dress.  The key thing to note is to not pair this particular style with mid-length looks — it’ll just cut your legs in half.  Instead, pair your gladiators with cigarette-style pants or skirts and shorts that hit about an inch or two above the knee.  This only will lengthen your leg and draw attention to your notable stems.


Kirkwood’s sandals are incredibly comfortable — the pitch isn’t too steep and the lacing keeps the gladiator strapped in nicely (I’ve found that all of his sandals are shockingly comfortable).  However I must confess that my winter feet weren’t quite ready for 2-day exposure to gladiator straps.  There always is a fine balance when transitioning to spring sandals as leather straps have a tendency to pinch.


Now what about those pesky gladiators that stretch to the knee?  Well, it’s still too cold outside for those shenanigans!  We’ll be testing those out next time.



* it must be noted that today’s gladiators have a murkier definition: any sandal featuring straps that cross the foot and possibly snake up the leg.  Learn more about gladiators here.