Gladiators – The It Sandal

Most gladiator sandals are not as extreme as this

Over at Cafe Mom they posted the question Should women over 40 wear gladiator sandals?

I’ve got to tell you.. we  I was very surprised they even asked this question. (And surprised at some of the answers!)

Gladiator sandals were new a couple of years back, but now they are mainstream. Why wouldn’t a woman over 40 wear them? They’re nothing racy about most gladiator sandals. Of course, there’s always  extreme versions out there, like the high heeled, knee high dominatrix types worn by 19 year old models who pair them with mini skirts, or skimpy shorts. But really, how many do you see of those off the runway?

The Gladiator question caught my eye because it was kind of like asking, should women over 40 wear high heels?  Of course you should, if you want to.  You don’t stop being stylish because of a number. Why not look fashionable and sexy no matter what your age?

Whether it’s high heels or gladiators, the trick is  to  looking chic is to simply find a pair that is a little more refined and tasteful. You can get away with a wilder, crazy version of a shoe when you are young and experimental, but after 40 you need a tamer pair, or you’ll look tough and desperate.

Here are some of my favorite picks for gladiators:

Basic and Beautiful:J Snakeskin is best paired with a solid color rather than a print. This shoe is best complements gals with thin ankles because of the ankle strap.(Nordstrom)
Relaxed and realistic:

Doesn’t this shoe look comfy? Pewter is a fantastic choice for a metallic because it has a bit of shine like silver, but is much more understated, and therefore more elegant. This classy sandal dress up any outfit.(Nordstrom)

Refined Strappy: I love this Tory Burch nude colored sandal because it’s won’t draw attention to your lily white legs in the spring, and it will also look fantastic when you get a tan.One piece of advice before you buy sandals with lots of straps. Wear them around the stores for a good 10 minutes as we all have different feet and some straps can cut into toes and fleshy areas of the feet. Comfort needs to be key! (Saks)
Jeweled Glaidator: I like jewelry on shoes if it is done right. This is a beautiful example of a shoe that  is subtle but powerful.(Nordstrom)
Soft and Stylish: Pewter again( see how popular it is) These soft Vera Wang sandals have a very luxurious look and feel like they would wrap comfortably around you feet like a blanket.(Nordstrom)
Buckle Up:When my son was about 2 years old, I wore a pair of sandals with lots of buckles like this, and  my son said, “Oh look mom, your shoes have seatbelts!”  (Nordstrom)
Gold Standard:Simple, gorgeous. You’ll look like an Egyptian queen in these.(Nordstrom) <
Grecian Goddess:The perfect mix of fashion forward and elegance.(Nordstrom)

More From Fabulous After 40

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Comments, Feedback, & Opinions:

  1. I am not sure it is a matter of age. More like a matter of whether it suits your style and the rest of your wardrobe. I bought a pair similar to the “buckle up” photo last year. WOre them twice, both times with jeans. Hated them. Not comfy, no arch support. Too flat. I have rather long legs for a petitie person, but these ssandals just made my legs look shorter. This year they went in the Goodwill bin, despite the hefty price tag that they originally bore. I never seem to learn my lesson when it comes to flats. Everyone else wears them and looks cool. They say they are comfy and I get sucked in again, only to end up hating the look and the feel of them on me.

  2. Frump is a state of mind.

    I think what you wear is also very much a matter of how much you look after yourself as much as the “BIG NUMBER 40″. I’ve friends in their twenties and early 30s who, quite frankly, look and dress years older than me (I’m 41), and friends in their fifties who dress very trendy and look fabulous, because they have stayed fit and trim and looked after themselves.

    I wear a lot of clothes that are probably not “age appropriate” in the strictest sense, but am careful to tone down the overall look a bit. So I might wear a young shoe, but won’t wear it with the crochet mini that a 20-something might wear it with – I’ll pair it with a trendy jeans style and a cute top instead.

    (Actually, crochet minis are something I’m definitely NOT going to wear again! But I’d also argue a lot of the 20-somethings who are wearing them probably shouldn’t be either!)

    In the end, it’s about balance. Showing a bit of the sexy / trendy, but not too much. And, of course, the advantage of being older is you’ve learned what suits you, and can usually afford to invest in better quality cuts and styles. I’ve managed to build a wardrobe over time that is very much me, and that, as a teenager, I would have envied :)

  3. Life is too short to “give up” and wear mom-jeans and shoes geared for comfort alone. Yes, it is important to be tasteful, but you won’t catch me considering comfort before fashion or the reverse for that matter. There can be a balance.
    Your personal style is a way of celebrating your femininity. These sandals are a great way to do so. I especially love the metallics and the way they play nicely off of denim. Just remember with statement items like these, a little goes a long way and you’ll be fine. I am 47 and take care of myself so I can enjoy an appropriate amount of trend mixed with the classics that continue to serve me well.

  4. mary wwelch says:

    I have a pair just like the last pair shown, but mine are in turquoise. They look fabulous on me with black leggings and a long black narrow top. I am 5′ 4” and 62 years old. Throw a cool scarf on with a touch of the turquoise in it and you’re good to go. I also add a Chan Lu wrap bracelet with the color in it. I hate the hippie, tie-dyed, ripped jean, etc. looks, but this is completely different … very sophisticated.

  5. I am 48 and I love the gladiator sandal! I have always dressed trendy so why stop? I am getting older not less stylish
    I am 5 foot 6 and med build but have long thin legs… I dont wear the knee high ones (yet) and love the look of them with shorts or skinny jeans…
    I am far more comfortable dressing in skinny jeans than I would be in granny pants and crocks!

    • Hi Kat,
      Fantastic, that you are still wearing the trends!!! .. You sound FAB and like you know how to pull it off! Nothing like feeling the energy of stepping out and looking hip and chic!
      We are so glad to hear that you are wearing your skinny jeans with confidence, we do too!!!

  6. Hi Deborah,

    This is a post I can truly relate to on a few levels. I agree with Maria’s comment and your reply about wearing Gladiator Sandals when you have thicker ankles and also if you’re shorter, those straps definitely can make you appear shorter than you really are. Also, you’re so right about wearing a trendy shoe with an outdated outfit–not a good mix. I think the bottom line is if you’re comfortable with how your legs, ankles and feet look with them on and you’ve got a contemporary enough outfit to wear with them, then wear ‘em with confidence! ;) You’ll feel good about the way you look and it will radiate outward. I’m still trying to find a great pair that don’t make my ankles look TOO thin and make me look shorter than I am, either! Maybe I’ll have better luck this season! I sure hope so. Some of them are so great looking!

    • Hi Jessica,
      Ankle straps can make your ankles look thick if you have very thick ankles, but they’re fine on most women. Most of us are just too critical of ourselves and limit our fashion choices to the point where we think we can’t wear anything. That’s so limiting. It’s good that you are trying different gladiators on, experimenting, instead of automatically saying no to them all ( There are thousands of variations out there and you will find one that will suit you). Too many women start to look and feel old because they get stuck in their old ways.

  7. Hi girls!
    Sandals are very feminine & delicate. Doesn’t matter your age. Feel free to use them all the summer. A good pedicure helps a lot.
    I’m 47 and love them. All kind of styles.

  8. Beverley says:

    I love them and I am over 70!!! I think it depends on the woman and her style. No one I know would think I looked silly in them.

  9. I think the real issue with gladiator or any other sandal is that our feet are often no longer attractive after a certain age – or a certain number of years wearing shoes. When I was in grade school I had wide feet and children’s feet were scrunched into a shoe. When I was in my 20s and for many, many years after I wore various heights of high heels with various toe boxes from pointy, pointy to square. More strain on the foot and bumps and callouses. Now I’m 60. I wear mostly flat shoes and my toes from years of being scrunched in tight and probably ill-fitting shoes are not that attractive, even with a good pedicure.

    Therefore, I say if your toes and feet are in an attractive shape and nice looking you can wear any type of sandal but for the majority of us, unless you are in the company of your best friend or family, feet should be covered. Unfair but true.

  10. There are gladiator…caged sandals that have zippers at the back instead of buckles.

  11. Hi Deborah,

    I’d wear the ‘Jeweled Gladiator’ with capris or slacks. I’m over 60 and not exactly petite in height or weight and definitely know my limits with trendy fashions. Naturaly, I’d pair the sandals with a good pedicure and nice red polish–nothing along the lines of real subdued colors or the ‘dark’ colrich ors so popular nowadays.

    Well, ‘way back in the 1960s my Mom was over 60, chunky and a titch on the matronly side loved and wore with sun dresses or ‘shifts’ a very similar style to ‘Relaxed and Realistic’ shown above. I recall they looked great with slacks or capris on her.

    Back then I loved the ‘Grecian Goddess’ Style AND I was built like Twiggy.’Nuf said.

  12. I think all of these shoes are hideous – regardless of your age. Just because others wear it (like tie-dye or ripped, cut up jeans) doesn’t make attractive.

    • Hi Connie,
      You are right, all fashion is not attractive, to all, but we think they are fun!!! Best of all they are comfortable and we would rather see my Fabulous ladies in these than clogs!!!

  13. I don’t believe these shoes are made for ladies over 40! More like 20

  14. Personally, I would leave these sandals for the young who look good on just about anything. I do not find them attractive at all for women our age, I am 45. I would much rather wear something more comfortable and attractive.

    • Hi Maria,
      I’m glad to hear your comment. It is true that these sandals can be hard to wear for those with wide ankles. Also, it can be tricky putting an outfit with them if you have not updated your wardrobe in a while!

  15. All of the sandals are beautiful, but they all have straps up around the ankle. Wouldn’t all these styles look best on someone with long legs and thin ankles? For a lot of us I think this style would shorten our legs.

    • Hi Nancy,
      You do have a point about these ankle straps. They can look unflattering if you have thick anskles and can shorten your legs. Thanks for your comment it is a good one!