Best Knee High Sandals Reviewed
Did you know that knee high sandals (also known as Gladiator sandals) originate from the Roman Empire? Yes, they were first worn by the gladiators who were fighting in arenas and colosseums?
Hence the name. Gladiator sandals. Today we also call them knee-high sandals, but back in the glory days of the Roman Empire, they were worn first by the Gladiators, then by the soldiers in the Roman army, and then the design was adopted in the design of the everyday Roman citizens.
When the entire foot is fixated, there’s a better leg movement, less chance of injuries, and the Gladiators and soldiers appreciated that security. In the early to mid-20th century they became popularized with the ever growing fashion industry and of course with the popularization of Hollywood cinema, but what are the best knee-high sandals? Here are our picks.
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
Adjustable strap and buckle
Leather and textile sole
- Schutz Hope
- Madden Girl Amily
- Adams Low Wood
- Rebecca Minkoff Gisele
- Free People Sun Seeker
- Sigerson Morrison Bright
- SCHUTZ Nikita
- Chinese Laundry Galactic
- SODA Reanna
- BAMBOO Candice
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Schutz Hope
Made from 100% leather
Only one color (black)
No vegan option
Schutz Women's Hope Gladiator Sandal is classic and timeless. If you’re looking for a knee-high sandal with a chunky high heel, this is the perfect pick for you. It’s made in Brazil and with 100% leather. Yes, that’s right. There’s even leather sole in these sandals and they’re as comfy as you can imagine.Read more
The shaft of the sandal measures approximately 16" from the arch, while the heel measures approximately 2.5". The Schutz Women's Hope Gladiator Sandal is a knee-high gladiator style leather sandal with lace front and secure tie closure at the top. The laces go all the way up to the knee area and they can be tied securely after several loops around the upper calf. This particular model is called Hope and it comes with a chunky heel, perfect for the ladies who a fond of this type of heels, and who avoid setting their feet into a thin heel of sandals. Also, the chunky heel makes them versatile and they can be worn with skirts, dresses and almost every type of formal or casual type occasions.
2. Madden Girl Amily
Adjustable strap and buckle
Leather and textile sole
Only one color
No leather option
The Steve Madden shoes are as American as the hamburger. They’re a trusted brand and their gladiator sandals are no exception. Madden Girl Women's Amily Gladiator Sandal, in particular, is very practical, stylish and extremely easy to put on. Forget about the laces for now. If you don’t really care about laces, you won’t get them with this particular mode of knee-high sandalsRead more
The Madden Girl Women's Amily Gladiator Sandal has a zipper and adjustable strap with buckle at the very top of the sandal. That way they’re much easier to put on and take out afterward, without the added pressure of worrying if you tied the straps too tightly or too loosely. They’re 100% made from Polyurethane (a type of faux leather) and textile, but they do have leather and synthetic textile at the sole, which is very comfy. The show shaft measures approximately 15.5" from an arch, while the heel is flat and very comfortable. Approximately 0.25’’ is all you get for the heel, and for the ladies who do enjoy a great flat, this is a fine chose to make for your next purchase.
3. Adams Low Wood
True to Size Fit,
Cheaper than most
Low environmental impact
No leather option
Only mid-calf length
J. Adams shoes are a stylish footwear option at a great price, and you should definitely check out the J. Adams Low Wood Heel Lace-up Sandal. It’s a sexy and affordable shoe that will brighten your wardrobe.Read more
While most of the Gladiator style shoes have laces and closure all the way to the top, this is the best of both worlds option for you if you’re new to this type of shoes. The high-quality suede of this sandal is very soft and it sits comfortably at the mid-calf of your feet. The laces that start from there give you a secure fit with every step, and the soles are with a slim sole that gives you balance without jeopardizing your comfort. The 2.25’’ length block heels made from wood, make the perfect addition to the already classic and sleek design, and the come in three different colors. Black, taupe and whiskey-colored suede.
4. Rebecca Minkoff Gisele
No vegan option
Only 2 color options
Feminine shoe with an edge. That’s probably the best way to describe Rebecca Minkoff’s designs. Just take a look at her Gisele Gladiator Sandal. Elegant with a touch of simplicity and high quality.Read more
A flat gladiator style sandal that is made with 100 % leather can work wonders for your style and improve your shoe closet. The leather thing straps are accompanied with studded beating, 0.5” high heel, and zipper on the side of the sandal. The slick design of the straps is applied all over the sandal, not just at the sole, and the rubber sole offers balance and comfort. The Shaft is elongated 15" from the arch, and it assures your great fit with every step
The Rebecca Minkoff Women's Gisele Gladiator Sandal comes in black and blush leather versions and there are subtle but very beautiful blush and black color option of studs that sit on both versions of these sandals.
5. Free People Sun Seeker
Made from leather
Laces and zipper options
No other heel option
No other color option
No vegan version
Free People is an amazing clothing brand for every lady that has a boho/bohemian free spirit in her.Read more
Founded in the early ’70s, Free People took the spirit of that era and transcended it for the generations to come. The Tall Gladiator Sun Seeker Sandal is the perfect example of 70’s embodiment and you’ll fall in love with the amazing design and comfort that they offer in today’s fashion. The shoe’s Shaft goes up 16" from the arch, and there’s a zipper that ties all the places in the back of the calf, for a more secure grip.
The Free People Women’s Tall Gladiator Sun Seeker Sandal is a comfy mix of style and practicality, as shown in their leather upper structure and the synthetic material soles in the lower part of the sandal. Free People Women’s Tall Gladiator Sun Seeker Sandal comes in a honey whiskey color, perfect for displaying your versatility and free spirit.
6. Sigerson Morrison Bright
Leather material in sandal and sole
Zipper and laces
No other varieties in color
No varieties in heel height
No vegan option
Quiet Luxury - Cosmopolitan Cool. That’s the Sigerson Morrison company motto in just 4 simple words, but when you look at the shoe offerings, they’re not far from the truth.Read more
Sigerson Morrison Women's Bright Gladiator Sandal is classy and sophisticated, and made for bold daring women with style. The soft pink color is unique or this type of sandals, but the 100% leather material makes it very comfy and familiar. Oh and besides the leather structure that this sandal has, it also has a leather sole also in hot pink finish. The shaft of the shoe comes up 15.75" from arch, while the heel is flat and just 0.55” in height. The sandals offer zipper and lace up tying variety, and they’re one of the pretties pieces of shoes in existence.
7. SCHUTZ Nikita
Leather in insole/outsole, studs
No vegan option
No lower heel option
No other colors, pricey
Another great sandal from Schutz. Although the Nikita Black Leather over the Knee Thigh High Heel Gladiator Stud Sandals are pricier than the previous pick from Schutz, they’re great investment for every woman.Read more
Made from leather, they have leather material even in the lining of the sandal. And unlike the previous version, these come with 4.5" heel and sexy curvy studded design that fits perfectly on the calves. They also have leather in the insole and outsole, and they’re true to size. The Nikita Black Leather over the Knee Thigh High Heel Gladiator Stud Sandals are made for daring, confident women that love a dash of spice and sex-appeal in their every step.
8. Chinese Laundry Galactic
Made from 100% fabric, the Chinese Laundry Women's Galactic Gladiator Sandals are comfortable and lightweight. The flat heeled sandals come in variety of colors and with both zipper and laced up options.Read more
The flat heeled sandals come in variety of colors and with both zipper and laced up options. The full length laces are at the front of the sandal and the zipper is on the rear end of the sandal. The shaft starts approximately 15" from arch of the sandal, while the heel is about 0.55” in length. They have cushion foam bottom and easy adjustable straps that makes them not only practical, but very comfortable for every occasion. The synthetic sole is perfectly positioned to give the toes balance and firm grip. The soles are bit wider, and perfect for those who have much wider feet especially in the toe area. You’re destined to get a lot of compliments while wearing the Chinese Laundry Women's Galactic Gladiator Sandals for sure.
9. SODA Reanna
Zipper and laces
Only 2 color option
The SODA Women's Reanna Open Toe Lace Up Gladiator Knee High Flat Sandal is a cheaper but just as elegant option for the ladies on budget.Read more
The thick straps on the sandal are more comfy on the legs than the thing varieties, and there’s plenty of room to adjust the fit accordingly. The sole is also made from synthetic material, and they do have both zipper on the back and laces in the front. The laces are thin but very comfortable, and the shaft does not have a heel opening. The entire calf, begging from the Achilles heel is covered with the material. They come in yellow and tan version and the only in the flat heeled version.
10. BAMBOO Candice
No other heel height versions
No leather version
No color variety
No heel height options
And the last offer is also a synthetic material sandal. A Leatherette to be precise.Read more
The BAMBOO Candice have a metallic ornament in the center and a back zipper option. The soles of the sandals are also made from a metallic material, but the laces at the front are also practical as they’re gorgeous, giving this sandal a classic and timeless look made for a very stylish ladies. Their fit is true to the size and the stapes do have a bit of an elastic – perfect for the ladies that have more thick calves.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The thing that will make all the difference. Chose the materials wisely and patiently.
Made with leather, fabric or synthetic materials like Polyurethane, the material will affect the price and the comfort that you experience while wearing the knee high sandals. Why? Because the leather is a natural material that absorbs sweat and odor more easily than other materials (especially fake ones), and with buying the leather knee high sandals you’re assured that your shoes will have more longevity, comfort and quality.
leather in the knee high sandals can be found on the whole structure of the shoes (straps and shaft area of the shoes) but also in the sole of the sandal, a feature that makes them extremely balanced and comfy. The fabric ones are not as durable or comfortable as the leather knee high sandals, but the fabric if it’s organic can make the difference when it comes the level of comfort. The fabric ones are a less expensive version than the leather knee high sandals, but very good option if you are looking for affordability and quality in you shoes. The very last option- the faux leather is ideal for every vegan that’s looking for an environmentally conscious shoes. The synthetic materials are less durable and therefore much cheaper than the real leather options, but they’re great alternative if you’re looking for a great shoe option that won’t break the budget. They’re also more waterproof option for your footwear.
Versatility is what makes the shoe fun. Why go for the same old pair when you can have multiples of a different styles?
Thick or thin straps, the choice is yours, but frankly both of them are real winners when choosing the knee high sandals. The thin strap options is more prevalent, but the thick stripes are also in demand, as more ladies feel them more secure on their feet. The fit of the thin straps is very different than the fit of the thick ones, and there’s more common fear that the thin strips are not as durable. That’s a very unreasonable fear but you’ll find the thin straps more in demand and true to the Gladiator style from the history. Some of the models have straps that cover the heel area, and some of them don’t but one might say that the most important strap is in the sole area. Why? Because that’s the strap that secures the toes and fixates the front of your feet giving it a more secure feel.
In most of the knee high heels, the models come with both zipper and laces, but there were some cased when there was only one or the other option. The zipper is mostly included in the rear end of the sandal, but often times it can be found at the sides of the calf. Plastic or metal, the zipper can be lifesaving feature if you’re not the most patient person, and if you dislike lacing up your feet for a long period of time. For the models that do offer both zipper and laces, the height of the shaft goes all the way to the knee, while some of the shorter shafts have been known to go to just in the middle of the calf. There are some instances where you’ll see an additional buckle at the top of the shoe, but zipper and laces are the most prominent features in most of the knee high sandals. The length of the laces is both in the knee area, but sometimes it can be shortened to the mid-calf area of leg.
The advanced features and other embellishments really make buying of the shoes worth it. They make them fun to wear.
The majority of the knee high sandals come plain as they can be. Plain as in the well-known Gladiator design they we've grown to love and admire through the years. The true beauty and craftsmanship of the shoes can really come to light that way, and more often than not, it’s the only thing that they need. Simplicity is truly a virtue with these type of shoes. The laces and straps often make most of the style, but in some of the cases, embellishments, studs, or metallic ornaments can be found on the knee high heels. The studs often match the material of the sandals, and when they don’t the unique design of the shoes makes sure that they pop in the right way. Sometimes rhinestones and pearls can be added for a more daring look but the possibilities are endless here. However, the style of the Gladiator sandal remains the same and they’re easily recognizable in the crown. Women of all ages wear the knee high heels, and they pair well with midi dresses, shorts and boho style skirts.
The higher the better. Or is the flat heel more suitable?
If the gladiator style sandals really want to stay true to their history and turbulent legacy, they should be flat in the heel areas. But these are the modern times and everything goes really. There are no rules, and there are plenty of varieties when it comes to the length of the heel. Yes, the majority of the knee high sandals come in 0.55’’ heel height, but you can find pairs that have full chunky heel made from wood or other materials and even stiletto type of heels for more risky attire. The flat heeled sandals are much more comfortable than their high heeled cousins, but both of them can have a cushioned arch support that ensures that they can be worn for a very long time without pain.
Other Factors to Consider
Styling the knee high sandals…. AKA 3 stylish and timeless ways to wear the knee high sandals
With a little black and little white dress
A pair of black knee high heels would look gorgeous on a little black and little white dress. The Gladiator sandals make one versatile shoe that you can transition from day to night occasion and will leave you looking wonderful in every occasion. The white linen dress and knee high sandals pair well in the long summer days, while the little black dress is a great nighttime option. Ditch the high heels and grab those Gladiator sandals for your nigh out with your girlfriends. You can’t go wrong with either of those 2 options. .
Maxi floral dress, leopard print mini skirt, boho flowy number or printed shorts for more causal daytime look. The knee high heels can be your best friends for every style and for every occasion. The possibilities are endless and all you have to do is to use your imagination. Because most of the knee high sandals are plain and simple, they balance the busy patterns of the rest of the outfits and they do complement each other pretty well.
Any kind of denim and in any form will do here. Dark wash shorts or light denim skirt will look beautifully with the Gladiators. The knee high sandals can elevate the look of your shorts from last season, and can make the entire outfit pop. Denim is a timeless fabric that will never go out of style, and practically the same can be said about the knee high sandals. They’ll always be relevant and you’ll always seen them on runways, fashion magazines or on the street. Is there anything better than matching two classic items on your body?
How to tie your Gladiator knee high sandals?
Some styles of sandals do have long straps that you need to tie securely around your legs. It’s not always easy, but practice makes perfect and in fact there are just two basic ways to tie them properly. The first way is to tie them around your ankles, and the second one is to tie just under your knees. After you tie them, you should walk a couple of steps, jump a few times to make sure they’re secured and tied down. If they are, you’re good to go.
Basically wrapping the straps around the ankles is a bit more secure way to secure your shoes, because of the lack of muscle in that area. The calf has a big muscle that moves when you move,, and that can make the straps slide down after a prolonged time on your feet.
But if you do consider wrapping them around your calves, make sure to go in a X pattern from both sides of your leg. However, be very careful. If you wrap the straps too tightly you risk of tightening the area way too tight, and that will possibly cause swelling and cramps. Your blood flow will be stopped and then the pain will appear. Start slow and if there’s need, adjust the straps after a while.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Yes, they are, some men really enjoy wearing them. Although they’re not as popular as the female versions they do exists and from time to time they do make a come-back in the fashion editorials. However, the average consumer prefers the shorter version of the sandal and not specifically the knee length that’s been prevalent in history. Most of the men’s knee-high gladiator sandals can be found on the fashion forward runways and in period piece movies, but not so much on the average men’s feet. They’re however very popular among the LGBT community and to this day a fashion accessory that is both loved and styled in this community.
The knee-high heels are always on the list of items that no woman over 50 should wear. Mini Skirts and shirts with excessive cleavage are on that list, but so are the knee-high sandals. Some might say that they are not an age-appropriate choice of footwear for women over 50, but the style knows no bounds and if you make the rest of the outfit classy and appropriate, there’s no reason not to wear knee high heels over 50. Most of the fashion experts, however, advise younger and slimmer ladies to wear knee-high sandals because they look best when they’re worn with a short skirt.
So, your legs should look great and they have to blend in with the rest of the outfit. If you’re opting for a 2 piece business suit, then the knee-high sandals will not be the best pick. And in the end, the knee-high sandals are shoes that are meant to be worn with confidence, regardless if they have heel or not. The choice, in this case, should a more refined and simple style of knee-high sandals that will sure to make a statement in a good way.
If the knee-high sandals are made from leather, use a solution of equal parts of baking soda and water to wash down the soles of the shoes. Use an old toothbrush and scrub he is nice, before rinsing them off with cold water and letting them dry. For the outside of the leather knee-high sandals, use a solution of water and vinegar and with a cloth or a sponge and scrub nicely in the areas that are covered with dirt. For the sandals that are made from suede or other synthetic material, make sure to use rubbing alcohol applied to a small cotton ball.
remember. Let the knee-high sandals dry well before you wear them again. Don’t put on wet sandals even if it’s the hottest day of the year. The dirt, the moisture and the sweat from your body will make them less appealing and will age them prematurely. In other words, they’ll be ruined because you couldn’t wait a couple of hours. The most effective way of drying them is just letting them dry in open air, but make sure that you don’t expose them to direct sunlight or any type of direct heating appliances. Blow-dryer will not work for this.
Be careful where and how you store them. One thing to know when buying knee-high sandals. They sure look great but the maintenance and upkeep of the knee-high heels are very tricky. You have to be very careful how you store them and how.
Try to position them virtually when you’re storing them in your shoe closet. If they’re scrunched up, they’ll likely lose their shape and they’ll be more uncomfortable to wear. The proper upkeep also ensures the longevity of the sandals, and you’ll be able to wear them for a longer period of time. Try and stuffing them with newspapers or socks that you don’t wear, and for that crisp vertical calf shoe fit, try adding a rolled up magazines. The tube-like -structure will keep the sandals upright and they won’t lose their shape and overall quality.
If you can afford to have a high boot or high knee sandal racks in your shoe closed, then be assured that they are supported with some sort of hard material (made out of wood or plastic), but if you can’t afford that, a simple soled up paper or some old stuffed socks will work in a pinch.
Oh yes. They’re made for toddlers and children too. Yup. Knee high sandals do come in kid sizes too, and they’re quite frankly adorable.
They’re often more colorful than the grown-up versions of the sandals and also can be found in a variety of playful patterns, illustrations and glitter sequins. Girls and toddlers prefer the knee-high sandals more than the boys, but parents love buying them at such an early age (especially in the summer) because they are an open style of shoes and they let the children’s feet breathe much easier in them, then in closed style shoes like sneakers.
There are specially made knee-high sandals with orthopedic cushioning and special arch support. Children’s feet are very delicate and with the orthopedic Gladiator style sandals, they can develop properly without the kids even knowing it. Child’s play is much easier if the foot is well balanced, secure and supported.
If your work environment is more relaxed than yes, you should definitely incorporate the knee high sandals in your business attire. Just make sure that they’re plain (without the added studs, glitter or ornaments) and they’re not exactly a knee height. The Gladiator sandals should be in a more darker color (preferably black) and they should be much shorter than the regular Gladiator sandal.
Why? Because the regular Gladiator sandal is often worn with miniskirts and but those are not exactly "work appropriate". But if you chose the Gladiator sandals, make sure that you wear them with some modest pair of pants or a skirt that sits just below the knees. But, it all depends on the environment that you work in. If you’re working in an artistic environment, it’s perfectly OK to wear them with almost anything but if you’re in a more conservative corporate work environment than you should be very careful how you style them or you should avoid them altogether.
Formal events are a totally different story. The workplace has plenty of rules and regulations even for the outfits that you wear, but not the other formal events. If you chose a lovely black dress that just needs a bit of umf to make your style more presentable and unique, then go ahead wear the knee high sandals to you best friends wedding, or to your niece’s christening. You’ll be the toast of the town and you’ll be probably the only girl with the pink gladiator style sandals.