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.

Standout Picks

Schutz Hope
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.
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Madden Girl Amily
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 sandals
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Adams Low Wood
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.
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Rebecca Minkoff Gisele
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.
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Free People Sun Seeker
Free People is an amazing clothing brand for every lady that has a boho/bohemian free spirit in her.
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Sigerson Morrison Bright
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.
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SCHUTZ Nikita
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.
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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.
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SODA Reanna
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.
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BAMBOO Candice
And the last offer is also a synthetic material sandal. A Leatherette to be precise.
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Criteria Used for Evaluation

Materials

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

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.

Advanced Features

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.

Adjustability

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.

Top 10 Picks

1. Schutz Hope

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Schutz Hope
Amazon Link

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.

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.

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2. Madden Girl Amily

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Madden Girl Amily
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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 sandals

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.

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3. Adams Low Wood

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Adams Low Wood
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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.

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.

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4. Rebecca Minkoff Gisele

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Rebecca Minkoff Gisele
Amazon Link

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.

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.

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5. Free People Sun Seeker

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Free People Sun Seeker
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Free People is an amazing clothing brand for every lady that has a boho/bohemian free spirit in her.

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.

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6. Sigerson Morrison Bright

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Sigerson Morrison Bright
Amazon Link

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.

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.

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7. SCHUTZ Nikita

Where to buy
Amazon Link
SCHUTZ Nikita
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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.

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.

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8. Chinese Laundry Galactic

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Chinese Laundry Galactic
Amazon Link

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.

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.

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9. SODA Reanna

Where to buy
Amazon Link
SODA Reanna
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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.

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.

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10. BAMBOO Candice

Where to buy
Amazon Link
BAMBOO Candice
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And the last offer is also a synthetic material sandal. A Leatherette to be precise.

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.

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Sources

  1. Maya Allen, 24 Totally Fierce Gladiator Sandals, Listicle
  2. Amy De Klerk, How to wear gladiator sandals, Style Guide
  3. Start Up Fashion Staff, Fashion Archives, Informational