A very nicely balanced post on the etiquette of the shoes-off rule. Good title too.
The Empress argues that while it is rude to demand that guests remove their shoes if they do not fee comfortable removing them, there is nothing inherently rude about asking guests politely to take off their shoes:
I was raised to know that when you are a guest in someone’s home you are to be on your very best behavior. People invite you into their home as a treat. It is a privilege to be asked into someone’s home and be treated as a guest – not a right. Of course you should make yourself comfortable, but that means relax and have fun being polite – not to walk all over them and expect to bend house rules just because you’re a guest. After all, this is someone’s home, it’s not a hotel. It is polite for them to make you feel comfortable, but it is not their job.
So if I am asked to someone else’s home and they politely request that I take my shoes off before I come inside then by all means I am going to take my shoes off. Most of the time I will leave my shoes at the door without being asked, just out of courtesy, especially if I walk in and see a pile of shoes by the door.
I don’t think it’s even a little bit rude to ask your guests to take their shoes off before they come in. After all, odds are high you’ve just cleaned the house and would like to keep it that way. Depending on the number of guests you’re having, there may be serious consequences for your floor if everyone keeps their shoes on – especially in this dismal winter weather.
Readers of this blog may disagree with the Empress when she rejects shoes-off signs and insists on allowing in refuseniks, but it is nice to see somebody recognising that a simpe request is perfectly reasonabe.