Saturday, January 23, 2010

Having a Shoes-Off Policy Does Not Mean

Having a shoes-off policy does not mean that:

- You do not know the difference between asking and demanding.

- You ask your guests to remove their shoes in an unpleasent or rude manner.

- You "force" your guests to remove their shoes.

- You would not make an exception for elderly people or those with a medical issue.

- You would never make an exception if a guest felt really uncomfortable with removing her shoes (this is at your discretion).

- You would never make an exception for a party (but you don't have to; shoeless parties are great too!)

- You would not try to let guests know in advance that you prefer shoes-off.

- You make your guests wear horrible fluffy slippers that have been worn by hundreds of previous guests.

- You think your guests shoes are dirtier than your own.

- You treat your guests like children.

- You are obsessed with cleanliness.

- You are anally rententive.

- You are germaphobic.

- You keep your children in a sealed plastic bubble.

- You have plastic sheeting on your furniture.

- You have a foot fetish.

- You care more about your carpets than your guests.

- You are not an absolutely delightful host or hostess.

50 comments:

Moderate Mouse said...

Um, as far as the plastic sheeting on the furniture is concerned, I actually saw it on a reality show (which is still going on) on the US-based channel VH1. The name of the show is called "Frank the Entertainer in...A Basement Affair." It's where these girls are competing for this one guy known as Frank the Entertainer, who was a contestant on the dating show, "I Love New York" (which the person being competed for went by the nickname 'New York'. She was actually a runner-up on the show "Flavor of Love," but I digress).

Normally VH1 gives its "of Love" show hosts a temporary mansion. However, they decided to have "The Entertainer's" show take place in his parents' house. (Where HE's living and trying to get out of. There's a reason for "A Basement Affair" in the title. And naturally, his parents do have a role in the show.) And no, they don't have a "shoes-off" policy. However, there have been at least one or two episodes where I've seen one of the brown-ish couches covered in plastic. (Just when I was starting to think it was something that only happened in cartoons and sit-coms.)

Celestial Fundy said...

Interestingly, I did read somewhere that leaving plastic sheeting on furniture was common among Italians and Hispanic people who would never dream of removing their shoes.

It is interesting that people and peoples can be careful about different things.

Anonymous said...

In an Italian film, an old lady tells a boy coming to her flat to stand on pieces of fabric which he can walk with on so that his shoes don't ruin her well-polished hardwood.
In a YouTube video, Italian-speaking girls deboot while entering a trailer

Anonymous said...

It is rude to ask guests to disrobe in order to enter your home, unless they have exceptionally muddy boots. If you cannot afford to maintain your white carpet against the onslaught of guests, consider are more economical aternative. Some people have problems with foot odor and/or foot fungus, and should not be forced to endure the embarassment of removing their shoes to accomodate the fact that you don't want to clean your flooring. I appreciate that you would be willing to make an exception for people with a medical condition, but it would be impolite for you to ask that they even tell you about such a condition! If I received an invitation with a 'no shoes' stipulation, I'd decline to attend.

Celestial Fundy said...

Anonymous 1-

I have heard about some Italians wanting shoes-off, but it is not the norm over there.

That film is a good illustration of customary non shoe removal.

From the stats, I know that Italian visitors are rarely stay long and have usually come to this blog either randomly or after searching for some other subject.

Celestial Fundy said...

Anonymous 2 (I hate to moan, but please can all you anonymous posters think about choosing a pseudonym, it really would make it easier)-

Thanks for visiting and sharing your opinion.

Shoes are not robes, so it is a bit misleading to talk about disrobing here.

If a person has a medical condition that makes shoe removal painful or difficult. They don't have to talk about it or give any details.

They can just ssy:

"Sorry, not possible with my condition."

Do you really think I am so impolite as not to leave it at that.

Would any decent host say:

"Oh, you have a condition do you? What sort of condition is that, eh? Do tell us all about it."

Moderate Mouse said...

"Interestingly, I did read somewhere that leaving plastic sheeting on furniture was common among Italians and Hispanic people who would never dream of removing their shoes."

Come to think of it, the family in the show I mentioned IS in fact of Italian descent. I guess that would explain the plastic sheeting on that one couch I mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to have forgotten adding my nickname: Anonymous 1 is me, Mr. Anonymous :)

To Anonymous 2:
is it rude to tell people "make yourself at home", "take off your coat"?
the same with shoes, isn't it?
my visitors deshoe with pleasure and by default; I used to tell "you don't need to do it", but people were surprised, and I quit this inhospitable quasi-polite saying.
Only once had I to kindly ask a student of mine, who came to my home for private classes to remove her boots though she had done it first few times herself without my request or hints; I let her come in boots when she asked for as I assumed she had problems with her feet or pantyhose; when the next time she requested the same, I didn't refuse, but just asked her for debooting if it was not a real problem; the only problem was she needed a chair to sit for debooting (my lobby is to small for a chair), which I brought for her from the rooms.

Celestial Fundy said...

Mr Anonymous, can I suggest that when you leave comments, instead of selecting the 'Anonymous' option, you click on the option 'Name/URL' and then enter 'Mr Anonymous' into the field.

Mr.Anonymous said...

Thank you for the idea :)

Anonymous said...

I just wonder what you think of something which happened in our office over the last few days.

There is a young lady, early 20's, who joined recently in a secretarial role.

Anyway, on Fri she wore some knee-length black boots to work and took them off because she said they were muddy.

She said she had tried to clean them, and they looked fairly clean, but there were slight traces of mud on them.

Then today she wore the same boots and took them again. They really are'nt very muddy at all, but she was adamant that she felt un=comfortable wearing them in the office because of the bit of mud.

On both occasions she has left her boots off all day and just gone in a skirt and stockinged feet even when clients came in.

Is this OK or do you think I should tell her to stop taking her boots oof - i don't want to upset het or hurt her feelings, but i an her boss.

Andrew.

Celestial Fundy said...

Andrew, thanks for visiting.

Why should she keep her shoes on? You have not mentioned why her action causes you concern. If she is more comfortable with them off, I say let her.

The only reasons for her needing keep them on would be a genuine health and safety reason (in an office not convincing)or if formal dress is required to protect the company's image in the presence of clients.

richyrich said...

Andrew,
Do you think that the firm's clients would mind if they saw this young lady in stockinged feet? I don't know anything about your firm or its clients but from my own personal experiences my guess would be that most of them probably wouldn't mind. I certainly wouldn't if I visited an office and saw company employees shoeless.

If you don't think they'd mind, then I would let the girl to stay shoeless. Indeed you should be grateful that your firm has an employee who shows such consideration for the company's floors. I am sure that if all (or even a small percentage of) employees in the country took this attitude, the total savings in cleaning costs would add up to several million pounds!

Mr.Anonymous said...

Dear Andrew, I fully agree with the comments by Celestial Fundy and richyrich; your new employee must be a well-bred person.

Mr.Anonymous said...

BTW :
1)there was Sarah who was going to be shoeless on a New Year party - has she revert describing how it has been?
2) a girl from Romania missing shoes off in her native country - has she answered the question where she is now?

Celestial Fundy said...

Mr. Anonymous,
It would be nice to get regular updates from our friends who visit here, but it their continuing to comment is at their own discretion.

Mr.Anonymous said...

Fully agree with you; just wanted to make sure if I haven't skipped their feedback

Mr.Anonymous said...

Is shoes-off relatively common in Manchester?

Mr.Anonymous said...

One of UK rock-group's musicians (Nazareth's? or Iron Maiden's?) permanently resides on the Canary islands, where shoes off is a norm. They have adopted the policy pretty much: while being interviewed at a radio-station in Moscow few years ago, one of those rockers even took off his shoes at the studio door. He praised this policy in the interview and said they had been shoeless at a home party in Moscow, and their producer liked it very much because "she would have never been expected to do so in London"

Celestial Fundy said...

Come to think of it, Sarah might have got back to us a couple of weeks ago. Have a search through the last couple of week's comments and you might find something from her.

Manchester- Removing shoes is slowly becoming more common across the UK, but I believe this is less so in norhern areas, so possibly not so much in Manchester.

Canary Islands- Are you sure about that? They are part of Spain.

If you can supply links or URL for some of the things you are referencing it would be useful.

Mr.Anonymous said...

http://www.stars.ru/news/art/music/03/05/19_009.htm

- it is an interview with Lee Kerslake, Uriah Heep's drummer (in Russian, sorry), where he says it is a tradition in the Canaries to take shoes off; couldn't find a reference to the producer's experience, but I definitely remember it.

Northern climate should make people incline to shoes-off, doesn't it?
Why I thought so about Manchester: I had a shoe-free photo of an English friend's home party in Manchester, and yesterday I watched an English film, its story in Manchester: there is a scene of few friends at a home, each of them in socks.

Mr.Anonymous said...

Just one feedback from Sarah about her boot-free hosting a New Party at her boyfriend's party, but she hasn't reverted on her second likewise planned action - visiting some friends.

Celestial Fundy said...

I hear contradictory accounts about the customs of lots of countries. Like with Greece.

Obviously these things can vary. Perhaps in a particular neighbourhood in a non-removing country, shoes might typically be removed because the houses are new with expensive flooring.

I tend to be more confident that a country is shoes-off if I hear multiple accounts that this is so.

With regards to northern England, the north tends to be more traditional and their is a dilike of 'fussiness' which might make people resistant to the general trend towards shoes-off.

Some people certainly do take their shoes off in the north. It is catching on.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Thanks for the replies to my post yesterday, and sorry about the poor typing!!

I had a chat with the girl today, as she again wore the same boots and was in her stockinged feet in the office.

She explained that it is'nt really that she finds wearing the boots un-comfortable, but that she views them as other people would wellies and wears them around the lanes where she lives. As a result of this she does'nt like keeping them on in the office. She also said that she does'nt like wearing her formal shoes all day ( I have only seen her wear one black pair) as they hurt her feet after a while.

I should perhaps explain that she is on a faily low salary ( I would love to increase it as she is good at her job and has a great personality, but this is not in my power). Anyway, I know she has recently started renting a place and I think money is tight.

Anyway, after reading some of the earlier comments, I think by Richie, I mentioned maybe wearing slippers in the office as a compromise. Well it was clearly a good idea, as her face lit up, and she said that she would love to be able to wear slippers all day in the office.

So I think this is what she is going to do from now on, and it all ended amicably.

I have to say it still seems weird to me that she wants to wear slippers in the office.

Has anyone else ever seen or heard of this?

Many thanks for all your help.

Andrew.

richyrich said...

I have said on here more than once before about this girl who used to work in the same office as me several years ago (she was also in her early 20's at the time) and she also used to take off her shoes as soon as she came into the office and walked around in her stockinged feet the whole time as she said that she didn't like wearing shoes. I am not aware of the bosses in the company having any objection to that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Richy,

Sorry I had'nt seen that.

Do you know why she did'nt like wearing shoes, - did she wear shoes outdoors or what?

What did she wear in the office - was it obvious she was'nt wearing shoes and did she deal with customers /clents?

Sorry for all the qusetions, just have'nt come accross this type of situation before.

Andrew.

richyrich said...

Andrew,

I think that she just found shoes uncomfortable. She always wore them outside the office but I remember how the first thing she used to do as soon as she came in was to take off her shoes, sometimes before she even took her coat off!

Company clients did not normally come to the office so she very rarely dealt with clients (except over the telephone). But it was perfectly obvious to us her colleagues that she was shoeless. She would wear either a smart skirt and blouse (sometimes with a jacket) or smart trousers and tights and would just go about her work in those. A few times some colleagues did ask her rather lightheartedly "where are your shoes?" and she simply replied "I don't like wearing them" and everyone seemed to accept that. Some of her female colleagues did sometimes take off their shoes as well, especially if the weather was warm and would usually go around barefooted but with nothing like the frequency of this girl.

We'll be interested to know how it goes when the girl in your office starts wearing slippers at work!

Mr.Anonymous said...

I think slippers look worse than just stockinged feet, which may look even elegant

Mr.Anonymous said...

In post-Soviet countries, offices are often situated in apartments specially equipped and rented for such purposes. Floors are still hardwood or carpeted/put rugs on, and so the staff sometimes take their shoes off as they would at homes.
Shoes-off is quite common in apartment offices in Moscow and quite seldom in my country, Georgia, though people normally deshoe at homes, as hosts and visitors.
I remember a publisher's office in an apartment, all covered with expensive rugs, I came to sometimes as a writer of some articles for the magazine they issued. Everybody was in shoes there though the same people would never think to leave their shoes on when visiting a home. Frankly, another approach didn't come to mind either until I saw their new chief-editor invited from Moscow, who started unzipping her boots as soon as she entered the office and, unfortunately, was stopped.
I also remember, how a guest professor (BTW a native English from the UK) took off her shoes to walk on just washed tile floors in a university I used to teach at, which also gave me a clue to think.

I am an English/Russian instructor. Going with shoes indoors seems weird to me; luckily, I mostly teach at homes, students' or mine.
Yet I have to come for some classes to offices, only two of them at apartments. In one of them, the staff were wearing slippers, but they didn't expect me to take my shoes off, and they tried to stop me when i started to unlace, and when I finally stayed in my socks, to make me put on slippers. The same scene repeated at every class there until they moved to a new place which was not an apartment and, consequently, not a shoe-free zone.
Only in one office did the shoe-free staff expect me to kick my shoes at the door.
However muddy one's shoes are, nobody ever takes his/her shoes off in non-apartment offices, and, fearing to lose my contract, I have to comply as who knows I may lose my contract then.
There is just one exception. A company I am teaching in has a whole yard, quite muddy all the time, with a few buildings. everywhere. To prevent ruining, the floors are tiled, but cleaning ladies still have to wash them every few hours. However, nobody seems to respect their efforts. When I told an employee I felt shy to step on the clean floors with my muddy shoes she answered something like "take it easy, the cleaning ladies are paid for this".
My office is a separate building, and once, when I entered and saw a cleaning lady washing the floor, I felt it as just beyond my acceptance to stay in my shoes and removed them; she was shocked first and pleased then. Her only objection was my feet would get cold on the tile; she was actually right, and on the next day I brought slippers, which I have been leaving in the office since then and putting them on as soon as I enter. The students stay in their shoes, but they seemingly don't care about my footwear.

Mr.Anonymous said...

sorry, this is the previous post a bit modified

In post-Soviet countries, offices are often situated in apartments specially equipped and rented for such purposes. Floors are still hardwood or carpeted/put rugs on.
Shoes-off is quite common in apartment offices in Moscow and quite seldom in my country, Georgia, though people normally deshoe at homes, as hosts and visitors.
I remember a publisher's office in an apartment, all covered with expensive rugs, I came to sometimes as a writer of some articles for the magazine they issued. Everybody was in shoes there though the same people would never think to leave their shoes on when visiting a home. Frankly, another approach didn't come to mind either until I saw their new chief-editor invited from Moscow, who started unzipping her boots as soon as she entered the office and, unfortunately, was stopped.
I also remember, how a guest professor (BTW a native English from the UK) took off her shoes to walk on just washed tile floors in a university I used to teach at, which also gave me a clue to think.

I am an English/Russian instructor. Going with shoes indoors seems weird to me; luckily, I mostly teach at homes, students' or mine.
Yet I have had some classes at offices, only two of them at apartments. In one of them, the staff were wearing slippers, but they didn't expect me to take my shoes off, and they tried to stop me when i started to unlace, and when I finally stayed in my socks, to make me put on slippers. The same scene repeated at every class there until they moved to a new place which was not an apartment and, consequently, not a shoe-free zone.
Only in one office did the shoe-free staff expect me to kick my shoes at the door, which I did with pleasure.
However muddy one's shoes are, nobody ever takes his/her shoes off in non-apartment offices, and I have to comply as who knows I may lose my contract then.
There is just one exception. A company I am teaching in has a whole yard, quite muddy all the time, with a few buildings. To prevent ruining, the floors are tiled, but cleaning ladies still have to wash them every few hours. However, nobody seems to respect their efforts. When I told an employee I felt shy to step on the clean floors with my muddy shoes, she answered something like "take it easy, the cleaning ladies are paid for this".
My office is a separate building, and once, when I entered and saw a cleaning lady washing the floor, I felt it beyond my acceptance to stay in my shoes and removed them; she was shocked first and pleased then. Her only objection was my feet would get cold on the tile; she was actually right, and on the next day I brought slippers, which I have been leaving in the office since then and putting them on as soon as I enter. The students stay in their shoes, but they seemingly don't care about my footwear.

Celestial Fundy said...

You know in an office in the UK, I actually think stocking feet or bare feet are more appropriate than slippers.

I think slippers are great and they can be elegant, but it is not normal in Britain to work in slippers.

If somebody is in an office in stocking feet or bare feet it looks like they have momentarily removed their shoes, while if they are in slippers they clearly intend to be that way all day.

I think a lot of people would see slippers in the office as rather slovenly in a way they would not see stocking/bare feet.

I often remove my shoes in the office and stay in my socks. I can't imagine wearing slippers at work.

A lot of offfices permit flip flops which are pretty much like slippers.

Many offices

Mr.Anonymous said...

I actually put on slippers only for few minutes after shower; at my and other people's homes, I walk in my stockinged feet; as to the office I have described, one puts his/her kidney's at risk if walking in socks because tile is really cold. As soon as weather allows, I will give up slippers.
Why I think slippers look not that good: taking shoes off is a symbolic act, you shouldn't need any shoes indoors normally, so even slippers don't look appropriate I guess.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

The girl in the office has been in her stockinged feet again today, - no sign of the slippers yet!!

I know what you mean about slippers. I think I will mention to her that if she wants to just go in her stockinged feet that is fine.

Richy, - thanks for your post. This girl seems similar to the one you had experience of. She takes her boots off as soon as she arrives and leaves them off all day, unless she goes out.

Apart from this though she is smartly dressed and her feet apperar normal not ugly or defomed - was your colleague the same?

Also, did she waer normal shoes to work. I mean formal shoes or trainers or something.

I wil keep you informed of developments and thanks for all your help.

Andrew.

richyrich said...

I think this post has attracted more comments than any previous one I've ever seen on this blog!
I would tend to agree that stockinged or bare feet are more appropriate in an office than slippers, as wearing slippers not only gives the impression of being unprofessional (especially if clients come into the office)but may also cause the worker to feel not in the right frame of mind to work (i.e. too relaxed)If you do have a serious objection to bare or stockinged feet (and I can't think of any reason why anyone should, as long as the feet are clean and the socks / tights are in a decent state) maybe discreet slippers that look like shoes or maybe keep a pair of "indoor" office shoes for the person to wear would be the answer.

Andrew, in answer to your latest questions, the girl I used to work with wore "normal" ladies' work shoes to come to work, ankle strapped high heels were a favourite of hers I remember. On coming into the office, she would immediately take them off and usually leave them under her desk until it was time for her to go home. And her feet looked perfectly normal through her nylon tights.

Moderate Mouse said...

I am not currently employed...yet. (I'm lucky if I will be anytime soon since the economy in the US is not very good right now.) But if I was and had to make the commute through rain, snow, or anything else that would take its toll on my shoes (especially since I don't drive, and for various reasons that I won't go into here, it's just as well that I don't), I think for being "in transit" that would be okay to, for lack of a better term, "dirty up" and slip into a bag an alternate pair of shoes to change into upon arrival. Depending on the nature of the working environment in question, even some shoe-like slippers (like ones that look like ballet flats) would be better than nothing at all for me.

I'm very much a "dress to the shoes every morning" girl at heart. I can barely bring myself to associate being in socks/stockings or bare feet with doing any kind of housework (in fact, even making my BED doesn't happen until after my clothes and shoes are on), let alone anything in connection to a professional job. My options for "going somewhere" shoes are currently limited to my Mary Janes if I'm about to go do something that warrants dressing up and my sneakers for everything else. However, if for no other reason than to save wear and tear on either one, I have put limits on when and under what circumstances I wear either--mainly if I anticipate going somewhere, will be recieving unfamiliar company, about to go do yard work, or (if the weather's really bad), step out for a few minutes to do something. If none of these are the case, I'll wear my blue "stay-at-home" flip-flops. They're okay, but the only major drawback is that they can't be worn with socks/stockings. (I've heard there's something called split-toe socks, but it just seems easier just to make sure my pedicure's in check.) If I go somewhere and then come back with no intention of going out again that day, I'll change into the flip-flops (like I did after picking up an application and then came home and changed into "at home" clothes). But that's just me.

Mr.Anonymous said...

Andrew, just one question: does she take her boots off as soon as she enters, at the office door, or at her desk? Thank you

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,

The girl in our office bought her slippers in today, and wore them all day.

They are pretty discreet leather type mule slippers, cream in colour and obviously with a soft sole. She asked if they were OK to wear in the office, so I said yes.

Mr Annon - to answer your question she does'nt take them off at the door, but does remove them as soon as she reaches her desk.

I think if the truth be told she is very similar to the lady Richy used to work with and just does'nt like wearing shoes for some reason!! She has now commented that she prefers not wearing shoes inddors.

She is only in her twenties and is pretty and smartly dressed and her feet look perfectly normal.

I guess her shoes thing is just one of those odd things!!

Andrew.

Mr.Anonymous said...

Let me bother you with some more questions, Andrew)
have you told her stockinged feet are ok as you said you were going to?
Isn't she of Asian origins?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Annon,

Yes - I did tell her that stockinged feet are OK. At the momment she seems to be doing a mixtue of wearing slippers and stockinged feet. Over the last day or so she has changed into her slippers as soon as she arrives in the office, but invariably ends up slipping them off and just going in her stockinged feet.

She has actually worn shoes to the office today, but still took them off as soon as she arrived!!

No - she's not Asian. Just wondering why would you think that. She is white with blonde hair 100% UK as far as I am aware.

Any more questions please let me know.

Andrew.

Mr.Anonymous said...

Dear Andrew, thank you for clarification. I supposed she was Asian 'cause shoes off is a part of Eastern culture

Namaste_Heather said...

I found your blog through Yoga Spy and I have a question for you.

We take our shoes off in our home and generally have others do the same. I am a yoga teacher and like to be barefoot. I prefer this over socks. Do you consider this rude to guests?

Also, my husband's father and step mom have us remove shoes at their house. I am fine with that. Whether I have socks on or not, they generally insist I wear a pair of her slippers. Why is this? They do it with me and not so much with my husband. Feel free to email me if easier. namaste.heather@yahoo.com

This has been bugging me for a while now. I can't come up with an explanation.

Thanks!

Celestial Fundy said...

Heather, thanks for visiting. Where are you from, if you don't mind my asking?

'I am a yoga teacher and like to be barefoot. I prefer this over socks. Do you consider this rude to guests?'

Not at all. English style gurus, Trinny and Susannah recommend women to go for bare feet when entertaining (with a long flowing skirt).

'Also, my husband's father and step mom have us remove shoes at their house. I am fine with that. Whether I have socks on or not, they generally insist I wear a pair of her slippers. Why is this? '

It might depend what their background culture is. It sounds like they have old fashioned values that see being shoeless as impolite.

It is their home, so you ought to oblige them, just as you can reasonably ask them to remove their shoes when they visit you.

God bless

Matthew

Namaste_Heather said...

Thank you Matthew. I am from Ohio, in the USA, as are my husband, his father and step mother. I guess it could be old fashioned values. I asked my husband about it and he doesn't know why. It's fine. It's just baffled me for a while. Thanks for your reply.

Sandro said...

All my visitors remove their shoes by default and seem OK with their stockinged feet (I have carpets and oak parquet, and a very intensive heating system :). After they take their shoes off, I ask them if they want slippers, but only once was I answered "yes".

Sandra said...

forgot to add:
when in other places, I take my shoes off by default, and refuse from slippers if I am offered because I like to be in my stockinged feet; nobody actually insists on me putting on their slippers

Celestial Fundy said...

Interesting that you refuse the slippers.

You know, those etiquette guide books can be confusing. They are often so contradictory (hence our confusion about Greece).

I have read several guidebooks about Japan and they say contradictory things about refusing slippers.

Some say you should never refuse the offered slippers, others say nobody will mind if you declien to wear the offered slippers.

Sandro said...

across the Caucasus, shoes are in many cases seen not needed indoors as floors are usually carpeted; it's normally hot indoors to wear slippers; as well, many people - especially girls - tend to think their feet look better in proper stockings than in slippers

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