Friday, February 05, 2010



Some people are of the opinion that it is very important that guests have the choice of whether to keep their shoes on or not.

However, it is not as simple as that. Some choices may impose on the choices of others.

Some visitors may want to take their shoes off, but may fear that doing so will be considered rude. Being informed that shoes-off is encouraged will be a great welcome for these people.

The shoes-on folks might then argue, "Yes, but you can still let people keep their shoes on without imposing on the people who prefer to go shoeless."

However, this is not the case. Firstly, those people who want to take their shoes off may fear, if there are lots of other guests, particularly at a party, that their feet may get squashed by other peoples' shoes. In a crowded party, it can be hard to avoid having people tread on your toes.

Secondly, people who take their shoes off will prefer to walk on a floor that is cleaner. In fact, there is another issue here, as Angie pointed out in a previous post. Some guests will enjoy sitting on the floor. And sitting on the floor is a much more pleasent experience when it is clean. So allowing guests the choice of wearing shoes imposes on those who like to sit on the floor.

The simple truth is that no host can please everybody. However, there are far more good reasons to insist on shoes coming off at the door than for allowing shoes to stay on. Let guests chose between slippers, socks ot barefeet. That is choice enough.


Sandro said...

yesterday, I saw Uptown Girls with Brittany Murphy (RIP). A teenager-girl character tells hers to take of her shoes at the door, which BM does without any seeming reluctance. Though this shoes-off policy is presented in the film as a part of of the teenager girl's obsession with cleanliness, the general attitude is rather positive, and shoes-off policy is not considered as something negative to be rejected

Celestial Fundy said...

Thanks for sharing that.

Anonymous said...


I would really appreciate some advice.

I am self-employed, and work from home.

There is a young lady who does my word processing and typing for me. In the past we have always met at coffee shops etc and communicated by e-mail.

However, from next week she is going to start visting me at home and working for 1 day a week from my home office.

We have a shoes off policy and I am wondering how to politely explain this to the lady. It may sound a bit of a silly question, but I don't want to cause offence or embarass her on her 1st visit.

Do you think I should mention it to her beforehand by e-mail so she can bring a pair of slippers with her if she wants to?

She is always smartly dressed in a business way, but having only met in "public" places before I have no idea of her attitude to shoes off.

We live in a renovated farmhouse in a rural area and use a converted barn as my home office. I should also add that I wear leather slippers.

I know she is cominmg on public transport and will have to walk along a lane to wear we live, can I possibly use this as a reason?


Celestial Fundy said...

Tim, thankyou for your question and for visiting this blog.

It is sensible of you to desire shoes-off in this circumstance. There is absolutely no reason why you should not ask her to remove her shoes when working at your home. This is as simple a matter as any work-related dress code.

The most polite thing to do would be to inform her by telephone, but I am sure email would be fine.

If you forgot to mention it before she arrives, it would not spell the end of the world if you asked her nicely to remove her shoes on arrival. I am sure your home is not so cold that it would be painful to be in stocking feet there for a day.

God Bless


Anonymous said...

Thanks Matthew,

I will try to ring her - hope she does'nt think it's weird!!

No she would'nt be cold or anything - we have recently had new carpets put down, - which is 1 reason for the shoes off policy.

Thinking about it, I can remember meeting her is a Costa coffee place once and it was raining and she had taken her shoes off and was just in her stockinged feet because she had walked there in the rain.

Not sure this is relevant?


Anonymous said...

Hi Matthew,

Just to thank you for your suggestion.

I just rang her to confirm next week, and mentioned the shoes off thing.

Not sure whether this is true,but she said that she always removes her shoes when visiting clients.

Thanks again.


Sandro said...

Did she take her shoes off in the cafe not to dirty the floor or for comfort?
Regarding the situation at your home:
some people always take their shoes off at homes, but may feel offended when asked for; though I think there is no reason to feel so, I would wait before she comes. If, especially having walked a rural path, she sees some shoes at the door and your feet in slippers or, even better, just in socks, she will the most likely to take her shoes off. If she still doesn't, you can politely ask her for.

Celestial Fundy said...

Very good. Its nice to hear of people like yourself having the boldness to be upfront.

Celestial Fundy said...

Sandro, you don't think it is preferable to let people know in advance that you want shoes-off?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandro,

I think it the cafe she had taken her shoes off beacuse she had been walking in the rain and they were wet.


Sandro said...

To Tim, thank you for the info and hope you'll revert with the outcome of the situation :)
To Celestial Fundy: not just with shoes-off, but in every situation, I like to let people understand themselves what is a right thing to do. Maybe, if I lived in England, I would switch to warning people in advance regarding shoes-off, but in my surroundings it is not needed because everybody expects shoes-off

Celestial Fundy said...

Of course. Your cultural context is not the same as mine.

Moderate Mouse said...

I can understand the shoes-off custom in a place where sitting on the floor is more of the norm. I'll bet you anything that even if the Japanese didn't give a you-know-what about stuff being tracked on their floors, surely having one's sneakers, heels, etc. up against one's behind when kneeling on the floor isn't comfortable. If I didn't have a typical Western-style desk and chair that are still usable, I'd maybe see about experimenting with getting a low table (like a coffee table) that I could kneel at to do any kind of sit-down task. Maybe I'd feel more um, grounded than I normally do at my desk as getting up off the floor would require more effort and make me less tempted to get up and roam about.

As one of three members of an all-adult household in a house containing mostly hard floor and substantial amounts of chairs and other forms of furniture designed to keep the body (at least from the ankles up) well off the ground, I seldom, if ever, have any cause to be on the floor. Even if I am in a chair (or more often my bed), I'll try to take off whatever shoes or slippers I'm wearing if I want to sit cross-legged or with my feet curled up beneath me or anything like that. But for situations where I am up in a chair, on a bench, etc. and feet on the floor (regardless of what is/is not on them) is a must either because of how the chair is built or per certain standards that are in effect at the time (I once learned the hard way that even when one is in bare or stocking feet, it's not always okay to have have them by any means on the furniture), I prefer to have on shoes or slippers. I guess being shod by some means not only puts me in a better mind frame to take care of stuff (housework if nothing else) but also to be--the slang term for it is--prim and proper whenever necessary. It just does.

Celestial Fundy said...

People remove their shoes commonly in many places where chairs are normally sat on, like Norway and Russia.