Friday, December 10, 2010

Should One Provide Slippers For Guests?


In some Eastern European and Asian countries, guests change from their shoes into slippers provided by the host.

Some argue that if you intend to have a shoes-off policy in your home, you should keep some slippers for guests to wear. It is argued that this will make them feel more comfortable and prevent embarassments such as foot odour and holes in socks.

I am not inclined to think so. I think the practise of providing guest slippers might be just a bit too weird for British. Many British people will have been to a house where shoes-off was required, but not many people will have been offered guest slippers to wear, unless it was in another country. I think a lot of English guests would prefer to go barefoot, rather than wear slippers that are not their own. In conversations I have had with people about Japan, I have noticed people go 'ew' at the idea of wearing borrowed slippers.

If slippers are provided, then they must either be disposable plastic slippers or else slippers that can go in the washing machine. It would be quite unreasonable to expect guests to wear slippers that have been worn by somebody else that day. I am not sure whether most slippers are machine washable. Some guests might not even trust you that they really have been cleaned and may prefer to stay in bare or stocking feet.

It might be a good idea to buy slippers for family and regular visitors and keep them at your house. These should be worn only by the person they are provided for. Hopefully, one's family and close friends would be delighted by this consideration.

Providing clean socks is a different matter. I would suggest keeping a supply of clean socks in different sizes by the door for guests who are not comfortable going barefoot.

I think it is very sensible to let visitors know in advance that one has a shoes-off rule in one's home. That way, they can be sure to wear socks without holes or bring their own slippers if they prefer.


Sandro said...

Frankly, I never put on slippers in other people's homes due to aesthetic reasons. Neither does my wife.
Tramplians like to argue removing shoes breaks an outfit. I would say, slippers do. Stockings/socks/tights are part of our outfit. Slippers are not.
Socks can be OK for men and for ladies in jeans.
I doubt a lady in elegant nylons, especially with a skirt, coming to a party will agree to put on slippers if she cares about looking beautiful. Some will if they don't want to look TOO beautiful. Some will if they are afraid to catch cold.

Sandro said...

Once I heard my colleague, a young teacher at a school I was working for then, say to another lady teacher she would be happy to walk in her skirt and stockinged feet at work were it considered appropriate by the management (it was not). She stressed on the skirt-and-tights variant.
Yet many ladies around in the Caucasus I guess don't even understand the aesthetic reason; they just automatically de-shoe at homes to protect floors. In this case, they may agree to put on slippers if offered.

Celestial Fundy said...

Some lady's slippers are quite elegant, but you would have a hard time assemblng a collection that will match every guest. Best to leave it to them if they want to bring slippers.

Moderate Mouse said...

Earlier this year, I bought at least two pairs of slippers (at two different times) specifically for that time of the day when I'm going to be in something other than pajamas and up and about taking care of life at home. However, I've noticed a similar issue when wearing slippers that I have had with wearing shoes around the house in the past and that is, long story short, is that there are times when I'll move about the house (or at least my bedroom, and this includes going back and forth between my computer and my bed) without cause (or because my mind is in the wrong place at the wrong time).

It's not a habit that I'm proud of, and I don't know why it even exist. However, I'm hoping that, when I'm sitting at my computer desk or on my bed (like when I'm reading or folding laundry) having my slippers off, and possibly sitting cross-legged or with my feet curled up beneath me or something will make me LESS free to get up on impulse. I'm not going anywhere right now so I might as well do what I set out to do. (I think when/if the desk and chair I have now end up giving out--which I doubt will happen any time soon--I might see about a low table that allows me to kneel on the floor.) But the minute I do need to get up to empty the dishwasher, let the dog in and out, or anything else, the slippers will go back on. (For something subject to repeatedly being put on/taken off, I find slippers to be far more convenient than say, anything with laces.)

pinktoesandpowertools said...

We don't provide slippers for guests at our home, but most everyone that knows us, knows our rule about removing shoes. I have a few friends who bring their own slippers with them (which I think is great) and my sister has a pair of slippers she leaves at my house for when she is visiting.

I saw a magazine article once, where the house they were showcasing had a basket full of slipper for guests. I thought that was clever, but I've never gotten around to doing it!

Celestial Fundy said...

PTAPT, thanks a lot of visiting.

The basket of slippers thing sounds a nice idea, but it depends on people wanting to wear them. I think most people I know would rather be in socks or bare feet than in borrowed slippers.

Celestial Fundy said...

MM, would you be happy to wear slippers provided by a hostess if you visited somebody who asked for shoes off? Or would you rather be barefoot?

Moderate Mouse said...

I would probably be willing to accept slippers if they were available to me. Better yet, depending on how much notice I get and if I think to do so, I will gladly bring my own.

I know this sounds strange, but I don't care that much for being barefoot unless I'm doing something that of itself warrants it (or I'm lounging about and not engaged in an especially serious activity or conversation). The way that it stands right now, the only two things besides showering and sleeping that I do that of themselves warrant shoelessness are 1) checking my weight (though I found out by experimentation that while wearing a sweatshirt or sweater will affect the results, my ballet flat slippers will not) and 2) updating my pedicure (like I did earlier this week; this time I've opted for an alternating pattern of red and green polish in honor of you-know-what). I can only do these things so often though. (It's too cold to go swimming unless I go to the local YMCA. I'd maybe try yoga, but having been raised on Christian standards--and I'm using the term "Christian" loosely--I'm concerned about there being a conflict of theological interest.) I'm wondering if part of the problem with a lot of Tramplians is that they don't like the idea of being shoeless for what looks and/or feels like the mere sake of it. Maybe they wouldn't have that much of a problem with being without their shoes in their own or someone else's home if they had more shoeless-type activities in their lives (or at the very least if they would buy or make a pair of slippers specifically with their regular clothes in mind that could help remind them that there are times besides when showering and sleeping when real shoes just aren't warranted).