Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Current British Norm




Now this is entirely based on my own experiences, informed also by what I have read online. Other people living in the UK may see things differently. I have lived in several different parts of the UK, but I haven't lived everywhere.


The UK is not like Sweden, where everybody removes their shoes in homes. However, it is also not like Spain, where removing shoes in homes is seen as unusual.

I would say that the majority of people in the UK do not wear shoes in their own homes 90% of the time. They may not have a rule, they may sometimes keep their shoes on, but most of the time they take their shoes off in their own homes. They also generally require their children and friends of their children to remove their shoes. This may not be enforced strictly, but this is still an expectation.

Most households will not ask visitors to remove their shoes. However, more often than not, visitors will remove their shoes or at least offer to remove their shoes. This often leads to absurd conversations like this:

Guest: Shall I take my shoes off?

Host: You really don't have to.

(Guest notices shoes by the door)

Guest: I probably ought to.

Host: No, you can keep them on. It's really not a problem.

Guest: I'll take them off anyway.

Host: Thanks, that's nice of you. (It's what she wanted anyway)


Guests are less likely to remove their shoes at parties when they are dressed up, but they might still offer. They are also a little more likely to remove their shoes in winter, though shoe removal in summer is still common.


I would argue on this basis that it is perfectly fine to insist on shoes off as a rule. If you ask your guests to remove your shoes, you are simply asking them to do what most people do most of the time anyway.

29 comments:

Sandro said...

These are an excellent text and a prompting photo, Mathhew )

Matthew Celestis said...

Thanks. Obviously, that is not a picture of the Duchess at home.

Ashley said...

Thank you for the great explanation. Is it impolite then not to offer to take your shoes off, or to provide excuses for keeping your shoes on? As for me, I am very much a shoes-on person, and would not take my shoes off at someone else's house unless explicitly asked, and even then I would make the hosts aware of the fact the request bothers me.

Also I would like to observe that a lot of countries in Europe, such as Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Ireland are very much shoes-on. I was pretty sure UK was like this, too.

Sandro said...

I know, it's a photo from an Eastern Martial Arts competition. Yet it's even more proving since removing shoes at a public place may seem less matching a royal status.

Matthew Celestis said...

Most British people won't complain if you keep your shoes on. Secretly they may prefer you had taken them off though.

Ashley said...

I only remember one situation when two British women, having walked from the underground station to a house party in wintry weather, took their boots off and walked around in their stocking feet - and I remember it seemed odd as they were the only ones with no shoes on.

Mark said...

Ashley, If you don't like walking around in socks, then take slippers with you when you visit. I presume that you always wear shoes in your own home.

Ashley said...

I definitely do not like walking around in socks, especially around other people. My feet get cold easily, and I feel exposed when forced out of my shoes. It is not common here to bring slippers.

Mark said...

Where is here?

Mark said...

Do you feet get cold at home when you force yourself to remove your shoes. Do you get anxious at home when your shoes are forced off you.

Ashley said...

Mark, I do wear shoes at home and no one can force me to do anything at my own home. "Here" is Northeast US.

Mark said...

No prompt reply this time Ashey. You don't like answering questions do you?

Ashley said...

What reply do you expect?

Mark said...

Really? You live alone then?

Ashley said...

Mark, this topic is not about me or my family status.

Mark said...

afraid to answer?

Ashley said...

Why do you care?

Mark said...

Afraid to answer?

Ashley said...

No, just don't care to.

Mark said...

I will take that as a yes you are afraid to answer. You are very quick to ask questions, but won't answer them directly. Instead you resort to simplistic hyperbole. You really don't have much to say for yourself Ashly

Bob said...

Mark, I think that you are being a bit rude towards Ashley.
She is correct that it is not common place for visitors to bring slippers nor for hosts to offer them here in the US

Bob said...

Ashley,
As you live in the northeast there is generally bad weather in the winter. What do you do if visiting someone when the ground is wet snow covered or muddy?
Would you refuse an invitation to someone's home who has a no shoes rule?

Matthew Celestis said...

Mark, can we cool down just a little?

Ashley, you have asked dozens and dozens of questions and I have started to get weary of answering them. I understand why Mark seems to be getting a bit tetchy about it.

You have told us endlessly that you think it's rude to require shoes-off and that you think it is tasteless. That's fine. We accept this is your opinion. But if you are going to keep stating it again and again, I am really not sure that this is an helpful contribution to discussion.

Anonymous said...

Ashley is trolling. If he/she is totally against removing shoes then why is he/she continually visiting a site dedicated to what he/she is so vehemently against. And no I don't believe that I am being rude. I am being very direct. Ashley does not put up any views about shoe removal apart from that it is "tacky" and "lower class" to remove shoes. Every post he/she has made boils down to this. Why keep making exactly the same point over 30 times. I refer to Ashley as he/she because he/she writes in a very male way and uses certain phrases that only a man would.
And now Ashley will ask me to clarify this.
Sorry to be so forthright but Ashleys posts do amount to hyperbole. He/she seems to achieved what they wanted all of the time.
It took him 30 posts to finally answer the question of where she lives.
I come from a generation where we called a spade a spade. I believe in giving people a chance to explain themselves, if they choose not to then they take the consequences. If someone starts a debate then they should actively take part in it. Otherwise they should just leave it alone. Ashely has not done this. It is forthright i admit, but it also honest. Ashley has been agitating on her for long enough. He started posting as anonymous and it took her many post to finally assume a name. Why?
I think it is time to stay away from here for a while.

Mark said...

Sorry i missed my name out from my the last post.

Matthew Celestis said...

Yes, I think you are correct.

Bob said...

Mark you may find this of interest. As I have written in the past offering slippers to guests is not usually done here nor is it common for guests to bring slippers when they visit even though they remove their shoes. We have had snow and cold weather which is unusual here. My wife played bridge last evening and protocol dictates that shoes are removed. The hostess emailed the players and suggested that they bring slippers so as to keep warm. Most did, including my wife, but those who forgot were given a pair by the hostess. Perhaps things are changing here!

Elain Smith said...

Ashley,just take your damned shoes off,I think people look much better in stockinged feet despite what you may believe,come to Canada and I will remove them for you bb lol

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