Shoe Shame

In one of my favorite Sex and the City episodes, Carrie goes to a baby shower at a friend's house, and is mortified when her friend asks her to take off her Manolos and leave them by the door with the other guests' shoes. Carrie is miffed at the prospect of pitching her expensive footwear into a pile because they are part of her "ensemble," but complies with the request, only to realize once she's ready to leave that someone has stolen her shoes.

This column has me thinking about my own "shoe policy."

The author writes that asking guests to remove their shoes before entering your home is rude, even if you're offering slippers or socks in place of their footwear. Not wanting them to track in dirt and germs or scuff your tile isn't a good enough reason for a "no shoes, please" policy, and further sends the message to your friends and family that your possessions are more important to you than they are.

Much like Carrie Bradshaw, the author believes that shoes are meant to be worn and shown off, and that if you do wish guests to remove their shoes, compliance with your policy should be voluntary.

I hadn't given the idea of a "shoe policy" being a personal affront to friends and fashion until I read this column. Perhaps it's because I live in a climate where the weather is so erratic and often produces some very messy conditions, but when I'm visiting a friend or family member, I always ask about their shoe policy (if I don't already know it) as soon as I walk through the door. I do this only when the weather is nice. When it's not (and that's often here in upstate NY), I remove them without even asking.

I've never thought it rude when I am asked to remove my shoes in someone's home because this is generally something I ask people to do in my own. Call me materialistic or obsessed with cleanliness (which you wouldn't, if you knew me "in real life") but I don't want muddy sneakers on my living room ottoman in the spring, or snow-covered shoes traipsing around my kitchen in the winter. If the conditions outdoors are dry, my guests are welcome to keep their shoes on. But that's not often the case here, at least for 10 months out of the year.

Unlike my very fashion-forward sister, I don't own any shoes I would consider too nice to slip off at the door. It's often the case that the shoes I have on at any given time are chosen more for their proximity to the door than for the way they compliment what I'm wearing. But even so, I respect a person's desire to keep her home and furniture clean more than I do my right to look good while walking in it.

How do you feel about being asked to remove your shoes when visiting someone's home? Do you have a "shoe policy" of your own?

17 Responses to “Shoe Shame”

  1. # Blogger Ramona

    If the shoes are dry, I let them keep them on. When I go to other people's homes, I bring my own slippers.
    Having a dog has made me relax as my floors are now always a little mucky. Never mind the nose prints on my bow window!  

  2. # Blogger Tracey

    I always ask and never mind being asked to take them off. I actually hate wearing shoes indoors. Feels weird.

    If you saw my carpet, you'd realize that I don't have a shoes off policy, either. Heh.  

  3. # Blogger My Wombinations

    If I am having a party, then people may keep their shoes on. But if it is an individual person, then I usually ask them to remove their shoes... In fact, I kind of think it is rude NOT to take off your shoes--or at least offer--when you are a guest in someone's home. I realize this is not Japan, but I have a baby who crawls around on the floor and we live in New England.  

  4. # Anonymous ShopFirefly2000

    I'm actually feeling pretty perturbed and perflexed, as my boyfriend's friends have announced they're having a "Dress up" New Year's Eve party, but on the E-vite it says to please take off your shoes .. on the E-vite! So being a woman who ALWAYS wears heels, I have no idea what i'll wear (i.e. a dress or skirt) that will look ok with bare feet. The nerve of these people. I just don't get it. There is something I heard of called a "mop." Oh and a swiffer.  

  5. # Blogger Beagle

    I can go either way on this one.

    I don't ask anyone to take shoes off in my home because my own husband is usually tracking mud through the house. We also have very cold floors.

    But I also understand the other side. Some of my European friends/family have the no shoes thing but they do offer guest slippers.

    I'm with you on not owning any Manolos! I wear Dansko clogs 90% of the time and they slip on and off real nice!  

  6. # Blogger shokufeh

    I've lived in two places - China and Hawaii - where it is absolutely expected that you take your shoes off at the door. In Hawaii, it's so expected that even workmen take their shoes off or put on booties when they come to do repairs in the house. Here in New Orleans, it's a mixed bag. If I'm the only person visiting, I usually take off my shoes, because I think it's polite. If it's a large gathering of people though, it seems silly to take mine off when most of the people are wearing theirs. I think it's nice to take them off, because of all the things that can be tracked in from outside - not all of which are visible.  

  7. # Blogger Andrew

    I hate wearing shoes, so I'd love it if I were given the opportunity to remove my shoes upon entering someone's home. And as one of your other readers said, it's certainly the custom in other cultures.  

  8. # Blogger M

    I ALWAYS remove my shoes when I go to someone's house EVEN if they tell me I can keep them on. Just common courtesy. We used to have big holiday parties at our house (like 100+ people) and we'd let people keep their shoes on, because really, where the heck would we store 200 loose shoes? Other than that, please remove!  

  9. # Anonymous CatDog2006

    I agree - the problem with being invited to a party and wearing a dressy dress, then being asked to remove the shoes you put so much thought (and money!) into, just ruins the whole effect of the ensemble. Wearing a nice dress and bare feet looks weird. And then there's the problem of pedicures. I don't really get them in the winter, and who wants to look at my bare unattractive feet?? Not to mention it's chilly in New England without shoes! I mean really now.  

  10. # Blogger Lis Garrett

    When I visited my dad during the summer, he had a strict "no shoes" policy. I never minded, and he never asked guests, especially older people, to take off their shoes.

    At my own house, I pretty much leave it up to the guest. I have wood floors that can be cleaned easily. However, I have noticed that most people will take off their shoes. Perhaps it's because we have a "mud" carpet as you walk in the door where all the boots are parked. Otherwise we would have mud and snow everywhere.

    As for the commenter going to the New Year's Eve party - strange. I wouldn't know what to do either!  

  11. # Blogger Editorgirl

    It's funny you should ask. C and I have always taken our shoes off when we come in (especially in the crappy New England months when the weather is ever changing). We never asked our guests to do the same, though most do without even asking. But no one has ever complained.

    I never thought anything of it myself as my mom always had us to this so we didn't track anything in the house - not to mention anything the dog may lick up.

    While we've been house hunting we've come across many that leave notes asking us to take them off. Odd yes, but when you see those beautiful hardwoods - you would do the same and we had no problem with it.

    We did a second look at a house last night that we first saw back in Sept. The house is super clean, floors are brilliant, carpeting brand new, yet when we walked in we started to take off our shoes - after all it's been icy down in the Boston area so salt is definitely on the soles. The seller agent told us to leave them on. We are thinking about making an offer on this house and all C could think of last night was how he's going to have to inspect the floors there knowing people were walking on them with salt on the bottoms of their soles :-).

    P.S. that's one of my all time favorite Sex in the City episodes1

    Hope you are well.  

  12. # Blogger Marie

    In the winter, they definitely come right off at my house or anyone's house. At other times of year, if my shoes are clean, I guess I take my cue from the host/ess. I don't have a problem taking my shoes off. At home, I usually wear slip-on clogs or birks year-round, as I have arch-support issues. Only thing is, I step out of them "wherever" and am always looking for my shoes!  

  13. # Blogger kenju

    Luckily, it hasn't happened to me in years. I could understand the request (and would easily do it) if my shoes were muddy or wet, or salty. But in general or when the weather is nice? I think it is rude.  

  14. # Blogger sher

    It wouldn't bother me at all. I grew up in Illinois and there was always a big pile of boots and shoes near the door. No one wanted to track in mud and melting snow. So, I can totally understand being asked to take them off. Here, in this part of California, it doesn't rain for months, and we never get snow. So, unless someohne has hot tar or dog poop on their shoes, I never think of how dirty shoes can be.  

  15. # Blogger Shannon

    I'm so clumsy that I don't wear shoes in the house... plus I hate wearing shoes... so where ever I am I kick them off by the door and pad around in my bare feet or socks... the only time we tell people to take their shoes off was when Lore was crawling... or if it is nasty outside...  

  16. # Blogger MsPrufrock

    Oh Sex and the City, how I miss thee.

    I don't like taking off my shoes, though naturally I'll do it right away if asked. First of all, my socks aren't always presentable, and in the summer months, my bare feet might not be either. Secondly, I'm short and wear a lot of long trousers which necessitate wearing tall shoes. If I have to take them off, I'm walking around with three inches of extra trouser leg shuffling along the floor.

    Though I have a baby, I don't ask people to take off their shoes. Unless they are tracking around a host of mud and dirt, I'm not bothered. P will survive any outside elements (of the non-poop variety) that are brough through the flat in small quantities.  

  17. # Blogger Laura McIntyre

    I would happily remove shoes in anyones home, i hate wearing them. I do wish people would take of there shoes in my house but its rarely enforced.  

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