Friday, January 18, 2013

The Odious Trend of Shoeless Parties

Dear Reader, there is something that I must get off my chest.  I absolutely loathe arriving at someone's house for a party and unexpectedly finding that I am asked to remove my shoes for the duration of my visit.  It is not a pleasant surprise, and the requirement to do so is a decided disincentive for me to ever wish to return.

Shoeless Windsors putting on a good face of it . . .

The few times I have attended a party where I've been asked to remove my shoes at the door have been rather unpleasant, and my primary memory of attending such party is the discomfort (and consequent annoyance) I felt walking around shoeless, rather than what should have been happy memories of enjoyment.  In my experience, hosts who make such a request of their guests do so because they are concerned that their guests' shoes will soil or damage their precious floors or carpets.  Such self-absorbed myopia is misguided, in my view.  As a host, I believe one's primary concern should be the comfort and well-being of one's guests, and not the impact their shoes might have on one's floors or carpets.

Because floors and carpets are meant to be walked on.  By people wearing shoes.

We have nicely finished floors at Darlington House which are, at least in some rooms, covered with expensive carpets.  It would never occur to me to ask our guests to remove their shoes and walk around in their stocking feet, or worse—barefoot!

Reggie once attended a party where the host and hostess announced upon his arrival, much to his dismay, that all attendees were expected to remove their shoes.  They explained that they wanted to preserve the Zen-like purity of their wonderful house.  I had the misfortune of arriving wearing loafers without socks (the party was held during the height of summer).  Not only was I put out to find myself required to walk around their house barefoot, but their (rugless) floors were less than Zen-like in their cleanliness (well, actually they were rather dirty), so the soles of my feet became filthy over the course of the evening.  While it was unpleasant to walk around their house barefoot (and just imagine what it was like to use their less-than-hygenic guest bathroom), having to insert my soiled feet into my shoes at the end of the evening made it yet an even worse experience.  I still shudder when I recall it.

Most people who attend parties (well, at least most people that Reggie knows) take care in planning what they wear, dressing for the event.  For many people—women in particular—shoes are an important component of their outfit, and many women (I suspect) like to wear heels at parties so they are up higher, on a more level playing field with the men.  To expect a festively-attired lady to remove her pretty party shoes in order to gain entry to said party is thoughtless and rude, and highly off-putting.  The same goes for men, too—I pride myself in the quality and the care of the shoes I wear, and I don't like to have to take them off when I am visiting someone's house.

"But Reggie," you may ask, "what about during bad weather, when the streets and sidewalks are wet and gritty?  I don't want people tracking it all over my house!"  Well, Dear Reader, then I suggest you concentrate your invitations on people who can be expected to wipe their feet carefully before entering (which means that you must supply them with the necessary means to do so), or who would be likely to bring a clean pair of shoes with them to change into.  Many of the ladies who attend cocktail or dinner parties at Darlington House during inclement weather arrive with a pair of party pumps to change into.  Even if one or two of your guests don't do a thorough job of wiping their feet and track in a bit of grime with them, there's nothing like a quick vacuuming after the party to address such matter.

And for those of my readers who may be concerned that a guest's stiletto heels will ruin your floors, Reggie wonders: what floors would be so soft that high heels would dent them?  Don't punish the rest of your guests by making everyone remove their shoes in the off chance that some thoughtless ninny will arrive wearing stilettos (or "Prossie Trotters" as my esteemed fellow blogger Tabitha of Bourbon and Pearls deliciously calls them).

Now, Reggie is well aware that some hosts provide their guests with slippers to wear under such circumstances.  While I acknowledge that doing so is an improvement to requiring one's guests to go shoeless, it isn't an ideal solution, in my view.  I don't know about you, but I don't care for wearing  previously worn slippers.  "What," you might ask, "does Reggie think about providing one's guests with disposable slip-on protective booties to wear?"  He thinks that by that point your mania for protecting your floors and carpets has reached such a level of lunacy that you should either contact a psychiatrist for an immediate consultation or to get your meds dosage upped!

Now, I do acknowledge that there are a number of circumstances where it is appropriate to ask someone to remove their shoes upon their arrival at your house, as follows:

1. When your floors have been recently refinished and have not yet thoroughly cured (but who throws a party under such circumstances?);
2. When said arrival is a workman wearing sturdy, lug-soled boots, and not a social guest;
3. When it is the cultural custom of the host and guest to remove their shoes, such as in Japan (but that does not apply to these shores, unless one has the good fortune of being entertained in a perfect, tatami-matted, Japanese tea house); and
4. When said guest arrives wearing Prossie Trotters that would damage the floors.  But, then, one should endeavor to make sure that such an undesirable is not a "guest" in one's house, unless the explicitly understood purpose of their visit is to have them remove everything they are wearing as quickly as possible.

All funning aside, Dear Reader, Reggie believes that one should never ask one's guests to remove their shoes as a requirement for gaining entry to one's house, particularly during parties.  One can certainly expect (and request, if needed) one's guests to wipe their feet (as all thoughtful guests should without prompting) but one ought never ask one's guests to take off their shoes and walk around one's house in their stocking feet, or—even worse—barefoot.  It's just not done.

And that is a Reggie Rule.

Tell me, Dear Reader, don't you agree?

Photograph of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor by Philippe Halsman, courtesy of LIFE Images

78 comments:

  1. Reggie, I would have to leave the party. I wear an ankle brace and for the past few months have had to expand my slacks and jeans wardrobe, and even short heels present a challenge. But I need the support of a shoe for now. So I wouldn't even take one sip of sparkling champagne, or dry sherry (though it would pain me). And another thing. Its very hard on a girl's stockings, and socks, as I am sure it can be for a gentleman's, especially when those socks are silk.

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  2. HA! Okay, when I come home, I take off my shoes-- comfort, cleanliness, etc. I would never ask a guest to do the same, unless they really wanted to. Now, should I give a party during bad weather, I might provide slippers and towels for my guests, because who wants to hang out at a party in wet shoes? But I wouldn't make it a requirement. Floors and carpets can be cleaned. Friendships are a little harder to repair.

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  3. I enjoy your blog very much! I agree with you and enjoyed reading your points of view. I don't think I've every actually been asked to remove my shoes. It would be uncomfortable except in the most casual circumstances. I did want to pass along some information though, about high heels on hardwood. I had my oak floors damaged by high heeled shoes and later learned why. A 130 lb. woman wearing spiked heels exerts 1300 lbs. per square inch. Yikes. http://www.howeverythingworks.org/page1.php?QNum=1574

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  4. Your post Reggie makes me think about an episode of Sex and the City, where the SJP character went to a party, and was asked to remover her shoes. At the point of her leaving the party, she found out that one of the other guests stole her designer shoes. The hostess was quite adamant about paying for her shoes, and tried her best to play a head game on Carrie B. But in the end Carrie won, and was gifted, by the hostess, a new pair of fabulous heals.

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  5. I agree with you completely, Reggie. Very noove as one used to say in the ..... er ... long ago.

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  6. My wife and I had our first child in New York. In August, during her eighth month of pregnancy, we scheduled a private birthing class with a woman who happened to live in a nice apartment near us on the Upper East Side.

    Prior to attending the class my wife and I walked around the neighborhood for a few hours for lunch and to look in some shops. I wore a pair of Gucci loafers and as one would expect, I was sockless. Later than afternoon when we arrived at the woman's apartment for the class she insisted we remove our shoes before entering.

    After walking all afternoon in the heat without socks, I can assure you the woman's floors would have fared better had I not removed my shoes.

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  7. Agreed, with one caveat: I do warn people that they can either wear soft-soled shoes to cocktail parties or dinners at my house (most loafers work, most dress shoes don't), or they can take off their shoes.

    There is a very practical reason: I live in a gorgeous and huge apartment, but it is a 2nd floor apartment, and walking-and-shoe noises lead to the downstairs neighbors complaining and the party being cut short due to noise issues.

    So, while I do apologize and warn people in advance so that they can plan their shoe-wear accordingly, the situation is what it is, as long as I live here!

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  8. I do agree with you. Unfortunately I live in a country where removal of shoes when visiting Thais, (as in Japan) is de rigeur. Needless to say, it is not a requirement when people come to our house. If they wish to, then I have no objection, but I find it rather pretentious when I have to do so when I visit a farang, (non Thai).

    But what really iks me is when delivery men visit and by habit obviously they remove their shoes, and their personal hygeine stinks the place out during their visit. Plus, it is obviously a cultural trait to rest one's (dirty) hand (they are after all workmen) on the wall outside the apartment in order to remove the said shoes.

    Don't get me started!

    I am surprised to learn it's a new phenomenon in the USA. Heaven forfend. I would just leave the party there and then, before setting foot (literally) over their precious threshold. To say nothing of the pile of unloved shoes mounting outside the apartment door.

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  9. I'll go you one better, What about guests who arrive and, without being asked, step out of their shoes and leave them in a messy pile by the door in the entry hall? A pile of shoes. The first thing other guests see when entering the house. That might work for some of those prols who share student or communal housing in Europe for years at a time, but in someone else's home? And worse, they protest, albeit in a friendly way, when you suggest that they keep their shoes on. My fear is that fewer and fewer people have any idea how to be pleasant guests. Sigh. We've got to get some new friends and acquaintances!

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke

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  10. This one is easy: you are 100% correct. PERIOD.

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  11. Hear, hear! Sweet Reggie, always spot-on. No pun intended.

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  12. I agree -- if I were invited to a party and asked to remove my shoes, I would find the experience unpleasant, unless prepared in advance. So I do think Ros has a viable alternative of warning guests. The exception, as Reggie notes, is if I am invited to a house where the host or hostess retains the customs of his or her native country, such as Japan, where this practice is expected. In which case, I would be sure to wear nice socks.

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  13. Living in Thailand of course it is the custom...but I must say when I hit London I love the naughty feel of wearing shoes in the house! For parties it is an impossible request....turning most of us into dumplings without the finish of our shoes...then of course the many that often need a pedicure really...not good!

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  14. Hello Reggie:
    We absolutely endorse everything you say here. We too deplore the notion that one should be asked to remove one's shoes when entering someone else's house, irrespective of the occasion, and, like you, are reluctant ever to make a return visit.

    And what and for whom, we ask, are the floors and carpets being saved?

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  15. Dear Reggie,
    I agree entirely. I would never dream of asking guests to remove their shoes. I would consider it extremely bad mannered and unbefitting of a host.
    On the very rare occasions that I have been in that situation I have not stayed long. Clearly this host thinks more of their own possessions than of the comfort of their guests.
    I have had guests who upon arriving here, have insisted on removing their shoes as they do not want to dirty our carpets. While this is charming on their part, I always insist that it is completely unnecessary and actively discourage it.

    Of your four exceptions I agree with number 1 although like you I would never host a salon or anything like that when in such a situation.

    I don't necessarily agree with number 2 because even then the person is a 'guest' albeit one you are paying. We always make sure that carpets etc are partly rolled up or moved out of the way so as not to inconvenience them. This is merely good form in creating an clean and efficient workspace for the person. Such considerations are pleasing because the workman (or workwoman - is there such a word?) has feelings as well and I would never want to make them feel 'belittled' in either our house in Melbourne or here in our apartment. if they leave a dirty mark on the floor we can always clean it up afterwards. It is a small inconvenience. However I should add that they often remove their boots anyway.

    Number 3 yes agree entirely. It would be bad form not too.

    Number 4 I'm not sure how I would react having never been in that situation. Even then I think I would say nothing (after having made a mental note not to invite said person again),

    A long response but I enjoyed this post Reggie and it got me thinking!

    Kirk

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  16. I agree completely. Thank you. I fear it is a lost cause.

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  17. I really wish people would warn a person in the invitation if it's a shoes-off house. I respect that some people want a clean, shoe-less floor, but the thing is I often build my ENTIRE ensemble around my rather spectacular shoes or boots, so asking me to leave them at the door is tantamount to 86'ing me from the party. Even the Wolford hoisery cannot make up for the Dries van Noten pumps sitting at the mat.

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  18. Hello Reggie, I think you have hit most of the issues here. In Taiwan, there are many stores, restaurants, offices and temples (even a dentist's office once) that require shoe removal. Most homes and businesses provide slippers, but my (in America average) size 10-1/2 cannot fit in the usual assortment of 7's and 8's.

    Another consideration is that the piles of removed shoes near entrances can be dangerous. Some places have an indoor area near the door for shoes, but often narrow stair halls are clogged with piles of shoes.

    You will be glad to know that this is one when-in-Rome custom I have not adopted. My apartment is Liberty Hall, and no one is expected to remove shoes (unless they prefer to).
    --Road to Parnassus

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  19. Dear Reggie,
    I totally agree with everything you have said in the above, and my hat is doffed in respect to you for bringing it to everyones attention. In fact, there is absolutely nothing I can add to further it.

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  20. Those "hosts", need serious medication for their OCD. I find it positively insulting to be asked to remove my shoes, and on the few occasions where I've been asked to do so prior to a party, I have left. A home should be used, floors included. I've also been to parties where the upholstered furniture is all white or linen, and it's announced that no one can have red wine in case of a spill. Not conducive to feeling very welcomed.

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  21. I am in complete agreement. Unfortunately, my sister in law enforces the no shoes rule in her home. The things one does to keep peace in the family!

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  22. Reggie I live in terror of being asked to remove my shoes: there goes my outfit! I often bring a pair of shoes in my handbag Just In Case.
    I would never ever ask people to remove their shoes but sadly it is such a common practice where I live that the men (especially) start doing it when they arrive, at which point I beg them to leave their shoes ON. I'll share something else: seeing men in their stocking feet gives me the creeps, it's true.
    Oh the horror of bare feet, that sounds like such a horrible party Reggie.

    Reggie Rules give me hope for civilization.
    xo

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  23. I totally agree. I NEVER remove my shoes indoors -- I'm not a barefoot person and to do so in someone else's house would make me so uncomfortable. Carpets and floors can be cleaned!

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  24. We change into slippers at home, but would never request guests to do so. In my circle, there is a frequent expectation that folks will remove shoes (see : pile of discarded shoes at the door). I used to comply, but for all of the reasons you mention, I keep mine on. My only exception is for some close friends who are Asian - it is part of their culture and I know their floors are spotless, it is a demonstration of respect on my part, but they would certainly never demand it.

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  25. I don't agree. In many cultures (including mine), wearing street shoes inside the house is a sign of disrespect to the host and very poor manners. I also don't want the shoes that have walked on city streets (with all the dust and poop and what not) to be walking on my carpets. I am not a neat freak by any means, but I think removing shoes keeps a house cleaner and much more civilized.

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  26. If your house can't take the guests, the host has no business throwing a party.

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  27. We live in the great white north and host many parties during the winter months. Our guests come with their shoes in a shoe bag and change out of their boots in our comfortable vestibule. During the non winter months, anything goes. My hardwood floors have a rich history of family, fun and revelry.

    Bonnie

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  28. AMEN! I am new to your blog, but was laughing out loud while reading this. Awesome!

    I mean really? For the love of sanity, let your guests keep their shoes!

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  29. You are correct, Reggie. I have experienced one mishap with a guest wearing stiletto heels at my house. While ascending the staircase, she somehow managed to place the heel of her shoe on the very edge of one of the stairway treads and while applying her full (considerable) weight, caused the edge to slinter. She carried on as if nothing had happened as did I.

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  30. I'm with you on this. I've been a guest in glorious eighteenth-century houses, where I trod on exceedingly beautiful carpets and burnished wood parquet. Never a murmur about anyone removing shoes. Last year I went to a drinks party at a colleague's newly built town home. My host demanded that I leave my shoes behind the moment I crossed the threshold. It was quite funny---all the guests so carefully dressed for a big do afterward and all either barefoot or in stocking feet. All to preserve what looked like a run-of-the-mill wooden floor.

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  31. With the exception of 18th century parquet flooring and antique Aubusson rugs, both of which can be damaged by spiked heels, I feel it is more often a control issue. Some people simply are not suited to entertain at home.

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  32. I stewed on this and I have a suggestion: bring two pairs of shoes. When asked to remove the pair in which you arrived, you can respond by cheerfully agreeing, but then go from one pair immediately into the other, and dare them to insist on a second removal. If they do insist, laugh it off and head straight for their liquor supply, and make short work of their single malts.

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  33. I am in complete agreement with everything you've said. I remember reading that the perspiration from people's feet and socks was much more damaging to floors and carpets than normal soil from the soles of shoes. When we entertain at our home on Vancouver Island, guests just arrive with their own slippers in hand!! This shocked us, as we were not used to this tradition. No matter how much we insist our guests leave their shoes on, they insist in removing them.

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  34. As usual Reggie, you are so right. I cringe at the thought of walking barefoot especially on dirty floors as you described.
    (then putting said feet into my shoes,YUK!)
    I wonder if I would have the nerve to refuse and leave should this happen to me.

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  35. I do as I'm told, I wish I had Whisky Papa's chutzpah.

    Piles of party shoes are way too tempting for some people..didnt Carrie lose her Choos this way in Sex in the City?

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  36. I certainly never would return if a host asked me to remove my shoes. The only time I ever attended a party without shoes was in the 1960's in Palm Beach and everyone was doing it then and there. Stick to your rules Reggie.

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  37. If you lie on your plush, thick, scrumptious 1930s White Beni Ouarain rug in front of your vintage Nakashima cabinet with tv inside, resting on Rubelli silk tiger downfilled pillows...would you want some germ residue of Fifth Avenue and 57th St. cuddling up as well? Suppose your townhouse is filled with Aubusson, Savonnerie and early Orientals...some fragile in their precious beauty, or a garden outside with gravel and dg walkways...Beauty is too be respected. Slippers are seen on the cover of HORST INTERIORS...as worn by a Rothschild, no less Pauline's husband, perhaps there is a slipper that can be tucked in a car for an emergency for your concerns. Seagrass is another story, replaceable and meant to be so...but woven art is another matter all together.

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  38. Great topic Reggie, as usual. Our humble abode has off-white carpeting. On a day to day basis, we usually do not wear our shoes in the house. When we entertain, our preference is for guests to be as comfortable as possible. We never bring up a shoe preference, choosing rather to allow the guests to do what is most comfortable to them. We have a shoe tray available by the front door with several pair of luxury slippers in a variety of different sizes which are specifically available for guests. Adjacent to the shoe tray is an ottoman where guests can sit to remove their shoes if desired. If a guest begins to remove their shoes, they are invited to enjoy a clean pair of slippers, which are always laundered between uses. If a guest asks first, we simply state that the choice is theirs. Either way, we make no fuss. I personally feel that it is poor form to question a guests initial actions within 30 seconds of entering the front door. If they leave their shoes on, they are welcome to do so. If they choose to remove, then they are welcome to enjoy a pair of luxury slippers during their visit. Our experience is that 95% of our guests remove shoes on their own and some even announce that they arrived early to get first dibs on a pair of cozy Burberry slippers.

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    Replies
    1. This is nothing more than a very polite form of tyranny. Unless you are hosting a slumber party, why on earth would you want your guests to conform to the house rule? That ottoman and
      the laundered slippers state your preference. Optional? Well, if you say so....

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  39. The no-shows-indoors policy is utterly presumptuous. When, how,
    and why did this craze sweep the nation? I recall appearing at a lovely
    old house for a design consultation with a new client--attired properly
    in suit, tie, shined shoes, ---and upon crossing the threshold, got That Look from the mistress of the house. "There are issues with my balance" I lied, and got away with it. Point being that it is very difficult to remain businesslike and poised whilst barefoot.
    Besides which, shoes matter! They are, as stated earlier, part of an
    ensemble, like it or not.

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  40. Dear Mr. Darling,

    I think you are spot on. I read an article about how Martha Stewart has her guests all remove their shoes and has them put on hospital socks(you know the ones with the rubber on the bottom so her guests wont slip down the pumpkin pine stairs or scuff up her faux bois wool carpets?). I guess she has baskets of them by the door, and yes, she re-washes them.

    I think to be a good host(s) one must make their guests feel comfortable and welcomed to our homes. Making a guest feel miserable for the entire party is horrible. If it's a casual party and I see that the host has plush wall to wall carpeting (rare), I will quietly take the host aside and ask if they wish I remove my shoes. Usually, they suck it up and say: "no". If it's a formal occasion and I'm asked to remove my shoes. I do. Then I go get myself a strong drink, curl up on their sofa and proceed to talk about my athletes foot issue. This solves the problem of being asked to return.
    Regards,
    W.D.

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  41. I agree. On house tours cotton shoe coverings are provided for some homes. This would be the better option for anyone worried about the flooring. But, honestly I think if you are that worried about your floors you should not have a party.

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  42. RD, it would perhaps only be "fun" if we could throw out the shoes we didn't like, when the poor guests weren't looking! :)

    DF

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  43. I wish I could show this to my in laws. They are firmly in the shoe removal camp. This doesn't bother me on casual visits, but on holidays and dressier occasions I find it very uncomfortable to be all dressed up and sans shoes. Also during crowded get togethers I live in fear of getting my toes stepped on. I truly believe that if you are going to entertain, the comfort of your guests should override the preservation of your belongings. Homes are meant to be lived in and enjoyed, not preserved like museums.

    Bonnie

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  44. I know a few people who require this of their guests, and I make it a point never to go their houses. Really, it's a form of neurosis, isn't it? Life is short, the world is crowded, and such behavior is both very modern and entirely intolerable. Mme Verdurin meets Martha Stewart...

    P.S. If you have a grand house in the country or the mountains, I can understand a policy where muddy boots are kept outside. (That's why God invented mudrooms.)

    P.P.S. Our house in the country has heart pine floors put down between 1740 and 1816. When we redid the place many years ago, I had the floors refinished everywhere but in the front hall and the sitting room, where there are deep scars in the wood left by the spurs of the Union cavalry officers who had come to arrest the elderly doctor who then owned the house. (Apparently, they had decided on their own to intern all white male property owners.) All that scarred wood is a good reminder that the past is never very far away.

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  45. You are welcome to my home anytime as I would NEVER have you remove your beautiful loafers!I agree with you whole heartly and when I have been asked I have said ,"NO THANK ~YOU!Think I'll keep them on. My feet get cold!"CANT STAND IT!!!!!!!GREAT TOPIC!Love the bit about how dirty the floor was.........hope they are reading your BLOG!

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  46. Yes, I agree completely... and also agree with the Japanese exception as it is a cultural one and the floors are usually cleaner than some peoples plates.

    The point is, as a host, you are obligated to make your guests feel comfortable... not like interlopers on your little world of things. BLEH.

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  47. Mr Rogers of children's television would remove his street shoes and replace them with a pair of sneakers canvas tie shoes similar to an early pair of KEDS. If he ever explained why he did this I do not know but remember his ritual. We all know he would remove his jacket to slip into a hand knit sweater all made by his mother from what i understand. If anyone knows more regarding this please share.

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  48. Oh definitely! On this side of the pond the custom does not seem so prevalent however I have a suspicion that there are areas where this sort of thing does happen. Happily I can say I have only ever been asked to remove my shoes when visiting a show flat (cold and slippery marble floors - please!).

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  49. Our course, we don't live in Japan where it is customary to remove one's shoes when entering a dwelling. It is also customary for the host to provide slippers for guests. My upstairs neighbors are Asian, and remove their shoes as a matter of course. I've thought about the wisdom of this in terms of keeping the floors clean in the not so large New York Apartment.

    You are right, of course: the host should provide one the means to clean one's shoes.

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  50. Yes, I highly agree. My own problem is as soon as a guest enters our door they automatically begin removing their shoes regardless of our firm protesting that we do not do that in our home. The poor guest freezes but is so in the habit of removing shoes they are helpless to stop. Then following guests see their shoes in the foyer and immediately remove theirs. It is ridiculous.

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  51. Dear Reggie,
    Agreed!Thank you for this gentle nudge back to civility. I would never ask a guest to remove his shoes. Further, should a guest ask if they may smoke in my home, I cheerfully provide an ashtray and simply open the windows for a bit after the event is over. I would never exile a friend to a smokers prison on the front porch. And Mr. Worthington, good for you, although I suspect the one with the balance problem was your client, not you.

    Douglas

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  52. Commenting on an above poster's comment about booties on historic house tours: in December Bunny Williams opened her house in northwestern CT for a house tour; we go to many house tours and know the drill, so upon entering we looked around for the basket of booties. The docents relayed that Bunny's position was that it was a country house, we were guests, and that we weren't asked to wear booties. It was a wonderful gesture, and actually made me feel like a guest. A truly thoughtful, classy lady.

    I also agree with the poster above who commented that she doesn't require workmen to remove their shoes. I agree. They are invitees like any other and shouldn't be made to feel like second-class citizens. (If their boots were covered in muck, I would expect them to - like any other guest - wipe off their shoes on the mat before coming in.)

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  53. Thank you for addressing this, Reggie Darling!

    I ABHOR shoeless parties and yes, it's because not only is my footwear carefully chosen to accentuate my outfit but also because coming in at an unstatuesque 5'2", it's a total drag to get all dressed up and then feel like a seventh grader for the rest of the night. UGH. I am past that, people.

    It's curious...I wonder if this is why I've been around the world but never made it to Japan?

    x/Your devoted fan

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  54. As an Etiquette/Protocol expert and professional I can say you are 100% correct. It is a major, major breach of etiquette to have guests remove their shoes.

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  55. Right on Reggie! If having your guests wearing their shoes in your home disturbs your sensibilities, then don't invite anyone to your home. Who needs to attend such a boorish event?!

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  56. Wow- I knew nothing of this trend- I have never heard of such bad taste- If the house can't take guests then entertain in a restaurant- I live in the deep South and the very idea of requiring guests to remove their shoes is beyond belief- I do have friends who have "party rugs" usually a neutral piece of broadloom carpet used to replace the more delicate carpets and kept rolled up in the attic or garage until the next party-

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  57. Being asked to remove shoes for a social event is as gauche as refusing to serve your guests red wine for fear they will stain! Good grief. Every host/ess worth heir salt knows how to deal with a red wine spill. Or two.

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  58. Always wear your shoes in my house! Folks with very muddy boots are usually polite enough to offer to remove them, but most don't visit caked with mud.

    Is this related to people who don't serve red wine for fear of spills? I think that's why god made WineAway.

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  59. Unless you're having an orgy, guests should be wearing shoes.

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  60. You know, when I first saw this post I read it and wondered why you were making such a fuss. I had no idea this was a new fad! Are you serious? I guess 57 comments later this is for real.

    Luckily the South has not caught on yet (or have they?) although I do recall a dinner guest about a year ago walk in, remove her shoes and prance around all night barefoot. I just though she was a little odd and left it at that. Lord have mercy, shoeless parties, what will they think of next...

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  61. Reggie, as usual another great post. As a hostess of a small dinner party a number of years ago, I invited two couples who had never met each other. One couple was family, the other was a business associate. The female family member immediately took off her shoes upon arrival to our home and did not put them on for the rest of the evening. It was not done at my request, but simply a manifestation of how she lives in her own home. Needless to say, I was mortified when the business guests arrived and she was walking around without shoes. I have never paired her with others outside of family since that evening. Should I have felt insulted? I think so.

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  62. On the few occasions when I have been asked to remove my shoes before proceeding into the main rooms of the house I have often found the furniture encased in plastic slip covers and the curtains (NOT drapes - although that is likely what they would call them) drawn to prevent sunlight from fading anything. These are not museum quality room I am talking about, more often ghastly spaces, something you would expect to find in Liberace's house, all gilt and mirrors.

    As to the heels - my in-law’s 1754 country house had very soft pine floors, and spike heels popular in the 60's did do some damage to them, but my mother-in-law would not have dreamed of asking anyone to remove their shoes, she just grimaced and put up with the damage. She did however, usually inform her first-time female guests by phone beforehand that if convenient, she would prefer they wore flats or low heels.

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  63. Reggie, I agree completely. I had a friend who in his youth bought his first house, had it renovated as well as he could, and had several friends over. Sadly the quality of the floors he could afford was about as high as the quality of a friend--a party guest-- in stilettos, who stood in one spot in the kitchen throughout most of the evening. The result was that afterward, each time this friend of mine cooked, he had to be in the vicinity of (and be annoyed by) his badly pocked floor.

    With age, one becomes better equipped to be selective about floors and friends.

    On a slightly different angle to this topic, my feet are often cold if I go without shoes or slippers, even with socks. How is one being a polite host by requiring me to make myself cold in a shoe-free house?

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  64. Agreed! I think we'll be seeing more of this. The current kid-generation, I have observed, tends to kick their shoes off as soon as they walk in the door. My kids will have friends over & I'll have to deal with an ugly messy pile of athletic shoes inside the front door. I don't know if they are picking this habit up at home or just feel comfortable in their socks, but it definitely seems to be a kid thing these days.

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  65. Reggie, when I first saw this heading, I thought you were joking! How perfectly dreadful!

    I toured a house once, where they had you put on footies, but that was over your shoes. But to go shoeless and barefoot? No thanks!

    We had floors sustain damage years ago from someone's high heels. They walked all over the house, and you could see where they went in and out of rooms. I'm serious. And it wasn't yours truly! We had heart pine floors, but it adds to the character. That's what I told myself at any rate. It actually looked like someone had taken a tiny hammer and pinged spots all in track patterns. Very disturbing.

    Even so I would not ask my guests to remove their shoes, and we have had huge parties. No, nt in a million years. I guess if for some mysterious reason you did ask them to do so, then you should provide an alternative footwear like slippers. But still. How crazy is that?

    I used to take off my own shoes to avoid wear and tear on my own floors, but I like to scoot around in soft slippers when I'm home.

    Reggie, in a word, asking your guests to do that is "tacky," and you shouldn't go back to a home where people act that goofy, not that you ever would return.

    Elizabeth

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  66. Houses where you have to remove shoes are called in our family 'all dressed up with no where to go '

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  67. Michae Henry AdamsJanuary 23, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Well, Mr. Darling, you seem to have struck a collective nerve. In full accord with your displeasure at being made to remove your shoes, I'm alas irresistibly contrarian enough to note that many host who eschew shod guest, not unlike your friend, contend they wish to keep their sacrosanct environment uncontaminated by the filth of the streets and outdoors. Striving for such purity, imagining even, in so 'impure' a world, that an immaculate existence, in New York, no less, is even possible, is by itself a great annoyance, particularly, if when caught unawares, one's sock happens to be as of yet, un-darned....

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  68. We take our shoes off at our hallway, never wear them inside.

    HOWEVER...

    ---we are always aware how awkward it is for guests to do the same, so it's optional. Anyway, who wants to smell sweaty feet?

    Don't get me started on the dirt the cats track all over the floors after using their box.

    One can only take the shoes off rule just so far before they would not have any friends at all.

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  69. Reggie,
    I'm so glad I took a moment to catch up! As a germaphobe, the owner of some one of a kind rugs and recently refinished floors- I agree that being requested to take off ones shoes for a party is ridiculous! I would venture a guess that if the host/hotess relayed this requirement with the invitations, it would not result in a party at all, but a small gathering of their closest friends. For a marshmallow roast.

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  70. To answer your question"what floors would be so soft that high heels would dent them?"....well, original fir flooring in our beautiful San Francisco apartment that was built in 1907. It's very soft. Dress shoes, even men's, leave scratches and dents. While I can appreciate your "rule" of allowing guests to keep shoes on during a party, a person's home can be whatever culture they chose. You don't have to be Japanese with tatami-matted floors to appreciate and follow customs that you believe in. As for dirt, sure a mop or vacuum after a party does the trick, however, for just casual visitors who may have walked all over the city streets, I see no harm is asking them to remove their shoes during a visit. Haven't you seen what's on the city streets? I do see what you're saying and think making decisions on a case by case basis as to whether or not to ask guests to remove shoes can be made. Additionally, it doesn't have to be a surprise. Those who wish to have a shoeless home can warn the guests in advance. hat way, folks like you who loathe it so much and find it to be "self-absorbed myopia" on the part of your hosts can simply stay home.

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    1. Dear Anon:
      In my humble opinion, floors are designed to be walked on in this country by people wearing shoes. If you disagree with that view, then so be it. But please do your guests a favor and warn them in advance so they can be prepared for it -- so they can bring their own house slippers with them to change into, should they decide the benefit of such an invitation outweighs the inconvenience of it. Reggie

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  71. Interesting post! I've done a search of all the previous comments to look for mention of Canada but have not found any... As a Canadian I can say that it is definitely a custom here to remove shoes when arriving at a home. I know that American and British friends tend to find it very amusing. We do it automatically on any occasion, casual or more formal, and even when the weather is not particularly inclement. However, for some more formal occasions guests might leave their shoes on or bring a another pair to slip into. I myself have a pair of "indoor slippers/shoes" which I reserve for such occasions.

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  72. P.S. Ah, I was mistaken: I do see a reference to the "great white north". That sounds about right for customs north of the border.

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  73. Well, because I have a fetish for female feet, preferably stockinged, I always ask any ladies coing into my house to remove their shoes, so I can perv at their feet...

    One day I got a knock on the door, and a cute girl was standing there, she was about 23 (I'm 30). It was a warm-ish day, and I noticed that she was wearing blouse, knee-length skirt, and most importantly, flesh coloured tights and little black pumps.

    Turns out she was a Jehovas witness. Now normally I wouldn't have entertained anyone like that, but I sense an apportunity to get a look at her feet, so I invited her in.

    She was carry a book (probably a bible or something) and some leaflets, and when she came in I told her that we have a no shoes on policy in the house, and she immediately said 'No problem - in fact that great, as my feet are killing me with walking around all day, so it'll be good to get them off!'

    I couldn't believe my luck, as was rather cute. Anyway, she proceeded to kick her shoes off and reveal the cutest little feet I'd seen. She was only about 5ft 2 ins, so had tiny feet, I'd guess a size 3, and I noticed the darker reinforced toe area of her tights on both her feet, which instantly gave me a stiffy! I tried my best to hide it!

    Anyway, she walking into the lounge in her stockinged feet and sat down on the couch. I offered to make her a cup of tea, which she accepted, and went into the kitchen to make it.

    When I returned with her tea, and a cup for myself, She was rubbibg her toes and complaining that her feet were killing her, and also apologied if her feet were a little stinky, as she had been walking around all day.

    I told her it wasn't a problem as everyone's feet get a bit smelly when they're sweaty, especially with tights on. She laughed and agreed and said that it doesn't look very professional to go out bare-legged, so she always wears tights when 'on duty', as it were.

    Then, I don't know what came over me, but I said to her that I was very good at foot massages and would she like to me to give her sore feet a massage? As soon as I said it, I thought to myself 'what are you saying, she'll think you're weird or something, as you're a complete stranger', but to my surprise and great pleasure, she accepted!!

    Anyway, I won't go into the details of what happened next, but it's safe to say that I had a very good afternoon! I also wanked myself silly for days thinking of images of her gorgeous little tan tights feet, and me rubbing them.

    So, as far as the sentiments of expressed here are concerned, I totally agree. All ladies should have their shoes off, so foot fetish pervs, like me, can stare and your sexy feet!!!

    Bob.

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  74. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  75. I definitely agree! I would not be happy if that happened to me. However, I read of a party held in California last month where the hosts provided bunches of new Christmas socks for all their guests. Would you approve that?

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