Questions of eternal significance: Is it rude to ask people to remove their shoes at your home?

Welcome Please Remove Your Shoes wood sign - door hanger

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There was an article making the rounds last month about shoe etiquette and I read it (and the reactions) with interest. I will admit: people making me take my shoes off in their home has a longstanding pet-peeve of mine. If I’m over for something really casual . . . a playdate, daytime coffee, a quick stop and chat . . . I get it. If I’m dressed in yoga pants or jeans and am asked to slip my shoes off, I’ll oblige. I’d personally rather leave my shoes but it’s not that big a deal.

But if I am invited to something where I’ve actually put some effort into the outfit, and where the host is intentionally entertaining, I’m totally annoyed at the request. At a birthday party or dinner or invited get-together, I do not want to be schlepping around someone’s house in my bare feet. And I especially don’t want to wear some provided booties or socks or slippers. I WANT TO WEAR MY SHOES. The ones that were chosen as a part of the outfit. I can’t help thinking that if you can’t handle people in their shoes for a party at your house, then maybe you shouldn’t throw parties. I mean, I get that some people don’t like the dirt factor of shoes, but when you are entertaining, aren’t you planning to mop or vacuum the next day anyway? And opening yourself up to the risk of spills and mess? It seems like a rule that ought to be flexible for special occasions.

I realize that this probably varies by region. I’ve never lived in a cold-weather climate where boots or snow or mud are a major factor in life. It doesn’t rain much here, and we live a pretty indoor/outdoor lifestyle. The idea of enforcing shoes on or off, with as many times as the kids and I go in or out the front door, sounds exhausting.  I get that some people have germ issues, but it’s still rattling when requested of me as I walk into someone else’s house. Honestly? I have dry, old-lady feet and cracked heels. Sometimes I’ve chosen random socks to go under my boots because I didn’t think they’ve been seen. Sometimes I’m between pedicures. Sometimes my heels are dirty from chasing a kid around the block in my bare feet. My feet aren’t always “show-ready.” While other people find it to me more clean, I think walking around someone’s house in my bare feet is kinda gross. If you are a “shoes off” kind of person, may I make a small request from us “shoes on” folk? If we’re coming to your house, tell us beforehand. Don’t surprise us as we walk through the door.

My friend Jessica Gottlieb had slightly more stern words about the rudeness of this request: “I’m disgusted when people want me to take my shoes off in their home. OK, I get it for upstairs areas or bedrooms or even if you're Japanese. But if you're my American friend who just wants a clean floor, forget about it. It's a power play and no, you don't get to undress me. My shoes are there to keep me comfortable, cute and free of your foot fungus."

What do you think? It is rude to ask people to take off their shoes? Or is it rude not to automatically take them off? (And give a shout-out to where you are from . . . I’d love to know how this varies in other parts of the country and world.)


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