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I had a group of girlfriends over the other night and while we were sharing a glass of wine the topic turned to shoes. Several of my guests were ladies who grew up in other countries (Norway, Peru, Czech Republic) and these friends now live in the United States. In their countries, it’s their practice that everyone takes their shoes off when they pass through the front door. They don’t think of walking into their home or another person’s residence wearing their shoes. I also noticed all my guests had taken off their shoes at the door without me asking. This turned into a lively talk about how many Americans wear shoes in their homes and in other countries or cultures, they don’t.
When I was growing up, my mom asked us to take our shoes of on occasion but I don’t recall it being a rule in our house. In my home now, we take our shoes off as part of a comfort ritual, we prefer socks or bare feet when we’re home. I have hardwood floors downstairs and most of the upstairs, but we do have carpet in the bedrooms. As we all know, carpet quickly becomes dingy if shoes are worn.
I remember years ago when I hosted a Christmas party and a few of the ladies wore stilleto heels. The next day I noticed little divets in my wood floors from their spiky heels, but I never thought to ask them to remove their shoes during my party because for many women, the shoes complete the outfit. I wasn’t a faithful viewer of the show Sex and the City, but I do recall one episode where Carrie was asked to remove her Manolo shoes at a party and when she went to leave, she discovered her expensive heels had been stolen, and it ended up being a big dilemma between her and the host.
There are a lot of health benefits to taking off shoes in the house, and in many cultures or no-shoes households, it’s a sign of respect. In the mainland US, it’s been my experience that many households do not expect or ask guests to remove shoes. Reasons may include that some people are embarrased about their feet, or uncomfortable being without shoes in someone else’s home, or it’s simply not a consideration. Hawaii is the exception, on the islands it’s expected that shoes will be removed.
image via salt bush avenue blog
What’s your shoe policy in your home? Are you someone who wears shoes indoors? Did you grow up in a culture where shoes in the home are disrespectful? How about my fellow Americans? If you’re a no-shoe home, how do you ask guests to remove shoes? With a sign? A doormat? A simple ask?