How do you handle a visit to your “shoeless” home? This is usually a surprise, so you can’t plan ahead for cute socks or make sure you’ve had a recent pedicure. Not to mention the shoes are part of the outfit and keep your feet warm. I’ve been in this situation a lot over the past few years and I’ve never been comfortable taking off my shoes. Any suggestions? — Ann, San Francisco
foot! They are one of the most controversial and least discussed body parts. I know some people are intimidated by the sight of other people’s feet, and we all know some people are obsessed with feet. They can become calloused, blistered, hairy, hardened, or otherwise poorly cared for. Still smelly.
In fact, anxiety about feet may be one of the reasons we spend so much time thinking about our shoes, and why it’s increasingly difficult to navigate the trend of shoeless households.
To be sure, this is a North American problem. In many cultures, it is natural to take off your shoes when entering someone else’s home. This is a sign of respect. In these cultures it is also expected, so visitors and hosts are usually prepared for what may happen.
As for why the practice might be on the rise, one theory is that it might be healthier to go without shoes indoors, since shoes can carry bacteria. There’s some truth to that, especially in the wake of Covid-19, although The Times’s science department dug into the studies and found that the issues aren’t necessarily clear-cut. Another theory is that it just keeps the house clean (which is also true).
However, if you have an outfit planned and suddenly need to reevaluate, it can be disorienting, especially if you’re attending a holiday event like a dinner party. That doesn’t even begin to get into the psychological connection between shoes and adulthood, the way going barefoot can make you feel strangely powerless.
It’s not quite as bad as going in for a checkup in your underwear, but it’s not far off. After all, when you take off your shoes, you might be exposing something you don’t want to show to the world, whether it’s a bunion or that weird sock you normally hide.
Personally, I will never forget the experience of wearing my favorite pair of bell-bottoms to go out with high heels to lengthen my legs, only to be asked to take them off when I got to the apartment. , at which point I had to roll up the hem and feel like a hobbit.
Still, whether you like it or not, if you arrive at someone’s home and they ask you to take off your shoes, you should take them off.
Karla Martinez, Vogue’s head of content for Mexico and Latin America, said that means the best approach is to take precautions. Dress as if you might be asked to take off your shoes. Check socks for holes, check socks for running.
Creative director Ferdinando Verderi, who has worked with Versace and Google, said that when he lived in Sweden, it was common practice to go barefoot into the house, so he developed an entire sock wardrobe. bonus!
If you really don’t want to take off your shoes, Dazed Media co-founder Jefferson Hack, who’s firmly in the shoe-off camp, recommends dawdling at the door to see if other guests feel the same way and might as well take off their shoes. . Convince the owner to relax the rules, but don’t (ahem) step on anyone’s toes.
Then remember this puzzle. And if the shoe is on the other foot and you are a host who wants guests to take off their shoes, adopt a policy of always warning guests upfront.
Your style questions answered
Each week, Vanessa answers fashion-related questions from readers on Open Thread, which you can feel free to send her via: e-mail or Twitter. Questions have been edited and condensed.