Friday, November 26, 2010

Academichic: What to Wear: To a Professor’s Party

Academichic: What to Wear: To a Professor’s Party

A blog about academic fashion addresses the question of what to wear when invited to a professor's home. The post points out the need for 'party-ready feet':

'Have party-ready feet. All three of us have been to parties at a professor’s home where we were asked to remove our shoes at the door. This would not be the time to make-do with hole-riddled socks or tights.'

Are academics more likely than other people to have a shoes-off policy? Possibly. They are likely to be well-travelled and have an awareness of the more enlightened etiquette in other cultures.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ed Miliband does not have a shoes-off policy

Ed Miliband does not appear to have a shoes-off policy. The Labour party leader was interviewed at his home in the Guardian today. He wore deck shoes, though his wife was just in socks.

Given that he has a cream carpet (according to the interviewer) and a new baby he really should insitute a no-shoes rule.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Having A Shoes-Off Policy


Having a shoes-off policy does not mean that:

- You do not know the difference between asking and demanding.

- You ask your guests to remove their shoes in an unpleasent or rude manner.

- You "force" your guests to remove their shoes.

- You would not make an exception for elderly people or those with a medical issue.

- You would never make an exception if a guest felt really uncomfortable with removing her shoes (this is at your discretion).

- You would never make an exception for a party (but you don't have to; shoeless parties are great too!)

- You would not try to let guests know in advance that you prefer shoes-off.

- You make your guests wear horrible fluffy slippers that have been worn by hundreds of previous guests.

- You think your guests shoes are dirtier than your own.

- You treat your guests like children.

- You are obsessed with cleanliness.

- You are anally rententive.

- You are germaphobic.

- You keep your children in a sealed plastic bubble.

- You have plastic sheeting on your furniture.

- You have a foot fetish.

- You care more about your carpets than your guests.

- You are not an absolutely delightful host or hostess.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Degrees Of Firmness Part 2


I think for friends I would go for the very direct no.6 (Could you take your shoes off, please?) and for people I did not know, I would use the more restrained no.4 (Are you alright with taking your shoes off?).

It may be that you are just too shy to use the more direct requests. However, you might find that the softest approach no.1 works a lot of the time. If you are barefoot and there are a lot of shoes by the door, you may get the right reaction just by saying:

You can take your shoes off here, if you like.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Degrees Of Firmness


1. You can take your shoes off here if you like.

2. We take our shoes off here.

3. We do like visitors to take their shoes off.

4. Are you alright with taking your shoes off?

5. You don't mind taking your shoes off, do you?

6. Could you take your shoes off, please?

7. Take your shoes off, please.

8. Shoes off.

9. Shoes off now!

Which do you prefer?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Great Comment on Mumsnet

"But it's not really a case of valuing furniture over friends. It's of liking both , and wanting one to do to something small to keep the other one nice."

I like that. Asking people to take their shoes off is just a small thing, but it helps. This was in this discussion on Mumsnet. In general, Mumsnet users tend not to be keen on the shoes-off policy.

If it's glamorous on a yacht, it's glamorous in a house

A lot of people object to the idea of a shoeless party by claiming that such an event would be completely lacking in glamour. They feel that a pair of high heels is an essential component of a swish party.

Well, I have got news for those people. If you ever get invited to a boat party, your flashy pair of heels is coming off. No matter how rich or famous, you have to be in socks or bare feet at a yacht party.

So if the glitterati can look great sans manolos, I am quite sure you can look quite fine if you have to be bare foot at somebody's party.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

It is not selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes


Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.

On the contrary it is not selfish at all.

Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.

There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.

Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


"I would just love it if people did not smoke in front of my baby, but I don't want to upset them. I mean, some people are very uncomfortable when they can't smoke."

"I think its lovely when my employees do some work when they come and sit in the office. Some of them do and I really appreciate it, but if they come in and just play games on the computer or read the newspaper, I just grin and bear it. I think it would be a bit rude to ask my employees do some work."

"I think it is a good idea for people sent to this prison to hand over their mobile phones and any money they have on them. I mean, prisons are so much more efficent when you control what is coming in. However, I think it's really rude to ask prisoners to hand over their stuff. I don't want to hurt their feelings."

"I get a lot of people coming in my cafe and eating their own sandwiches from their packed lunches. I would probably sell more sandwiches if people bought mine, but it is a bit embarassing telling them they can't eat their own. I just accept that is what they do at other places."

Is it really that hard asking people nicely to take their shoes off?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

My Worries About Our School Gymnasiums

One of the bizarre customs that has been imported to these shores from the other side of the Atlantic is the school prom. This is a sort of ball held for school leavers involving dancing, dressing up in appalling evening wear and, most shockingly, hiring limousines. The main culprit in this seems to be film and television. Every young person wants to copy what is on the screens these days. Probably the excess of glamour in celebrity culture has a part to play in promoting this abhorrence. Call me a puritan, but there is nothing sillier than seeing photographs in local papers of teenagers dolled up in evening wear.

My worry is the effect of this imported custom on our school gymnasium floors. Are they putting down plastic sheeting for these events? If not, are our taxes going to be wasted on repairing floors ruined by heels that girls have not even learned to walk in? Perhaps some head teachers can reassure me about this.

They really should think about importing the sock hop idea as well.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Christian Headcovering, Removing Shoes and the need for a Punk Attitude


It is my belief that Christian women should wear an headscarf or veil during worship. This is not a fashionable idea amongst modern evangelicals, but I believe it is biblical.

Occasionally I hear from Christian women who feel some conviction over the issue, yet who say something like:

'I am starting to feel that the Bible does teach headcovering, but I am scared to wear one because of what other women at church might think.'

I find this attitude remarkably similar to what some people say about having a shoes-off policy:

'I would really like people to remove their shoes in my home, but I am scared to ask because of what they might think.'

Notice the similarity?

I think this fear of other peoples opinion is just so destructive. It paralyses people and traps them in a mundane world of convention. It holds back any attempt to try out alternative ideas.

You have probably gathered that I am a very conservative person in my values, but when it comes to this phobia, the part of me that loves Punk Rock really kicks in. When it comes to this fear of change because of the opinion of others, I am reminded of the need for the Punk attitude.

The virtue of Punk is a rebellion against conventions that limit us and prevent us from being true to what we really think and feel. Its about being true to yourself and what you stand for.

The Christian woman who has come to believe in the necessity of headcovering should be free to cover and stand against the shallowness of those who sneer at a covered hairstyle or the timidity of pastors who are afraid to preach on the issue. They should not fear the dirty looks or the accusation of rocking the boat.

Likewise, those of us who want shoes off in our homes should not be afraid. We must be true and honest about ourselves.

Who cares if people think we are 'clean freaks' or visitors mutter after they leave our homes? People who are really our friends like us enough to respect our preferences and will enjoy our company shoes-off or not.