Friday, November 25, 2011

Practical Glamour: the art & style of the no-shoe home

Practical Glamour: the art & style of the no-shoe home

A few years ago I happened to catch a doctor on the radio who was railing passionately about the evils of wearing your outdoor shoes in your home. By traipsing through your home in fresh from the street shoes, you were effectively transferring any and all types of filth–gum, dirt, oil, spit, other things I can’t bring myself to type–from the street into your personal space, which really should really be kept as pure as possible, dirtwise and vibewise.

He convinced me. I’ve been a practitioner of the no-shoe domicile for a while and wouldn’t dream of going back to having that level of grossness imported inside again. Levels of grossness of course, being relative to where you live. Cape Cod; not so bad, maybe some sand or a spot of soil. Manhattan or downtown Los Angeles; unprintable.

I’ve noticed that here in the U.S. it is increasingly common to visit homes that are no-shoe homes. That is, you leave your shoes at the door for all the reasons your hosts might desire: the basic hygiene argument outlined above, heels carving up a soft wood floor, an addiction to white shag carpets, and so forth.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Treating Guests Like Children?


Some people feel that in being asked to remove their shoes, they are being treated like children.

They may find it obnoxious, having to follow a house rule. They may think it is fine to ask children to take off their shoes, as who knows what they might step in, but they feel patronised to be asked to take off their own shoes. They believe that adults can be trusted to wipe their feet on the doormat.

What I would say to these people is that there are many good reasons why hosts may ask them to take off their shoes. I suggest they try not to think of it as a house rule, but just as a polite request (like somebody asking you to hold their umbrella). These people probably go shoeless sometimes in their own homes, so it should not be too onerous to do this when at the homes of others.

The fact is that wiping your feet will not remove all the dreadful stuff that your shoes pick up. You may try to be careful what you step in, but a lot of the worst things, like lead or weed killer is unseen.

Other people may feel that removing their shoes makes them feel childish. They do not feel terribly grown up skipping around a house in their bare feet or padding in their socks. What I would say to those people is that they should bear in mind that in many cultures, going shoeless indoors is the norm. In Japan or Sweden, nobody thinks it childish to be in socks or bare feet. There are plenty of situations in the UK where adults will be without shoes; such as on the beach or in a Yoga class. I suggest that when they visit shoeless homes, they ought to bring some slippers to wear.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simple Pleasures: Do you take your Shoes off at the Door

Simple Pleasures: Do you take your Shoes off at the Door

Taking off your shoes before you enter your home is the public health equivalent of washing your hands. It's free, it couldn't be easier, and yet not many people do it. Dirt isn't the only thing tracked into homes by shoes. Think about the residues of outdoor pollutants might be on your soles: pesticides, automobile exhaust, lead, allergens, plus other carcinogens and endocrine disrupters. These all pose significant risk to all family members and can reach hazardous levels with repeated treading, especially in rugs and carpets. Children and pets are especially vulnerable because they’re in closer contact with the floor than most adults.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Elegantly Barefoot


I want to challenge the notion that being bare foot should be associated with informality, poverty, tackiness or 'rednecks.'

The great artists of the past loved to paint the human form and they welcomed the challenge of painting the naked human foot. They have left us with many images of people who are barefoot, yet still possessing grace and elegance.

This blog's header image, The Golden Stairs, by Edward Burne Jones is a good example of this, but here are some more: