Good Questions: Is Shoes Off at a Party Proper?

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Hello AT,

My friends and I received an invitation to a party and upon arrival, we were told that we had to take off our shoes. there was even a hand-written sign on the door that said, "be prepared to take off your shoes now!"

Had I known, I would have worn my "cute" socks.

It struck me as odd. I've visited friends' homes where "shoes at the door, please" was the preference and I've happily obliged, but they typically waive that notion for a party.

Is this common? Proper? It felt strange...

Thanks for your feedback, Lahat

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Dear Lahat,

Very interesting question!

We, too, don't wear shoes in the house and have been doing it so long that we barely notice. When we have parties for a few people - a small dinner party for example - we ask everyone to take their shoes off - politely - and it works very nicely.

When we have a bigger party we don't bother, but it does make a difference on our house. Shoes ARE dirty, but it is really hard to get the message across to everyone and it gets awkward asking.

We do have friends that do make you take off your shoes at a bigger party and it always feels odd to us as well. There's something about being in your socks with a crowd of people. We even get funny feelings welling up inside of us about how arrogant the host must be to require this at a big party (even though - technically - we totally agree with the practice).

In short, it seems to us that as a general rule guests will be more comfortable with their shoes on in a larger crowd of people, BUT if you realize this and ask them REALLY politely, taking shoes off isn't such a big deal.

Anyone else?

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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