DEAR ABBY: I have been wondering about the custom of shoe removal when someone is a guest at the home of the person who practices this custom before entering the house.
When the entryway has several pairs of shoes in plain view, it's obvious the residents remove their footwear before entering the living space. By the way, I am not referring to entering a Japanese home where it is considered disrespectful to leave one's shoes on.
How can a guest handle a situation like this in your standard American home? Is it appropriate to ask if they would like you to remove your shoes? This can be of particular concern to a woman in dressy attire wearing heels or other footwear to complete her outfit. If she removes her shoes, it can ruin the image she's trying to present. Walking barefoot or in stockings could be considering tacky. What is the proper etiquette for these circumstances? -- FOOTLOOSE IN FLORIDA
DEAR FOOTLOOSE: Proper etiquette would be for the hosts to inform prospective guests beforehand about their preference that shoes not be worn inside their home. That way, the person can choose to accept the invitation or not, or dress in such a way that his/her "image" won't be ruined when the shoes come off.
This subject is mentioned in "Emily Post's Etiquette," 17th Edition, by Peggy Post, who says: "While removing your shoes when entering someone else's home isn't typically a part of U.S. culture ... politely asking family, friends and party guests to do so is fine -- especially in locales with long seasons of inclement weather.
"Just make sure you have a stash of comfortable slippers, flip-flops or nonskid slippers or socks for visitors to wear. That way, guests won't feel so uncomfortable about exposing their bare stocking feet. Be careful, though. If you're throwing a more formal party or you don't know your guests all that well, asking them to remove their shoes could be awkward."