Etiquette - Pine floors and stiletto heels

nziegler773November 26, 2012

We have a very old home with beautiful (but soft) wide board pine floors. I had a friend visit the other day who was wearing stiletto heels and the result was dimples in the floor everywhere she walked. In a few weeks we will be hosting a large holiday party and I am having nightmares about what my floor will look like after it if more people wear similar shoes.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to encourage my friend and others invited to not wear stilettos without offending them? I do not want to ask people to take shoes off when they get here. Should I put something on the invitation or just suck it up and get over it?

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You now see why every single professional will tell you NEVER to wear heals on any wood floor.

I lay down the law when i have people over. No one wears shoes on my hardwood.
I would suggest you just have everyone remove their shoes. This way you dont single out the ladies. And theres no need to explain what caused you to do this to save the embarrassment to the women who caused the damage.

Its a bummer this happened but its best to keep any more damage from being done.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 6:13PM
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Put down some masonite and paint it with some floor paint if you want to protect the floors. But it's inhospitable to ask people to remove their party shoes.

You can always move the gathering to a restaurant.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:39PM
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This issue is discussed on this board from time to time.

I look at it this way: I have never been offended or put off by anyone asking me to remove my shoes when entering their abode. After all, it's their house and I'm their guest.

Don't put yourself in the position of having to "suck it up" in order to have guests in your home. It is your home and you prefer not having your floors dented by stiletto heeled shoes or soiled by contaminants. Our Asian brothers and sisters have no problem asking guests to remove footwear when entering their homes. It ought to be the same here. I don't think it's being inhospitable at all.

Perhaps you should ask yourself why you want to have guests in your home at all. What is the reason you want them to come? Is this gathering to throw a party? Is it strictly a dinner party? Is it a celebration of some kind? Answers to those questions may help you decide whether or not your home is the suitable venue. As the previous poster said, "You can always move the gathering to a restaurant."

And, then there is this to consider: You can always warn people ahead of time in your invitation that your house is a shoe-free zone and that guests will be expected to remove their footwear. Some people will be offended no matter how nicely you state that in the invitation, and that may reduce the numbers who accept your invitation. But I would think you wouldn't want folks like that at your party anyway.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:31AM
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Like others said, it depends quite a bit on a bunch of different factors.

One of them is where you live and what people do in general.

I live where we get snow during winter. It's quite common for people to remove heavy winter shoes/boots when they come inside anyway. So you might get away with saying nothing. Then again, some people bring slippers and/or regular shoes to wear when they remove their winter boots -- some of those shoes might be stiletto heels.

Even though it's common for people to remove winter shoes around here, we do hear a lot of complaints during parties, usually hushed and guests look around to see if the host(s) are out of earshot. Some people's homes have very cold floors, some people don't clean their homes enough for people to walk in socks/barefoot, and, even during summer, when hosts ask people to remove shoes in their homes, if people go out on decks/porches and come back, even barefooted, they bring back dirt that makes the other guests uncomfortable walking on the now gritty floors.

You can get a "preview", as it were, of what's gonna happen if you ask people to remove their shoes by paying attention to what people do and/or how they react when you see other folks asking their guests to remove their shoes: do a lot of people complain and/or start bringing slippers/indoor shoes in the next parties in the same home?

People wearing stiletto heels quite often are also wearing expensive stockings, which might get a run if they go barefoot. Even if they are disposable stockings, getting a run on them when you intend to visit other places afterwards might make them grumpy.

I'll give you the reverse problem too: we have a dog, so quite often my home is not clean enough for people to go barefoot (particularly when it's raining), so I ask people *not* to remove their shoes in my home. Most people smile and get a look of relief on their faces. I have a couple of friends that remove their shoes anyway, saying it's no worse than their homes and they prefer not to wear shoes when they are not outside. And I have a couple of friends who remove their shoes and wear the slippers they bring with them (now that they know what "kind of household" we are), but they looked uncomfortable wearing their shoes inside the first time they visited.

I guess my point is that you can't please everyone. Your best bet, if you want people not to ruin your floors, is to warn them on the invitation that you want all shoes off when indoors and maybe even say "bring slippers if you don't want to go barefoot" to give something of a hint to people who were planning on wearing high heels indoors. That will give people a clue that maybe they should wear comfortable socks or bring slippers.

But really, not in the same boat as "suck it up", but just a little perspective here. No matter what you do, even hardwood will not be looking pristine in a few years, and softwoods will show signs of wear earlier. Like you say, it's not a brand new postmodern home, people do expect it to look its age so a floor with a few signs of use will not look out of place and, frankly, the appeal of soft woods is how comfortable they feel underfoot and the color/texture of the wood itself. People pay an awful lot of money for someone to "distress" the floor for them when the floors are too new and you can get the look naturally and for free if you are patient, so I'd like to think that in your position, I'd just invite people over and see what happens, enjoy your friends, the parties, the good times. Your friends will not remember how pristine your home is in the years to come, but they'll remember fondly how welcome they were and how wonderful friends you are and look forward to seeing you again. We all know really nice people who are perfect in every way, except that one has the impression that one can't touch anything in their homes and that one is going to soil things if one visits -- I tend to avoid visiting those people, I either see them at a restaurant or invite them to my home instead, but I do like to feel welcome and at ease when I visit people.

Also, don't feel bad whatever you decide, just go with it. There are plenty of very rich people (one famous couple lived in NYC) who have white carpeting and who not only ask everyone to remove shoes but refuse to serve red wine or drinks that have any color in them because they don't want the carpeting to get stained. Another famous couple reportedly got tired of the water marks from glasses on their wooden tables when people failed to use the coasters so they cover the tables with saran wrap before parties. People still go to their parties and write about them on the papers.

It's your home and your life. Decide what you want to do and behave as if it's the most natural thing in the universe, if other people don't like it, too bad.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:50AM
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Tell it like it is. "I have found that my beautiful pine floors dent very easily with stiletto heels; if you don't mind, can you please wear party shoes that are not stilettos, preferably flats. I want my guests to be comfortable and not have to remove their shoes."

They will probably be more comfortable in their cute little dressy ballet style shoes anyway.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:16PM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I am going to do what tuesday recommends. I don't want everyone to have to take off shoes and go in socks at a holiday party... that's a bit un-festive. It's really just the super high heels that are a problem. Thanks all!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 8:10AM
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I actually hate when I'm invited to evening events and asked to take off my shoes. It just seems odd to walk around with a dress and no heels, plus most people keep their house cold and I feel uncomfortable!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 1:42PM
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I like Tuesday_2008's suggestion to tell it like it is. I am going to use this suggestion also if I ever have a party at my home.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 1:29AM
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Here's what I put on the back of the invitation: 'Apologies - our pine floors are quite tender. We would be grateful if ladies wore flats or wedge soles.' We had 85 guests at our house that night and no impact whatsoever on our floors. Of course a few of the men joked about wearing wedge soles but it was all in good fun.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 8:35AM
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nziegler, what a great idea and it did not offend anyone and this way, no one had to remove their shoes and rip their stockings or have cold feet like I do. I worry about people removing shoes that have fungus on their feet. Glad you had a good time with no damage done to your floors. I like how you put the line item "Apologies- our pine floors are quite tender."

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 10:36AM
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