How to deal with dinner party shoe policies

Haven’t we all wondered during snowy winter months what to do with our shoes when we’re invited to people’s houses, especially for fancy dinner parties? How should hosts deal with shoe policies and how should guests respond?


Since it’s been unbearably cold outside, I’ve found myself invited to numerous dinner parties (what else is there to do?). These aren’t exactly “casual” dinner parties either. I’m always like, “What am I going to wear?”

I worry about the smallest things, which is why I need so much help in my life. And guess what? Today you are going to thank me, because I’m going to help you.

Haven’t we all wondered during snowy winter months what to do with our shoes when we’re invited to people’s houses, especially for fancy dinner parties?

Ten years ago, I was invited to a house party and the host demanded everyone take their shoes off. I actually LEFT the party immediately, because MY SHOES made my outfit, and, also, under my calf-length boots, I was wearing mismatched socks, because, at the time, I wondered who in their right mind makes guests take off their shoes, so I didn’t bother to match my socks. (I’m like that.) I thought it was rude. I’m wiser now.

Now that my friends have nice houses, with expensive (usually off-white carpets) and beautiful hardwood floors, I definitely get why they want guests to take shoes off.

Recently, I was invited to a house warming party. The host sent out an e-mail with a “shoe policy.” Before you think this is weird, let me say it was not the host who made this decision. Many of her guests had e-mailed her asking what the “shoe policy” was. She wrote, “Bring a pair of shoes or make sure your socks match!”

Of course, the night of the housewarming party, there was a snowstorm. I was wearing a very pretty dress. And, yes, I headed to the party wearing Uggs with my very pretty dress, a pair of Prada heels in my large purse. (It was quite the look!)

Even in summer months, shoe policies become a problem. The night after a housewarming party last summer, my friend told me her husband refused to let her have any more parties because their brand new, $50,000 floors were scuffed as a result of women’s high heels.

So what should hostesses do when it comes to shoe policies at parties? What should guests do? I spoke with Erin Nadler, a fashion consultant and founder of Better for answers!

1. She says all women work really hard to get their outfits perfect, and this includes wearing the right shoes. “If you have to take off your shoes, you’re losing an aspect of your outfit.” So plans have to be made, she says.

2. Nadler had a great idea for hostesses. “You can buy really cheap ballet slippers for all your guests and it can be really fun. No one will feel awkward because everyone will be wearing them. Everyone can take pictures and it can be bonding.” (I love this idea!) And, also, she says, the slippers can be a party favour.

3. For men, she says, it’s less of a worry. As long as their socks match and don’t have holes. “Women always get cold and if they’re wearing nylons, usually their feet are freezing.” So providing women with cute slippers is a cute idea!

4. She suggests women buy themselves a “shoe bag” to carry their shoes from their houses to the party. “Or most women nowadays own large purses. It’s easy enough to stick a pair in.”

5. She does admit that taking off shoes in houses does seem to be a “Canadian thing.” People in the States, she says, don’t take off their shoes. “We’re just very polite.”

6. Assume, says Nadler, especially during the winter, you will have to take off your shoes. Don’t think twice about it. Assume you have to!

7. She suggests hosts think about renting rollout rugs, or putting down rugs in areas they don’t want to ruin.

Even Nadler has learned her lesson. “Of course I’ve been disappointed when going to someone’s house and realizing I’ve had to take off shoes that made my outfit. Now, l always bring a shoe bag.”

However, when it comes to going to a restaurant, I’m a firm believer that the man should drop you off right outside the restaurant and then go park the car. However, if you are just going to dinner with a gal pal, I suggest a pub, where they don’t care at all that you’re dragging snow into their establishment. But that’s me.

Readers, what’s your shoe policy when it comes to hosting? Please share?