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DYDT: Second-Hand Shoes

The discussion of shoes on-or-off in the house brought up an idea that was repeated again and again: sometimes when people ask others to remove their shoes upon entering the house, they provided them with slippers.  Some people mentioned that they leave slippers at houses they visit often, but more than one person mentioned the idea of having a basket of slippers for the taking.

This brought up my own bias: I hate wearing other people’s shoes.  Even for a few minutes.

I will gladly buy second-hand clothes without thought, but I would never buy second-hand shoes.  I don’t like going to the bowling alley and having to rent bowling shoes.  I don’t like it when someone tells me my shoes are so cute and could they try them on for a second. (The one exception is the ChickieNob — she always clomps around in my shoes and for whatever reason, it doesn’t bother me.)  I don’t like it when someone asks if they can borrow my shoes, nor do I ever want to borrow their shoes.  There is a scene in Measure of Love, where Rachel talks about wanting to borrow someone else’s shoes, and I cringed writing it.  I don’t care how uncomfortable my shoes are; I don’t like wearing someone else’s shoes.

I obviously know that the shoes I own have probably been tried on by others in the store before I bought them, and yet… I’m still weirded out by putting my foot into someone else’s shoes.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about bare skin inside a pair of high heels or socked feet going into sneakers — there is no level of barrier between myself and the shoe that would make me put them on without thinking about how much it bothers me to wear someone else’s shoes or slippers.

So I don’t think I could borrow slippers from a communal slipper basket.  It doesn’t bother me to walk around in just socks in someone’s house, but I wonder if it would be rude to decline the slippers (and remain in just socks) if the slippers are offered.

Am I the only person who has different feelings about second-hand clothes vs. second-hand shoes?  Where do you come down on wearing other people’s shoes (or slippers) or having someone else wear yours?


1 Tiara { 04.10.13 at 7:32 am }

It doesn’t bother me to wear someone elses shoes or have them wear mine…I don’t think it would be rude to decline communal slippers if you have socks on but I know at my friend’s parent’s house where they have the communal slipper basket, it would drive her father absolutely bonkers to have you walking around his house in bare feet.

2 Juanita { 04.10.13 at 7:40 am }

I’m with you on this one. Won’t wear anybody else’s shoes and I do not want anybody else wearing mine. It makes me feel kind of “invaded” to just think about wearing another person’s shoes (clothes is fine and does not bother me at all).

3 Ellen { 04.10.13 at 7:42 am }

I’m not really that comfortable in second-hand clothes, and I don’t like wearing someone else’s shoes. I would never buy vintage shoes, for example. Part of this is because I have had plantar warts on my feet, which can be spread virally. But mostly I just don’t like wearing other people’s garments.

I am OK with having the girls wear hand-me-down shoes from my cousins’ kids — I know them, and I know how quickly preschoolers’ feet grow. With twins I’ve learned very quickly that “keeping the kids in shoes” is expensive plus a PITA in terms of shopping.

To answer your second question, I would rather not wear someone else’s slippers. I would do so reluctantly. Like I said last week, my relatives back home all take off shoes indoors, but I have never once seen a box of assorted slippers at family gatherings. The policy is firmly BYOS or walk around in your socks.

Last week I mentioned that here in STL — and I was glad that someone backed me up on this — I’ve never been asked to take off my shoes inside someone’s house. But I have been on a period house tour where, in addition to the usual temporary carpet runners, one home owner had asked everyone to put on disposable surgical shoe covers — an unusual request, and one that was not well received. Again, there were already carpet runners and rules against straying from this vinyl path.

4 Peach { 04.10.13 at 8:21 am }

Just wear or bring socks. I know some people consider being barefoot in someones house rude…so I always have socks with me just in case!

5 Chickenpig { 04.10.13 at 9:01 am }

I have taken hand me down shoes from my sister, but she is the only person whose shoes I would wear/borrow. I don’t mind if my daughter or my sister tries on my shoes…but that’s it.

Historically shoes, slippers, and stockings have been filled with sexual symbolism. Being ‘loose’ with what shoes your wearing, not wearing them, or not wearing stockings all have a connection with loose morals and lascivious behavior. You could write a thesis on Rachel Goldman walking around town looking for another pair of shoes because she has a wrinkle in hers 😉 Freud would have a heyday with your shoe issues.

If I had people take off their shoes, I would have new slippers in the plastic like the Japanese. Or I would just buy the disposable shoe cover booties like museums do. Guests shouldn’t have to wonder where the slippers have been.

6 loribeth { 04.10.13 at 9:11 am }

Sam’s aunts keep a basket of slippers for company and I’ve never much thought about that. They are pretty fussy ladies and you could eat off the floors of their houses.

I will also slip into a pair of my Dad’s oversized shoes when I’m visiting them in the winter & need to duck out to the garage (instead of pulling on my boots) — there is an extra fridge & freezer out there & it’s a natural freezer in the wintertime anyway, so my mom keeps her Christmas goodies out there. ; )

I must admit I do feel a bit leery of bowling alley shoes, though. ; )

My former boss gave me a pair of her running/walking shoes once. She’s big into running & is very picky about her shoes. They were much more expensive/high quality than I’d buy for myself, and she said she’d only worn them twice before she decided she didn’t like them.

Aside from the “ick” factor of secondhand shoes, though, I have very wide feet. Even if I wanted to borrow someone’s shoes, I doubt they would fit me anyway. I have problems enough finding new shoes to buy that fit me.

7 Katherine A { 04.10.13 at 9:18 am }

I have sort of a funny relationship with second-hand shoes. I’ve bought both of my pairs of good boots second-hand because there was no way I could afford the cost for brand new ones, but I also made sure they were thoroughly cleaned prior to wearing them. I didn’t want to buy cheaper boots that just don’t hold up because I wear my boots a lot and they need to be quality, but I could not afford the $150-200 a really excellent pair of boots that holds up well for years generally runs.

On the other hand, I absolutely will not wear other people’s sandals or sneakers or buy them secondhand. I think the sandal issue stems from the fact that someone definitely wore them with bare feet and with the boots I figure they were worn with socks. I don’t know why that makes such a difference, but mentally it does. Sneakers usually wind up broken down in the supports, and so I don’t like wearing anyone else’s on those.

And I’m with you about not letting other people try on or borrow my shoes. They’re a sort of personal item.

Clothes, however, I am all about secondhand – from picking the really great finds at Goodwill out of all the chaff, to being able to get some really good quality higher end stuff for decent prices at consignment stores.

8 Cherish { 04.10.13 at 9:58 am }

I’m fine with second hand clothes. I can wash those and they don’t have the likelihood of carrying nasty fungus. I will wear hand-me-down shoes from my (clean freak) sister. If I need to quickly slip on shoes to run outside, I would only wear those of close family members, because I know their habits. And I would certainly look at the shoe first to make my decision.

I like being barefoot, so once I am comfortable in someone’s home, I will slip off my shoes. Only if my feet are relatively clean, though. If I’ve been walking around all day and they’re stinky or dirty, I will wash them or leave on my sandals. Same for my own house. If my feet are nasty, I’ll wash them.

Oh and for the previous commenter, bowling alley shoes are nasty and I would never wear those without socks and some cringing.

9 a { 04.10.13 at 10:22 am }

No secondhand shoes for me! Uck. I can’t even stand to think about it…but I’m not a fan of feet in general. I don’t care if my daughter wears my shoes, but it makes me crazy when my husband shoves his big old feet into my flip flops for a garage run. I have given my sister shoes, but they were ones I wore maybe twice.

So basically, no. Shoe sharing is unacceptable. But I can, for some reason, tolerate it for bowling. But just barely.

10 Kimberly { 04.10.13 at 10:25 am }

I’m indifferent to it, but I’m also the person who, if given the option, will go barefoot at any available option. My mother in law always gives me shoes. Shoes she originally bought for herself, wore once or twice and didn’t like the feel of them then gave them to me because they were more my style. And when it comes to people trying on my shoes, I’m only comfortable doing that with my closest of friends. But even in that case its a “try these shoes for a minute, you would love them”.

11 Ellen { 04.10.13 at 10:43 am }

I actually *just* bought the most beautiful pair of second shoes! Not normally my gig, but I really wanted new pumps to wear for an event, but who wants to spend the kind of money new pumps cost for something I’d wear three times a year?? I was scouring second hand shops for something altogether else when the perfect pair of patent leather pumps jumped onto my feet and begged me to take them home. They fit as though someone broke them in for me; I have worn them all day they are that comfortable. 12€. Made of win!

12 Anna { 04.10.13 at 11:09 am }

This has given me pause for thought. I would wear second hand clothes and my relatives and I occasionally pass on each other’s clothes without thinking. However, I have never bought second hand shoes, and I never realised that it was an option really. I can think of ‘antique’ shoes that I would put aside any qualms for but for an ordinary pair of shoes I don’t think I’d like this, particularly not for slippers (which sound a more like they could be worn for years and sweated in without being washed). I would decline the slipper basket if I ever encountered one, but then I have huge (size 9 girl) feet so maybe nobody would ever share with me their shoes or slippers.

On the other hand, we were given a bag of baby and toddler shoes by a neice and they have saved us lots of money and my daughter has loved them. I like the pre-loved-ness and I like that something so expensive and used for such a short time can be re-used. Maybe I don’t ‘mind’ reusing things where I’ve known the first owner? My sister was totally shocked that I have dressed my daughter in ‘second hand shoes’ and says she would never reuse shoes if she had another child, which seems like madness to me. To my sister, second hand shoes are less desirable and less special and take away the experience of finding something nice and individually suited for the child.

So, I suppose I have found out that I hold several, somewhat contradictory positions, on an issue that I didn’t think I held any about 🙂

13 mark { 04.10.13 at 11:21 am }

No I am not into second hand shoes. My OH doesn’t mind though. When we visit we take slippers with us usually. if we forget them then once again my OH will wear guest slippers, but i won’t.

14 Jojo { 04.10.13 at 12:04 pm }

I’m totally fine with second hand clothes, as long as they are clean and don’t pong – shoes on the other hand – urgh.

The thought of trying on someone’s shoe after they’ve just taken it off and it’s still warm makes me feel queasy, urgh.

No, no, no – second hand shoes are wrong and I just can’t do second hand shoes!

15 Ana { 04.10.13 at 1:43 pm }

No to second hand shoes, especially without socks (and cringe-y even with, a la bowling alley shoes). The only exception is close (CLOSE) family—i.e. when our family is at the beach I may grab my mom’s or sister’s flip flops if I can’t find mine, or clomp around in my husband’s shoes to take out the trash. I would never buy used shoes, though I don’t really buy used clothes either. The only clothing I have ever brought from a thrift store is a leather jacket and I never really wore it. Second hand clothes from family or friends is fine, for myself and for the kids.
I am really really surprised at some of these comments, in terms of people being offended by bare feet in their homes. To me, if you are requiring guests to remove their shoes, you should be OK with whatever is under their shoes (socks or bare feet, depending on the type of shoe). Fine to have slippers if the guests prefer not to be barefoot, but to make someone take off THEIR shoes and put on YOUR shoes is…strange. We are a shoes-off house, but pretty casual about what our guests do when they are visiting for a little while (i.e. not overnight), and have never even considered having communal slippers.

16 Pepper { 04.10.13 at 2:49 pm }

I am in total agreement – no second hand shoes. Second hand clothes on the other hand? Love them. Prefer them actually! And for my daughter, same rules. I will gladly buy her entire wardrobe at mom 2 mom sales but will search the depths of the internet to find shoes that will suit her picky tastes and tiny feet before ever allowing her a second hand pair of shoes. Gross. I will also not buy anything second hand that can’t be fully washed and/or sanitized, so no stuffed animals but tables or furniture that can be reasonably cleaned? Absolutely.

17 Lisa @ hapahopes { 04.10.13 at 4:00 pm }

Eww! Eww! Eeeeeewwwww!!!

No way could I wear second hand shoes! I even make sure I have socks whenever I will be in stirrups because I do NOT want my bare feet going where someone else’s feet have been.

18 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.10.13 at 4:54 pm }

I dislike both (wearing someone else’s shoes or allowing them to wear mine). And I also dislike being barefoot, or even sockfoot, on uncarpeted floors — even the smallest bit of grit bothers me.

My year in Japan was a tough one.

19 persnickety { 04.10.13 at 5:31 pm }

Hmm. No second hand shoes for me ( and I never ask to try other’s on). Shoes mold to the feet, so anything that has been worn for a while will be the wrong shape for me. but i can cope with rented skates.
Slipper wise- when in Japan there was always a basket of guest slippers- but the family and regular visitors always had their own pair, kept separate. so, even though someone may have worn them, not for lengthy periods of time. and they are available at the 100 yen store, so fairly easy to always have a new supply

20 Amy Elaine { 04.11.13 at 11:08 am }

Yuck to second hand shoes. And I HATE it when someone wants to borrow my clothes or shoes or accessories or anything else. Some of my friends think I’m crazy. I grew up with a brother and not a sister, so I never had to share – and I like it that way! 🙂

21 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 04.12.13 at 2:13 am }

I buy lots of second-hand clothes and have bought many pairs of second-hand shoes, a few for myself and lots for the kids (in addition to the many hand-me-downs they’ve received). I’d only buy like-new shoes for myself, but I’m okay with somewhat worn shoes for kids — on the outside, as long as the inside is nice. It’s shocking how gross some kids’ shoes are in consignment stores.

22 JustHeather { 04.12.13 at 12:35 pm }

I have no problem with second hand clothes and only a tiny bit with shoes. I’d prefer not to wear 2nd hand shoes, but a friend’s I’d have no issue with. Unless it was bare feet… As far as if we were to have a basket of slippers (we don’t, but it is an idea), I would not be put off is someone didn’t want to use them.

23 Shelby { 04.12.13 at 5:13 pm }

Hmmm…you can wash clothes, but in most cases, you can’t wash shoes, so you are literally putting your feet on someone else’s foot sweat. I think it’s similar to buying used mattresses or couches (which, no matter how cheap I am, I cannot do). If it can’t be completely cleaned, then no can do.

24 A Passage to Baby { 04.14.13 at 11:05 am }

Second hand shoes do not bother me. Probably because as a kid, I ran around barefoot all the time. Goodness knows what I probably stepped in from time to time. Also as a kid (and early adult), we just didn’t have a lot of money. My own feet sweat a lot and to only have 2 pairs of shoes means they would get stinky fast. Even with powder and sprays.
Communal slippers are popular in a lot of Asian homes. Several close friend of ours use them. I don’t think they would be offended though if someone else preferred to use their own socks. They seem to offer them as a courtesy since they don’t want people to wear shoes in the house.

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