Different cultures have different practises as to wearing footwear in the home. The British, like James Bond, traditionally leave their shoes on at home. On the other hand, Eastern cultures or people from snowy locations often wouldn’t think to keep shoes on in the house. For both it is a matter of respect.
The first time we see Bond at home in Dr. No, he removes his shoes in the front hall. He only does so because he does not want whoever has broken into his flat to hear his footsteps. Otherwise he would not have removed his shoes until he was prepared to remove the rest of his clothes.
When Bond is at home in Spectre, he removes his the jacket from his grey herringbone track-stripe suit but leaves the rest of his clothes, including his shoes. As he is expecting Moneypenny to stop in, perhaps he leaves his shoes on as a formality when greeting guests. Maybe he keeps them on because he never knows when he needs a quick getaway. It could be cold and draughty in Bond’s old home and his feet would get cold without shoes. Bond’s socks may have holes in them. Or he might want to spare Moneypenny the smell of his feet. These are all valid reasons to leave one’s shoes on in the home.
When he gets out of bed in Live and Let Die, James Bond puts on a monogrammed yellow dressing gown with matching pyjamas and monogrammed purple velvet Prince Albert slippers, despite the trendy-for-1973 but comfortable light brown shag carpeting. Even with the carpeting, Bond’s flat may be too cold to walk around barefoot, and footwear gives Bond a more proper appearance when answering the door.
In British culture, especially when dressed up, people are not generally expected to remove shoes in other’s homes. James Bond does not remove shoes when visiting people’s homes for business or for a dinner party, and doing so would be equivalent to removing shoes in a public place. Bond’s shoes stay on when he visits M’s home “Quarterdeck”, just like M’s shoes stay on when he visits Bond’s home. Imagine M’s reaction if Bond entered his study in stocking feet? M might think Bond presumptuous for making himself too comfortable in another’s home. M would likely be offended. At the very least, he would find Bond quite odd if he removed his shoes, which would be akin to getting partially undressed.
If attending a fancy dinner—especially in black tie—at someone’s home, like at Colonel Smithers’ home in Goldfinger or in Kamal Khan’s home in Octopussy, formality would demand that one is dressed in shoes. The casualness of removing shoes is at odds with hosting a formal party, where one would not even remove his jacket. The same goes for business meetings at a home, like at Tiffany Case’s flat in Diamonds Are Forever or at Drax’s château in Moonraker, when Bond is dressed in a blazer and a tie.
When Bond is invited into others’ homes, the homes are often mansions that are formally run with servants., such as Drax’s and Zorin’s châteaux. In such formal households, day-to-day living has a high level of formality where one is always properly dressed, which includes footwear. Guests are expected to leave shoes on, as removing shoes would be too relaxed and informal for such households. The floors of these houses would also be rather cold to not have any shoes on. Though shoes may make messes in the house at times, there are servants who are there to clean up.
It should be noted that Bond and other characters may often leave their shoes on at times simply because putting on and taking off shoes on camera slows down the pacing of the film. Nobody wants to watch that! Still, Bond removes his shoes in the films when it is necessary.
In many cultures around the world, and even in many households in every part of the world, people are expected to remove their shoes immediately upon entering a home. This is either to keep floors clean from dirt and microscopic germs that come from the streets, to prevent scuffs to wood floors, to prevent wear to fine carpet or rugs, or simply for comfort. In parts of the world where shoes were traditionally left on in the home, now people are removing their shoes in the home. This is especially common in informal middle-class households. For people who work in or visit visibly dirty places, taking off their shoes or boots before entering the home is just common sense.
When James Bond visits Japan in You Only Live Twice, he follows the local custom of removing shoes before entering Dikko Henderson’s home. Henderson greets Bond in an informal Yukata, a type of Japanese robe. There is still formality here where people are expected to show each other a high level of respect, and this is a business meeting and is treated as such, but Japanese culture sees wearing shoes in another’s home as disrespectful. In Japan, the floor is not just a place for walking like it is in Western culture, but it’s also a place where people live. People may sit on the floor to eat, and they may lie on the floor to sleep. Bond understands that it is the custom in Japan and happily removes his slip-on—or slip-off, in this case—shoes. Removing his shoes presents a problem for him when he has to quickly run outside after a killer in stocking feet. But Bond’s lack of shoes does not stop him from catching up with the killer and taking his black-and-white footwear.
An important note to remember: If you ask your guests to remove their shoes when entering your home, especially if removing shoes in the home is not universal in your culture, please have a shoe horn available so they are able to easily put their shoes back on!
Do you wear your shoes in the house? Leave a comment below!