When Is It OK To Go Barefoot In Public?

Have you noticed that a lot of people are going barefoot in public these days?

Apparently, celebrity feet are hot.  Many celebs have taken to performing on stage sans shoes.

brooke-white-american-idol-graham-nash.jpg Even on American Idol recently, Brooke White became quite popular as one who performs without shoes.  In her final performance on American Idol, you can see her playing guitar and singing "Teach Your Children Well" with Graham Nash.  

If you are an American Idol fan, you probably also noticed that whenever she played piano, she had one or both shoes off.


Some artists and entertainers such as Ottmar Liebert, Amy Grant, Cesária Évora, Kelly Clarkson, Ricky Martin, Linda Ronstadt, Joss Stone, Sandie Shaw, Lauren Harris, Sass Jordan, Cyndi Lauper, Gwen Stefani, Shakira, Mutabaruka, Henry Rollins, Saba Douglas-Hamilton, Deana Carter, Xavier Rudd, Measha Brueggergosman and Michael Franti perform and/or appear in bare feet so frequently that the barefoot look has become a "signature" of sorts for them. Their lack of footwear is often cited in publicity photos, album titles, interviews and even (in the case of Genevieve Gorder or Julia Roberts) parodies. These performers often cite comfort or nervousness for their preference, go barefoot to express political statements (Michael Franti, for example), and sometimes (as with Isadora Duncan) challenge significant social obstacles in order to do so. Source

But what about everyday non-celebrity people, like you and me?  When is it okay to go barefoot in public? Better yet… is it even good etiquette to go shoeless, or to wear shoes that show your entire foot? 

When It’s Okay To Go Barefoot…
With the exception of the state of Alabama, you can drive barefoot

See the regulations for driving barefoot in other countries here.

You can go barefoot in any establishment that does not have a sign prohibiting it — like restaurants, grocery stores, and many clothing stores.  Contrary to popular belief, bare feet are not prohibited by U.S. law in business establishments.  The law actually refers to employees and not patrons.  The Society for Barefoot Living proves this fact in a compilation of responses from states based on a mass inquiry about barefoot laws.
You can go barefoot in people’s homes (unless they happen to have a problem with bare feet).  Many people I know, actually prefer that you remove your shoes in their home.  Walking into a home and surveying whether or not there are shoes on the floor should tell you if the homeowners prefer guests to be barefoot or not. 

Is Going Barefoot Good For You?
There are many reports that going barefoot may actually be healthier than wearing shoes.  SixWise.com shares:

Check out The Major Health Benefits of Going Barefoot… Really.

When It’s Not OK To Go Barefoot

Of course, there are also times when you wouldn’t want to go barefoot.  They include:

    • Dirty places such as public restrooms and city streets

    • Business environments, because business dress includes wearing business shoes

    • Formal occasions, even though many women remove their shoes by the end of the night — especially if they are dancing

    • The White House and similar honored events. (You might recall the huge issue over the Northwestern University champion women’s lacrosse team visiting the White House in flip flops. If flip-flops aren’t allowed, bare feet will certainly be a problem.) 

My $.02 On Bare Feet

Personally, I don’t mind seeing bare feet, but seeing them in unexpected places can be a bit distracting — such as on the stage of American Idol, or in the grocery store.  I may or may not wear my feet bare, depending on my mood and the temperature of the ground or floor.   

As a mother, I worry about foot injuries such as the pencil lead my daughter recently got in the bottom of her foot, and my son’s habit of stubbing his toes.  However, I would rather them be barefoot than to see them ruining socks and stockings. 

As for public places, I make my kids wear shoes whenever we visit a business or go in a store, a restaurant, or any other place that might have a “no shoes, no service sign”. And I tend to keep a pair of flip-flops in the car for my daughter. (She has a habit of getting into the car barefoot without thinking ahead.)
The only time bare feet would ever really bother me in public is when they are excessively dirty — such as the pair I encountered at the Social Security office this morning.  The person in question was wearing flip flops, but when she picked up her feet, they were black as if she had been walking in tar.  It rather freaked me out. 

Andrea Hermitt

I have been a certified tightwad since I became pregnant with my first child and decided to find a way to stay home with him. I enjoy sharing my experiences in my journey back to financial health and planning for a future -- which will include sending 2 kids to college and early retirement.

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Fun From Around the Web

  • tony

    Actually just got asked to leave a library today. No sign posted at the door, but they did produce a page of library policies requiring shirt and shoes upon my request. I was polite the entire time and left. Thats really one of two times i’ve ever been hassled.

  • Anonymous

    I love it that being barefoot is seen as cool & fashionable these days. I truly hope it isn’t a short-lived fad though. It’s great when a woman has the confidence to show off her feet in public. It shows that she is completely comfortable with her body, with an I don’t give a damn type of attitude that’s very attractive. The following celebs below have lovely feet and are often/almost always seen barefoot in public.


  • fredchurch

    women like showing there sexy polished toe nails and men like looking.

  • rjtx

    Absolutely true. My daughter and I were in a store recently and someone approached me and told me I needed shoes, but said nothing to here. I would understand if she were a child or teen, but she is 34. She asked, “what about my barefeet, are they not a problem only his? The reply was that he had not noticed here feet, only mine. I produced my state letter showing it wasn’t illegal (he claimed the health law rule) and after that he said OK, no problem. and that he really thought it was the law. I have been noticed more often that women or girls a lot in my life. I think it is more accepted for girls to be barefoot than for guys.

  • Anonymous

    In my opinion, Courteney Cox has what are possibly the best pair of feet out of any celebrity bar none. Anyone else agree?



  • Anonymous
  • Rhys

    Im From Adelaide And I walk Barefoot all the time.My feet are the the ones that get really dirty and black. I walk barefoot in the Subway, city,Plaza(biggest in Adelaide) and many more places. I would have to say that the best place tho walk bare foot is in the Subway.My feet get really dirty there which I like. I am 13

  • Kwlacy

    It’s always good to go barefoot in public.

  • Barefoot Guy

    I’ve been going barefoot everywhere for years. I even met a couple of girlfriends while we were both barefoot on the streets in Greenwich Village (NYC). I remember saying “I see we like the same style and color shoes!” to one of them because our feet were so black. That happens in the city. This was a long time ago and sadly hardly anyone goes barefoot in stores, streets, etc. anymore. It is very comfortable and so much better than being shod.