“The ‘No Shoes,No shirt, No Service’ public health codes.” signs on some businesses began in the United States in the late 1960s or early 1970s as a response to the hippie movement, and more particularly in response to Vietnam War protesting hippies and the more radical yippies.
Their views were considered very un-American by many who supported the government and its policies, but since our constitution guarantees free speech, it was difficult to stop what was going on. One way that evolved was to attack their mode of dress, which was as unconventional as their views. Bare feet or no shirts in public places, though not necessarily commonplace before that period, were nonetheless never an issue of health or cleanliness or any reason to ban anyone from entering a business. However, as it became apparent that the hated hippies quite often went barefoot, and perhaps shirtless as well on occasion, this unconventional manner of dress gave many conservative thinking business owners an easy way to identify, isolate, and ostracize what many felt was a dangerous political movement.
The idea of banning these undesirables based on their attire caught on, and at some point somebody came up with a cleverly worded sign using the word “NO” in large letters to cover two instances of unconventional attire that would result in not being served. It’s interesting that “shoes,” “shirt,” and “service” all begin with the same letter, and placing the same word in front of each results in a succinct and cleverly alliterative discriminatory dress code. They probably would rather have used “no entry” or “no admittance” instead of “no service,” but that just wouldn’t have rolled off the tongue quite as well.
So, in other words, those signs and those attitudes started out as political statements, not dress codes based on any reason that may be claimed today, such as health, laws, liability, etc. People of today’s generation have no clue as to how or why they got started. They just assume that’s the way it’s always been and always should be, without even giving it a second thought – and that’s a shame.
There were no major Vietnam War issues or hippie protestors in other parts of the world – at least nothing like the political upheaval in the U.S. So other parts of the world never started posting signs; so other parts of the world never got brainwashed into believing that bare feet are a bad thing that need to be banned. That’s how the signs and the negative attitude got started in the U.S.