Kate Middleton causes sales of sheer hosiery to “skyrocket”. Do you wear sheer tights?

As the nation’s obsession with Kate Middleton continues, the latest news from brands desperate to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Duchess of Cambridge, is that Kate is responsible for a huge rise in the sale of sheer hosiery.

Selfridges is reporting a 40″ increase in sales of sheer tights since this time last year, while TightsPlease are doing even better, with a 90″ increase in sales of their “Kate Middleton style” nude tights.


For Kate Middleton herself, of course, shiny, sheer tights have absolutely nothing to do with fashion: they’re purely a matter of royal protocol, which dictates that female members of the royal family should always wear hosiery, and closed-toe shoes. (Kate slipped up on that one, by the way, when she wore a pair of LK Bennett sandals to a polo match last week in California. Don’t worry, Kate, we won’t tell…) It’s always possible that Kate would chose to always wear tights anyway, regardless of that fact, but it has to be noted here that she is operating under a very different set of “rules” from most of us.

Sheer tights and the Kate Middleton effect

As for the rest of us, however, it would probably be fair to say that until the so-called Kate Middleton effect took hold, sheer hosiery, especially of the “nude” variety, had rather fallen out of fashion. In fact, unless you have an occupation with a dress code which forbids bare legs, or are a lady of a certain age, for whom the very idea of bare legs goes against a lifetime of fashion teaching, it’s entirely possible that you don’t even own a pair of nude tights. Opaque tights, yes: in fact, over the past few years, opaque tights have stopped being simply undergarments, and started being fashion items in their own right, with brands constantly bringing out new colours and patterns. You may even own some fishnets, or lace tights, or tights in some other fabric or style.

But the sheer, shiny nylons of the 70s and 80s? We’re going to take a guess that they probably haven’t had much of a role in your fashion life, at least not within the past few years, when it’s been pretty much a case of bare legs or opaques, with nothing in between. Memories of the American Tan of the 80s have made sheer hosiery seem dated and fussy to some generations of women – and, of course, the fact that sheer tights tend to ladder easily and aren’t always the most comfortable things in the world to wear don’t help much either.

Sheer hosiery makes a comeback, nothing new under the sun

Of course, there was a time when bare legs were seen as a serious fashion faux pas. That time wasn’t even particularly long ago: in fact, any time we write about the issue of tights with sandals, we can guarantee we’ll get a selection of comments from women who were raised to believe that a lady never goes bare-legged, and who can’t imagine deviating from that rule, especially in the workplace. So if, indeed, sheer hosiery is making a comeback, it’s just one more example of fashion coming full-circle.

Do you wear sheer hosiery?

Never mind Kate Middleton, though: we want to hear about you, the woman on the street. Or on the internet, rather. What’s your take on sheer tights? Do you wear them? Would you wear them? Are you starting to see them as “fashion” item now that they’ve been given the royal seal of approval -albeit as a matter of protocol – or will you be sticking to your trusty opaques or nothing at all, and letting the royals keep all the sheer tights for themselves?

In other words: what do you think of sheer hosiery?

(Bracing ourselves for the usual male-generated nylon-fetish comments on this one…)

P.S. If you’re particularly interested in Kate’s style, take a look at our Kate Middleton pictures site, The Duchess!


  • July 13, 2011


    I actually noticed the sheer hosiery thing on the trains – in the last few weeks I must have counted about 40 women in sheer hosiery and I noticed cos they wore them on particularly hot days!

    Fortunately I am black and those sheer hosieries will simply look like I am wearing beige hosiery! so no I wont be going there unless they make them in my exact shade of brown.

  • July 13, 2011


    I very rarely wear skirts and dresses and usually go either barefoot (in summer) or choose black leggings or opaque tights (when it’s colder). But sheer tights can be found in my closet, for cases I need to wear something more formal. All in all, I don’t consider sheer tights a fashion crime, if they are not worn with open-toe shoes or sandals, that is.

  • July 13, 2011


    Purely for practical reasons – I have very pale skin (more purple than white) so nude tights help to make my legs look slightly more normal (loved your previous post on pale skin by the way!). Always go for matt ones though rather than the shiny version!

    • July 13, 2011

      The Fashion Police

      I actually really like nude fishnets for the same reason – you get a bit of texture rather than that shiny look!

    • July 14, 2011


      This is exactly what I wanted to say. Pale skin also makes it easier to see any impurities of the skin, and the nude tights definitely help even out the color. And yes, matt all the way.

  • July 13, 2011


    Wierdly i have been wearing sheer tights since last year. I have quite pale legs and have some spider veins too., they make my legs look smoother and give me more confidence. Got mine from m&s after reading many many online reviews, i didnt want the dreaded american tan tights
    i love my sheer tights!

    • November 6, 2011



      • November 7, 2011

        The Fashion Police


        • February 5, 2012


          SORRY,BUT I AM A CRAPPY TYPIST! i could do this though! is that better?

    • April 11, 2012


      Shonnah: I’d love to hear the brand and color of the hosiery that you bought. I also have pale skin and spider veins, and I’m in search of the perfect pair of sheer hosiery! Thanks!

  • July 13, 2011


    I wear sheer hoisery every now and then. I find on days when it is a bit cold but not really cold and I still feel like wearing a skirt or dress they add just a tiny bit more warmth. And like lthomson above, they help give my legs a touch of warmth instead of the blue colour they usually have. I love pale, but sickly not so much!

  • July 13, 2011


    I only wear sheer tights. I had absolutely no idea they were out of fashion! LOL. I wear mostly nude, but I also have a few pairs of black sheet tights.
    I think they are better than the opaque tights, mostly because the nude ones give a bit of shimmer to my legs, without changing their colour, which is quite pale. I never wear them with sandals, only with closed-toe shoes.

  • July 13, 2011


    For me they aren’t a fashion statement. I wear them sometimes, but never the shiny version. Normaly I’m in Jeans, but with skirts it’s 50/50 of bare legs and sheers. They like an extra layer of protection when you want to wear a skirt, but aren’t so sure about the skin of your legs. Lately I changed to stay-ups, becouse I love the contradicton of almost demure/old fashion nylon with an ocasional glimpse of lace if the skirt rides up:D

  • July 13, 2011


    I also wear nude sheer tights. I have learned that you shouldn’t show your bare legs in the office (except you have legs like a supermodel which I don’t), so I’m always wearing sheer tights there. But I also wear them with my ‘private clothes’ when I like to wear a summer skirt/dress, but it’s too cold. But never ever with sandals/open-toe shoes!

  • July 13, 2011


    I wear sheer tights/fishnets most of the time; even though they are sheer they do keep me warm. I live in the north of Scotland so even on a sunny day there is a bracing sea breeze (trust me, I have taken the bare-legged plunge today because I’ve got peeptoes on!). I also have really pale legs compared to the rest of me, so I feel a bit more confident with tights on for work. For me, they are a definite no-no with sandals and I can’t wear them if I have really high heels on as they make my feet slide about in the shoes!

  • July 13, 2011


    I wear them sometimes on colder days during late spring and early autumn, when I’m no longer happy with or not yet ready to start with wearing wintery clothes.
    However I have never worn the shiny version.

    According to my mom I should wear them through summer too, to cover up my white legs since she used to do so when she wasn’t retired yet, which I refuse to do. I did however show her the post on pale skin, hoping she would changes her ways and stop bothering me with this.

  • July 13, 2011


    In Winter I wear opaque tights (in all colours of the rainbow), but as soon as the weather clears up, I can’t wait to go barelegged. I’m prone to saying “I’m so tired of these tights” around April. That said, I own exactly one pair of nude hose, only because it has a sexy black stripe that runs down the back, for a little element of surprise. Will I be following Kate Middleton? No, bare legs all the way!

  • July 13, 2011


    I don’t wear tights at all normally, but, during the winters here in Texas, it does get cold enough sometimes to need a little extra layer under a skirt. The opaque tights are just not attractive to me, so I’ll wear sheer pantyhose under skirts with a cute pair of colorful socks and boots during the winter. They also help even up the skin tone and make my legs look a little less ghostly.

    Any other time of year, however, it’s just too blasted hot to wear anything that sticks so closely to the skin. There’s a joke that’s just so utterly true here, “We have four seasons in Texas: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Christmas.”

  • July 13, 2011


    I do wear sheer tights on some occasions, mostly to work. Opaques sometimes just don’t work with a more formal outfit, or they add another color to it which can be problematic. I must add that I wear them for warmth, and not for aesthetic reasons, and NEVER with sandals or open-toe shoes. In terms of aesthetics, I prefer nude fishnets, but they’re not really appropriate for my work environment (school). And if it’s warm enough, bare legs are the best and most comfortable choice, imo.

  • July 13, 2011


    I wear them quite often, sometimes for warmth and aesthetic reasons (they gove more tone to my legs), but mostly for comfort – as almost all my shoes tend to chafe (I’ve got very sensitive, very pale skin that chafes and bruises extra easily), the tights provide that extra level of protection. But just like Natasha, I only wear them with closed-toe shoes and boots – I find tights (both sheers and opaques) and open-toe shoes or sandals completely unmixy.

  • July 13, 2011


    I dislike the look of sheer tights on my legs, as I have moles and freckles which partially show through the nylon – not a good look! However, I could be swayed looking at those photos of K-Mid. Another problem I have with them is how they make the fabric of skirts or dresses stick to your legs – especially the lightweight summer fabrics! I tend to wear black leggings or jeggings if it’s too cold, or too short, or if my legs aren’t ‘summer ready’!

  • July 13, 2011


    I don’t think sheer tights have been uncommon in the past few years. To me, it’s not a case of ‘opaque or bare and nothing in between’ – I can think of plenty of outfits in my bulging wardrobe that wouldn’t look right with opaque tights (Sometimes because of the texture/fabric of the dress, sometimes because of the colour of the outfit – I own quite a few different colours of opaque tights, but even so, a colourful dress with colourful legs can easily be too much, whereas a colourful dress with stark black legs can seem jarring.) But if my outfit calls for neutral-colour legs, I would only go bare if a) it’s warm enough, b) my legs are presentable (neither pasty nor blotchy, no bruises or scrapes, recently shaven) and c) my skirt is long – if it’s an above-the-knee dress I feel you can get away with a couple more inches of leg on show if they’re in sheer tights! Yes, they rip easily and can be a pain in the arse, but sheer tights are an absolute wardrobe must-have for me.

    Also, I had to laugh at TightsPlease’s “90% increase” in sales of ‘Kate Middleton tights’ – I bet the product has only existed a few months!

  • July 13, 2011


    I wear them in the winter both for the teensy bit of warmth they provide and the fact that they mean I can go a little longer without shaving my legs. But I can’t wear them between about April and mid-September because I’d die from the heat (for example, it’s eighty-seven degrees today and it feels almost livable as it’s been in the high nineties for the past two weeks).

  • July 13, 2011


    I wear them all the time! They help even out my skin tone, and disguise it if I haven’t shaved that day. Plus, I hate the feeling of wearing shoes without socks, and since I can never find footies that are completely hidden by my shoes yet still stay on my narrow heels, hose are often the easiest choice. Here in Ottawa you need something on your legs 9 months of the year, and tights (sheer or no) let me stretch out the skirt-wearing season as far as it will go.

  • July 13, 2011


    I have always loved black sheers for the way they make my legs look, and dark gray sheers for the general polished look. As far as “skin tone” sheers, anything I wear will make my legs look darker than the rest of me!

  • July 13, 2011


    I don’t really like them, it gives you more to think about during the day, if they’re not slipping down, they’re catching on things and laddering. I’ve tried to wear tights before but they make me feel slip in my shoes so I just take them off at the nearest bathroom. Although, I probably should wear them as loads of people have commented on my white tights when I have bare legs…

  • July 13, 2011


    I’m really pale and can’t be bothered with fake tan anymore so wear sheer tights, black opaque tights or sheer hold ups with skirts and dresses. I think I might be a bit old fashioned though as I like wearing slips with them to stop my clothes sticking to my tights . There’s no way I’d wear them with sandals though!

    • July 14, 2011

      Judy Dick

      Ros, a slip is another must I think. They do stop the dress from adhering to the stockings, but they are so feminine. No, you’re not old fashioned. Remember, fashion has a way of coming full circle … slips will return.

      • July 14, 2011


        Seconded! I also wear slips. They make clothes hang better and keep me warm.

        • July 14, 2011

          The Fashion Police

          Thirded: I almost always wear slips with dresses, too – they sometimes have a habit of riding up the thighs, otherwise!

          • July 19, 2011

            Emily Jayne

            I’m such a fan of slips! I really struggle to find nice ones though, especially as I wear a lot of light coloured clothes and a lot of the ‘nude’ coloured ones out there are particularly granny-ish (I’m looking at you M&S!)

            As for sheer tights, if an outfit calls for it in the winter I’m a fan of a nude fishnet, but in formal corporate situations I always wear sheer tights (matt, not shiny) with my suit)

  • July 14, 2011


    I am SO glad, that she dresses so tastefully. I understand that hosiery can be uncomfortable. But it really does look fitting in business and special circumstances. Also, there are slightly looser fitting forms of hosiery that can be worn with a belt or garter.

    Full and half slips are nice as well.

  • July 14, 2011


    Haha that’s actually really funny! I have to wear stocking all the time because I’m an orthodox Jew and that’s considered modest

    :)no question the best part of wearing them is to finally take them off…such a relief…it’s insane if it’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside and you need to walk some where.uh!and they rip in 30 seconds!

  • July 14, 2011

    Judy Dick

    On the Sunshine Coast, Australia, one does not appear to wear nylons, or at least very few do. To me, nylons are the completeness of dress. Nowdays of course they are so far away from what Grandma used to wear that they are a fashion statement. I love wearing stockings. They complete my look and in my opinion, they make a woman, a lady!

    • February 5, 2012


      keep on wearing sheer stockings and spread the word so others will go back to the early 60’s too!

  • July 14, 2011

    Elle Keck

    I love Kate’s style, but I for one, DO NOT wear sheer tights. I think the last time I did wear them I was 11 years old and it was Easter Sunday. In California, the only people who wear them are cute old ladies who dress to the nines every day of their lives. Other than that, most people wouldn’t be caught dead in them. I refuse to wear sheer tights and I think it’s a little odd that something’s that’s forced on Kate is becoming a fashion statement. Mostly because she probably would never wear them if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s a freaking Duchess. So no, I don’t wear sheer tights and I don’t think I ever will.

  • July 14, 2011


    Although I’m in the age group typically going for the nude leg (20-30), I’ve worn matte sheer hosiery all my life. Of course, I have been brought up on the fashion rules of the fourties and fifties, so that might explain my predilection for the style rules of yonder days, but I think it’s far more comfortable wearing closed toe shoes with tights – or preferably hold ups. On the other hand, i’d never wear sheer tights – and probably also opaque ones – with a sandal or open toe. (The only probable exception from the rule is dancing shoes at balls – if you’ve ever danced the whole night through, you’ll know why.)

    So, as much as think that the Duchess of Cambridge has great taste and shows a lot of style whithin the strict confinements of royal protocol, I would never wear anything just to emulate her. Anyways, I think, the greatest fashion statement of hers is her fantastic smile and her very charming and positive charisma, not her pretty dresses or what kind of hosiery she wears…

  • July 15, 2011


    I wear matte sheer ‘nude’ tights. I’ve read about this phenomenon elsewhere and some people have really strong opinions about them. I like them, they make the skin on my legs look a little better and I feel less self conscious about my skirt blowing up and revealing my pants to everyone.

    And Kate looks lovely, as always.

  • July 15, 2011


    I don’t even wear tights to begin with – I hate them. I have the same problem where my moles and freckles show though – also have you ever seen sheer tights with legs that haven’t been shaven in a while? (AKA: me all the time) yuck! I also always ladder them and snag them on everything. So wearing nude ones seems pretty pointless to me!

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  • July 17, 2011


    Bare Legs are what Seinfeld called “Bad Naked” There are certain things about legs that kind of pop out when uncovered. Pores, stubble, bumps, bruises, lines, veins, bone bumps, crankled toes, and muscle flexes that are a bit too much on the manly side. … but you should wear or not wear what you want to as long as it is proper to the place and occassion. I for one think sheer hose look fantastic and save neck aches from my head turning back rapidly in revulsion.

  • July 17, 2011


    I have never been a hosiery girl ever, i think mainly because i almost always wear very long skirts.what would be the point?but K-Mid does pull off the look enviously.but at the same time i am wondering whether those beige pumps( albeit fabulous)are a royal uniform of some sort.she seems to be wearing the same pair too often for my liking.she is a duchess after all….

  • August 18, 2011


    She is not wearing them because of the royal protocol.. She is a big fan since years.. You just have to take a look to her going to club outfits: dress, boots and sheer hosiery was very often seen on her. No dress code was involved there or then. Also her sister is a fan, also no dress code required.

    I am happy if they are coming back.. Not in the summer but in automn and winter they look much more sexy with skirt or dress than the colored ones.. And to go bare legged… Seriously? At minus temperatures? No thanks. Also they do cover a lot of flows of the skin and they make the leg look nicer, but i would never wear them in summer or with open toed shoes.

  • October 25, 2011

    Carla Jackson

    I wear only ultra-sheers in either ivory, nude, or beige and nearly 24/7. I learned an interesting tip from a friend about how to wear pantyhose comfortably. I tried it and she is right! If you turn them inside out before putting them on you will instantly notice a drastic improvement in the sheerness in the leg (for hose with an all nylon leg) and you will be able to wear them all day without experiencing any itchyness. This will put the cotton panel outward at the panty part so I simply skip wearing panties underneath them and I have no problem getting enough air where I need it.

  • November 11, 2011


    Oh dear. I guess I am a fashion felon. Or Rip Van Winkle. No TV for 14 years (by choice), no fashion mags and I had no clue I was living a life of crime till I saw an internet article condemning Bachman for wearing stockings and open heels. And here I’ve been mentally condemning women in professional or public-speaking environments for appearing bare-legged as sloppy and unprofessional. OK, I’m 60. Sure I’ll be pilloried, but I ALWAYS wear hose or knee-highs (I only wear pants), INCLUDING with heeled sandals, peep-toe shoes, open heels, wedges and anything else I’ve gotten hooked on at Zappo’s. Shoot me. I have intractable callouses and sweaty feet — I think I’ll be doing a public service to continue as I am. I do not wear stockings with flip-flops or bedroom slippers.

  • December 11, 2011


    I don’t really wear them that often, but for church or other events I will, especially during the winter. I have tried to find some reason on the internet but I come up with nothing-Why is it considered bad to wear them? Of course most of the time I don’t like whats in style so I probably wouldn’t understand the reasoning anyway but- what makes them so bad to wear that it’s considered a fashion faux pas?

  • February 14, 2012


    I find it annoying that people allow themselves to be swayed by a few sweeping generalizations uttered by a publication. As someone pointed out, Kate had been wearing pantyhose for years before becoming part of British royalty. So, even if it’s the Queen’s mandate for ladies of the court to wear pantyhose, Kate didn’t have to change her style.

    Women’s legs can look terrific in pantyhose (sheer tights), semi-opaque tights, and even fully opaque tights. A lot of it depends upon their leg form and the chosen outfit. While opaque tights have been all the rage in styles for the past few years, I think either type is terrific. I prefer sheer in the warmer months, semi-opaque in traditional months, opaque in the colder months, and ultra sheer on special occasions. What’s so terrific is how the materials in hosiery has changed dramatically in recent years, so tights and pantyhose feel far more comfortable than ever before. I actually enjoy wearing them, sometimes even under jeans as a leg liner, more comfortable feeling than bold denim.

  • February 17, 2012

    Ruby from Aberdeen UK

    When I started to work for a hotel at the reception back in 1990, it was compulsory for all female staff to wear a marine-coloured uniform, black shoes and skin-colored sheer tights without gloss effect. As I had never worn them before, it was a horror in the beginning. I had problems to find adequate ones (some were too small, too big or feld uncomfortable ones) and then the constant feeling of lightly compressing nylon on my legs’ skin felt weird.
    Anyway, with experience I eventually found sheer tights that had exactly the perfect size, the perfect look and a comfortable waistband. Also, I got used to the “nylon-feel” on my legs and subsequently even started to like it. Furthermore I noticed that the tights gave me a subtle elegant and feminine touch that apparently also friends and men noticed in a positive way.

    Now I do not work in the hotel business anymore and dresscodes are more liberal than 20 years ago. Nevertheless, for a long time I wear sheer tights on a daily basis, as I love the feeling of have my legs covered with this thin smooth layer of nylon. In the winter it is mostly sheer tights below trousers, in the summer with skirts and dresses. Summers in Aberdeen are never get really warm so that being bare-legged is only an option in summer holidays in southern Europe.

  • April 17, 2012


    sheer/”nude” tights are very convenient sometimes, especially when it’s chilly out and you have to wear a dress and you don’t want goosebumps and whatnot… but i don’t consider them a fashion statement, they are simply practical and not so noticeable given you have the skin tone for them.

  • April 16, 2013

    Maureen Slater

    well at my age “67” I only ever wear natural sheer Tights , my daughters ..17 / 19 yrs have in the past worn thick Black 120 denier Opaque Tights [school , college, waitress work] ..but have since gone over to wearing sheer natural colour 15 denier Tights..in fact they would not be seen dead in Thick Opaque Black Tights ever again ..mind I have put there old ones too good use , I have cut them all up to tie my tomato trestles with ..so no Black opaques in our house anymore.