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!