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August 01, 2011  | by: LaDawn Penigar-Mitchell

Kate Middleton in Sheer Tights

Sheer hosiery has become a fashionable favorite thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge and her younger sister Pippa. Ever since Kate Middleton’s engagement to Prince William last fall, the world has closely paid attention to her fashion choices and that doesn’t exclude leg wear. Matte and nude-tone sheer hosiery has been her pick for all formal occasions, including her recent visits to Canada and Los Angeles, and Pippa has been seen numerous times following  in her royal sister’s footsteps with transparent sheers of her own.

Hosiery is typically considered to be a fashion faux pas but the Middleton sisters are helping to rekindle an interest in sheer hosiery and show the world that nude pantyhose isn’t just for grandmas.  The plethora of mattes and shiny sheers being seen are all so transparent that the look is being called the buttered leg effect because it isn’t obvious whether one is wearing hosiery or not.  Sheer hose has long been on the decline in the U.S.  but trend forecasters believe that the look is heading our way. Kate and Pippa Middleton’s propensity for wearing sheer stockings in public is already helping to boost sales for companies like L’eggs and Hanes. Reportedly, orders for transparent leg wear are significantly on the rise here, and this is probably a direct result of Kate’s polished and sophisticated looks while on tour in America.

The new sheer stockings—now called “new tights”—won’t be anything similar to the thick, matte support hose that immediately comes to mind.

Designers will be making hosiery that is ultra-sheer but still provides control and coverage; the leg wear is supposed to feel greet and offer a sleek, elegant look.  Calvin Klein, Donna Karan Nudes and Assets by Spanx creator Sara Blakely are just some of the brands that will be adding sheer hosiery to their leg wear lines for introduction in the fall.

Donna Karan Signature Sheer Hosiery

Sheers are also being seen more and more on celebrities as well as on the fashion runways. Sarah Jessica Parker, Mischa Barton, and Hayden Panettiere have all been spotted wearing sheer hose over the past few months. Average young women in the U.K.—where L’eggs and Hanes both reported an 85 percent increase in sales of nude hose over the past year—are also starting to copy the look. The growing demand for fashionable, comfortable sheer hosiery by young European women who want to have a polished look from head-to-toe is expected to cross over this fall to the U.S.

Since the ’90s, sheer nude hose has largely been viewed in this country as an unfortunate accident by fashion makers to be obligatorily worn in the office or at stuffy formal occasions or church. However, sheer hosiery is starting to become trendy again thanks to two particular British ladies.

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