Americans follow Kate Middleton’s fashion style, and bring back pantyhose (ugh?!)

Britain’s Kate the Duchess of Cambridge carries Princess Charlotte after taking her out of a pram as they arrive for Charlotte’s Christening at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England, Sunday, July 5, 2015.  (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

Say it ain’t so, Kate.

Yes, THE Kate. Kate Middleton. It seems that her gorgeous gams are responsible for the resurrection of one of fashion’s most-hated items: pantyhose.

Or, in jolly old England, they refer to them as tights.

Whether it’s Middleton’s personal choice to don these finicky instruments of fashion torture, or if it’s simply part of the royal dress code, it doesn’t really matter. The rest of the world has duly noted her wearing pantyhose and is clogging the Internet with speculation of where she got those tights, what shade she’s wearing and how she looks so darned put-together.

For a while there, pantyhose were relegated to the realm of grandmas, burglars seeking anonymity and ballerinas. They were itchy, hot, uncomfortable and easy to snag and ruin in an instant. But then the world noticed the Duchess of Cambridge’s legs. They were spectacular, and they were wearing pantyhose.

“I think she looks beautiful in hosiery,” said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert with The Protocol School of Texas. “She is the epitome of grace and I do think that hosiery can enhance your legs.”

Gottsman has worked for 17 years as an etiquette expert, advising a variety of clients in the corporate world and even university students seeking first-time jobs. She agrees that pantyhose are one of those things that elicit a love-hate reaction from most women.

“The reality is, I don’t really like to wear pantyhose when I don’t have to,” she said. “But I think pantyhose serve a purpose.”

That purpose is to flatter legs, hide imperfections, add a slight shimmer and present a finished, professional look. Although the popularity of pantyhose waned in recent years after their heyday in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Gottsman said they still have their place and Middleton is helping to usher them back into style.

“Think of pantyhose for our legs like makeup for your face,” she said. “It really should bring out the beauty of your leg and it should improve the overall look without being glaring.”

In certain professional settings and at fancy occasions, she sees them as a must. If you work in a courtroom or in banking, chances are hosiery is expected.

Middleton’s understated, sophisticated signature is a nude, sheer pantyhose that matches her natural skin tone so closely her fans debate whether she’s wearing them at all. This is exactly the effect people should be aiming for, Gottsman said, not the orange Barbie-leg look or something garish.

One of the hottest spots on the web for following Middleton’s fashion choices is the blog What Kate Wore, written by former television journalist Susan Kelley.

“One of the more frequent questions we get is, ‘What brands does she wear?’ ” Kelley said. Often, the answer is one called Barely There from a British department store called John Lewis (they’re $9 at The nude shade is Middleton’s go-to hosiery, and Kelley bought a pair for herself last time she was across the pond. She finds herself wearing hosiery to funerals, church and in some professional settings.

Kelley said she thinks the world’s embrace of Middleton’s conservative, polished look shows it is ready for a classy, appropriately dressed lady who is attractive without baring all or looking trashy.

She refers to Middleton as the “anti-Kardashian.”

“People were just kind of getting tired of all that: The completely blinged-out, over-the-top, half-naked, who-can-show-the-most-skin thing,” Kelley said. “Here comes this woman who, I would say, dresses fairly conservatively, but still can look really attractive. Most men would say she’s a babe.”

Part of that package is the hosiery, which has met some resistance. Some women are staunchly opposed to pantyhose, as in “over-my-dead-body will I wear them” opposed. No matter how hot Kate’s legs look, they’re not willing to endure the crotch-tugging misery of hosiery.

“It’s the single, most-polarizing topic we talk about on the blog,” Kelley said. “It’s very much a love-hate thing.”


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