As the British 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.  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.

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.

Perhaps it’s true that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her sister, Pippa Middleton wearing sheer hosiery has shed new light on the garment and will inspire women to start wearing hose, but let’s not exaggerate. I highly doubt that Sarah Jessica Parker has been photographed recently in nude hosiery because of the Middleton sisters. Is it not possible that in a sign of modesty she wanted to cover her legs – like countless other women do every day and like many royals and politicians have done for centuries?

It’s also important to note that fashion is a business and so, for example, season after season pants will get slimmer and slimmer until everyone and their mother owns slim, cigarette pants and suddenly you’ll notice that the trend reverses and it’s all about the wide leg pant…until everyone owns wide leg pants and the trend will once again reverse (or go up and become a high-waist, wide leg trend.) In the same vein, last season it was all about printed and vibrantly colored hosiery, so I deem it unlikely that this new found focus on matte and shiny nude-tone sheer hosiery is coincidental.

What do you think?