Kate Middleton brings back pantyhose. Bare legs are so 2010.

 (Photo by Lionel Hahn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lionel Hahn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Kate Middleton's latest contribution to fashion: pantyhose. After two straight weeks of pairing knockout designer dresseswith '80s-style sheer stockings, the Duchess of Cambridge has proven that everything she touches-really everything-turns to style gold.

The last time Leggs were in fashion, Melanie Griffith was teasing her hair and rambling on about 'Trask'. But after a few months and a North American tour showing off shimmering gams, Kate's bringing back the look for a new generation.

Egg-crate color is out, and clear, almost fairy-dusted iridescence is in. But the song remains the same: she's got Leggs and she knows how to use them.

"Sheer pantyhose look quite elegant,"writes the Boston Globe's Beth Teitell, after scanning photos of Prince William's wife in a carousel of dresses over the past two weeks. Teitell welcomes the redux as an antidote to shaving cuts and dry, unevenly fake-tanned knees.

Already, the trend has caught on in the UK, with a significant spike in nude hosiery sales since Kate's made them part of her dressing routine,according to the Daily Mail.

But skeptics say Kate's hosed-up look has less to do with her own invention and more to do with protocol. It's an unwritten rule that royal ambassadors and guests attend events dressed to make the queen proud: closed-toed shoes, mid-length skirts and pantyhose. Lady Di's sheer stockings (DKNY's were her brand of choice) were such a staple of her regal look, they were incorporated into replica Franklin Mint dolls. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, a former cutting-edge catwalker, has been spotted at official events in the less-than-edgy hose. Even Kate's sister Pippa Middleton, a by-proxy royal, has been
spotted in the sheer legwear.

On a recent royal visit, Tom Hank's wife, Rita Wilson complained that she was required to wear hosiery for an event at Buckingham Palace, sparking murmurs of a palace dress code. "Women must wear closed-toed shoes - and get this: stockings! Sheer disbelief - I don't even own a pair of sheer hose," she told Harper's Bazaar.

According to the
official royal website, the palace no longer has a dress code, but those hoping to gain admittance to royal events in the UK or abroad, even members of media covering an event, are expected to "comply with the dress code on formal occasions out of respect for the guests of The Queen, or any other member of the Royal Family."

For guests of a royal wedding that means evening gowns. For female journalists at any type of palace-sponsored event that means trousers or a skirt suit. And if we're talking skirt suits, a staple of the '80s business woman and the queen, we're also implying sheer tights.

In the office, sheer stockings have become dividing
line between two generations. The younger, embracing bare legs and self-tanner, over the old guard's corporate mandate of stockings. But in the business of being a royal, the queen still has an indisputable style influence, even over one of the world's biggest trendsetters. Now it looks like that influence is spreading internationally.

But don't expect it to overtake the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama, though known on occasion to sport the legwear, is not a fan. "I stopped wearing pantyhose a long time ago, because it was painful and they'd always rip,"Kate's fellow style icon announced on "The View" in 2008. "Put 'em on, rip 'em..it's inconvenient."

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