I Tried the Secret Behind Kate Middleton's Flawless Legs

02:19:00

When’s the last time you wore nude hosiery? While scrutinizing a feed of Kate Middleton pictures, her legs even-toned in what has been well-documented as super sheer (and totally imperceptible) flesh-colored tights, I find myself backtracking entire decades to answer this question. At a junior high band concert? My first homecoming dance? I’ve always filed that particular item of clothing away as something I only used before knowing better, an antiquated formality enforced by my mother. Fussy.
But faced with the shiny and resplendent effects of the duchess’s miracle-working nylons, I’m starting to wonder if I’m the one holding on to dated misconceptions. If the only thing standing between me and the same air brushed results is a thin layer of fabric no one can see, why I am I holding back?
“While many American women shy away from nude hosiery,” says lingerie expert and Wolford (which happens to be is one of K.Mid’s go-to sources for hose) consultant Jenny Altman tells me over the the phone. “But in European countries women wear it all year round for a flawless finish. I think it makes you a lot less self conscious in short skirts. It’s like makeup for your legs!”
And, as with any good makeup, matching the right shade to your skin is key. Altman sends me over two colors to choose between (I am suited to the lighter hue. But give me two months!) for what I’ve decided will be a full five days—one work week—of fully embracing pantyhose. Here’s what I learned:
DAY ONE

THE TAKE-AWAY: The hardest part of getting used to sheer hosiery again is completely mental! For a good part of my trial run, I was convinced strangers were judging me—when actually, no one could notice the difference at all. (More on that soon!) Comfort-wise, I found the fit preferable to black tights; thanks to the extra-light material, it felt like I was wearing nothing at all.On my way home from the gym, I have a unwelcome realization: Hose may physically cover my legs, but I still have to shave. (Smushed up hair under see-through fabric does not sound cute.) One Skintimate run and 45 minutes later, I slip into a mod shift that I love for its Sally Draper vibes, and immediately start to worry that such a midcentury silhouette will seem like a throwback with sheer stockings. To make the outfit less '50s schoolgirl prim, I tie a denim jacket around my waist and put on big statement earrings—now I’m ready to…uh, sit down at my kitchen table and write? Because it feels really weird hanging around my apartment in such a head-to-toe look, I pack up and head to a coffee shop to work. On my way down the street, I catch the eyes of passerby, convinced they’ve noticed the light netting over my lower limbs. The rest of the afternoon I spend a lot of time self consciously straightening my knee forward for examination, smoothing my calf, and furtively glancing around to see if anyone's watching. As I get a tea to sip on my home, I want to explain to the barista that I’m only dressed like this for work—never mind that the bottom half of my body's covered by the counter.

DAY TWO

I have an interview with model Jourdan Dunn, a.k.a. one of the most beautiful people on the planet, today, so I’m determined to make these bad boys look good. Because it’s gray and drizzly out, I decide on a pleated wool mini skirt, slouchy sweater, and ankle boots and, surprisingly, find myself grateful for the extra leg coverage when I step outside—just that tiny barrier between my naked skin and the elements really makes a difference! While I wait for Dunn on set, I tell a couple of other editors about my hosiery experiment, and they can barely believe I’ve got a pair on. As two girls touch my calf for confirmation, I’m called in. Jourdan doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about my outfit except we are basically wearing the same exact shoes. It was a good day.
THE TAKE-AWAY: Although I’m still not sure how I feel about pantyhose in the dead of summer (so hot!), it’s really proved to be an awesome transitional weather piece. I love how it let me “fake” bare legs throughout the temperamental early spring weather.
DAY THREE

Running late for a work meeting, I shimmy into my stockings, grab the first dress I find in my closet, throw on sneakers, and add big earrings and lipstick to make the whole ensemble feel fancier than it actually is. Later, I realize this is a good sign: I’m comfortable enough with hosiery now that I can tap into the usual initiation I use to get dressed without overthinking my undergarments. And while I still find myself wanting to talk about this strange new accessory on my body with anyone who will listen, it’s now with more pride than shame. As I share the experience with another group of colleagues later in the day they, too, ask if it’s okay to feel the fabric. When everyone start exclaiming and calling other people over, I think of that scene in The Sweetest Thing when Christina Applegate lets total strangers touch her perfect fake boobs in the club bathroom. Lesson learned: If it's working for you, ain't no reason to be ashamed.
THE TAKE-AWAY: Smooth, perfect legs create confidence, and confidence is the crux of great style. Once I tapped into that, nude hosiery became infinitely more appealing.
DAY FOUR

I’m really starting to enjoy the double takes I get when I tell people about my new undergarment routine. “Wait, you’ve got them on now?!,” exclaims yet another friend during lunch today, before she peers down to examine my shins closer. “Your legs look really nice, but I would have never guessed they were covered.” The only caveat? Because I don’t want to the toe gusset to show, I’ve been limited to closed-toed footwear all week. When I relay this concern to Altman later, she reveals that most hosiery brands offer a footless options. Clearly the world of nylons has progressed in my absence.
THE TAKE-AWAY: The best kind of flesh-colored tights are the kind you can’t see! That might mean paying a extra for good quality (the Wolfords I tried all week retail for $33), but the investment’s no different than a seamless thong or extra supportive bra: by working behind-the-scenes to create a smooth foundation, it betters the rest of your look.
DAY FIVE




THE TAKE-AWAY: Unlike black tights, which let you get away with going up a size, exact fit is super important to pulling off something skin-toned—anything too loose runs the risk of sagginess. You should also keep in mind that the style will inevitably stretch a bit with a few wears (mine definitely did), so it should wear a bit tight straight from the package.As I still haven’t unpacked my spring clothes (I know, I know), I’m starting to run low on seasonally appropriate skirts and dresses. Fortunately, a silky wrap maxi I recently ordered from Reformation arrives before I have to shower and head out for a few meetings. To make the length daytime-appropriate, I pair it with lace-up ballet flats despite my misgivings that the criss-ross ties might cause awkward bunching underneath. I’m pleasantly surprised, though, to note that everything stays right where it should, earning me multiple compliments on both my dress and shoes—a double win, I think, because it means that hosiery went unnoticed.
From this side of my pantyhose test drive, my appreciation for the look is far deeper than I ever thought possible—Kate, I totally get it! That said, I don't know if I'm a total convert quite yet; there's still something deliciously freeing about that first day of a season you can finally do bare legs. But warm weather has only just arrived, and I've still got months of potential razor burn to navigate. It feels good to have a backup plan.
Photographed by Emily Kemp

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