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Does Kate Middleton Have to Wear Those Pantyhose?

Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images, TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images, Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

In every recent photo of Kate Middleton wearing a skirt or dress, she appears to be wearing pantyhose. Young women never wear those anymore. Are pantyhose required by the Royal Family?
—Susan W., Des Moines, via the inbox

Many things are required of British royal ladies—waving with a closed hand, for example, and wearing hats that double as radar dishes, lest the Germans decide to bomb London again.

But when it comes to Kate Middleton's royal gams, I have some dish that may surprise you:

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Chicks overseas actually like their old-fashioned hosiery.

Yes, really—even the pantyhose in that awful "suntan" color that matches three people, and exactly three people, at any given time.

"Tan colored tights are enjoying a fashion renaissance led by younger women ranging from the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa Middleton, to Cheryl Cole and Carla Bruni," sayeth the Telegraph newspaper of London. Citing a possible fear of tanning-related cancers, the paper noted that fancy pantyhose-maker Wolford has seen a 29.5 percent increase in such sales compared with the same period last year.

Beyoncé and Sarah Jessica Parker also have reportedly embraced tan pantyhose in recent months.

It's a trend. A trend, I say!

And so does Angela Rippon, a distinguished British journalist and expert on all things royal family.

"Perhaps in parts of America 'young women today never wear pantyhose,' but here in Britain that's not the case," Rippon tells me. "The pantyhose (or tights as we call them) industry is alive and well and an important part of the fashion industry.
 
"Frankly it's all down to personal choice, and the weather! And as far as women in the royal family are concerned, the same rules apply. Like every other woman in Britain, they will make a decision based on the time of year, how good their legs look without tights, the occasion and the outfit they're wearing."

In other words, Rippon confirms, "There is no 'royal family rule.' It's entirely up to them."

Viva, tan pantyhose! What's next, the return of acid-washed jeans?

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