Kate Middleton and Pippa have given a leg up to pantyhose trend

BY SUSAN HUSTON
Special to the Star-Telegram

Get ready, North Texas. Pantyhose are back in fashion, thanks to Britain’s stylish Middleton sisters keeping their gazellelike legs properly covered in front of the world’s flashbulbs.

Yes, we’re talking pantyhose. Not opaque, patterned tights — good, old-fashioned nylons. In reality, pantyhose have always been an essential part of many women’s wardrobes. Many business and professional women have never abandoned hosiery (and neither have their work dress codes). They realize that hose makes their legs and the lower body look better by firming the legs and body while hiding legs’ imperfections. But most of us have gone for the comfort of bare legs in recent years, especially those of us in sweaty Texas.

But don’t let the vision of your mom’s pantyhose scare you away from this very wearable trend.

Today the materials in hose are lighter and breathable, which makes them wearable even during hot weather. If that’s not enough, the pantyhose of 2011 have innovative features that make them downright attractive to wear, such as toeless styles for open-toed shoes, tummy support and sheerness so sheer that you can’t even tell you are wearing hosiery. The most popular color and look of today’s hosiery is sheer nude or (Kate’s and Pippa’s favorite) a nude with a little sheen.

To help you find your way among a variety of options, I stepped into a few pairs so you will be ready to bare your legs alongside British royalty. I selected more than a dozen types and brands in a sheer nude color. After spending hours wearing the pantyhose, here are my six top picks, in no particular order.

1. Spanx Super Shaping Sheers
In-power line, tummy control
Color: Nude 1
$26, Dillard’s

With a package that says “Tames the tummy, trims the thighs” and “Whistle-worthy legs!” I could not wait to try these on. Could their claim be true? Much to my delight, I instantly felt tighter in the tummy area and, wow, look at my legs! The hosiery was sheer, camouflaged some leg imperfections and did not run. They are slightly on the expensive side, but their ability to hold up during many wears makes them worth the price.

 

 

 

 

2. Hanes Silk Reflections
Silky sheer, control top, sheer toe
Color: Little Color
$8.50, Kohl’s

This hosiery is popular and has a strong following. But would it hold up to my test? It remained soft and silky, as the name implies, and held up well to fast walking in low-heeled boots and flats. The control top also is comfortable, and it fits true to size. (Here’s a tip I found in trying various brands: If there is a question about going up or down a size, always go up one size. The material hosiery is made of tends to be taut and feels tighter, so size up to have more comfort in your hips and stomach area). This hose also got high marks for its durability and price.

 

 

 

 

3. Berkshire Ultra Sheers
Control top, sandalfoot
Color: City Beige
$6.95, Macy’s

If you are looking for lots of tummy control along with an ultra-sheer look, this hosiery is for you. It held up to its ultra-sheer and comfort claim, with the added bonus of good support in the panty part of the hosiery. Another plus is its great value, and it wears well even after several outings in heels, boots and flats. This pantyhose rated high for its good value, comfort and tummy control.

 

 

 

 

4. Preston & York
Toeless, control top, sheer leg
Color: Light Nude
$10, Dillard’s

I’ll let you in on a secret: I have big feet and bunions, so the thought of wearing a pantyhose that stops shy of my toes with a thin piece of nylon band wrapped around my big toe was not a pleasant idea. However, much to my surprise, I was wrong. This hose accomplishes a lot. First, the band is not uncomfortable; I hardly noticed it was there. With this kind of comfort, I am excited to show off my pedicure at the next holiday party. The hosiery part of the pantyhose is super sheer, so other than my legs looking firm and hiding blemishes, you can’t even tell the difference in my toes and my legs. I highly recommend these toeless pantyhose, made especially for Dillard’s, to wear with your open-toed shoes.

 

 

 

 

5. Hanes Absolutely Ultra Sheer
Control top, sheer toe
Color: Natural
$7, Kohl’s

When I opened this package, I was hoping to find very sheer hosiery. And I did. This hosiery felt more like the sheerness of past pantyhose — a decade of wearing pantyhose will make you sit up and notice the new changes. The major advancement from your mom’s pantyhose is the longer life of your investment. You can certainly get more mileage out of today’s pantyhose. This pair also had good tummy control; however, I would go up a size for more comfort in that area. Overall, this pantyhose is a hit for ultra sheerness yet gives good coverage for your legs. I would buy it for sure.

 

 

 

 

6. Hanes Solutions
Silky and sheer, shaping control top
Color: Buff Beige
$5.49, Target

I was a bit reluctant to give this discount-store pantyhose a try. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It claims on the package to smooth and shape the waist, tummy and hips, and it does an excellent job. It’s sheer and feels good, too. I would rate this as a great option for when you need an everyday pantyhose. And the price is nice, too; at $5.49, you get a quality pair for your money.

Susan Huston is a freelance writer and stylist and the owner of Susan Huston Fashion Concepts, www.susanhuston.com