If the only woman of colour in the royal family can’t find tights that match her skin tone, there’s little hope for the rest of us, says Stylist’s fashion writer Billie Bhatia.
On Tuesday, Meghan Markle took on her first royal engagement. At a garden party to celebrate Prince Charles’ 70th birthday, the new Duchess of Sussex stepped out in an elegant blush pink Goat dress and Phillip Treacy hat – but the real talking point was her tights.
Debates were sparked across the Stylist office as soon as pictures of the occasion were released. “Why is she wearing tights?” “Is it royal protocol?” “Did she have to wear tights before the wedding?” “Why are they the wrong colour?” There had to be method to the madness, right?
The Queen famously requests that all female members of the royal family – and guests – wear tights to royal events. Sounds a bit stuffy and outdated, but the monarch of our country has spoken and so all must conform.
But Meghan hasn’t previously adhered to this particular rule: in her engagement pictures, she went bare-legged beneath a sheer, dramatic gown.
Neither was that the only time she decided that royal fashion norms weren’t for her. She also ditched the tights at the 2018 Endeavour Fund Awards, opting for a green Self-Portrait dress with a blazer, and at the Royal Foundation’s inaugural forum in February. So why has she decided to go all conventional on us now?
First and foremost, the change to tights indicates that Meghan is formally undertaking her royal duties, and that means following the Queen’s rules. It signifies that Meghan means business: that she’s ready to be a duchess and wants to take her responsibilities seriously.
But protocol or no protocol, Meghan’s nude-toned tights were… bad. Not because she looked bad in them – she couldn’t look bad in anything – but because they were completely the wrong shade for her skin colour. And we think that says more about the lack of diverse shades offered by the hosiery industry than royal stuffiness.
With Meghan still firmly in the spot light, it comes as no surprise that the internet has lost it with these tights.
The demand for sheer tights to suit all skin tones is likely not as high as the demand for, say, diverse shades of foundation. But that doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable that the hosiery world seems to be stuck in the Fifties, offering stockings in various shades of Caucasian and not much else. One swift internet search reveals that most tight brands have an extremely limited range of ‘nude’ colours - and that’s just not good enough.
If the only woman of colour in the royal family can’t find tights to match her skin tone, there seems to be little hope for the rest of us. Hosiery brands, hear our plea: can you start making tights to suit all women, please?