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For the past couple of years, it has seemed that sheer black hosiery was verboten. But lately I've noticed some stylish women daring to sport it. Is it back? I hope so, because those opaque tights make me feel like a schoolgirl.

Oh dear, that is sad - I crush on anyone wearing opaque black tights, possibly for the same reason that you dislike them. But the answer to your question depends on how sheer is sheer. Most of the hosiery one sees in the winter months, even among the most fashionable, is not entirely opaque; indeed, I find it quite difficult to find absolutely opaque black tights that aren't considered "leggings." If you are wearing extremely sheer, almost invisible black stockings, you risk looking like a porn star or an old lady, but there are degrees of opacity out there and you can get away with merely dark stockings and still look sophisticated. Remember, too, that patterned hose is still a sign of a romantic and sensual nature, a sign that titillates, regardless of its modishness.

Russell Smith's new novel, Girl Crazy, was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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