Claudia Winkleman: Take It From Me

'Men still love stockings. That is not the reason why sales have slumped. Women are just more honest now'
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The Independent Online

"Babe, can you believe that stockings sales have slumped by 50 per cent. Sweetie? That's serious. Are you listening to me? Hey, pass me the Pringles. Women and stockings – they go together like beer and nuts. Or salami and olives. Oi, Claude. You awake? Listen, have you even worn stockings in the last nine years? Maybe after Lucy's wedding, or am I thinking of something else? Babe? Hold on a second, is that The Simpsons on Sky? Never seen this one. Never mind honey. Let's have a chat later, hey?"

It's Sunday night and I'm on the sofa with my husband.

I'm painting him in a slightly bad light. He's not a total moron, and he certainly doesn't dribble when he's eating crisps. Well, not always. It's just that he likes a stocking. When we first dated I thought nothing of throwing on a basque (yes, I'm not proud of myself either) and I hoisted my legs into barely black stockings on a regular basis.

And I think, after a particularly festive Christmas party, that I went the whole hog and put on some red lipstick and some tinsel round my, um, let's call it neck. It was early – we'd just met and I promised him all kinds of games and outfits. I once pretended that I was a nurse (a seriously slutty one) and took his temperature. It turned out that he was indeed slightly hot, so I thought that a dose of paracetemol and a hot lemon and honey drink was probably a better idea that role-play sex, but you get the picture.

During the early dating stage I also told him the following:

1. I didn't have any particular urge to have children.

2. I thought it was weird when couples spent too much time with the girl's parents.

3. I wasn't the kind of woman who wanted to spend every night staying in on the sofa watching telly and cuddling. On the contrary, I loved members-only clubs in the centre of London, and I NEVER wanted to leave these clubs before 3am.

4. I hadn't given my wedding dress a thought (I also finished this one off with: "I mean, who actually gets hitched anymore anyway?").

5. I always, always wanted to wear stockings and I thought that tights were gross and unhygenic.

This phase lasted approximately three weeks and four days. Then he told me he thought I was sexy in a tracksuit with no make-up. Ring-a-ding-ding. That's music to any girl's ears. The velour came out of the closet. A couple of weeks after that he said that he wanted to move in with me, and he did. I haven't worn a pair of suspenders since.

These days I would only put on those scratchy scraps of nylon if I was doing it for a bet, or if I felt particularly threatened by a new bouncy girl in his office. Then sure, I can be Hilda and throw on a see-through nightie, a pair of high-heeled boots, some ear muffs and pretend that I've lost a meatball down the back of the radiator.

Stockings are tricky for girls – you worry about them falling down all night and the idea that you dress up at 7pm so that your boyfriend can get excited about six hours later is just too much effort. The truth is that tights are just so cosy. You can hoist them right up - often all the way to just underneath your boobs. Now that's engineering. Some even come with thin-making panels and you feel safe and tucked in all night.

This is the bottom line, boys: stockings are just a right pain in the arse. If you meet a girl who says: "Darling, what do you mean? Of course I wear suspenders. I've worn them all my life. I think tights are for old people", then know this: she's desperate to have kids, she wants you and her to live in the same house as her mum, she never wants to go out and she just wants to lie on your chest for the next 15 years. She already owns a selection of wedding dresses that she can throw on at a moment's notice and she LOVES, just LOVES tights.

Men still love stockings. That is not the reason why stocking sales have slumped. Women are just becoming more honest. We've owned up to not wanting to hang out at the pub with jeering and grubby football friends, and most of us have admitted that we don't really "get" Pink Floyd, and we are now out-and-out proud about our love for a 20 denier pop sock (they are simply fantastic under a trouser). Now that kind of confidence is sexy.

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