CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Susu Bear has seen it with her own eyes.

The founder of scoopcharlotte.com, a site that tracks what's new, what's on sale, and what's happening on the Queen City's style scene, says as she's been out and about, she's seen evidence of one of the season's strongest trends.

The other day there was a woman with black hose paired with taupe patent leather platform shoes. And she spied another blogger's posting of herself, rocking bright yellow tights with brown cowboy boots.

"I am definitely seeing it, mostly on people who work in the stores," Bear says, adding that the weather has still been pretty warm. "Not a lot of patterns, but the dark tights."

It's been building for a few seasons. Since the mid-'90s, women boldly braved the cold with bare legs, free from those saggy, easy-to-run pantyhose and inspired, some say, by the "Sex and the City" ladies.

The revived look is good news to some folk.

"I'm personally thrilled with the end of the bare leg," says Bear. "For the last few years, I saw mostly legs in the dead of winter. People were in heavy winter coats and bare legs; people even had them with knee boots. The bare leg is hard when your legs aren't tan. Maybe if you're young it's OK, or your legs are in great shape. But if you're older or have varicose veins ..."

The runway may have spearheaded the legwear revival, and the economy could be helping to empower it.

"If you're not able to really update your fall wardrobe, using legwear is a good way to do it," says Miccinati. "The price of entry is not as expensive as other accessories." Wear the same little black dress, but add a $15 pair of lace hose, he says. Or shake up your workaday black suit with some burgundy hose.

On the same economical note, tights give you the opportunity, in our warmer climes, to take lighter-weight clothes through cooler weather, extending their life.

And they add some pizzazz.

Bear says the fresh look includes treating leggings like tights, perhaps a metallic silky taupe pair or an inky leather pair and putting them under suits or with a shift and a cardigan. Another trend is to not go for the traditional long line by using the same color hosiery and shoe; instead wear black hose with a taupe, gray or colored shoe for an exciting contrast.

Now she has fishnets, lace, polka dots and a pair of faux leather leggings so sleek they work like tights. She owns some neon tights, too; her bright yellow pair earned a "Good Day, sunshine" greeting from a passer-by.

"It's another accessory, like necklaces and scarves," she says. "I like to wear them with shorts and skirts when it's cooler. I like black tights with my summery shorts."

And no, you aren't too old for tights. You just have to make the first step, says Miccinati. You don't have to go with the pricey lines, he says, "H&M, the Limited, the chains have variety at fairly good prices."