If a frilly headband is what clearly identifies that of a maid, thigh highs make the statement. Long before thigh high stockings came on to the mainstream of making moe statements, western culture had long been using its powers of manipulation. Perhaps when asked which work uniform would most likely be wearing thigh high stockings as a standard, only three occupations spring to mind; nurses, flight attendants and most prominently, at least in my book, maids. Yes, maids. Be it French or English inspired, they wear nearly identical uniforms. Frilly head band, buttoned up dress, bib apron, maybe a bow tie, and a mini skirt for the French while at least calf length for the English inspired maids.
It wasn’t only until Japan started the maid cafe craze in Akihabara did the opaque thigh highs come into proliferation and then perhaps a standard for maid cosplay that we have come to see as stereotyped in Japanese media.
A brief Wiki entry about maid cafe’s and their uniform:
Maid cafés (メイドカフェ Meido kafe) are a subcategory of cosplay restaurants found predominantly in Japan. In these cafés, waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants, and treat customers as masters (and mistresses) in a private home, rather than as café patrons. The first maid café, Cure Maid Café, was established in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan in March 2001, but maid cafés are becoming increasingly popular. As they have done so, the increased competition has made them become crazier in order to attract customers. They have also expanded overseas to countries like China, Taiwan, Mexico, Canada and the United States.
The maid costume varies from café to café, but most are based upon the costume of French maids, often composed of a dress, a petticoat, a pinafore, a matching hair accessory (such as a frill or a bow), and stockings. Sometimes, employees often wear rabbit or cat ears with their outfits to add more appeal.
Waitresses in maid cafés are often chosen on the basis of their appearance; most are young, attractive and innocent-looking women. For example, Royal Milk Café, a popular maid café, reports that the average age of its waitresses is 20.
Yeah… that said, I know where my first cup of coffee will be soon as I get around on my Japan visit. Meanwhile I should really get around to visiting that Maid Cafe in HK on my next visit there.
Erstwhile, along with the popularity of these Maid Cafe’s, some have even gone to events cosplaying as Akiba maids as these Maid Cafe servers have come into a level of popularity all their own. So much so that some manga/anime have had their lead characters either dress up even work at a maid cafe. All the more, some series have even revolved around maids. Mahoromatic, He is My Master, Kamen no Maid Guy. And these series have more than once proven to be quite popular.