My first thought was why didn't I chose a dress like that on my wedding day?
Kate Middleton's dress was much plainer than I had expected, and I loved its simple, elegant lines. It worked because the focus went straight to her face, and not to distracting bustles, rosettes and ruffles. The barely-there veil and the modest floral bouquet -- held casually, as if the bride had just picked it on the way over -- added a feeling of ease to an incredibly formal ceremony.
That particular shape -- the bustier top and flared skirt -- is the hands-down best design for creating the illusion of a small waist.
I usually don't like sleeves on wedding gowns, since they tend to look heavy, dowdy and matronly; but the lightness of the lace, plus the tasteful V-neck, showed just enough skin for it to look pretty and fresh.
I heard somewhere that she did her own make-up. Part of me doubts that is true. Any celebrity would at least have a professional touch-up. Plus, the make-up needed to stand up to TV lights is different than regular make-up. Still, the idea is nice. The cosmetics were lightly and naturally done, and she didn't give in that temptation -- so common in Asia -- to plaster her skin over to some unnaturally white tone and then paint pink cheeks, red lips and blue eye-lids on.
I also liked that her hair was down. In retrospect, I wish I kept some of my hair down, since I rather like my long, thick black locks.
Instead, my make-up / hairdresses (two cute but tipsy Swedish girls) scraped it back into a harsh up-do and said, "Wow! She looks like a geisha!" The back of my hair was actually quite amazing -- an elaborate design of loops and scrolls. But scraping the hair back actually makes your face look much rounder in photographs, whereas having hair down around around the neck is more flattering. Kate's half-up, half-down do is perfect.
I didn't want to go down the local Hong Kong path of having a rented wedding dress, but I didn't want to buy some expensive, pouffy concoction either.
So I ended up with something that wasn't even specifically a wedding gown. It was a plain cream-colored satin sheath from Seibu meant as a normal evening gown. It was very simple -- except for a few gathers at the waist, it was tight and went straight down to the floor with no embellishment.
God knows why my 4 million wedding photos are not on this laptop. All I can find right now is this snapshot of me and my family.
You can see how deliberately plain my outfit it. My Mom, in her wisdom, told me to wipe off the dramatic eyebrows the make-up girls had drawn on me, and I look very natural. I kept my jewelry to a single strand of pearls. I noticed that Kate had no necklace at all.
I'm still glad I chose something minimal but, looking back, a slightly fuller skirt would probably have made my waist look better. (I'm not the thinnest person). And maybe it would have been wise to have some light cover on my less-than-perfect upper arms.
Kate's design is also a bit more reliable. My dress, which had neither sleeves nor straps, could easily have fallen down or out-of-place. Thank god for boning, and breasts. A less-endowed Asian girl may have had an embarrassing accident while bending over to sign the papers...
Initially, I wanted to get married with some quirky hat / floral hair arrangement. I've always dreamt of a lifestyle that would allow me to wear strange things on my head.
My Dad wisely said he'd prefer a veil. And so I got a long one similar to Kate's. (In a burst of indulgence, I booked mine at Harrod's and had a friend bring it back to me from London).
Dad was right.
The only really flashy part of Kate's outfit was the length of the train. But, given the pomp of the ceremony, I think it works well. At least she didn't need an entire gaggle of maidens cavorting after her to try to keep her train under control.
What a huge difference to the 1980s extravaganza worn by Princess Diana.
I always loved Princess Di and was mesmerized by her wedding as a 7-year-old. But you have to admit that she looks a little like she's being attacked by a giant cream puff.
For wedding style and etiquette tips, go to the Privilege blog.
For IHT fashion critic Suzy Menkes's take, go here. (Why her columns are always so buried on nytimes.com is beyond me. I had to go to Google to find it!) She writes:
The choice made by Kate Middleton was picture perfect — a stylish, streamlined ivory-and-white satin dress with a lightly-padded corset and manageable train (as long as her sister Pippa, in a streak of white silk, was there to navigate).
The triumph of this wedding dress was that it appeared at first restrained and simple. But there was a shiver of emotion on viewing the history and heritage sewn as a pattern into the lace. It was an organic meld of England’s Tudor’s rose, Scotland’s thistle, Ireland’s shamrock and the daffodil of Wales — an echo of the decoration on Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown in 1953.
Delicate sewing hands (washed every hour to keep the dress pristine), were found in the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace and chosen to create a reprise of the history of arts and crafts.
Amusingly, here's a photo slideshow of all the silly hats. Those crazy Brits.
The bride was flawlessly tasteful. But guests like Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were a little more out there. Let's say they get points for creativity.