01 May 2011

Non-Royal Fashion Awards: More Guests at the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding

With 1900 guests in attendance, much of the hot and hot mess in fashion lay outside of the Windsors and their royal friends. Talking about non-royal fashion isn't a regular topic around here, but I figure anybody with a golden ticket to this wedding knew precisely the attention they could draw with their outfits. Which means: everybody's fair game. Here are a few of the guests that caught my attention:

Best of the Spencers
Karen Gordon
Left to Right: Lady Kitty Spencer; Lady Eliza Spencer; Lady Amelia Spencer; Karen Gordon, fiancée of Earl Spencer
Members of Diana's family were plentiful in the Abbey, but the greatest attention draw seems to have been the Earl Spencer and his brood. Out of his phalanx of blond daughters, Kitty raised the most eyebrows in her painted-on Victoria Beckham sheath, which turned out to be more cleavage-tastic than she may have realized under the overhead Abbey cameras. Personally, I like it. (True confession: if I looked like that, I'd probably take a "decency be damned" approach to clothes too.) But my favorite was the Lady With No Face, also known as Karen Gordon. As the second fiancée the Earl's had in the past year, she ended up on the receiving end of more than a few commentary jokes, but she herself was pure class in her well-cut rose outfit and matching hat. A total win.

Best of the Exes
Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe
L to R: Arabella Musgrave, Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, Jecca Craig
It has to be a tricky assignment, picking a wedding outfit if you're among the ex- and rumored-to-be-ex paramours of Prince William. What should you wear for your inevitable turn in the ''it could have been me'' tabloid features? Jecca Craig went the simple and business-like route, while Arabella Musgrave no doubt won bonus points at work for flying a big red Gucci flag (yes, she works for Gucci). Personally, I liked Isabella Calthorpe best: well-coordinated and plenty fancy in British design, even though it does have a bit of a potential maternity wear flair (and was worn by two other ladies as well - oops!).

Best in Maternity
Marina Fogle
L to R: Victoria Beckham; an unidentified pregnant guest; Marina Fogle, wife of Ben Fogle; the woman many named as Jacqui Ainsley, girlfriend of Guy Ritchie, but appears to be Isabella Calthorpe
It must have been a long day for the pregnant wedding guests, arriving way before the ceremony to sit in a hard chair and be deprived of loo access for hours on end. Which is why Victoria Beckham's outfit received an even bigger eye roll than usual from me: her ridiculousness doesn't rest for any occasion, does it? I do believe her only concession to the fact that she's with child was having Christian Louboutin specially place higher platforms than usual in her 6 inch heels. My attention was also caught by a random guest in purple when I couldn't figure out if she'd received an evening party invitation and just didn't want to change her outfit, or if she just didn't feel like buying something wedding-appropriate. {UPDATE: many photo agencies identified the fourth lady as the pregnant girlfriend of Guy Ritchie, and that's what I had her down as initially. I'm now fairly certain it's just Isabella Calthorpe again. So, ignore. It's all very confusing.} So the best in maternity wear for me went to Marina Fogle, who was smashing in bright green, and used a jacket over a fitted dress approach to avoid looking like she was wearing a Beckham-esque tent.

Worst of the Politician's Wives
Miriam González Durántez
L to R: Samantha Cameron, wife of Prime Minister David Cameron; Sally Bercow, wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow; Miriam González Durántez, wife of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Justine Thornton, fiancée of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband
It may have been a shining moment for the British royal family, but it was most certainly not one for the British political machine. Well, at least in the sartorial spouse category. These ladies bring up an important question: what's the greatest sartorial offense? Is it pretending as though you don't care, as though you're above something you find silly and ceremonial, by blatantly defying dress code and convention? (Ahem, Sam Cam and her ridiculous little NOT HAT Erdem clip.) Is it refusing to bend to the laws of decency, no matter what the occasion, like Mrs. Bercow's chest and thigh? Is it the sad case of a woman that probably thought she left the house looking stylish but really left wearing a deflated navy hot air balloon, as in the case of the future Mrs. Miliband? Those are all valid choices, but I cast my vote for something else: the attention-grabbing costume. Is there really any political advantage to making headlines by wearing the remains of a 1950s petticoat and a fortune teller turban with flowers smacked on, Mrs. Clegg?

Best of the Worst
Chelsy Davy
L to R: Sir Trevor Brooking's wife Hilkka, Tom Bradby's wife Claudia, the private wedding photographer Millie Pilkington, Chelsy Davy, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and sister Santa Sebag Montefiore
In a crowd this large, you're bound to have plenty of hot messes to raise your eyebrows at. Among those that caught my eye was Mrs. Brooking, in her long and overly fancy My Fair Lady dress in bridesmaid purple. The giant antennae on Mrs. Bradby's hat stood out during the broadcast, and in the pictures her loose dress and apparent trench coat accessory solidified her place on my worst-dressed list. Surprising for a woman in the fashion industry (Claudia works for Jigsaw and used to work with Kate, and her husband conducted the couple's engagement interview). I had trouble concentrating on our first glimpses of the bride with her photographer running around looking like...that. (Is that a homemade dress? Has to be, right?) And of course Tara Palmer-Tomkinson came dressed for press as the aristocratic set's resident Smurf. Her sister Santa didn't fare much better, pairing her summer dress with a fur wrap and a satellite dish primed for flower reception. But the worst of all, for me, was Chelsy Davy. How on earth is it possible to take a custom Alberta Ferretti outfit (Alberta Ferretti being one of the queens of feminine, classy clothing) and make it look like that? You can't dress yourself in to class, I guess.

Best of the Top Tier
Sunetra Sastry
L to R: Ffion Jenkins, wife of William Hague; Sunetra Sastry, wife of Rowan Atkinson; Joss Stone
Of all the guests that got it just right, I felt Ffion Jenkins deserved a top tier mention. Anybody that matches their cast to their outfit shows a dedication worthy of the best list. Pop star Joss Stone earned a few comments from you all earlier, and I completely agree: this is understated and perfect. But my favorite from all the pictures was Mrs. Bean herself, Sunetra Sastry. A gorgeous navy suit with just enough detail paired with classy nude accessories? Total win. Plus, her name is awesome. Sunetra Sastry. (I'll award points for whatever I want, thankyouverymuch).

Best of the Best
Carole Middleton
No question, Mrs. M. deserves her own category. Poor Carole's taken so much flack from impressions built about her based on assumption alone, and I have to say I was cheering for her when she turned up and got it so right. It's flattering, it has just the right amount of detail without being too much, and it's elegant as can be. Yet another successful moment in Mother of the Bride history.

Which guests caught your eye - for the good or for the bad?

Photos: Getty Images/Daylife/Reuters/Film Magic/Mark Stewart/Daily Mail