Alice Wyllie: Beautiful, classic and unfussy bride shines amid a sea of silly hats

FASHION has never been Zara Phillips' forte, so it was unsurprising that she opted for timeless simplicity on her wedding day, rather than make any bold sartorial statements.

She looked beautiful, classic and unfussy in an ivory silk faille and silk duchess satin gown with soft tulle straps, topped off with a cathedral-length veil and Jimmy Choo shoes. Her dress was stubbornly simple, while her train was surprisingly short, her hair swept back in a neat chignon, her bouquet modest.

As anticipated, the dress was designed by Stewart Parvin, one of the Queen's favourite couturiers, and a man known for his pared-back creations.

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The only nod to decoration came in the form of raw-edged ribbons on the bodice, and the single indication that this particular bride happens to be 13th in line to the throne was her sparkling Greek Key tiara, encrusted in diamonds. Otherwise all very safe, very pretty and, dare I say it, a tad boring.

Many fashion-watchers, of course, will simply be relieved that the outdoorsy bride, who seems more at home in a body warmer and flat cap than a frock, didn't opt to wear a white fleece and matching Hunter wellies. Indeed as she entered the church, the hem of her wedding dress was rather grubby, reminiscent of the advert she did for Land Rover in 2006 in which she wore a white evening gown, its hem saturated in mud.

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As for the guests, I sometimes wonder if the royals have a parlour game in which they try to outdo each other in the silly hat stakes, fashioning their headgear from whatever happens to be lying around Buck House.

Camilla appeared to be sporting a meadow atop her bonce. Reminiscent of a dandelion gone to seed, it looked like one puff of wind might send it scattering across the kirkyard. The Countess of Wessex opted for a precariously balanced peachy number, its fleshy tendrils making it look like the less lethal offspring of the now-infamous hat Princess Beatrice wore to William and Kate's wedding.

Princess Eugenie was one of many guests trying to keep the satellite-dish-as-headwear trend alive. I wouldn't have been altogether surprised if one of the Kirk's resident pigeons had swooped down from the roof to take a bath in her concave hat.

Then there was the woman the crowds had really queued to see.The Duchess of Cambridge - never more at home than in a silly fascinator/enormous hat - seemed to be sporting a giant pringle on top of her glossy mane.

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Had she worn a tracksuit, Kate would have still faced accusations of upstaging the bride, but she sidestepped the issue cleverly by recycling an old outfit - her fitted cream jacquard coat previously had an airing at Laura Parker Bowles' wedding in 2006.

The Queen looked cheery in pink Stewart Parvin (and a very sensible hat) while the biggest surprise came in the form of Princess Anne who looked rather chic in a red dress, fitted jacket and subtle fascinator.

This was not an occasion for stepping into the fashion firing line and, hats aside, most of the guests played things safe. Indeed the edgiest accessory on display was possibly Mike Tindall's shoogly nose.