After months of feverish speculation, the royal wedding's most closely guarded secret was revealed to the world when Catherine Middleton stepped into Westminster Abbey on Friday in her Alexander McQueen wedding dress.

The timeless gown designed by McQueen's creative director, Sarah Burton, reflected the personality and the classic style of the world's newest fashion icon.

The close-fitting lace bodice featured long sleeves and a deep-V neckline while the skirt fell from Middleton's slender waist in soft, pleated folds.

In keeping with tradition, Burton's design featured a train that was long enough to wow crowds outside the Abbey and as Middleton walked down the aisle. But the train was far shorter than Princess Diana's 25-foot train.

Middleton's simple veil was adorned by the Halo Tiara, which made by Cartier in 1936.

The Halo Tiara was first purchased by the Duke of York, later King George VI, for his wife Elizabeth. She would later become the Queen Mother.

The tiara was passed on to the couple's daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, upon her 18th birthday.

Middleton's choices were well received by fashion industry experts.

"I think Kate looked perfect. Her dress was very timeless and very reminiscent of Princess Grace of Monaco. Kate looked exactly the way we hoped she would when she walked out of her car," said Alison McGill, the editor-in-chief of Weddingbells Magazine.

Speaking to from London, McGill said Middleton's dress will inspire several key trends.

"I think her choice to wear long sleeves signals a big goodbye to strapless wedding gowns," said McGill.

Middleton's dress also featured "controlled volume," another contemporary element sure to inspire future brides.

"The dress had just enough volume," said McGill.

"It wasn't too much or too overdone. Again, you had to think of Grace Kelly when you looked at Kate standing on the red carpet outside the Abbey and walking into the cathedral."

Many fashion insiders had predicted that Middleton would wear a sleek, body-hugging gown and thereby set a more modern precedent for royal weddings to come.

McGill always disagreed with that speculation.

"Kate's a traditional girl," said McGill.

"I love the fact that she wore her hair down, which is not usually done at royal weddings. That's Kate's style. But it's a personal choice that feels both very modern and very classic all at the same time," she said.

"I give Kate's dress a 10+."

Middleton the new Grace Kelly?

"The dress was a royal dream," said Sarah Casselman, the senior editor of Fashion News for FASHION magazine.

Casselman, too, felt that Middleton's long sleeves would set big trends.

"That sheer coverage is just so beautiful," the Toronto-based Casselman told

"We're going to see lots of knock-offs right away, and a lot more lace and embroidered details inspired by Kate's dress," she said.

According to Casselman, Burton's use of lace captured the perfect balance between majesty and modernity.

Some may fault Middleton's train, which was far shorter than expected.

Casselman, however, says the length was "spot on."

"When Princess Diana got married she was so young. Her dress was really something out of a fairy tale and reflected her youth. But Kate's had more practice at being a royal than Diana did. Her gown really reflected who she is, not what others thought she should be," said Casselman.

Even Middleton's small bouquet, again so reminiscent of Grace Kelly's wedding flowers, were the perfect accent to the controlled elegance in Middleton's dress.

The dainty bouquet featured tiny fragrant Lily of the Valley and Stephanotis with a touch of green Myrtle.

"People expected that Kate would introduce a bit of colour into her flowers or her gown. But again, Kate went with a more timeless feel," said Casselman.

Standing together in Westminster Abbey, Middleton's soft ivory gown sat in perfect harmony next to Prince William's dashing red uniform of Colonel of the Irish Guards.

William's scarlet tunic featured the Irish Guards' distinctive arrangement of buttons in groups of four.

The prince also wore a gold and crimson sash, gold sword slings as well as his Garter Sash, the wings of the Royal Air Force, the Garter Star and the Golden Jubilee Medal.

But Middleton's composure brought the perfect touch to her gown and the historic occasion, said Casselman.

"The thought of having billions of people watch your every move on your big day would crack most brides. But not Kate," said Casselman.

"When she walked into that cathedral she seemed so relaxed. She was confident. She was regal and yet true to her own style. She wore the dress, not the other way around," she said.

"Kate's definitely on her way to becoming one of this century's most important fashion icons."

More on Kate:

• The jewellery: The Duchess of Cambridge wore diamond-set earrings stylized as oak leaves. The classic earrings were designed by Robinson Pelham and were a gift from the bride's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton.

• Dress embellishments: Flowers such as thistles, roses, daffodils and shamrocks were embroidered onto Catherine's classic wedding gown. The details were hand-cut from Chantilly lace. The gown's skirt was also handmade by the royal school of needlework at Hampton Court.

The Wedding Party

• The Queen wore a pale yellow hat and matching dress designed by Angela Kelly. The dress was adorned with a spectacular piece of jewellery known as Queen Mary's true lovers knot brooch.

• Mother of the bride Carole Middleton kept it sleek and simple in a sky blue wool crepe coat dress with satin piping designed by Catherine Walker. Middleton topped the outfit with a Jane Corbett hat.

• Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, looked regal in a champagne-coloured silk dress and hand-embroidered coat by Anne Valentine. The Duchess accessorized with a hat by designer Philip Treacy and bronze Jimmy Choo shoes.

• Philippa Middleton, the bride's sister and maid of honour, wore a body-fitting dress with a cowl front created by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. The buttons and lace trim matched those on the wedding gown.

• The four young bridesmaids wore hand-made, ballerina-length dresses created by childrenswear designer Nicki Macfarlane. The ivory dresses featured sashes made of pure gold and wild silk. The outfits were accessorized with Lily of the Valley hair wreaths and Mary Jane shoes made from satin and finished with Swarovski crystal buckles.

• The wedding party pages wore uniforms in the style of Foot Guard officers circa 1820. The uniforms featured insignias from the Irish Guards, whose Colonel is Prince Williams. The red tunics also featured gold piping, gold and crimson sashes with tassels and Irish shamrocks on the collars.