The day began with the recitation of the Rosary in the church, which was followed by a sung Mass in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After Mass, we were welcomed into the elegantly decorated parish hall, where we were offered an array of teas and homemade goodies organized by Heather Neuls. After opening the conference with a prayer, Holy Family pastor Fr. Erik Deprey, FSSP, introduced Colleen Hammond.
Colleen is a proud Texan mother of four. A former model and weatherwoman, she understands the “glamorous” world that so many girls idolize, and the pressure that women are under today to “make it” in the career world at the expense of their families. After God gave her a conversion of heart resulting from a particularly difficult personal experience, Colleen became passionate about the Catholic faith that she had cast aside. At the birth of her first child, she left her successful career to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, and passionately studied God’s call for women.  After meeting and speaking with Alice von Hildebrand, she decided to write a book about virtuous fashion, and wroteDressing with Dignity. She has given talks on her book, as well as on marriage, parenting, and the differences between men and women, all around the world, and the ladies in attendance at Holy Family were blessed by her insight.
Colleen spent the morning educating us about different temperaments, and about the differences between men and women. She exposed the feminist agenda for the farce that it is, and helped us to understand the importance of living as authentic women; when we live as the virtuous women God calls us to be, men respond by living as courageous men of integrity. Colleen discussed the cognitive differences between men and women, contrasting the female’s tendency to multitask and to rapidly jump between thought trains to the male’s focused, categorized, “one-box-at-a-time” manner of thinking and acting. She helped us to see that men were designed to cherish and care for women, and that they grow in holiness by challenging themselves to respond to the call to chivalry; we glorify God by humbly accepting their help, by setting high societal moral standards, and by encouraging men in their embodiment of authentic manliness by living as feminine women.
After a delicious lunch, it was time to “talk fashion.” Beginning with the fashions of the ancient world, Colleen highlighted the key features of female dress for over 6,000 years: long skirts, long sleeves, defined waist, and some sort of head covering. Fashion was not simply about covering up, Colleen told us, but was about beauty; women’s clothes were meant to communicate feminine beauty and dignity. After showing numerous examples of the elegance with which women dressed throughout history, Colleen explored more modern fashions, and the lack of dignity found within clothing today. Ugliness abounds, and immodesty has changed how women perceive their feminine natures. She noted that the Church, under Pope Pius XII, came out with definitive guidelines for  the minimum level of modesty that must be found in all decent women’s clothing: sleeves to the elbows, skirts of a length such that knees are still well covered when sitting, necklines no lower than two finger-widths below the collarbone, and fabric that is not sheer, clingy, or tight. After answering questions, Colleen then expounded upon one subject in particular: pants. Arguing from well-known cognitive and psychological facts, Colleen showed us that pants on women do not communicate dignity and feminine elegance, but encourage immodest looks from men. She gently encouraged us to seek to dress with elegance and dignity, and to shop for feminine clothing.
After her talk, Colleen chatted with many ladies, young and old, and sold copies of her book and her talks. She received a positive response from her attendees, and was thanked by many young women who were grateful for the insight she gave. Several women testified to the happiness they have found in dressing with dignity, and the better treatment they have received from men, including strangers in public, while dressing in this way.
“But why did God make some of us men and others women? Because a woman’s love is one image of the love of God, and a man’s love is another image of God’s love. Both are created to love, but each in a different way. Woman and man complete each other, and together show forth God’s love more fully than either can do alone.” – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta