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London Designer Teaches Modesty in Dress

A London fashion designer who had a change of heart after her brother's death is devoting her talents to teaching women how to be well-dressed without dressing in a way that disrespects their God-given femininity.

CNA/EWTN is reporting that Helena Machin, who works with high-profile clients as the creative director of a French milliner, has developed a "Style Masterclass" in which she shows women of all shapes and sizes how to dress virtuously.

"I want to have them embrace their femininity by modest and attractive dress and in doing so, fulfill their God-given potential,” Machin recently told CNA.

She came up with the masterclass idea after her twin brother James passed away from a terminal illness three years ago.

“He spent his life serving others, showing them the way to Christ through his heroic example, despite being unwell for a lot of the time,” she recalled. “Through his good humor and good example he brought many people back to their faith.”

Right around the time of her brother's death, Machin discovered Opus Dei, and its emphasis on the spiritual dimension of work and everyday life. The teachings of the organization's founder Saint Josemaria Escriva, inspired her to sanctify her work in the fashion industry.

In her Masterclasses, she discusses the different body types and how to dress in a way that accentuates one's best assets, but without being disrespectful.

Women who have attended her classes are impressed.

Amy Mulvenna, 23, an art-criticism student, appreciates how Machin teaches women to reflect their true femininity and personalities – which is far different from the rest of the fashion world which encourages women to present themselves "without respect."

Emily Green, a 19-year-old business student at King's College in London, said the Style Masterclass “redefines the roles and distinction between men and women.”

“Women have become too manly in order to fit in the workplace,” Green observed. “This confuses the men and reasserts their position in a violent way, yet women don't expect or desire that . . . We all want social recognition, and sometimes girls may dress just to fit in. But they don't realize they're just attracting less respect. If you don't respect yourself, others can't respect you.”

Machin couldn't agree more and offers this tip to all the young women who attend her classes:

“If you want to be treated like a lady, dress like a lady.”

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STUDY QUESTIONS:

1.  What is modesty and what virtue does it stem from? (See No. 2521-2522 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

2.  Is there any Scriptural basis for this teaching? (See Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 2:9)

3.  What is meant by "modesty of the feelings"? (See No. 2523 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

4.  In his encyclical, On Consecrated Virginity, Pope Pius XII says the cultivation of the virtue of modesty in ourselves protects us from what kind of dangers? (See No. 58 in On Consecrated Virginity )

5.   This pastoral letter by the late Cardinal Meyer of Milwaukee is an excellent expose of Church teaching on chastity and modesty. (See Chastity and Modesty)

6.  Take a moment to examine your conscience on how well you adhere to the virtues of chastity and modesty. What are your biggest challenges in remaining faithful to Church teaching in this area?

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