Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do Charm Schools Still Exist?

Yes they do! While they may have evolved with the times, Charm Schools are still around and serve an important purpose within certain circles. Primarily they teach social etiquette in such areas as:

- How to greet someone (especially dignitaries and royalty).
- How to shake hands and/or bow.
- Proper topics for social conversation.
- Letter writing, invitations, regrets, and thank you notes.
- How to set a formal dining table.
- And physical comportment - such as posture, how to walk with style, how to sit, even how to eat.

Also called Finishing Schools, they flourished in earlier times when professional careers were not open to women. They were designed primarily to prepare young women for marriage - hopefully into high society. But many of these schools closed when women began entering college and going out into the marketplace, seeking careers of their own.

Even so, social skills are still quiet important, and many prominent schools have survived. It's well known that even Diana, Princess of Wales briefly attended the Institut Alpin Videmanette - a famous finishing school in Switzerland.

In modern times these schools have evolved and are experiencing a resurgence, especially as the rich grow in numbers. And major corporations are jumping in and sending their prized employees to what they call Protocol or Etiquette schools, especially when dealing with foreign corporations. But long gone are the days when every city and small town in America had a "Miss Lovely's Finishing School for Girls". 

For more information on the best schools still in existence in America, England, or Switzerland, just Google the words Finishing Schools.

I hope this has been helpful, and as always, thanks for stopping by,



  1. Excellent post. It is very informative.

  2. Thanks for the information KEK

    1. Hi KEK!

      Always nice to hear from you. I was afraid that post might be a little boring.


  3. Dear Andrew

    I hope you are well.

    Always nice to read your blog, its very relevant to me as a butler. Hahaha guess not everyone can say that.

    Kind regards


    1. Great to hear from you, Joey!

      I hope all is going well for you in your new career with the super rich in South Africa!

      And do let us know of any fun things you can share!

      All the best,

  4. Mr. Williams

    My daughter will be attending finishing school this year. I went for four years 20 years ago. Unfortunately, here in california and New York the course is only one week. Somewhat laughable ! I do hope she is able to attain some new information........ as most of mine have become as obsolete as common courtesy and dinosaurs. Giggle!

    Hope this has found you in the best of spirits,

    1. Thanks for this charming comment on Charm Schools, Ali.

      Times have changed, yes. But a week is better than nothing at all.

      Social skills are hugely important, to both men and women.


  5. This form of training is desperately needed here in the states. I would love to open a new set of three in the states for physical presentation, refortification and professional finishing polishing and completion of either an individual or company unit.

    Connecticut: cunning and etiquette PAW

  6. Hi Andrew! Your site connects with my passion. I heard of Finishing Schools while completing College in 1970 at the age of 19 years. Luckily dad could afford to send me to a Finishing School in the Far East.
    Circa 2007 - when our kids were growing up, I realised that Finishing School subjects are not taught at schools and universities! I shared this at various forums and soon it became my career and passion in India- in the metropolis city of Mumbai and extends to Hong Kong and Mauritius.At the age of 69 now, I’m active and honoured to have valuable media recognition, without soliciting it.
    These subjects have gained a lot of prominence in Asia and the awareness is growing, They search for “”Personality Development classes/ trainings. Few search for ‘Etiquette” others for “Image Management” and at Corporates these as Soft Skills trainings.
    These subjects definitely upscale one's personal, social, and business career successes! And your collage of topics are so interesting.

    1. Thank you for this comment Maya! I'm intrigued with your website and that you call it Personality Development, which seems more in tune with the modern age. It inspires me to write a blog post about updated versions of a Finishing School.
      With your permission I could link to your website,and share the post with my friend Grant Harold, who was once a butler to the Royal Family in London and now has his own Etiquette School.

      Thanks again for writing to me. Stay safe during this dreadful virus that overshadows our world these days.

  7. Hello,

    Your post was exactly what I was looking for, Andrew. I live in the Bay Area of California and want desperately to attend a finishing school, as I'm finally beginning college. My grandmother grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and married the descendants of a noble German family (descendants of Darmstadt; yes, I couldn't believe it either until Ancestry confirmed it) and married my mother's father, who was a highly-regarded military man (he won a purple heart), who also dabbled in historical reconstruction of the Victorian era. My grandmother did charm school in junior high and beyond, as was normal of the fifties, and also after to prepare her for this pretentious marriage - or pretentious to her, a rural girl from 1940s San Antonio - and her stories of it always fascinated me so. I am majoring in History with emphasis on European high-society customs and the social understandings of the time, and the more I learn, the more I wish to attend one of these schools. I am in the Bay Area of California, and am interested in topics such as how to dress elegantly and ladylike, some household needs, etiquette of all kinds, table manners, greeting people, formal speech, proper conversation... Everything a woman of a 19th-century finishing school would learn.

    Your post was informative, but I have had no luck Googling my location with the keyword "finishing", "deportment", or "charm" school involved. I even tried "beauty" or "grooming", and came up with cosmetology trade school and pet grooming specifically. I even tried saying "academy" over "school", and then "institute". I'd like one to attend in person; I want to be in a room with ladies of my same wants to learn to cultivate myself, be in that room being taught proper makeup and dress, and have a teacher there to share her valuable knowledge with me. Ladylikeness is so unknown of today, and has so many meanings, but I would like to go back to the basics: how to dress, apply cosmetics, stand, walk, speak, how to greet people of different standings. I know this post is a bit old, but if you could give me any advice on what I am looking for, I'd be in your gratitude.

    Thank you for your personal and academic insight into this hope of mine, and take care.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment Charlotte. You have an amazing and intriguing family history and I understand precisely why you want to put your best foot forward.
      They're mostly called etiquette schools nowadays and they're all across the country. The good news is that they are usually fast and not expensive.
      Looking at the website of "Etiquette Modern" it appears their full course is broken into stand-alone segments. You can study posture, sitting and walking in one class. Then you can take a class in proper table setting after that, and on and on. And the cost is in the hundreds, not the thousands.
      I hope this is helpful, and good luck!

    2. By the way, it's in the Bay area which should be convenient.