Although both finishing schools and etiquette schools teach etiquette, there is a difference between the two.

Etiquette schools teach etiquette. Hence their name. Some etiquette schools expand their lessons into deportment, but not much farther. This is why etiquette schools can be run in short formats. You can easily find etiquette classes that last one day or workshops that last one weekend.

In contrast, finishing schools run for a month or more. This is one of the reasons why most finishing schools were boarding schools. They were based on the idea that refinement cannot happen in one day, one week, or even one month.

It takes months, even years, to break habits, and make lasting changes.

Another difference between etiquette schools and finishing schools is the latter teaches intermediate to advanced levels of etiquette and deportment. Some also teach the customs, belief systems, values, and pleasures of the elite.

Finishing schools, as their name suggests, finish young women; they refine their entire being.


We cannot tell you which is best for you since we do not know you – your needs, your interests, your budget, or your goals. But what we can say is both schools teach the basics — what you need to know to move around everyday society.

Etiquette schools are short. So, if you do not have the interest or time to learn months worth of refinement, etiquette school is best for you. Etiquette schools are also much cheaper than finishing schools. So, if you are on a budget, etiquette schools may be best for you.

Finishing schools, on the other hand, are much more expensive. They run for many more weeks than an etiquette school. So, they offer students more time to learn, question, and change, and then question some more. Real change, as we mentioned above, takes time.

Due to the months-long format of finishing schools, they also allow more time with teachers. This is great for those who want weeks worth of advice.

Finishing schools also offer more time to focus on refinement… to be immersed in the school’s ideas on life. For this reason, we also recommend students with sufficient budgets to study at different finishing schools around the world.

It is the same concept for high schools and universities. It is advantageous for those with a sufficient budget to study at different schools around the world. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy attended Vassar College and George Washington University in the U.S. as well as the Sorbonne in France.

The same rule applies for finishing schools. No school teaches exactly the same lesson in the same way. No school has the same set of values, interests, or experiences. So, for years, affluent ladies have attended different finishing schools.

Gene Tierney, a famously sophisticated American actress, born in 1920, attended both Miss Porter’s Finishing School in the United States and Brilliantmont Finishing School in Switzerland. Between 1959 and 1961, Charlotte Ford studied at a finishing school in Florence as well as one in Paris.

Finishing schools are also for women who have time, determination, and patience… who are able and willing to spend many weeks studying a plethora of rules and information on refinement.

Finally finishing schools are best for women who will be or are already attending high-profile or high society events. Most of these events (eg. political, diplomatic, executive, aristocratic, and royal) require knowledge of intermediate or advanced levels of refinement to navigate with ease and grace.

If you are interested in attending a finishing school, Balissande Finishing School, may be the school for you. Please take a look at the courses and programs we offer. And send us an email if you have any questions.

No one is born with grace and sophistication. These two attributes must be learned, harnessed, and then treated with care, for they are pearls — rare and beautiful.