Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Quaintrelles are often confused with female dandies or dandizettes, but the basic definition of a quaintrelle, according to Wikipedia, is, "a woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and cultivation of life's pleasures. They share the same philosophical underpinnings of dandies, developed within feminine nature and styles."

Source: Quaintrelle Style
The generally-accepted origin of the word quaintrelle is coint, a 12th century French term applied to persons of beautiful dress or refined speech, and then from quaint, a word many Goths already delight in applying to themselves, meaning whimsy, oddity, and eccentrism.

However, quaintrellism isn't simply about dress; according to the website Quaintrellism, a quaintrelle is more than a 'clothes horse, socialite, fashionista or party-goer': "Quaintrelles are active in something bigger than themselves, such as their artistic talent, focus upon charity, or exercise of wit."

Why am I writing about quaintrelles on a blog about Goth culture? Because, as with dandyism, many Goths are attracted to the philosophies and values held by those to whom such terms could be applied. Just as you can have a Goth who is a Lolita, one can be both a Goth and a quaintrelle or dandy. Quaintrellism certainly holds some appeal for female Goths who strive for elegance, charm, beauty and an impeccable manner; in fact, some may discover that they have been quaintrelles for years and simply not been aware of the term. A quaintrelle possesses social grace, eloquence and courtesy in abundance.

There are no universally-agreed-upon famous quaintrelles who can be held up as examples of this group, but a few women who are often cited as being quaintrelles or who demonstrated, very obviously, quaintrelle attributes, include Lady Blessington, Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Marlene Deitrich, Grace Kelly and Gloria Vanderbilt.

How does a quaintrelle dress? There is no singular style associated with the term quaintrelles; she could be a Goth, a vintage pin-up, or a high fashion devotee. However a quaintrelle is always appropriately attired for the occasion; to quote from Quaintrellism again, "they balance at least three factors: first, the nature of the event itself; second, the refinement of the crowd; and third, the level of attention to pull in. Quaintrelles know when to set the fashion, when to wear a look-at-me outfit, and at other times to take a subdued roll and present style in simplicity. [...] Quaintrelles are a testament to self-expression. A quaintrelle is well and appropriately well dressed and admired."

(Judging from the above description, within our own blogging community, the always perfectly-turned-out VictorianKitty of Sophistique Noir comes to mind as an example.)

Whether clad in jeans and a sweater or corsets and lace, a quaintrelle holds herself with elegance and poise, and pays attention to the small details such as hair, make-up and fingernails, whether these details are simple and refined or ornate. According to LiveJournal community My Quaintrelle, many quaintrelles "love to mix old world aesthetics into their modern lives," thus taking the 'quaint' in quaintrelle a step further as well as expressing a passion dear to the hearts of many Goths.

Webzine Quaintrelle Life declares, "Quaintrelle style [...] is unusual or fanciful, with an old-fashioned sense of elegance. It's not about costume, it's about our lives and who we are. We're dressing in finery not simply in clothes."

Quaintrelle websites and webzines include advice and tutorials for such delightful pastimes as decorating one's own teacup, silhouette art and daquerreotypes, collecting tea services and such rituals of lost etiquette as using visiting cards (secret fact about me: I collect books on etiquette). Other quaintrelle pastimes expressed on communities and forums include playing musical instruments, baking, reading, painting and learning languages.

If you, dear reader, are thinking, "Hmm... this sounds like me - am I a Gothic Quaintrelle?" I have a final word of advice for you from Quaintrellism: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."


Sheridan said...

Oh my <3 this is the me I'm becoming. Last months I'm so working around aesthetics & all those fancy things :D

Minakitty (Mary) said...

This was a great post. I had never heard or read the term quaintrelle before, but have always admired the style and grace of those who would easily fit that description. The women photographed for the Advanced Style blog come to mind.

AnJuli said...

Interesting. I wanted to be a quaintrelle after reading the definition then I saw the style blogs of the women identifying themselves as such and decided not to. Meh.

Miss Eva Morgan Reeve said...

''secret fact about me: I collect books on etiquette''

Oh my, me too, that and tea service ceremonies books.

I particularly liked Debrett's Etiquette for Girls.

Boots said...

Great Post Amy! Quite lovely, in a word ^^

VictorianKitty (Sophistique Noir) said...

This is a lovely article, and I take that comparison as a very nice compliment!! :) You just made my week.

I've always admired some of the ladies you mentioned, especially Grace Kelly.

Snowhyte said...

This is a great post, though I hadn't thought about it before this concept is one that I've actually been trying to achieve parts of within my own life. This was quite thought provoking for me, thank you! :)

InfiltratorN7 said...

This is a fascinating article Amy. I'd never heard of the term quaintrelles before though I'm familiar with the whole gentlemen of pleasure thing and dandies. I'm going to start exploring those sites and ezines you mentioned.

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