I’ve always loved girl names end in an ‘ll’ or ‘L’ sound, my favorites being [name]Mabel[/name], [name]Sable[/name], [name]Laurel[/name] and [name]Adele[/name]. I have always like the soft sound of [name]Ethel[/name] (I also became a fan of [name]Etheline[/name] after the [name]Royal[/name] tenenbaums).
[name]Even[/name] though I like it may be better for the middle name slot.
I do like older names myself but I think what makes them sound usable are nicknames (like [name]Addy[/name] for [name]Adele[/name]) and [name]Ethel[/name] doesn’t have any nicknames at all. It was also very popular, more obscure ‘old lady’ names can sound Jaunty while with more common ones everyone seems to know an older lady with that name they associate it with. (Why I think [name]Etheline[/name] might be more well received in that “I never heard that name before” way.)
So [name]Ethel[/name] definitely still has some frump associated with it but I think it actually ranks low on the scale compared to other names like [name]Gladys[/name] or [name]Muriel[/name]. I actually think it can make a comeback in ten years or so. Right the now hard L sound is really popular with the -Elles and -Belles. But when all those [name]Elle[/name]/[name]Ella[/name]/[name]Belle[/name]/[name]Bella[/name] names begin to die down people might start looking at names with a softer ‘yl’ sound.