Category: stylish names
It’s easy to confuse popularity with stylishness. Many baby names feel “popular” when they’re merely stylish: We’re hearing them a lot, they’re in step with the baby name fashions, and we worry that if we choose them, our little Matilda is going to be one of many.
And perhaps if you live in some edgy, baby-centric enclave – Park Slope, Brooklyn, say, or Bernal Heights in San Francisco – that will be true. But for the most part, the numbers tell a different story, with many of the most stylish names used by very few parents.
One note: Names can be popular and stylish, so many of those in the popular column also qualify as stylish.
Looking just at girls’ names today, here’s a statistics-based reality check on what’s stylish vs. what’s truly popular. (Numbers in parentheses represent how many babies were given that name in the most recent U.S. count.)
Savvy shoppers know that the best deals and sales are to be found after the holidays, when retailers who need to make room for new spring inventory drastically slash prices. This year, with my gift cards in hand, I have been browsing clothing websites in search of the best deals and steals.
What I found, however, in addition to the array of beautifully discounted clothing I had anticipated, was a plethora of stylish baby names. Retailers, perhaps in an effort to imbue their clothing with a certain personality or style, are frequently naming their garments, and some clothing manufacturers are surprisingly (and delightfully) very skilled at the name game.
One of my favorite websites to troll, Rugby Ralph Lauren, offered up such a dazzling bevy of holiday delicacies that I felt compelled to share them with all the other berries out there! The choices range from the lusciously feminissima (Calixta and Forsythia) to crusty surname (Talcott and Ackley) to epic medieval (Baldric and Rowena), and all of them were so appealing that it was hard to whittle down the complete list of stylish baby names I’d found. The ones I’ve compiled for the sake of this blog are my favorites; unusual, fresh, and imminently “wearable.” In any case, Rugby is brilliant for putting so much effort into these names; I can’t be the only one who, given the choice between a blouse called “Araminte” and one called “Maddysin,” would take the former!
One of our most popular blogs of the year was the one in which Elisabeth Wilborn of You Can’t Call It It transformed the Top 100 girls’ names — and the following week, the most popular boys’ names – into choices with the same feel but more distinction and style.
This is the kind of exercise that Linda and I have long offered in our books, with our If You Like X, You’ll Love…. feature, in which we substitute fresh ideas for overused favorites. You can see dozens of such lists here.
But what if the name you want to move beyond isn’t popular, really; isn’t exactly overused but just, to your thinking, too trendy? What if you want to take an already-stylish and distinctive name and just scooch it toward being….more distinctive?
That’s what we tried to do here. We bet you clever berries will have lots more ideas of trendy names and possible substitutes: We’d love to hear them! Here are some of ours:
Some stylish names share a first initial: Vowel names are particularly popular right now, for instance. Other times, it’s a rhythm or ending sound: Boys’ names with two syllables that end in N or R are big these days.
Still other fashionable names share an ethnic origin such as Irish or a gender identity like unisex or girly-girl.
But the names here, among the most popular AND the most stylish names of our day, have something much more illusive in common. You might even find yourself adding many of them to your shortlist without putting your finger on their mutual appeal.
The secret: An L in the middle.
That might seem like a little thing, but we posit that the L sound, particularly fashionable now too as a first initial, rings all kinds of positive bells in our subconscious, relating to such uplifting qualities as lovely and lilting and, well, even uplifting.
It’s no accident that the following L-in-the-middle names are stylish these days, particularly for girls. Some examples:
Alice (plus Alyssa and sisters)
Brooklyn (plus most names that end in lyn)
Celia (and Cecilia, Cecily etc)