Cool Baby Names: Material girls and boys
By Emily Cardoza
Often when parents are picking names for their children, they want something that will evoke a feeling– a name that’s strong or soft or cozy. With the increasing individuality of today’s cool baby names, why not get inspired at the fabric store?
If you’re skeptical, consider this – Paisley has been in the top 100 for the last four years. Though it also links to Brad Paisley and the ever-popular “ley” ending, the fact that Paisley inspires images of beautiful patterns is certainly a plus.
Fun and feminine, this addition to the “Lee” trend stands well on its own. It brings quite a few different ideas to mind – from its 70’s style to its Scottish origins, Paisley is a pretty follow-up to Lindsey or Ashley.
Another fabric named for a town, denim is now a core component of American fashion. The name Denim fits in with Dylan or Liam in sound, and could also be an honorific for a familial Dennis. English names Denham and Denholm are other similar possibilities.
Though Laci and its variants are tied to the 1980’s, short and sharp Lace is still a contender. While the fabric is associated with feminine clothing, it’s certainly not gender-specific – Lace would work well for a little boy too.
Smooth and sensuous, Satin might run into a few pronunciation errors. French form Satine would be more appealing; the name was featured in both Moulin Rouge and Star Wars. Satin has been used sporadically as a name since the 1970’s.
A surname choice dating as far back as Puritan times, Cotton could work well among the many Coltons and Caydens of today. Thirty-one baby Cottons were born in 2015 – it appears that this “soft” name may have some staying power. Cotton Mather was an influential New England Puritan minister (Cotton was his mother’s maiden name.).
Eight baby girls were given the name Silk in 1993. It’s definitely luxurious, but lacks substance as a name. Dutch and German speakers have the option of Silke, a form of Cecilia, and the Hindi name Reshma means “silk.”
If Tanner isn’t edgy enough and Luther is too old-fashioned, why not give Leather a try? Though it’s definitely outside the box, it’s got a rock’n’roll sound that’s hard to beat. The name was first recorded for five girls in 1900.
Swanky and elegant, Velvet is a stylish choice that’s been used fairly regularly in the United States. It could be an alternative to Violet or Vivian, and it’s a bit more sophisticated than similar-sounding Velma. The classic Elizabeth Taylor film National Velvet is another great connection.
Though it’s been used for boys since a character with the name debuted on One Life to Live, Suede is a lot like Sloane or Sawyer in its gender-neutrality. It’s subdued and accessible, with a kind of quirkiness that’s more endearing than eyebrow-raising.
A Hunger Games name with some history, Cashmere is another luxe choice with substance. An equal number of boys and girls have been given the name in recent years – the Cash prefix especially lends this name to modern fashions.
In 2013, five baby girls were named Linen. Is this a link to musical Lennon, modern Lauren, or worldly London? Time will tell whether this material choice catches on, but its crisp, straightforward sound is definitely appealing.
This is another name that’s only been recorded once – Taffeta appeared when Tammy, Tina, and Teresa were popular. While it’s very cute, it may be a bit frilly for modern namers. The nickname Taffy is also syrupy sweet.
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on February 8th, 2017 at 4:35 am
I’m not gonna lie, I think a majority of these ‘names’ are absolutely terrible. Don’t get me wrong, I love obscure names and am 100% supportive of more people breaking away from the old Madison, Sophia, James and Mason formula in sake of new and exotic choices. However, I don’t believe that garnering such direct inspiration from everyday materials is the way to go. Paisley (which I’ve always disliked due to its nasal qualities) is a rare exception because it fits right in with old-school Lindsay, Ainsley and Ashley, and Taffeta may potentially be another exception, as it’s not the most standard of materials and, due to its vowel ending, seems to blend in fairly well with most other more well-established girl names. But other than that, I just don’t see the appeal in materials.
Names have been been an indication of status and social class for a very long time, and putting it bluntly, ‘names’ along the lines of Satin and Silk do not leave the best impression in that regard. And the reality is that there’s nothing sophisticated about Suede, there’s no charm in Cotton, and there’s nothing well-to-do about Denim or Leather. Not only that but I personally believe that if you name your kids after something that you presume to be fancy or expensive, then all you end up doing is coming across as cheap.
Obviously that’s just my personal opinion and no one really has to pay any mind to it. However, I will say that I can think of dozens of legitimately rare names off the top of my head that would make better monikers for children. For example, Lionella, Lillis and Vespera would sit far better on little ones than Lace, Linnen and Velvet.
on February 8th, 2017 at 9:03 am
I agree with AldabellaxWulfe above. I was a bit disappointed with these options. I did a quick google search to find fabric pattern design names and came up with these lovely alternates in about five minutes: Anthemion, Argyle, Bengal, Brick, Chevron, Coral, Damask, Dart, Gingham, Glen, Herati, Lane, Madder, Millefleur, Moire, Ogee, Roman, Shepherd, Sprig, and Tattersall. Some are already recognized as names, others sound familiar enough to cross that divide to me.
on February 8th, 2017 at 11:51 am
…who was named Satin in Star Wars???
on February 9th, 2017 at 9:44 am
A little surprised the very usable Georgette didn’t make the list!
Other fabric names I could see on little ones:
Jean (instead of Denim)
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