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 WarsSatin 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 LiveSuede 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.


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 TammyTina, 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.

Other fabric choices that haven’t been recorded include Calico (used by Alice Cooper for his daughter), Gingham, Tweed, Vinyl, Velour, and Wool. Are there any I’m missing?

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