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Frills-Free Girl Names

May 23, 2017 Abby Sandel
Frills-Free Girl Names

They’ve chosen two great names for their daughters, but now sister number three is on the way! Let’s help them find a not-too-wacky, not-too-common name that’s also frills-free and feminine.

Jennifer writes:

We’re not sure what to name our third daughter, due at the end of June. With less than 6 weeks to go I am starting to panic!

Her sisters are Margot Mary (love Margot – feels the perfect balance of not too wacky, yet not too common, either. It’s neither too frilly, nor too buttoned-up) and Audrey Jean.

For number three we are drawing a blank on girl names. I love Penelope but our surname sounds like Packer, and Penny Packer feels too much!

We’ve also considered:

Felicity – But it feels a teeny bit fussy.

Ottilie – I like, but hubby doesn’t and I agree with him that it feels a bit ‘try hard.’

Sophie – Except there seems to be a Sophie everywhere! And I don’t want our third daughter to have a name that is so much more popular than her sisters.

Jemima – Is it too posh? Or too Puddle Duck?

Emmeline – But is Emmeline Packer too close to Emmeline Pankhurst?

Dorothy – Except Dorothy Packer is very close to Dorothy Parker!

Her middle name will be Zane, a family name.

I don’t want to land them with names that look like we’ve tried really hard to create a set. I would like a proper, traditional, grown-up girl’s name.

Any ideas gratefully received.

The Name Sage replies:

Many of us want our children’s names to feel like they’re part of the same family. But where’s the line between family unity and sibsets that feel like they’re storybook characters? Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail only work for rabbits.

Margot and Audrey pair perfectly together. They’re similar in style, and both are nickname-proof, frills-free girls’ names. In this sense, Sophie seems like it completes the trio.

But then enter popularity, that great spoiler of so many seemingly perfect name choices.

(A quick note: Since Jennifer and her family are in the UK, we’re looking at British trends. That means Sophie has ranked in or near the Top Ten for a solid twenty years.)

While popular names can still be great choices, it sounds like Sophie fatigue has set in.

But is that the only reason Sophie doesn’t appeal? Looking at the other names on your list, they’re longer, and maybe a bit on the more elaborate side.

My favorite from your current options is Dorothy. While your daughter’s name would be very similar to legendary writer Dorothy Parker, I think it still works. It’s not a name that children will instantly recognize, and Parker is a pretty cool namesake. Dorothy leans longer, but retains that no-nonsense feminine style of Margot Mary and Audrey Jean.

Penelope Packer works nicely, too. Alliteration is highly personal. I’m a big fan, but plenty of parents prefer to avoid it. If Penny Packer sounds too cute to you, another option might be to nickname her Nell instead.

Or maybe we just haven’t found the right name yet. Would you consider:

BeatrixMaybe it’s because I mentioned Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail and you said Puddleduck, but Beatrix keeps coming to mind. It looks like Beatrice has been more popular in England; now Beatrix is catching up. Neither of them seems to be overexposed. Margot, Audrey, and Beatrix sound exactly like sisters.

Constance Felicity qualifies as a virtue name, but if you’d like something more tailored, what do you think of Constance? It brings to mind Emmeline from your list, too. Vintage Constance has gained in England, but remains far less common than the similar-sounding Florence.

Frances Frances nearly always comes up when we talk about strong, feminine names for a daughter. It’s in the early stages of a comeback across the English-speaking world, but with so many famous Franceses in the past – plus a handful of celebrity babies in recent years – this is an up-and-coming classic.

Mabel – I took Mabel off the first version of this list, since it starts with the same letter as Margot. But in many ways, Mabel feels like a perfect sister for Audrey and Margot. It’s short, complete, vintage, and very much on-trend without being too familiar.

Nora – If you were in the US, I’d probably dismiss Nora as too popular. But it’s gained more slowly in the UK. Nora shares the two-syllable, ends-in-a pattern of so many girls’ names. And yet there’s a lot of substance to this short name. For something slightly frillier, there’s always Flora. Both of the names – along with Cora – are on the rise in England.

Iris Iris sits just outside the current Top 100 in England. It’s brief, nickname-proof, and elegant. The only hitch? Iris might run together a bit too much with your chosen middle, Zane.

Serena – In thinking about substitutes for Jemima, I keep coming back to Serena. It’s a name with a long history of steady use, and yet it’s never been wildly popular. It shares the S of Sophie, but with the longer style that seems to speak to you for this daughter.

Sylvie – If there’s a logical alternative to chart-topping Sophie, it must be Sylvie. Sylvie is on the rise in the UK, no doubt, but it remains relatively underused. It combines the best of Sophie with the ‘v’ of favorites like Ava and Olivia. Margot, Audrey, and Sylvie sound exactly right together.

If I had to recommend just one name to you, it would be Sylvie. Margot Mary, Audrey Jean, and Sylvie Zane sound like sisters without being too matched.

But returning to your original list, I like Dorothy for your family, too. It has the strength and vintage style that you love, and matches her sisters’ names without being overly coordinated.

Readers, I know you’ll have some great ideas on this one. What would you name a sister for Margot Mary and Audrey Jean?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

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