By Abby Sandel
Let’s say you love old-fashioned girl names with a tailored quality. You’re all about names that topped the charts a century ago, but feel fresh and modern today.
The only problem, of course, is that you might already know a few Violets and Graces. Or you worry that your Lillian will be lost in a crowd of girls with similar names.
What’s the solution? Look for the next wave of new old girl names, of course!
To make this list, I focused on names that previously charted in the US Top 100. So Winifred and Millicent and Sybil failed the test. Any name ending in an ‘a’ was ruled out, too. Good-bye to Lucinda, Luella, and Viola!
Plenty of possibilities remained. They’re feminine, but not too elaborate. Vintage describes them well, and yet parents aren’t using them in big numbers. None of the choices on this list appear in the current US Top 1000, either – at least not as of 2015, the most current data available from the US Social Security Administration.
If you’re crushed that your favorite old-fashioned girls’ name is on everybody else’s list, too, these names might be for you.
Constance – Back in the 1950s, Constance appeared in the US Top 100. It’s a virtue name with history galore. William the Conqueror had a daughter called Constance of Normandy; the name’s roots go back to ancient Rome. Constance makes a possible substitute for Top 100 picks like Charlotte and Caroline, but just 142 girls were given the name in 2015.
Florence – Florence combines vintage style with place name appeal. If Savannah and Brooklyn rank, it’s easy to imagine this destination inspiring parents, too. Notable Florences of the past include pioneering nurse Nightingale, who was indeed named after the Tuscan capital. Florence feels capable, antique, and in the US, undiscovered. In the UK, Florence is already on the rise.
Harriet – A Top 100 favorite in the 1880s, Harriet probably reminded a generation of parents of the ill-tempered Mrs. Olesen of Little House on the Prairie fame. Reason enough to give the name a miss! But now nickname Hattie has made a comeback and Harriet Tubman is set to appear on the new $20 bill. Maybe it’s Harriet’s time! 179 girls were given the name in 2015.
Louise – Parents are falling for Eloise in big numbers. Louisa, too, is climbing in use. But Louise was given to only 240 girls last year, falling just outside the current Top 1000. A favorite through the 1940s, Louise requires no nickname, but comes with many appealing possibilities. Jazz Age icon Louise Brooks makes this name even more fashionable.
Maude – A Top 100 favorite through 1905, Maude is familiar to many as the eldest daughter of Gabrielle Blair, a.k.a. Design Mom. It’s a great stands-out, fits-in name, as vintage as Tess, but as tailored as Sloane. If names like Mae and June, Ruth and Gwen are on your list, the very rare Maude might deserve a spot, too. Just 16 girls were given the name in 2015. The spelling Maud is even rarer.
Maxine – We’re used to girls named Alexandra answering to Alex. That paves the way for Maxines called Max. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan chose Maxima for their daughter in 2015, but zippy, retro Maxine is another option. Big in the 1910s and 20s, it was given to 231 girls on the most recent list. That’s more than the 40 girls named Maxwell, but still rare.
Opal – A Top 100 favorite from the turn of the century into the 1910s, Opal fits with plenty of trends. It’s an O name, like chart-topping Olivia. It fits with simple, nickname-proof nature names like Iris and Ruby. The birthstone for the month of October, Opal was given to just 229 girls in 2015.
Pauline – Vin Diesel named his daughter Pauline in 2015, a tribute to his late Fast & Furious co-star, Paul Walker. Just 77 girls were given the name in 2015; but from the 1880s through the 1930s, it appeared in the US Top 100. One challenge to the name’s revival: most of our ends in –line names today rhyme with win or wine, while Pauline sounds like seen instead.
Sally – Mad Men gave us the fiercely independent Sally Beth Draper, but the name failed to catch on during the series’ run. With pop culture associations galore, from hit songs to Charlie Brown’s sister, everybody recognizes the name. It appeared in the US Top 100 from the 1930s through the 1950s. Today it fits with Molly, Millie, and Sadie – but was most recently given to just 221 girls.
Can you see any of these names making a comeback? Are there others you would add to this list?