Stylish Names: What’s Their Secret?

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:

There are some examples for boys too:

Along with a handful of unisex examples:

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16 Responses to “Stylish Names: What’s Their Secret?”

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Nook of Names Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 5:42 am

The problem with stylish now is that it almost inevitably becomes dated later! Always worth spotting these trends, though — and then running in the opposite direction!

Marginamia Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 8:55 am

I do love Alice and Polly, but I fear they are going to be really quite common. I wonder, though, if such classic names can get dated…. again? Is it impossible for them to become decade staples like Amy and Jennifer, due to their histories? Still, I expect them to completely blow up like Sophia and Olivia, which do now seem very based in a more modern decade, in spite of their histories. I would opt for a name with the same likeness, but which is a bit more out of the fray.

klcalder2 Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 8:58 am

This is very interesting! I’m not convinced that this is going to make the name become dated any faster like so many other trends do, but that’s only because it does seem that people don’t notice it. A lot of names i like have an ‘l’ in them and i certainly hadn’t thought of that, but i wouldn’t consider all of them trendy to a fault. It seems that there are a good amount of these names that you might even consider classics (Alexander, William, Elizabeth). I absolutely think the ‘l’ sound is just a lovely,soft sound that adds to a name’s appeal.

Lola Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 9:29 am

klcalder’s pegged it, I think. Cecilia/Cecily’s one I’d use to honor ( and because I think they’re quite classic as well) rather than because it’s stylish. But if it strikes others as stylish, so be it. 😀

pam Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 11:40 am

No, I don’t think all these names are going to become super-popular, but if a name has that L in the middle, it has more style potential (for better and worse) than a name that doesn’t. It’s just a sound with widespread appeal right now, easy to peg with trendy names starting with L like Lila and Lola and Lucas but harder to divine when it’s in the middle.

Nook of Names Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I confess my original comment was a tad tongue in cheek :).

It is an undeniable fact, however, that what is considered a ‘stylish name’ ebbs and flows. They always come — and go — in waves. If being stylish is high on a person’s wish list when naming a child, the really stylish thing to do is to catch that wave at the start, not in mid flow. Like surfing.

After all, the really stylish thing to be is to bear a name that everyone is in love with when you are 25, not 1! If not, by the time you’re 25, everyone on the baby name forums will be bewailing how tired it is, just like we all do now over names like Amy and Jennifer…

kyemsma Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I was excited to see Emily made the list! (My daughter’s name.)

little_cupcake Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

That is son’s name has an L in the middle (Felix). And the names on the shortlist for our next baby all contain L in the middle, I just never noticed! Claudia and Julius are first on the list right now. My husband’s current favourite girls’ name is Octavia, and I have been trying to figure out why I don’t love it all that much…could this be why?!

anne Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Our daughter’s name is Julia. I have always loved names that contain an L, but wasn’t sure why.
Thanks for a lovely blog.

corsue Says:

August 16th, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I definitley agree that the letter l is all over the place right now and is not going anywhere. I actually crossed any names that start with L off of my list because there are way too many of them in my family. Of my current top ten (constantly changing) I only have 1 name with an l in it. Side note: I still like Amy and would love to see it come back.

bostonian girl Says:

August 17th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Wow…if names that start with L and have an L in the middle are big right now, then why isn’t Leslie on the list? It fits both criteria! I guess it isn’t “stylish” enough or something.

I agree one hundred percent with Nook of Names — spot the trends so that you can run screaming for the hills. My name tastes are quite stuck in the 60s, 70s and 80s, as those names simply happen to appeal to me the most. I agree, corsue, Amy is a pretty name and it deserves to be used, rather than tossed aside as “outdated”. True of many other names as well.

spotlightstarlit Says:

August 19th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

It’s SO true!

bluedahlia Says:

September 4th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

My problem with this list is true style is something always quite outside the mainstream, and yes it alters constantly. I don’t really think L is some magical secret. C’mon Emily? stylish not in any of my circles, ditto to Olivia… and my God Brooklyn stylish? more like run for the hills..

Stylish Baby Names: A catalog of cool choices – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

[…] 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, […]

HerMajesty Says:

November 21st, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I have to admit, l names are likeable. My favourite name, Drucilla, is an example.

BerryBry Says:

November 28th, 2012 at 1:40 pm


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