Finding names that strike the right balance between feminine and tailored can be harder than it seems - names in the former category tend to be long and luxurious, while names in the latter tend to be concise and no-nonsense. Popular names like Audrey and Lauren have managed to toe the line, but their widespread use can be off-putting.
Here’s a list of fifteen names that fit this elegant style without feeling overly trendy: both refreshing and refined, these names are bound to make an impression and stand the test of time.
Image via Pexels
Maren. Chic Maren is a worthy successor to previously popular Karen, but with a more sophisticated sound. It developed as a variant of both classic Mary and ancient Marinus, making it especially ideal as an honorific. Maren’s notable namesakes span from Germany to Norway to the US, lending it some cross-cultural appeal.
Drew. This sweet diminutive of Andrew was made available to girls via actress Drew Barrymore, but still ranks outside the female top 1000. Polished yet sassy, Drew has a substantial history in literature and television - from Nancy Drew to Rugrats - and has a sound that’s fresh and cool.
Tierney. This Irish surname fits in with popular Riley and Kennedy, but has a more feminine and fashionable vibe. Well-known Tierney’s are an especially creative bunch, from Old Hollywood actress Gene Tierney to jazz singer Tierney Sutton. While Tierney has been used regularly in the US since 1957, it’s never made the top 1000.
Bristol. This tailored choice was brought into the top 1000 via Bristol Palin, daughter of politician Sarah and now a prominent reality television figure. The name is brisk and bright, genial and geographic, with a bit of a Commonwealth tone. Bristol now sits at the sweet spot of the popularity charts, familiar yet far from common.
Hollis. Attractive and friendly, Hollis is a unisex pick that’s increasingly going to the girls. Whether the long form version or nickname Holly is used day to day, this name is a smart and appealing choice that works for all kinds of personalities.
Sutton. A traditional English surname meaning “southern town,” Sutton is both dignified and cute as a button. Broadway and television star Sutton Foster has brought the name increased notoriety, but it still sounds crisp and unusual.
Darby. Though this lovely name was relatively well-known in the late 1990’s, it’s never become particularly popular. Could its happy Irish sound and accessible vibe bring it back into play? Darby is also the name of a few cities in the United States, making it a novel contender in the current place-name trend.
Arden. This graceful name has extensive literary roots, used in both Shakespeare’s and Tennyson’s work. Arden sounds both passionate and pleasant, a feminine name that’s not frilly or faddish. Famous women with the surname Arden include actress Eve and businesswoman Elizabeth, but Arden as a first name is sure to grow over time thanks to its wonderful balance.
Neve. Derived from the Irish Niamh and pronounced “Nehv” or “Neev,” charming Neve originally came to prominence in the US via actress Campbell. Today, as more parents explore their genealogical roots, Neve works well as a heritage choice and as an amicable modern pick.
Romilly. If you’re looking for an alternative to Riley or Emily, bold Romilly may be right up your alley. It’s still rather uncommon in American playgrounds, but has a rich historical background as a variation of ancient Romulus and as the name of an English admiral.
Greer. Engaging and kind, Greer as a Scottish surname with quite a few prominent wearers, from actress Greer Garson to writer Germaine Greer. It’s originally a diminutive of Gregory, making it a cool yet unexpected honorific for a family member. While the Grier spelling is also in play, pretty Greer is an underused choice today.
Tamsin. Exceptional even in its native country, English Tamsin fits in well with modern name trends - two-syllables, “in”-sound ending - while maintaining a unique personality. It’s a feminine variant of Thomas, and feels like a winsome successor to Tammy or Teagan.
Adair. In the age of Ad-names - Addison, Adeline, Adriana - Adair is a refreshing alternative, both accessible and extraordinary. It’s been a beloved pop culture pick, appearing in television and literature, but it’s notoriety hasn’t yet translated to use. Might cultured Adair one day follow Claire or Avery into the top 100?
Ellery. A unique route to the nickname Ellie, Ellery is a delightful pick associated with mystery writer and character Ellery Queen (the pseudonym of two co-authors). Today, the name sounds more feminine - like Everly or Ellen - with a pleasantly euphonic melody.
Some baby names have a special spark. They hit a style bullseye and make us wish, "If only there were more names like that!"
Our "Alternatives" series looks at these objects of desire, the baby names that send waves of parents to the Internet searching for more of the same. In reviewing the more-like-that names I noticed two with a lot in common, Miles and Brooks. They're both fashionable boys' names with some obvious similarities, but also key differences that give each a unique impact.
First, the common ground. Miles and Brooks are:
1. One-syllable names ending in S;
2. Formal, sophisticated names with no obvious nicknames;
3. Not -S extensions of classic male names (a la Williams, Adams);
4. Familiar with a traditional but uncommon feeling, thanks to long histories of occasional use with a few prominent examples;
5. Enjoying a new level of popularity today.
That's a lot for any pair of names to have in common. I'm sure that many parents who like one of the names are also drawn to the other. Yet no two names are alike, and even these two diverge in surprisingly significant ways:
1. Surname style. While Miles exists as a surname it is an age-old given name, a form of Milo. Brooks is a transferred surname, and that origin is front-and-center in its style.
2. Miles Davis vs. Brooks Brothers, aka jazzy vs preppy. Legendary clothier Brooks Brothers roots the name Brooks firmly in the world of blue blazers and blue blood. Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis pulls Miles in a more artistic direction.
3. All-American vs. more global. Brooks has mostly been used in the U.S. and Canada. Even its blue-blood image is of the American variety; note that Brooks Brothers bills itself as "the original authority on American style." The name Miles has a more global style, and is as much English as American.
4. Smooth vs. crisp. Miles is all smooth, worldly elegance. Brooks is crisp, crackling and precise.
Together Miles and Brooks lay out a spectrum of style, all within the narrow realm of classic, formal one-syllable male names ending in s. In hunting for names with similar appeal, I've divided the prospects into three groups: the smooth, artistic international given names; the crisp, preppy American surnames; and the cross-appeal names that could lure in parents coming from either direction.
SMOOTH, ARTISTIC, INTERNATIONAL GIVEN NAMES
CRISP, PREPPY, AMERICAN SURNAME
How many girls do you know named Raelynn? How about Juliana? In America as a whole the two baby names are equally common, but in your state one is probably much more popular than the other. They represent two very different local styles.
I set out to pinpoint such local styles by identifying the baby names that each state chooses at a rate far above the national average. When you look through the lists below I think you'll see distinctive regional trends emerge. Look for natural grandeur in Alaskan names like Aurora and Denali; throwback sweetness in Minnesotan names like Elsie and Greta; and even a firearms slant in Oklahoman names like Kimber and Remington.
Some of the names may surprise you, while others will feel like home. All of them are part of today's American baby name style. Be sure to check out the defining boys' names of your state too, for full local flavor.
Images: Bessie/Pixabay, Nadezhda1906/Shutterstock, mikebaird/flickr
|THE DEFINING GIRLS' NAMES OF EVERY U.S. STATE|
Read More: The Defining Boys' Names of Every State