Fashion illustration
Fashion illustration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fashion changes.

How’s that for obvious?

Still, we tend to blithely overlook this fact in the baby naming ‘verse.  Our talk is about “classics” and “timeless” names “rich with meaning.”  I use those phrases over and over again, and yet sometimes I hesitate.

Classics shift over the generations, and there’s no such thing as a normal name.  We can also be very dismissive of trends and names borrowed from pop culture, forgetting that Charlotte is subject to changes in taste, too.

So for this week’s Fetching Post, I reviewed the Top 25 names by decade.  A surprising number seem aggressively unattractive for a child today, but they were once the very heights of popularity, the names every mother was pondering for her baby-on-the-way.

They may not be the names that you’re considering for your child today, but they are proof that everything changes.

The following names ranked in the Top 25 in the decade or decades listed next to their name.  This list is not exhaustive – if you would like to source your own Formerly Stylish names, check out the lists here.


Austin -1990s

Dennis – 1940s, 1950s

Ernest – 1880s, 1890s

Eugene – 1920s, 1930s

Gary -1940s, 1950s

Gerald – 1930s

Harold – 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s

Jerry – 1940s

Justin – 1980s

Larry – 1950s

Ralph -1910s, 1920s

Roy – 1880s, 1890s, 1900s

Tyler – 1990s, 2000s

Willie – 1890s, 1900s



Amber – 1980s, 1990s

Bertha – 1880s, 1890s, 1900s

Beverly – 1930s

Brenda – 1950s, 1960s

Brittany – 1980s, 1900s

Crystal – 1980s

Doris – 1920s, 1930s

Edna – 1890s, 1900s, 1910s

Ethel – 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s

Gertrude – 1890s

Gladys – 1900s, 1910s

Janet – 1940s, 1950s

Janice – 1940s, 1950s

Kayla – 1990s, 2000s

Lori – 1960s

Mildred – 1900s, 1910s, 1920s

Shirley – 1920s, 1930s, 1940s

Tammy – 1960s, 1970s

Taylor – 1990s, 2000s

Tiffany – 1980s

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Are there any dated names from generations past that you love?  Are you surprised to see that some of these names were once so popular?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I have been crushing on Eugene lately. I also adore Ethel. Janet has been growing on me. I was almost a Tiffany — so glad my parents went with Sabrina instead!

  2. I’ve long had soft spots for Gertrude, Beverly, Mildred, Ethel, Harold, Gerald, and Eugene. I quite like Janet, too. Crystal is a name I often think suffered greatly due to a sudden surge of popularity, and multiple spinoffs.

    I’ve been told that Tabitha, Marjorie, Sabrina, Dorothy, Sylvia, and Hilda are all dated (obviously not all to the same time periods), but I can’t help but like them. I’ll always love Jessica for the beautiful Allman Brothers song, too.

    1. Oh, and I forgot Loretta, Clarice, Calvin, Rudolph, Dean, Gilbert, Timothy, Zachary, Howard, Leonard, Walter, and Peter. All names I like that have been labeled dated by others.

  3. I’ve actually been thinking lately that Janet is kind of a cute name.

    This is a fun list. It will be interesting to see which names from the current top 25 will feel so out-of-date with time.

    1. Janet is the one on the list that I’ve never considered before, but I can see it being a fun unexpected choice on a little girl. I like the -et ending.

      1. I do like Janet – something about it *is* fun, even though it would feel like a very dated name to hear on a newborn today.

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Gertrude! I kind of like Ernest, Eugene, Gerald, and Ralph. Gladys and Mildred aren’t bad either.

    1. Same here. I have always had a soft spot for Gertrude. I also like Ralph, pronounced both the American or British way.

  5. I don’t say Ralph and Rafe with the same pronunciation at all?

    I’m rather fond of Kayla/Keila but it’s an old fashioned Yiddish name to me. And the related name Kelilah would always get said to rhyme with Delilah, which would frost me.

    I LOVE Tammy, but only as a nickname for Tamar/Tamara or the more British Tamsin/Thomasin. Yes, I am the remaining sole one (1) living person to like Thomasin. In general I do not like nickname-names as freestanding names, no matter how adorable I find the nickname. So I actually find Tammy, Susie, Betty, etc. mid-century nicknames rather or extremely likable, but would still have daughters named Tamara, Susannah, Elizabeth, etc.

    But I like Tammy. It’s got a gentle homespun feel to it that some of the other ’50s-’70s nickname-names, Jody/Mindy/Kerry don’t have.

      1. I find “Rafe” very stylish. However the American(?) pron. “RALF”, also a synonym for vomiting is a no go.

        I really like Dennis. And I think Lori, Beverly “Bev” and Gerald are wearable if not stylish.

      2. Not always; I am English and upon seeing that name written down I would pronounce it as ‘Ralf’. I didn’t even know Ralph Fiennes pronounced his name as Rafe until I saw a Harry Potter interview with him, and I must have been in my late teens by then.

  6. I have to admit I’m not a fan of any of these except for Kayla and Ralph spelt Rafe. But good post! 🙂