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’m not sure why but recently I’ve been finding the name, Eugene, absolutely adorable. It’s strange because there was a time when I would have thought it was unusable and totally outdated.

  2. I like Ernest quite a bit, and Ralph (if pronounced Rafe- but wouldn’t use it) – and basically none of those girls names. Yup, definitely a product of my time.

  3. I know two Austin’s both who are now 8 and it is a reasonably uncommon name in Australia. Both of these families obviously like uncommon names as one of them has a sister Madison (ok that one is common) and Stockton white the other has two brothers Miles and Kael. My pop is a Harold and I could have been a Taylor (or Tayla not sure of the spelling) but I am glad I am not as my last name is the most common in the English speaking world. Also Amber and Brittany in Australia are still being used and have taken on Modern Classic Status.

  4. I have a soft spot for Gertrude, but in wanting to name our newborn for my grandma Gertrude we ended up compromising for naming her Trudy. I was really nervous about pulling the trigger on a nickname name, but after Jennifer Wattenberg put up a post about how great and overlooked Trudy is as a name, I got the courage to go for it. It isn’t everyday you find a name that’s as cute on a little baby as it is on a grown woman or an 80 year old lady.

  5. I really really love the name Gladys. I mean, is it really that different than Alice? I’d really love to use it IRL. I think it’s beautiful. Glady is super cute too – how happy is that!

  6. Love Beverly. Love Harold and Justin. Am intrigued by Roy (We had Roland on our boys’ long list, though I would have preferred Orlando had it not been for Bloom).

  7. from the boy list I wouldn’t mind seeing Harold and Ernest come back. I also still like Tyler and Justin. From the girl list, quite a few are names I like. Gertrude, Gladys, Janet, Doris. Doris and Gladys are names I’ve recently begun to like and Janet a little longer (since reading in Jane Eyre this was Rochester’s pet name for Jane). But I really like dated names I guess because I also like Brittany, Edna, Ethel, Mildred, Shirley, Tiffany. Someone mentioned Mindy in a post, which I think is adorable. And other nicknamish names like Millie or Minnie. Also, I don’t think it’s quite the same to say Ralph could come back if you really mean the English ‘rafe’ prn. It’s very different to say ‘rafe’ versus ‘ralph’ with the short a and f sound. Still, I could see it. Think Ralphie in A Christmas Story, cutest kid ever.

  8. The only boys name from the list I really like is Harold. I like Beverly and Mildred from the girls list. I would actually use Mildred, but my husband hates it.

  9. I love Bertha, but only because that’s my dog’s name:-) She came with the name when we adopted her; we thought about changing it because we hated it at first but it suited her so well that it grew on us.

  10. Roy and Franklin made our short list and for family reasons we had Ernest on our middle name list. My husband’s favorite “baby name book” was the Baseball Hall of Fame Roster so a lot of names from other eras made our longer list… Carl, Roger, Calvin, Harmon, George, Edwin.