Tailored names for girls are obviously feminine, but free of frills. They’re sophisticated, but still approachable. They strike the perfect balance, the happy medium between unisex surname names like Harper and extravagant, romantic ones like Arabella.
So what are the tailored names for girls? First, let’s talk about what they’re not:
- They’re not surname names. That rules out Campbell, Collins, and Sutton. Surname names are almost always tailored – that’s a big part of their appeal – but it’s another category.
- Place names can be tailored, too, but again, that’s another category! So Avalon and Holland are out.
- I’m also excluding word names, so adios Sonnet and Scout. Yes, even Scout, which I almost put on this list because To Kill a Mockingbird names have been such an influencer in recent years. They’re another category – or make that categories, as in Nature Names, Bird Names, Water Names, and so on and so on.
Despite that long list of nots, there’s still a wide range of tailored names for girls. There are traditional tailoreds, like Charlotte and Esther and Eleanor. But there are modern tailoreds, too, the Brookes and Paiges and maybe even Morgans.
So let’s see if we can find a dozen tailored names for girls that fit the category well, but are also nicely rare.
The following twelve – wait, make that fourteen! – names rank outside of the current US Top 500. I’ve avoided names where one spelling is more popular – so Elinor is ruled out because Eleanor is pretty common.
No wonder there are only twelve tailored names for girls on this list! Read on for my top picks.
Beatrix – Beatrix is quirky and cool. It probably started out as Viatrix – traveller – but the Latin beatus – blessed influenced the name early days. Beatrix Potter makes it literary and sweet. Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill makes it edgy and tough. It’s been worn by a famous saint, a long-reigning queen, and plenty of other notables. Beatrice is nearly as frills-free, but I think the x-ending version fits best with the tailored names for girls list. The -x ending spelling was given to 175 girls in 2014 – just outside of the US Top 1000 – while the -ce ending spelling was more popular, ranking #601.
Colette – Colette is originally a French diminutive form of Nicole, but it feels like a stand-alone name today. It has literary ties thanks to French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and was also worn by a fifteenth century saint. Plenty of -et and -ette ending possibilities could make the list of tailored names for girls. Colette is rising quickly, but it still ranked #522 – outside of the Top 500! (That’s the writer, pictured to the right.)
Constance – Constance’s meaning is clear, but it’s not quite a word name like the equally virtuous Mercy or Faith. It was big in the 1950s when most Constances were Connie. Today, it works better in full, an alternative to other classics like Charlotte or Caroline.
Edith – I was certain that Edith was in the US Top 500, but no! This is a last minute addition to the list, which turns it up to thirteen! Edith ranked #627 in 2014. Edith is an Old English name worn by royals and a tenth century saint. It feels a little heavier than many names in favor today, like the pretty Amelia and Olivia, but nickname Edie gives it a retro cool vibe, too.
Harriet – Is Harriet a little on the frilly side? Maybe. I think it appeals to parents who love names like Esther and Edith, but has a little bit of Mariel’s showier style, too. Still, I’m leaving it on the list because there’s something about Harriet that says tailored names for girls to me.
Ingrid – Another last minute addition to this list is the Scandinavian Ingrid. It’s instantly recognizable as feminine, and even a little glamorous, thanks to Golden Age Hollywood actress Ingrid Bergman. But Ingrid has a spare, no-nonsense sensibility about it. The name refers to a German god, Ing, combined with the Old Norse word meaning beautiful.
Justine – Justine is the first name on the list that is clearly a feminine form of an established masculine name. (Colette and Harriet are feminine forms of Nicole and Henry, of course, but Justine is obviously the feminine form of Justin – it’s just one letter away.) While the masculine, saintly Justin was once very popular, Justine never got quite that high. Today, it’s not even ranked in the girls’ Top 1000.
Louise – The Louis family is huge, and while it’s been popular throughout history, it’s relatively underused today. Consider this: lovely and literary Louisa stands at #973, and only recently returned to the rankings after more than four decades’ absence! While Louisa is slightly frilly, Louise makes the list of tailored names for girls. Thanks to Louise Brooks, it’s also got a certain black and white glam – after all, she’s the iconic 1920s flapper. And while Louise seems likely to follow Louisa back into the rankings, for now, it remains quite rare.
Maren – Beatrix and Louise feel like traditional names. Maren? Not so much. Maren is Scandinavian – a cousin to Karen, with deep roots in Denmark and Sweden. There’s more than one possible origin for the name, but it could be yet another spin on the evergreen Mary. I think it works beautifully for parents torn between Amelia and Sloane.
Neve – I tend to think of Neve as the Anglicization of the Irish Niamh, but there are other possible origins. (Actress Neve Campbell isn’t Irish; her unusual given name comes from her Dutch-born mother’s maiden name.) It’s a sharp name, far less common than Eve or even Maeve – both of which are just inside the current Top 500. Neve sounds like the first syllable of Nevada, and was given to around 70 girls last year. That makes it more popular than the Niamh spelling – at least in the US.
Simone – Simone is the feminine form of Simon, but while Simon feels scholarly and reserved, Simone feels elegant and creative, thanks to legendary singer Nina Simone. It’s certainly among the more tailored names for girls, and it’s also rather rare. In 2014, Simone had fallen to #728. With the arrival of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s Luna Simone, and the debut of the new biopic about the singer’s life, it’s possible that will change.
Sybil – Downton Abbey boosted Cora, and it’s done wonders for Edith and Marigold, too. But so far the name shared by two members of the Crawley family – the youngest daughter and the firstborn granddaughter – has yet to catch on. Or maybe that’s not quite right. In 2012, a mere sixteen girls were given the name. By 2014, there were 86 newborn Sybils in the US. Still, this tailored name for girls remains nicely rare, and strikes an interesting note between the vintage and the modern.
Tamar – If Harper and Rowan and Esther are big tailored names for girls, how can Tamar be so neglected? An Old Testament name meaning palm tree, Tamar is big in Israel, and sounds like many an on-trend name. A similar possibility is Tamsin, originally a feminine form of Thomas. Could it be that we’re turned off by possible nickname Tammy that we’re bypassing two great Tam- names? Tamar was given to under 100 girls in 2014, and Tamsin, a mere 20.
Wallis – Okay, maybe Wallis doesn’t count. Strictly speaking, Wallis Warfield Simpson’s name is a family surname – she was born Bessie Wallis Warfield. But she was famous – infamous – as the Woman He Loved, the American commoner for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England. But that scandal is in the past, and now Wallis almost feels like the feminine form of Wallace – though both are spellings of the same Scottish surname. I’ve heard it on a few girls over the years, including one of the daughters of actor Anthony Edwards. (Edwards is also the father of Esme and Poppy, and son Bailey, with wife Jeanine Lobell, the found of Stila Cosmetics.) It’s uses like this that make me think Wallis fits with tailored names for girls – though perhaps not perfectly.
What are your favorite tailored names for girls? Which names are missing from this list?
Astrid seems like it belongs in this category.
Beatrix has recently become very high on my list – I love the subtle Kill Bill reference. Rose Beatrix would be my top name if I were to have a baby girl.
Maren and Tamar were both on our short list!! This fetus is a little dude though, so we’re struggling to come up with similar options. Any chance of a list of similarly tailored but rare names for boys?
Hi Shoshana – Sure! The calendar is pretty full, though – when are you due? – Abby
I LOVE Simone! It’s on my list! I always joke with my husband and tell him I’m not sure we’re cool enough to have a kid names SImone. Haha
Alison is the one I think of as “tailored,” although I’m not sure I like that term. Don’t have a good substitute for it, though, so I suppose it works. I know it’s definitely a mom name, but I love it, and I love Allie as a nickname. My husband nixed it, though.
Alison! One of my longtime favorites, a name I wanted for myself, and still love on a girl. Agree it feels slightly dated today, but not in an unwearable way.
I don’t know that I’d call them “tailored.” They’re names that end in consonants or have a silent e, which makes them stand out. Harriet is also anything but frilly. I think Harriet the Spy, Harriet Vane from the Lord Peter mysteries, Harriet Tubman. It is an aggressive and belligerent, independent, intelligent sort of name. I like Constance and Edith.
I love Simone! I also like Maren a lot, and Maeve could fit on this list–but maybe it’s too popular right now. There a few names that honestly don’t feel like tailored names to me. Colette: the -ette ending is pure frill. Harriet and Beatrix seem too long to be tailored. I wouldn’t classify Eleanor as tailored either, for the same reason…
It is interesting to see how others define tailored names. My personal definition is names that are one or two syllables and end in a consonant sound. They are not too extravagant but not nickname in the slightest way. All the names on your list fit this criteria apart from Tamar but it could be debated whether it ends in a consonant or vowel sound depending on accent.
My favourite tailored names are probably the ones on this list http://platoadmetuselectrademeter.blogspot.co.uk/p/tailored-antique.html like Mabel, Olive, Frances and Fern. I also like Seren which is pretty, pronounceable and one of those names that sounds unusual even though it is only just out of the top 100 in the UK.
It would be interesting to see people’s opinions on tailored names for boys because not as many boys’ names end in –a.
Oh, Seren completely fits with the tailored and rare vibe! It’s much less common in the US.
I like your definition. I debated whether Harriet was too fancy for the list, but I think others would call it tailored … and it does end in a consonant.
But yes, I think I write these kinds of lists to check my assumptions about what’s tailored or polished or unusual or what-have-you. Endlessly interesting …
And tailored names for boys *would* be interesting, but much harder to pin down. In many ways, I think boys’ names have softened over the past 30 years or so. But that’s all led to rise of the aggressive names on the edge – the Slades and company. Hmmm …
Lisa T. says
Beatrix is my favourite from this list. This would be a frontrunner for me if I had a girl. I would also suggest Alice for this list, very popular in many countries but not so much in the US.
This is my favorite kind of girl’s name! My favorites from this list are Beatrix, Edith, and Harriet. I also like, but wouldn’t use, Colette, Justine, Simone, and Wallis. Of course, I’d add my daughter’s name, Astrid. 🙂
It’s interesting to me that the vast majority of these names start with consonants. Vowel sounds dominate feminine names so these consonant names really do sound fresher and more tailored to me.
The only one that felt like a mismatch to me was Colette. The -ette strikes me as frilly the way -elle and -ella names do.
My daughter is named Frances and we chose her name because we like girls names that give a grown up option and good nicknames and have a long pattern of use. Frances isn’t quite as tailored as Simone or Ingrid but I do still love it.
I think this is sort of the range we’re working with for the baby we’re expecting in the fall. Ingrid is high on my list, Simone is another favorite. I think Naomi fits with this group, but I was surprised to see it at #80 on the most recent SSA list! Maybe Margot belongs too?
I LOVE Justine and Tamsin/Tamar. I’m not sure how one pronounces Tamar though, I say TAY-mar but I’ve heard it pronounced tah-MAR too.
My favorite Tam- name is Tamela, which is I guess just a spin on Tamara/Pamela, but my aunt is a Tamela and I love it.
I used to work closely with a Jewish family who knew a few preschool-age girls named Tamar. They pronounced it Tuh-MAR, for what it’s worth.
Lauren is a very tailored name with glamour. I’ll bet it peaked in the 80s but I still love it.
A friend of mine just named her baby Lauren, which surprised me. Especially since her other daughter has a trendy Irish inspired surname name (think ice skaters.)
I can’t think of such girly, complicated names as “Colette” and “Beatrix” as “tailored”. Edith, Ester, Simone, sure.
The thing I find interesting about this list is another way you could label it is “historic feminine names which don’t end in \-ah\ or \-ee\.” And these such names are becoming a bit of a rarity nowadays!