Can baby names be both fashionable and classic? Absolutely, and the names of George and Amal Clooney‘s newborn twins Ella and Alexander are a case in point. Both have long histories and international status, yet feel way more stylish than classic names like, say, Anne and John.
Fashionable, classic baby names might be high on the popularity list (Olivia, William) or further out on the cutting edge of style (Louisa and Walter). But all are proven commodities that combine elegance with staying power. Here are 12 of the best. For more, see our new list of Fashionable Classic Baby Names.
1. Ella: The name of Amal and George’s baby daughter is a stylish classic: the Top 20 Ella. Long a celebrity fave (other famous Ella dads include Mark Wahlberg, Eric Clapton, Warren Beatty, and Ben Stiller), and long a popular stand-alone shortening of names like Isabella, Eleanor, and Elizabeth, Ella is simple and charming, with a dash of Ella Fitzgerald jazz.
2. Alexander: The sonny side of the Clooneys’ choice is an upstanding, noble name that dates back to the ancient world and the towering Alexander the Great, yet it’s still the 11th most popular name in America, given to more than 13,000 baby boys last year. One reason for his unwavering popularity is a wealth of ever-evolving nicknames, from Al to Alex and Alec to Zander, Zan and Xan, Lex, and the international Sasha and Sandro.
3. Eliza: A longtime love on Nameberry, this vintage shortened form of Elizabeth is now rising on the national charts as well, regaining the popularity it had at the turn of the last century. Dainty but strong, Eliza has been a US First Lady and First Daughter name, the spunky heroine of My Fair Lady and a character in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and TV’s The Walking Dead.
4. Theodore: Classic Theodore has been recharged via the cool nickname Theo, which many modern parents now prefer over the traditional Ted and Teddy. Theodore reentered the Top 100 in 2015 at Number 83, its highest point since 1935. In addition to being presidential, Theodore has literary and artistic cred galore.
5. Amelia: This sweet Victorian treasure has become a successor to the long reigning Emily, never more popular than it is now, given to 10,500+ girls in 2016, and reaching the 11th spot. Amelia has also ranked as the very top name in Britain, where it has royal connections, since 2011. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a grown daughter named Amelia, and it’s the birth name of Minnie Driver.
6. Sebastian: Not all classics chart a consistent course. A perfect example is the dashing Sebastian, which was a Top 500 name in 1916, fell completely off the list in the 1950s, and is now back way up at Number 25. Featured in the works of Shakespeare, Evelyn Waugh, and Disney, Sebastian was picked for their sons by James Spader, Tommy Hilfiger, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
7. Louisa: Gentle, sentimental Louisa was an 18th-century success story until it was replaced by the more tailored Louise. But now the tables are turning, as Louisa reentered the Top 1000 in 2014 after a 45-year hiatus and has been rising since. Predictive of even wider popularity: Louisa is now Number 143 on Nameberry.
8. Henry: Henry is a perennially stylish classic with a bit of a funky edge. It’s riding high now, firmly ensconced in the Top 25. A name with lots of history, character, and personality, Henry has been wildly popular in the celebrisphere, with Meryl Streep, Viggo Mortensen, Julia Roberts, Colin Farrell, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as just a few of the stellar members of the Henry Parents Club.
9. Penelope: The ancient Greek classic Penelope is in style right now, ranking at Number 27 and one of the fastest rising girls’ names. Contributing to its success were glamorous Spanish actress Penelope Cruz and its pick by Kourtney Kardashian and Tina Fey for their daughters.
10. James: Of the quintessential classic boy names, James is probably the most fashionable right now. And that’s James in full, not Jim, Jimmy, or Jamie. Now the fifth most popular name in the country, James has rarely been below the Top Five and was the recent winner in a poll of America’s favorite boys’ names, with more historic and artistic assets than we could possibly mention. William is a close runner-up to James, sharing similar assets.
11. Nora: There are several names ending in “ora,” such as Cora and Dora that fit into this category, but Nora is the one that has probably been the most consistently stylish, calling up romantic images of elegantly posed Sargent-era ladies in shimmering satin gowns. Nora also has many Irish relatives and is remembered as the independent Ibsen heroine of A Doll’s House.
12. Julian: Julian, a handsome re-rising star, would make a wonderful contemporary classic choice for a July baby boy. Despite its rich history — the name derives from an ancient Roman family and has been worn by emperors and saints — Julian still feels modern and cool. Robert De Niro and Jerry Seinfeld both have sons named Julian.
What is your favorite classic baby name? Share it with us @BritandCo!
This post was previously published on Nameberry by Linda Rosenkrantz.
(Photo via Getty)