fashion

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Is My Baby's Name Doomed to Sound Dated?

I was reading my son a "Berenstain Bears" book when I came across one of Sister Bear's friends named Marsha, which instantly dated the book. All of a sudden I could tell you exactly when it was written, just by having a girl named Marsha. I am pregnant with my second (a girl) and I want to make sure to avoid our generation's "Marsha." The problem is, of course, it's so hard to know what will sound dated in the future. I'd love your prediction of what names/sounds we should try and avoid to have a timeless (and yet unique) baby name.
- Not Marsha's Mom

You've done a great job of illustrating why baby naming can be such a huge challenge. The perfect name has to hit a lot of targets, and often those targets point in opposite directions.

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Is Love For This Name All I Need?

What do you think of the name Lennon for a girl? I really love it, but I'm getting more negative feedback then positive and it's killing my dreams.

-- Lennon Lover

It seems like you're asking two different questions here, Lennon Lover. The first: Do I, the annointed Name Lady, think your favorite name is okay for girls? And the second: Should you let a name dream die when it meets with overwhelming disapproval?

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Is This Name Too Young For Me?

Is the name Charlotte just way too popular now to be used by a would-be name changer, born in the 1980s? I really don't want to date myself to the wrong era, or be thought to have chosen it BECAUSE it's popular now. (Charlotte has had a good run as a top-10 name in my home state of New South Wales, Australia.)

- Time Warper

Charlotte isn't a typical name for a 30-ishwoman, but why should it be? One of the joys of changing your name is that you get to choose a new identity that fits you and your taste today, not whatever your parents liked a generation ago. There's nothing wrong with being fashionable, or sharing your name with a younger set.

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Aren't These Old Lady Names?

I've recently encountered two baby girls in the 4-6 month age range named Beverly and Nancy. Are these babies out-of-sync-with-their-generation anomalies, or the bleeding edge of a new revival of old (but not too old) lady names? Or are "Beverly" and "Nancy" not even in the same category with each other?

- SF Trend Watcher

You're right that a new round of "old ladies" is about to find the baby name fountain of youth. As a rule of thumb, it takes about four generations after a popularity peak before a name is ready to return. By that time, the name has passed beyond "old" into "antique."

Today's schoolyards are packed with girls' names from the late 1800s (like Grace and Amelia) through the 1910s (Ruby, Evelyn). The names of the 1920s and '30s, then, should be right around the corner. That's the generation of Dorothy, Shirley, Betty, Marjorie, Norma, Joan, and yes, Beverly and Nancy.

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Why Doesn't Anybody Like This Name?

For our twin girls, we're looking at names that are trendy, but not too popular. Specifically we're thinking at the "lyn" and "bell" trends.

Following the girls we know named Madelyn, Brooklyn, and Ashlyn, we're really liking Gwendolyn. This has been met with mostly positive responses from our family and friends.

Inspired by Bella, Anabelle, Campbell, and many versions of Isabella, we're thinking about naming our other daughter Clarabelle. Our friends overwhelmingly don't like it.

I've been trying to figure out why a name that clearly fits in naming trends isn't a hit. The only 2 Clarabelles I can find are a cartoon cow from the '30s and a clown from the '50s. It's been more than 60 years since those characters were on TV--are they really strong enough to taint this name? If we use the name anyway, does she stand a chance at overcoming people's negative associations with the name?

- Puzzled

I'm not surprised that you're puzzled. The fashion math doesn't seem to add up. If Clara is rising in popularity and names ending in "belle" and "bella" are red hot, why is the combo so much less than the sum of its parts?

The answer is that in the realm of style, illusion can be as powerful as reality. The -belle names have soared due to their antique charm. "Antique," though, turns out to be in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.

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Is This Name Just Too Old?

Name Lady, is Mildred too old of a name for a baby? My husband and I both love the name, and it has the added bonus of being his grandma's name and could match with my initials. However, according to BabyNameWizard.com, it hasn't been popular since the early 1900's, and our families haven't been overly excited by the prospect. Are there some names that just should not be revived?

-Granny Name Lover

Many of us love old-fashioned names, just as we love old-fashioned home cooking. That is to say, we love the versions that fit our romantic image of the past. “Mmm, mmm, fresh bread baking in the oven and a rich soup simmering on the stove, what could be better?” But when I flip through my yellowed 1930s Fanny Farmer Cookbook, it turns out to be full of recipes like hard-cooked eggs in cream sauce (“serve over pancakes”) and Chilled Shrimp Bisque, made with canned shrimp and condensed cream of mushroom soup.

The same selective nostalgia works on baby names. Most people today see sweet little Emma andLillie and romantic Olivia and Isabella as the bread and soup, and Mildred...well, you get the picture.

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Where Have All the Shaunnas Gone?

My name is Shaunna, and there are a few variations on it like Shauna and Shawna. Where have all of the Shaunnas gone? I went to school with at least 3 others. I can't even find my name spelt differently anymore. --Shaunna

In the Case of the Missing Shaunnas, I'll give you a clue: follow Kerri. And along the trail, keep an eye out for Trisha, Brandi, Geoffrey and Brent. I suspect you'll find them all together, doing something that was unimaginable back when you were a girl in school. They're being adults.

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Inspired By Annie (SP)

Inspired By Annie (SP)

We recently met the founders of AnnieWear, the adorable baby and children's clothing line (they offer some pretty cool things for moms and moms-to-be as well, like these stylish diaper bags.)

Most AnnieWear items have an animal theme  (that's right, we can't resist a baby in a hoodie with ears!) and a portion of all AnnieWear proceeds is donated to animal shelters.

That's because AnnieWear is named for Annie, a rescue pup, whose sweet and playful disposition inspired the entire fashion line. We're very grateful to AnnieWear for sponsoring NameCandy.com and BabyNameWizard.com this week.  Please support them -- and future Annies -- by checking out their fun fashion items for baby, toddler and mom!

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I am NOT Trendy!

How do traditional names suddenly become "trendy"? I'm pregnant with my fifth child, and my favorite names for this baby are Eleanor and Leo. I started researching them online only to find, to my great disappointment, that many sites are describing them as "trendy" names!!! They have been around for so long, and I have no intention of tinkering with the spelling or anything. I love them in part for their history. To me, "trendy" applies to names like Jayden & MacKenzie, not Leo & Eleanor! Why have my favorite names been saddled with "trendiness"? - Old-fashioned Mom

How can "old" names be "trendy"? Because of people like you, of course.

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Is This Name Over the Hill?

My husband and I are expecting our first child, and he really loves the name Jason. I don't mind it, but we were both born in the '70s -- back when Jason was at its peak -- so I went to school with tons of them. While the name is still popular, it's nowhere near what it was. My concern is that it's a "fading star" name, one associated with the previous generation. I'm worried it seem like an "old" name when my son is in school, the way I always regarded those rogue kids named Bob or Eugene. Is there a stigma attached to names that have peaked and fallen? - SummerMom

A stigma? I wouldn't go that far, although it's true that most people sense when a name has fallen out of favor. The effect ranges from the fairly innocuous "dad name" (Greg) to the fusty (Donald) to the genuinely tone-deaf (Buford). Your image of a "fading star" is fitting. The brighter the star once shone, the more obvious the fade. In extreme cases, you even find falling stars. Parents feel the name's momentum turning, and they rush to abandon it like a sinking ship.

But not all "faded" names are created equal.

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