“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
The compound name Tessalee is so rare that it has only appeared in the U.S. baby name data once, in 2007:
2007: 6 baby girls named Tessalee [debut]
What put it there?
My best guess is the 2006 coming-of-age novel The Firefly Cloak by American author Sheri Reynolds. The book features a main character named Tessa Lee:
When 8-year old Tessa Lee and her brother, Travis, are abandoned in a campground by their desperate mother and her boyfriend of the moment, their mother leaves them only two things: a phone number printed in Magic Marker on Travis’s back and her favorite housecoat, printed with tiny fireflies, that she places over her sleeping children.
I’m not sure how well the novel sold, but one of Reynolds’ earlier novels, The Rapture of Canaan (1995), became an Oprah‘s Book Club selection in 1997, and consequently both a New York Times bestseller and a Publishers Weekly bestseller. So her later books certainly would have been on readers’ radars.
That said…the name Tessa also happened to see a boost in usage in 2007. In fact, that was the year Tessa saw peak usage overall. So whatever was influencing Tessa (actress Tessa Thompson perhaps?) may have been influencing Tessalee as well.
What do you think of the name Tessalee? Would you use it as a single name, or do you prefer “Tessa Lee” as a first/middle combo?
Brown, Dale. Conversations with American Writers. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.