Scent is so powerful. Conjuring people, places and the sweetest (or the saddest) memories of our lives. I remember what my grandmother smelled like. Joy by Jean Patou. My mother, Anais Anais. My sister, Tiffany. My Aunt Coco, Diorissimo. I know the smell of our summer place in Beersheba Springs, TN (must with old floorboards and cotton sheets and rain on the Hemlock trees). I know my puppy Dolly's breath - how do they all smell the same? There are some scents ingrained in my memory that are associated with sad and tragic events in my life, as I'm sure you have those, too.
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Scent bonds us to people and places in a fascinating way. I bought my first bottle in Paris on rue de Rivoli in 1986. I was 15. And the scent I chose? Paris Eau De Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent. At the time the bottle was pink and green, and the perfume itself was pink. I still have the bottle. My favorite perfume to wear from my college days up until about 2004, when it was discontinued, was Ralph Lauren Safari . (It has since been reintroduced and you can still buy it.) But I was at a loss. And so the hunt began for its replacement. For a brief episode I wore Chanel No.19 , and loved it, but I never got the compliments like I did when I wore Safari. Some scents work better with our body chemistry than others, and while I liked the scent, it wasn't transfixing enough on me. I tried some exotic fragrances I bought at specialty boutiques, but then, I found my true love in 2011. And it was not what I expected or thought I even liked. I would have said I liked Woody and Fresh notes. Not Floral, and certainly not Vanilla. In fact I wanted to steer clear of all vanilla notes. But Floral it was to be.
It's classified as Floral/Fresh and its notes are:
Top note: Orange zest from Italy
Middle note: Florentine iris, daffodils from France, magnolia, Bulgarian rose, Tonkin rice
Base note: Vanilla, ambergris, Mysore sandalwood
I would say at least 3 times a week someone speaks to me, strangers included, about this scent and how much they love it. But be warned, it may not work on you. So how do you choose your signature scent?
How To Choose Your Signature Scent
Scents are so personal. You may love a fragrance, but find that it does nothing for you. The way to tell if a scent is right for you is by how you smell to other people. This goes against everything in me because my typical response is who cares what anyone else thinks? But in this situation, the test of a fragrance that wears well on you will be the comments you get from others. Usually you'll hear nothing if it's no good, and you'l hear lots of comments if it's a home run. So, never buy a bottle until you've worn a sample for a day or two. My friend Carmen at Nashville's Private Edition was so patient with me during this search, and she let me take home countless samples.
Remember I told you how I was opposed to florals and vanilla? Little did I know or understand about fragrance. So let's look a bit deeper into how scent works. There are 5 types of concentration you can buy, with the higher concentration of oils being the most expensive. From most to least expensive are, Parfum, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and Eau Fraiche. I recommend buying a small bottle of Eau de Parfum once you land on your signature scent.
Perfumes typically are characterized by 3 fragrance Notes, Top, Middle and Base. Top is what hits you first. And the base notes are what emerge after several hours, and that's what really dominates a scent's personality. So you can't judge a scent until after you've worn it for a while.
The 4 classifications of fragrance types are: Floral, Oriental, Woody and Fresh. They are all self-explanatory except Fresh refers to what you may call citrus and fruity. Your perfume will contain fragrance from some or all of these 4 categories, and how much or how little will determine its notes.
Heat activates perfume, so to make your scent last, spray it on your pulse points: behind your ears, neck, chest, wrists, ankles.
As I described, I arrived at Love in White by Creed after a loooong search, and it has become my signature daytime fragrance. I was surprised I liked it based on its notes. So be willing to try something you may not initially be drawn to, and don't be lured into buying a bottle because you like how it smells in the bottle or that first spray at the counter. What I was not prepared for was to discover a second "signature scent" for nighttime. I was dating a guy who happened to be a VP for Chanel Corporate. I KNOW. Too bad that didn't work out! But he made me a gift of Coco Noir by Chanel, and it was spot on for me. It's a little more intense, carrying Oriental notes. I would have never thought to try it on. But, like Love in White, it draws remarks from strangers almost every time I wear it. And how fabulous is it that my 2 scents are white for day and black for evening? (Those of you who know I am addicted to white clothing and all neutrals in general will get a kick out of this).
You'll see a few other scents here, like Jo Malone (this is probably their most popular), Roger Vivier (a gift from Ines de la Fressange herself!) and Fracas. The only one I may wear is Fracas, but that's just because I like it. I don't think it does anything for me though. I have a friend, my very cool friend Betsy, who wears Fracas and it is AMAZING on her. The others look pretty so I keep them on my counter.
One thing you must get are travel scents. Your scent in a travel size, or samples if they don't sell travel size. Creed makes this divine purse atomizer you can add any scent to (left), and Chanel makes a special purse spray (right).
I'd love to know what your signature scent is. Do you remember your mother's? It's a fascinating subject to me, and goes to the heart of femininity. Scent is so very powerful.
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