Floral or Oriental? Woody, Fresh or Chypre? Here's a trusty guide on how to find your signature fragrance
Finding the perfect fragrance can be a life long quest. And though they say it’s the journey, not the destination that matters, discovering your signature scent is a worthy terminus. Of course you may enjoy wearing the latest, “nice smelling” high street releases but the choices here can be overwhelming, and the results not always legendary. So how do you find the one?
To begin with, it certainly helps to know what kind of fragrances and smells you like. You may not even realise it but quite possibly you go for the same scent family (yes, it’s a thing) over and over. Perhaps it’s the rich, oriental scents that rock your boat or warmer and dry chypre ones? Either way it can be a bumpy road to navigate the correct names and descriptions. Not to mention that fragrances are made of many notes and the borders of what family they belong to can be fluid. So unless you’re prepared to delve deeper into the subject we suggest a simpler solution. Next time you smell a fragrance you like, just have a think what is it about it that appeals to you – is it the citrusy freshness that makes it ‘easy to wear’ on hot days, or the spicy and woody notes that make it more original and noticeable? Expanding your fragrance vocabulary, just as you would when talking about fine wine or great whisky, will no doubt impress, but more importantly point you towards the scent that’s right for you.
For the record the fragrance families are: Floral (in most cases reserved for lighter scents), Oriental (think rich aroma of incense or amber), Woody (any aromatic woods or vetiver), Fresh (citrus, fruity, water or green notes), Chypre (citrus top notes with an oakmoss base), Fougère (French for “fern”; sweeter, aromatic top notes with a sharper oakmoss base) and Gourmand (synthetic “edible” notes like chocolate or vanilla). Voila!
The other clue to finding the perfect scent can be in the particular smells you like. The fragrance is a sum of many parts but if know you love the smell of Sandalwood – any fragrance that contains it will most likely appeal to you. Equally, if you cannot stand it, no amount of accompanying notes will make you want to wear it. Kind of like having a dish with detested coriander…
Once you’ve narrowed down the choices and you think you may like a certain fragrance, don’t rely on tester strips to make the decision. Instead, always try on your skin. The same fragrance will smell different on different people because of individual skin chemistry (acidity level, skin type), environmental factors, diet, medication, and even moods. So spray, give the fragrance time to ‘develop’, and then observe the effect it has on you and other people. The right one will not only make you feel good but will inevitably spawn a few compliments from loved ones and strangers alike. When that happens you know you’re onto something good!