Staying Organized : How Do You Store Your Samples and Decants

How do you organize your perfume collection? How do you store your fragrance samples and decants?

best-fragrances

Last week my reader Ariadne asked how I keep my samples organized. I would love to tell her that I have a state-of-the-art system in place for tracking my samples, but the truth is that my method is more chaotic than systematic, and I just rely on my memory to recall where on earth I stuffed that sample of Britney Spears Curious or Francis Kurkdjian Amyris. Since my memory is far from infallible, it means that I often spend a fair bit of time digging through piles of samples or boxes of decants.

Now that I’ve presented you with the worst possible organization system–I dare anyone to top it, I would love to hear how you organize (or would like to organize) your samples. Ariadne and I need your inspiration and help!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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91 Comments

  • theperfumeddandy: Dear Victoria

    It seems you read the Dandy’s mind – I was hunting for a sample of La Petite Robe Noire in EdP just this morning (ask not why) and thought – “Dandy – you must get a grip on these vials”.

    I am not perusing the internet – surely some multi function spice rack carousel arrangement must be available?

    If not, a feel a commission to my local joiners coming on!

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy March 1, 2013 at 7:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sure there are lots of great options! The Muji storages boxes Safran mentioned further should work really well. March 1, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

  • solanace: I separate them by note/mood in small boxes, but these small boxes are becoming too many, and I can’t remember which one of them has what anymore… Also, the drawer I stuff them into is becoming full. So I’ll be reading this thread very eagerly, in search of a better solution! March 1, 2013 at 7:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I do have a box of decants filled with top sellers by year, which is something I refer to often for work. At one point, searching for that vial of Pleasures really starts to take up too much time! 🙂 March 1, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

  • maggie: I have my samples in polystyrene test tube holders in a small drawer. It looks good but I haven’t got around to itemizing or cataloguing them yet…I just tend to dip in! March 1, 2013 at 7:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like a great organization system! That really must look nice. March 1, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

  • Elizabeth: What an apprporiate topic! Yesterday I suddenly had a craving for Anima Dulcis and I had to search every corner of my bedroom to find my sample. It was at the bottom of a tote bag. I did give my room a good cleaning in the process, so it wasn’t so bad. March 1, 2013 at 8:33am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 That’s how I tend to think about my searches too. March 1, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

    • solanace: I’ve been searching for my Fumérie Turque decant for so long that the weather became too hot and I’ll have to wait for fall to wear it again… March 2, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

  • Ferris: Right now, I’m just stuffing them inside a zip-loc plastic bag which is pretty much no organization at all, haphazard at best. Whenever I have to reach for a sample, I have to dump the entire bag. I have quite a few samples so it takes a while to put them all back in. LOL

    A way I’d like to start organizing is by house or olfactory group/category using old empty medicine vial/bottles. The medicine vials, depending on the size, are small enough to place about 10-12 1 ml sample vials inside. These are perfect for travelling and storing your samples. You can even make a label to place on your medicine vial to indicate what samples are inside. You can even keep an inventory list of each medicine vial you have and update the list whenever you add or deplete samples. March 1, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

    • Lindaloo: Ferris, I was just yesterday looking at the empty prescription medicine bottles I was about to toss with a sudden gleam in my eye — “hey, these could hold samples!” Besides the advantages you’ve noted they also hold the samples upright. March 1, 2013 at 9:54am Reply

      • TaffyJ: Hi Lindaloo,
        Would you mind contacting me at taffy4aday at aol dot com? I have a perfume-related question! Thank you! March 2, 2013 at 1:41am Reply

        • Lindaloo: Sent you an email yesterday (Monday) evening.
          I’m ever so curious. March 5, 2013 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Nice idea! Keeping them upright is good too. March 1, 2013 at 10:57am Reply

  • Safran: I have kind of a system, which is unfortunately far from perfect yet. First of all, I sample everything on the day of arrival. Then, I use clear perspex boxes with drawers from Muji and separate the samples for purposes. One box for samples, I’ve tried once (which was enough) to give away with swap or sharing parcels. This is the easy bit.

    One box for samples to sniff again, because I am not sure yet, if I like them or not. Still easy, I sample them in the evening in front of TV or shortly before I go to bed.
    One box for samples to keep for use or as a kind of reference for certain types of scents. This is the part I’ll call my samples library. That’s the hardest bit, because I’ll either keep them too long and they turn bad or these boxes stack up and I loose the overview, of how many I’ve got. Before I travel, I usually go through these and take a handful out to use or revisit during travelling. That’s usually, when I notice, that I have too many and should change my system…

    Cheers
    Safran March 1, 2013 at 9:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Your system sounds great to me! And your reminder about Muji boxes is just priceless. I know that they offer so many interesting and elegant storage solutions.

      One thing I do that’s helpful is to add a date on all of my perfumes. I got scolded enough at school for not labeling my perfume mods with a date, so now it’s second nature. It makes it possible for me to keep track of how old my samples/bottles are and also to compare reformulated versions. March 1, 2013 at 11:01am Reply

      • Lydia: Dating samples is such a great idea. Ever since I started reading about reformulations, I’ve been wishing I’d dated my samples (and perfume bottles).

        For storage, I use either zip lock snack bags or test tube holders like Emily mentioned. The test tube containers are wonderful for larger numbers of samples, but you have to impose some kind of order on them, alphabetical or otherwise, because it’s impossible to see the labels once they’re in the slots. March 1, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

        • Victoria: I wish I had started doing it sooner, but better late than never. Plus, it really doesn’t take much effort to jot down a date on a bottom of the cardboard box. March 1, 2013 at 3:37pm Reply

      • Safran: Thank you, Victoria – the idea of adding a date on samples and bottles is brilliant, I will start doing that as well. March 1, 2013 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Jan Last: I’m in the over organized class. When a sample comes in, I log it into a spread sheet, adding any professional smelling reviews I find, then adding my personal impression. Starting with the house name, then the name of the juice. I also use that spread sheet to keep my full bottle notes, and I mark the spread sheets with samples I want full bottles of. There’s a space for location, too. If I have more than one sample of the same juice I mark that, so I can easily share.
    Then I add the sample to a ziplock, also organized by house name and file in one of eight small plastic tubs from the dollar store.
    I keep vintage perfumes in a darkened room in a corner cabinet, because they are beautiful to look at. I keep current perfumes in my dressing room, covered with a black cloth so no light gets to them. I file them by season.
    Yes, just shoot me now, lol. March 1, 2013 at 9:52am Reply

    • Annikky: Can I hire you to run my life? This is just so impressive. March 1, 2013 at 9:56am Reply

    • Leah: Wow. I second Annikky’s comment! March 1, 2013 at 11:03am Reply

      • Austenfan: Third that comment, I am never that organised. March 1, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re incredible, Jan! Wow! I’m in total awe. The idea of keeping them covered is great too. Samples exposed to sunlight go off even faster than full bottles. March 1, 2013 at 11:03am Reply

  • fleurdelys: Organization? What’s that? (Ha!) Like you, I have my samples jumbled together, but there is actually a method to my disorganization. They were thrown in a shoebox until I realized it was getting too full. I went through them and separated out only the ones I was really interested in testing. The others were given to family members or added as extras to swaps. Now those I am truly interested in trying are in a little basket on my dresser, ready to grab. Those I don’t care for go in the shoebox, waiting to be passed on in the next swap. March 1, 2013 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, a kindred soul! 🙂 March 1, 2013 at 3:54pm Reply

  • mysterious_scent: I’ve been designing/writting my own perfume app for two years 🙂
    Never finish March 1, 2013 at 10:20am Reply

    • Victoria: As you see from many of the comments here, your app might be very welcome! 🙂 March 1, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Lucas: Hello Victoria and all!
    That’s a great question to ask! I store my samples using glass/plastic tube stands. My Mum brings them from the hospital. They look like this: http://www.servoprax.com/images/5000/00078_1.jpg but those that I use have more gaps and don’t have ‘levels’
    Unfortunately they work only for spray samples and not for all of them. Those vials that are narrow simply fall though the hole.
    I keep them and dabbers in small carton boxes.
    All without any organization like “samples of … are in…” March 1, 2013 at 10:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Still, what a great way to keep your vials organized! I love the stacked rows too. March 1, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

  • Wesley Hall Parker: I’ve got the “spreadsheet + tiny ziploc bags” organization system too 🙂

    When I get samples – I log them in the spreadsheet, and make my own notes about them, and tag them with information like House, Perfumer, Name, Scent Family, and sometimes other things like Season, and I give them my own star rating so I can go back and find things I like 🙂

    Then, I “file” them in ziploc bags. I’ve got tiny bags, like the size you put jewelry findings in – and I group them by House. I find this makes it easiest to find them. If I have a ton of samples from a big house (like Hermes, Chanel, Frederic Malle, etc) – all the tiny zips go in a slightly bigger zip so they stay together. And then I throw the whole mess in a gallon size zip loc bag and keep it in a drawer, lol. So far, it’s helped me track about 250+ samples, without too much pain! March 1, 2013 at 10:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Another person to whom I bow in admiration. 🙂 I’m organized with some things like keeping notes or writing, but when it comes to organizing physical objects, I’m useless. March 1, 2013 at 4:03pm Reply

    • Patt: My system is similar, except I have four smallish plastic boxes and divide them alphabetically by house, A-C, D-F, etc. The small plastic bags go inside (only if I have three or more vials from the same house, the singles and doubles go in the bottom of the tub). If the fragrance is marked as a vial,on my spreadsheet, I know right where to look for it!
      I also try to keep the spreadsheet updated if I’ve used up or swapped an item, but I’m not as good about that. March 1, 2013 at 7:53pm Reply

  • Meghan: Oh, I am going to have to do a post about this. Great topic. March 1, 2013 at 10:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Great! It’s a really a fun topic. March 1, 2013 at 4:09pm Reply

  • Leah: Victoria you are a mind reader!! I just finished reorganizing my samples for the umpteenth time and still am not totally happy. I purchased decant supplies which provide me with uniform vials and labels (really need a labelmaker!) for the samples I make myself, so that at least I am happy with. I generally arrange my samples by house and store them in empty Bonne Maman jam jars which helps keep them upright. My problem is for those “random” samples and carded samples. Random samples I have been “arranging” by retailer, i.e. Nordstrom, Aedes, etc. but that requires too much memory. I have been keeping my carded samples in padded envelopes, as I like to give these away sometimes. I am greatly looking forward to reading others’ comments, otherwise, I think someone will have to create a GPS system for samples! March 1, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like a good system to me. Those random samples might be arranged by house, or by type (celebrity scents, fruity-florals, seasonal, etc.). May that could work? March 1, 2013 at 4:10pm Reply

  • Farawayspices: I am perhaps one of the most disorganized people ever, so I’m afraid I do not have any great suggestions. I was proud that I moved my fragrance samples into a ziplock bag, as it was improvement to being free-range in a drawer.

    I must ask…what is the name of the rack in the photo?
    I have some perfumery materials and projects in vials of that size, and I would love to have a stand for them! March 1, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Sounds familiar!

      It’s called a micro-tube rack, and it’s available at most lab supplies stores. If you search for something like this on Ebay, you will find many different options. Most of them are made out of colorful plastic rather than glass, which is much less expensive. March 1, 2013 at 4:12pm Reply

  • Emily: Here in Alabama, the cheapest and easiest option is ammunition cases: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/540071_10100873067827030_291340662_n.jpg though a similar effect can be done through test tube boxes like this: http://www.transglobalsci.com/c-2-p-5-id-2.html March 1, 2013 at 11:03am Reply

    • Lacrimae Rerum: @Emily: Those ammo boxes are a great idea. I never thought of that. March 1, 2013 at 11:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Looks like fishing supplies box my grandfather used to use! March 1, 2013 at 4:13pm Reply

  • Lacrimae Rerum: Bead-storage racks (like this or this) found in craft stores are pretty good for organizing and storing sample vials in a drawer. The ones I use have 56 (1.5cm) slots that can hold one or two 1ml vials each.

    Not perfect, but they do have the advantage of being really cheap, unlike the better-fit-for-purpose racks one can order from scientific supply houses. March 1, 2013 at 11:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Wow, that looks so simple and elegant (and cheap). Thank you for a great idea. March 1, 2013 at 4:14pm Reply

  • Keith: I wish I could say that I was super organized, or that my samples and decants (and full bottles) were always protected from light, but I currently have the following organization structure:

    -FB go on an antiqued mirror tray on my dresser (because, even though I’m an average joe, I like things a bit classy…lol) – this seems to help me keep track of my FB purchasing because, well, it’s only so big. 🙂

    -Samples and decants go in, of all things, a small clear fishing tackle box that I got from target. I removed its top and sanded off the edges, but the squares are big enough to hold about 6 to 8 10ml decant bottles, and who knows how many sample bottles. I tend to keep them grouped by house.

    My only sadness about my current organization is those TINY sample bottles from Luckyscent and the like…they don’t sit upright well and the labels attached to them really get in the way. March 1, 2013 at 11:14am Reply

    • Victoria: You have many good ideas here that can help people like me who are struggling. 🙂 March 1, 2013 at 4:19pm Reply

  • LenoreJ: I accidentally started storing my smallest samples in a couple of vintage cigarette urns: llittle china vases used to hold cigarettes standing on their ends. I divide them generally into groups that make sense to me and they fit in my drawers standing up. The urns are like fancy oversized egg cups and corral the samples pretty well. Plus they are pretty cheap at flea markets! March 1, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

    • Victoria: It sounds very pretty. I had an old candy dish with a lid where I keep the samples I’m currently testing, but it broke recently, so I’m searching for something else–utilitarian and attractive. March 3, 2013 at 9:06am Reply

  • elvanui: What a timely question:). I’ve been recently re-organizing my samples and decants, and my system works like this now: decants are pinned on the wall of my wooden perfume cabinet in a row of organizers I made from elastic band sewn onto felt, in a way which looks like the inside of a pencil holder for kids, but bigger. I labelled them on the side, so I can easily see what is where.
    Samples I used to keep in a FM representative 100 pcs case I got from my cousin who used to do that FM perfume thing. But I grew that out quickly, so now I keep them in a 24-compartment plastic bead organizer from DealExtreme, until I can afford the gorgeous 36-compartment wooden teabag holder I’m eyeing right now. I don’t know what I will do with the lid though… I sort them by house, and the ones from smaller houses are together in 2-3 shared compartments (I’ll have to check that, an alphabetic order is in plan amongst them as well) I’ve gone crazy reading storage posts on all the scent blogs lately, so thank You, Victoria for posting this! I love reading everyone’s ideas!
    Have a nice weekend,
    e. March 1, 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your great ideas! I especially love your decant storage solution. March 3, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

  • Lynne Marie: When I got tired of digging through boxes of samples and decants, I finally developed a system that works for me. All my samples and decants are kept in a small 4 drawer chest. Top drawer is samples I’ve tried and loved, arranged in old glass votives or similar short wide-mouthed jars alphabetically and each jar has a label denoting the letter or letters of the alphabet it contains. The next 2 drawers are samples and decants I have not yet tried arranged in small boxes where they can stand upright, one letter of the alphabet per box. That way if I am looking for my sample of say, ambre sultan, I only have to search through the “a” box, not through all my samples. I know what I have on hand for samples because I have an alphabetized list on my computer (I also have a list of perfumes I want to get samples of). The final drawer of the chest is for larger bottles of perfume that have not yet won the favor of being in the small chest of perfume I keep on top of my bedroom dresser. It took a weekend to organize it this way, but the system has paid off countless times since! March 1, 2013 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: So glad that I asked this question! Now, I have no excuse not to develop a better system. 🙂 March 3, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

  • Austenfan: My system is that I have no real system. But then I don’t have that many samples. They are kind of organize by house, but some houses share the same bag. And sometimes I am too lazy to follow my own logic and use a new on the spot one, that I will have forgotten about the next day. They do all live in one drawer though, which makes looking for them that much easier. March 1, 2013 at 12:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: As long as it works! When you don’t have that many samples, your system works well–everything is kept in a dark place and in some sort of logical order. March 3, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

  • Mough: This is fabulous, the ideas tossed around. I’m not the ONLY one with this issue. One idea that I took from my sister who stores pretty soaps in a glass jar, is that I put all the samples I am not crazy about, like most of the ones I get during the NM Beauty Event Days and put them in a glass pitcher, a pretty one. THEN, when I have a party, I give each woman (generally) one of those pretty colored fabric bags (see through) you get from Lucky Scent, and I use that, stuffed with samples, as a party gift. You never know; they might find something they love.
    For bottles I know I won’t use, if I don’t trade them, I save up until I get a good number, and then donate them to a Women’s Center for them to feel pretty, or just cheer their day.
    Other than that, I use a pretty, wooden Chinese medicine cabinet with drawers that I put in samples from houses, with one drawer of misc. samples that I liked and want to try again.
    The little ones you get from Lucky Scent are bad because I can’t read the labels, which get smudged with time, and the labels stick out and make them awkward to store, at times.
    My bigger decants, like 5 ml and up to 8 or 15, I keep in their own drawer. I only have about half a dozen.
    In my purse, I put my decants in a velvet pouch. I have at least three with me at all times.
    Occasionally, I just dump the contents of a “meh” sample into my bath water and enjoy it that way, or sprinkle it into the dryer, or into my panty drawer if the scent is good enough, but not good enough to manage.
    Sorry, that was a lot of useless “hints.” Maybe it will help someone… Great topic!! March 1, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

    • Patt: Your hints are far from useless, Mough. In fact, I’m going to use several of them. I especially like the idea of donating unloved bottles to a Woman’s Center. March 2, 2013 at 10:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with Patt! Your advice is great, and there are many excellent suggestions here. I’ve been looking for a Chinese medicine cabinet with drawers for a while, since I imagine that it would be convenient. Plus, they look so beautiful! March 3, 2013 at 9:10am Reply

  • Nick: Each Perfumer in a small bag, all the small bags in a big bag. So when I need anything, it all gets tipped out on to the bed for some major rummage.

    This morning I wanted Eloge du Traitre, so did the tipping out thing, then got distracted, sniffed more than a few things, found Sienne L’Hiver put that on one shoulder, Eloge on the other.

    I am a wondrous creation of fragrance as a child of disorder. March 1, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hey, sometimes it can lead to creative combinations, and that’s not such a bad thing. 🙂 March 3, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

  • Ariadne: Ok, I feel like I just won a HUGE prize!!! Thank you V. and everyone for posting about this. I started to feel like a complete blithering idiot hoarder but now I have a plan using so many of your tips.
    Alphabetizing is going to help me a lot as is keeping a little log of scent names with how I reacted to each. For me an associated emotion will make me remember much more than knowing key notes.
    I too take perfume mini’s on trips. I just took a little Jungle Elephant to New Orleans and now have a great multi-sensory memory of my time there. I would not wear JE on a daily basis that was the PERFECT perfume for roaming the French Quarter. LOL!
    Back to re-reading this string, it is really marvelous. THANKS!! March 1, 2013 at 1:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! I’m very happy you asked me the question, because it made me realize how much time I waste looking for things. Did some re-organization this weekend, so I will report back on how the new system works. March 3, 2013 at 9:12am Reply

  • Dubaiscents: I love reading about everyone’s systems (or lack there of!).

    For samples I have not tried I put them in small little square envelops by house and then all the envelops are in alphabetical order inside a larger Saks bag. The envelops work well in that I can write that I have tested them or other notes and then pass them onto my mom so she can test them. I am still looking for the perfect storage case for the envelops.

    I also got some nice clear plastic cosmetic holders with lots of little spots to store larger decants or carded samples. I use some old jewelry boxes for samples I have tried but, want to keep. And like several others, I like to take samples with me when I travel so I keep the misc. ones in a separate place so I can grap them whenever I am going on a trip.

    I also have a master excel worksheet and notebooks where I jot down my thoughts, the notes, etc. on each sample. And a separate book for my FBs. I like to write where I got the perfume and why I chose it. Maybe my daughter will like to read it someday.

    Samples are a never ending fight to keep organized! March 1, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Such a nice idea! It’s like keeping notebooks recording family recipes. I have several such notebooks from my great grandmother, and they are filled with recipes as well as beauty advice and her observations on how the recipes worked out and who in the family liked what. It’s fascinating! March 3, 2013 at 9:14am Reply

  • behemot: Very interesting topic. Some of the readers are really well organized and shared excellent ideas about storing samples.
    My “system” is similar to the one Victoria has..
    I think some changes are much needed, because it takes too much time to find the sample I need. March 1, 2013 at 3:32pm Reply

    • Claire: I agree, behemot. It takes me a long time to find a sample/decant that I want to wear for the day, so often I ended up using only a couple of perfumes for several days/weeks in a row when I really would like to sample different ones or wear different ones to suit my mood, places I go to, etc. Organization will safe me some time for sure. March 1, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: At least, now we have some inspiration to improve our storage system. 🙂 March 3, 2013 at 9:15am Reply

  • Claire: I’m reading and listening to what other readers have to say about this. My perfume decant/sample organization is rather a disorganization, I must admit. I have decants/samples all over the place, in different purses and even in the diaper bag that I take out daily with my son. Even a mom with a toddler must freshen up at will, I guess, so I need my decants/samples at the ready. March 1, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have some decants in my purses too. It can be handy sometimes. March 3, 2013 at 9:16am Reply

  • CM: I sort samples by house and group them into little zip bags and then put the baggies into a hanging jewelry organizer. This hangs in a closet until I need something… When I di, I just locate the pocket(s) with that house and I’m good to go. Larger decants (>5ml) are stored separately in a cute red lacquer box on my dresser. I’m thinking a hanging shoe organizer might work for those at some point.

    Now, if I were truly organized, the pockets would be alphabetical! March 1, 2013 at 5:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: A hanging jewelry organizer! I love this idea, since I have a lot of space inside one of my closets. Will definitely try that too. March 3, 2013 at 9:17am Reply

    • CM: Oh – and I’ve also taken to a shorthand system that I write on the sample label/bottle itself. + is like a lot (get more) 0 is neutral and – is do not like (or not for me). It’s easy to see the + for more testing to see if something is FBW.

      Also, for those who don’t like the paper labels, go get a labelmaker that takes clear tape and relabel samples. The clear tape makes it easy to see the ‘level’ of the sample. March 4, 2013 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Catherine Heveron: I have about 300 samples (and more to come all the time). I tried to find drawers with seperators, or some way of keeping them all in line standing up, but finally, I settled on shoeboxes; each sample is put in an envelope, marked with house and fragrance, and kept in alphabetical order by house, with card separators for each letter. So far, there are 3 filled shoeboxes…I also keep a spreadsheet with the appropriate info, but I don’t always manage to keep this one up to date. I also try to ensure all my reviews are kept in one place, so I can find them. March 1, 2013 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Another impressive system! March 3, 2013 at 9:18am Reply

  • AndreaR: I am at the beginning of my fragrance journey so I don’t have a lot of samples to store. I did go to the Container Store and bought a lucite lipstick holder. It has 24 spaces and each of those spaces holds around four of the 1.5 glass vials. I like the fact that they’re sort of standing up and easy for me to access. Todays ideas have been so helpful! March 1, 2013 at 7:12pm Reply

    • Bela: Like you, I use a Perspex lipstick holder, but it only has 18 compartments. I don’t have that many samples so it’s not even full. I also have some carded samples and minis. They’re easier to store. All in one drawer. I couldn’t cope with more. March 1, 2013 at 8:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you start out organized, it’s so much easier to keep track of what fragrance you should try, etc. A lipstick holder is a nice idea too. March 3, 2013 at 9:20am Reply

  • maja: I swear I have a very precise system and method but it’s invisible to other people 😉 March 2, 2013 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s what I say to my husband.

      The only thing I’m super organized about is keeping notes on materials and fragrances I’ve tried, when, etc. That doesn’t even require any thinking on my part–I just do it. It also helps that it’s something that I enjoy. March 3, 2013 at 9:22am Reply

  • Nina Z: I keep my decants in really attractive, small bamboo storage boxes I got from Bed Bath & Beyond. I’ve got one box for Chanel, one box for Guerlain, one box for Serge Lutens, one box for random favorites, one box for random 10 mls and one box for random 5 mls (and smaller). The samples, I’m afraid, are in the plastic baggies sorted and labeled (with Hello My Name Is labels) by house (though there is a large bag called “Random,” and stored in the bottom drawer of a bureau. That does require some rummaging around when I’m looking for something, but I eventually can find what I’m looking for. A pretty wooden box has the samples that are new or I’m interested in require. March 2, 2013 at 10:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Nina! I imagine that the bamboo boxes also look very nice, and they do a good job protecting your samples from light. March 3, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

  • Mellene: I separate my samples by perfume house into small boxes that fit into larger boxes. I label each small box with the perfume houses contained in the box and then the same labeling goes on the larger boxes. I bought all of these boxes that fit together at a store Hold Everything during a Christmas holiday so I have progressively smaller boxes within larger boxes like flat coat boxes, then shirt/dress boxes, followed by jewelry/scarf boxes. March 3, 2013 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I imagine that it makes it easy to move too, since you don’t have to bother with many small boxes. March 3, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

  • Jennifer: I don’t really have much of an organizational system. My samples are all in shallow boxes (like jewelry-type boxes) on my dresser, and some in ziploc bags. Does require a bit of digging if I’m looking for a specific one, but usually it’s not too bad. My bottles occupy the top of a bookcase (about eye level) that I use for shelving in my closet. March 4, 2013 at 2:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 It seems much better than the system I used to have! March 5, 2013 at 4:51am Reply

  • Donelle: After entering the perfumista world a few years back. And being a Librarian to boot, I couldn’t help myself but organise my samples and decants. First of all is the spreadsheet, listing alphabetically by company and then the name of the perfume, followed by strength either E DT or edp or partum, folllowed by size in MLS, then the source – TPC or STC or freebie and other details in including a personal rating system. The samples then g. Into Empty Lindt Chocolate boxes. The Lindor balls are the perfect size. A box for Summer & Spring decants, one forAutumn & Winter and then one each for the samples. The samples are divided into little boxes. Or drawstring bags withinthe chocolate box, parfums Spring and another for edp etc. Takes time but it makes it easier to find them. Once used they are rated in the spreadsheet and either discarded if not liked, or kept. In another jumbled bag for future sniffing, if required.. this shows how anally retentive I am! My DH thinks I am a strange creature in this respect. March 4, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your system is excellent, and of course, given your librarian training, I’m not surprised that you’ve developed such a fine-tuned way to keep things organized. I need to take more tips from you! 🙂 March 5, 2013 at 4:55am Reply

      • Donelle: Thanks Victoria! I must say I love your blog, it is my favourite! A brilliant feature is how you review current releases as well as older classics. Reading one of your reviews I was encouraged to track down a bottle of Vintage Samsara on eBay. One day I hope to buy the current formulation to compare it with. You have such a huge influence on my perfume buying – especially Houses I am not that familiar with. I also really enjoy your reviews on other topics such as body products – gels, soaps, candles too, it is so helpful be advised as to where to begin. Thanks to you and Susanna for such a wonderful blog. March 6, 2013 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Michael: I work in a biochemistry lab, and I have large holders for 1.5ml centrifuge tubes. These hold 96 vials, are low and flat, and impossible to tip over. Most vials will fit into these. Within the tray I guess I organize by date acquired, though I have many mini-groups of similar scents (Nicolai New York right beside Hasu No Hana, Brent Leonesio’s musk right beside Lutens’ Muscs Koublai Khan). Large bottles I keep in a dark bathroom closet, grouped by frequency of use. Smaller bottles, too small for full bottles but too large for the sample tray, I simply line up next to the big bottle tray (one of those bamboo/wicker basket-style containers for the top of the toilet). I think I could improve this system, but it suits me for now. No safe way to display beautiful bottles until they are empty (I fear photodegradation). March 5, 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

  • Emily: A friend of mine who is a sportsman recommended ammunition organizers and it’s perfect given the wide range of caliber sizes available. All of my samples are upright and happy now! March 7, 2013 at 7:55pm Reply

  • Shelly: How do I store them? Very badly . . . I would like to think of it as “ordered chaos” but there is not much ordered about it 🙂 March 10, 2013 at 11:07pm Reply

  • Daisy: I use those Semikolon media boxes:

    http://www.containerstore.com/shop/office/desktopCollections/semikolonOfficeAccessories?productId=10024947

    They look smart, I like the colors too. Each box has three dividers. I organize my sample alphabetically: A-G in one box and H-X in the other, but it looks like a 3rd box will need to be added soon.

    All the samples are in individual mini zip-loc bags, standing upright and labeled so I can easily see what each one is.

    Can you tell I was really procrastinating while I was finishing my degree? 🙂 March 11, 2013 at 4:25am Reply

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