A Perfume for Every Occasion

Please welcome a contribution from Courtney Humphries, who will join us at Bois de Jasmin. Courtney is a freelance journalist and author living in Boston, and she writes about science, health, and culture for a variety of publications. I especially recommend her article for Wired, Engineering Replacements for Essential Perfume Ingredients. Courtney became enamored with perfume after wandering into a Diptyque shop several years ago and smelling Philosykos, which immediately captured her attention. As she describes, “A quick web search on it led me to perfume blogs and reviews, and my journey went from there.”  

Before I became a perfume lover, I regarded fragrance much the same way most of the people I know do: as an afterthought. Perfume was a functional product to help me smell good in social situations. I usually owned just one bottle of perfume, and if I remembered I’d spritz a tiny bit on before going out to a party or on a date. Just as often, I’d forget to put it on before leaving the house, so the bottle would languish on my dresser for months or years, until I tossed it in the trash (in those days I believed perfume “went bad” after a year or two).

candle-blue dress

When you own only one bottle of fragrance, your choices are minimal—you’re either perfumed or you’re not. For me, that decision depended on whether the occasion met a certain threshold of “specialness” that justified going scented.

But when I became interested in perfume, I began to see fragrance as a source of personal pleasure. I had to make a leap from what had been my “normal” way of thinking about perfume—that everyone needs just a single fragrance—to the quite radical notion that one can collect an entire wardrobe of fragrances.

For me, the transition was gradual. I could easily justify owning two bottles of perfume: one could be a casual daytime scent and the other a dressier nighttime one. Three bottles? Well, it’s good to have something light for summer. But four bottles? I hesitated before taking that plunge, which seemed outrageously excessive, until I realized that it made perfect sense to have one perfume for each season. And then, each season had its days and nights, and…..you can see where this is going. In a few years I had amassed a large collection of fragrances, along with an increasingly detailed taxonomy for each based on the occasion, weather, or mood it suited.

You could see this as a serious shopping problem, but it was also something else: a growing sensitivity to the nuances of scents and how they speak to me, which in turn gave me a better awareness of my own moods, personalities, and whims. I was never one to play around much with my clothing wardrobe, but with perfume I found myself wanting a ladylike floral one day, and an austere vetiver another. I became aware of how a perfume fit a social occasion or set a tone.

Here are some of the more specific “occasions” I’ve paired with perfumes—or in some cases, only became aware of when I had a perfume to match them:

Girls’ night out

By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses. This exuberant concoction of rose, plum, and other luscious fruits is one of my favorite fragrances, and its delicious sillage also makes it a crowd-pleaser, especially among my female friends.

Business meeting

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. A modern chypre (a blend of moss and woods) that is warm, restrained, and elegant, it’s the fragrance I always choose when I want to feel focused and competent in work situations.

De-stressing

Diptyque Tam Dao. The dry sandalwood and cypress opening of this fragrance never fails to relax me after a rough day.

Easter

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer. Not growing up in a particularly religious household, Easter was never a major holiday for me. Nevertheless, every Easter I find myself reaching this blend of sheer lilies and incense as a perfect way to set the mood for the opening of spring.

Hiking

Ayala Moriel Vetiver Racinettes I’m a nature lover and usually prefer the outdoors as is. But a dab of this natural perfume—earthy vetiver lightly sweetened with a root beer note— is a perfect quiet accompaniment to an outdoor adventure.

Sailing

Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel. I’ll admit, my only experience sailing involved one afternoon whipsawing in a tiny boat around a tiny pond, but perfume is just as often about what we aspire to be as as who we are now. This pungent blend of smoke, herbs, and salt is the fragrance I wear when fantasizing about the romantic ocean journeys I’ll take once I’ve properly learned to sail.

So, what perfumes do you associate with specific occasions?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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56 Comments

  • george: LOVE THE WIRED ARTICLE (I felt like shouting about it). esp the line- ” If Becker dreams up a fragrance that violates IFRA rules, the robots won’t even mix it for her.”- which seems to encapsulate a nightmarish situation.

    I wear Dans Tes Bras when I clean, and Sycomore when I need to be non-negotiating and get my own way. September 16, 2013 at 7:24am Reply

    • Courtney: Thanks very much! I hadn’t thought of a scent for cleaning–perhaps I don’t spend as much time cleaning as I should! But Dans Tes Bras is a great choice. September 16, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

  • Tara C: Onda is my hot date scent, Dia is my fancy lady scent, CdG Hinoki is my calm, zen scent, and Spiritueuse Double Vanille is my cozy scent. When I feel like something sweet and uplifting it’s Vanitas. September 16, 2013 at 8:05am Reply

    • Courtney: Hi Tara, Onda is an inspired choice for a date, it makes such a unique statement. Hinoki has a similar effect on me as Tam Dao. It’s so interesting how woods relax us. September 16, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

  • rosarita: Hi, Courtney, this is an enjoyable topic for any perfume lover. I love how perfume, like music, helps to choose or enhance your mood, especially in seasonal settings, greeting beloved fall fragrances like old friends. Black Cashmere for crisp days, Black Aoud for chilly nights. 31 Rue Cambon for business is a great choice. Shalimar extrait for special occasions. September 16, 2013 at 8:40am Reply

    • Courtney: Black Cashmere does set the tone for fall! And it’s also fun to try wearing something “against” the occasion once in a while (a summer cologne on a snowy day) just to see how it affects you. September 16, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

  • lucasai: Warm welcome to you Courtney!
    I enjoyed reading your first article at Bois de Jasmine.
    I usually don’t look at my perfumes through the prism of the occasion it might suit.
    However I find 1725 from Histoires de Parfums relaxing, Rose Anonyme to be perfect for a date, Prada Amber Pour Homme or Infusion d’Homme for a job interview or for an exam.
    And I have a couple scents for staying home like Ramon Monegal Ambra di Luna. September 16, 2013 at 8:40am Reply

    • Courtney: Thanks very much! For normal work days I choose whatever fragrance pops into my head, but when I have specific plans for the day I do tend to think about what would suit. These are great choices, I also like Prada Infusion de Vetiver as a good “background” scent for business events. September 16, 2013 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Caroline: Completely agree with 31 RC for a business meeting. Tubereuse Criminelle for a date, AdP Profumo for a formal event, and Mito for sailing! Hiking scent is usually Off, but when it’s not mosquito-y, I like Le Temps d’une Fete. September 16, 2013 at 8:41am Reply

    • Courtney: Hi Caroline, I like Profumo for a formal event, it is such a nice classic chypre. Mito I have not fully tested, but this makes me want to. Another perfume that is good in the outdoors is Dior Granville. September 16, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

  • Jillie: Enjoyed reading this very much, Courtney. I now have an extensive wardrobe of scents, and match them for occasions, moods, weather etc. – I never know from one day to the next what I will be wearing and that wardrobe is bulging!

    I was also very interested in your article on Engineering Replacements; the futuristic scene was actually a little bit chilling, but I appreciate that everything changes so I will just have to get used to the new world, sadly. September 16, 2013 at 9:01am Reply

    • Courtney: I have similarly roving tastes, but it makes life interesting! In the Wired article, I agree the changes are disconcerting. What makes it complicated is that it’s perfectly admirable to want our chemical products to be as safe as possible — this is one of the consequences that most people don’t think about. September 16, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: The article is a great read, I enjoyed the style and the clarification but the content made me sad, like most of us. On the other hand: there are still so many lovely and interesting perfumes around. For instance Sous le Vent, which I am wearing today. And Mitsouko, with all the reformulations. As it was put in your article: the nose adapts, and Mitsouko will always be Mitsouko.
    Times change and so do esthetics. But with all these restrictions, they change too drastically and not from an inner urge.
    Let’s hope the perfumers take the challenge to prove now how creative they are!
    I seldom adapt my perfumes to occasions. But I am careful with Poison and Carnal Flower.
    And in the theater, never too heavy. I tend to adapt to the opera: for ex. an elegant iris (Dior Homme or Shalimar L’Initial) for La Traviata, and Bois d’Encens (applied with a light hand ) for Parsifal. September 16, 2013 at 9:44am Reply

    • Courtney: Choosing a perfume to match an opera is wonderful! It’s true, there are still so many interesting perfumes around today, and we can’t expect each one we love to remain the same. But it’s frustrating when restrictions and the market are the force of change. September 16, 2013 at 6:21pm Reply

      • Anka: A week ago I was going to a rehearsal at the Berlin State Ballet. They were supposed to dance “The Nutcracker” so I decided to wear Lutens Fille en aiguielle. But instead they were rehearsing for a grand Gala – a potpourri from Swan Lake to Don Quixote… September 17, 2013 at 6:29am Reply

  • Pat Borow a.k.a.Olfacta: For me perfume is more about mood than occasion. Seasons, too — we have four quite distinct ones, and I change my perfume wardrobe as I do clothing, putting the citruses away for winter. My Christmas- season favorite is Amouage’s Lyric for Women, but I would never wear it in July.

    Applying perfume just before going to sleep is my favorite way to choose. There are no limits then, no concern about fumeophobes or what is appropriate. September 16, 2013 at 9:58am Reply

    • Courtney: I like the idea of bedtime as an “anything goes” time! September 16, 2013 at 6:24pm Reply

    • Aisha: Oh, I agree! Bed time is when I test those fragrances I’d feel out of place wearing in public. One is Sahara Noir. I love it, but don’t have a place to wear it. So I just drift off sniffing that. :-) September 16, 2013 at 7:51pm Reply

  • E.Lime: Coromandel is another good Chanel for business and professional events. Gucci Envy reminds me of dances in high school, as it was my event-going scent back then; now if I am going on a date with my husband, I’ll wear Yuzu Rouge (summertime) or Coco (winter). September 16, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

    • Courtney: For me Lauren is probably the scent I associate most with high school dances — I actually would love to get hold of a vintage bottle. September 16, 2013 at 6:28pm Reply

      • Aisha: I have a vintage bottle of Lauren and guard it jealously. ;-) It was actually the fragrance I wore in my later college years after “graduating” from Anais Anais. My very first fragrances were Love’s Baby Soft and Emeraude. I would actually love to have those again just for fun. LOL! September 16, 2013 at 7:55pm Reply

  • nikki: Yes, great article in a great magazine! Thank you for the interesting perfume story!

    In regards to perfumes for different occasions: I really want to strongly caution anyone going hiking against wearing perfume or anything perfumed. It is not worth the risk. Just google bees and perfume and deadly attacks.

    While I used to categorize perfumes into certain daily situations, i.e. Board Meeting, Seduction, Dinner out and so on, I have changed that completely. Now I am using perfume as aromatherapy to get myself in the right mood.

    In the morning I either use Hermes Jardin Apres la Mousson or Kurkdijan’s Eau du matin, if it is a rainy day I use APOM by Kurkdijan. During the day I start layering with scents like Scherrer or Bulgari Eau du The or O de Lancôme. In the afternoon and evening I use Kurkdijan’s Absolue pour le Soir or my new favorite Elie Saab’s Le Parfum Intense.

    I live in a hot climate, interspersed with freezing air conditioned rooms so layering scents is ok as everything evaporates quite fast. I like spraying perfume in quantity so these lighter scents are good for that.

    I also use essential Highland lavender oil on my collar bone which is very refreshing and calming. People seem to really love Lavender (Western societies, not Eastern…). Sometimes I use essential oil of mandarin to soften the edges and capture the cozy feeling I crave. September 16, 2013 at 10:04am Reply

    • mough: I wanted to ask you about the Parfum Intense of Elie Saab. How does it compare to the first release, which I love, but it’s a blast out of the start gate, initially. I’m so like you–the Absolue pour le Soir is one of my top 5. So gorgeous. September 16, 2013 at 12:42pm Reply

      • solmarea: I wondered the same about Intense. September 16, 2013 at 2:17pm Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: I would also not wear any perfume when hiking. I don’t want to attract any kind of insect – even without perfume, mosquitoes love me. I also want to enjoy the smell of nature (one of the strong motivations to go hiking for me) and I don’t want my perfume to intefere. September 16, 2013 at 2:47pm Reply

  • Aisha: Welcome, Courtney!

    I guess I’ve always collected perfumes, but I never realized how much of a fragrance wardrobe I had until I started reading this blog regularly earlier this summer. And, by the way, my collection is growing. It’s growing slowly, but it’s growing. :-)

    Anyway, I’m a stay-at-home mom who sometimes gets called in to sub for the editor of our local small town newspaper. I basically like to keep things light, so my everyday fragrance during the summer was either Atelier’s Orange Sanguine or Guerlain’s Mandarine Basilic.

    Right now, I’m wearing Estee Lauder Pleasures Delight (which, I think, is being discontinued). I’ll also wear Ralph Lauren’s Safari once in a while, but I’m being stingy with that one because my bottle is from the late 80s/early 90s. ;-)

    For winter, I’ll probably switch to Patricia de Nicolai’s Vanille Tonka, something I discovered recently thanks to Victoria. (My first full bottle arrived in the mail last week. YES!) I’m going to ask for Prada’s Candy for Christmas, so I’ll probably be wearing that too. To me, winter definitely equals food-y scents like those two. They also wouldn’t compete with the smells of baked goods that seem to be abundant during that time of year.

    My birthday is in February, and I’d really, really, really love a bottle of Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. I’m encouraging my hubby to save up for that one. ;-D I see myself switching to that to wear when I work at the paper.

    Oh! My date night fragrance hasn’t changed since the mid-1990s: YSL Paris. It’s absolutely my favorite among all the gorgeous fragrances available today. September 16, 2013 at 10:12am Reply

    • Courtney: Thanks Aisha! Cuir de Russie is certainly a treasure worth saving for. I find it classy but also intimate. I wear food-y stuff more often in the winter too, and there’s usually a time in the bleakest part of winter when I suddenly crave fruity scents. September 16, 2013 at 6:36pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I have collected perfumes since I was 20 years old and probably have well over 200 different ones–from vintage to modern day. I never leave home without spritzing or dabbing a fragrance. While I am getting ready (putting on my makeup and/or taking a shower, I am already contemplating on what perfume I will wear, long before I think of what clothes I will be wearing. Sometimes, fragrance will just pop into my head and that’s the one I will wear. Other times I match my mood with my daily scent. When I come home from work, I may either give myself a spritz of what I wore to work or pick something entirely different. Also, I wear certain perfumes mainly at bedtime. Thus by the end of any given day, I usually have worn at least two scents, and sometimes three. September 16, 2013 at 10:46am Reply

    • Courtney: I also start thinking about what fragrance to wear when I wake up — I’m not a morning person, so it gives me something to look forward to. September 16, 2013 at 9:50pm Reply

  • Austenfan: It was a lovely read, thank you for that, and welcome!
    I don’t quite categorise my fragrances the way you do, but I do often choose scent to go with my mood.
    I started wearing fragrance in my late teens and very quickly had 2 favourites that I wore for years. ( Anaïs Anaïs and Paris). I never had the embarrassing amount of scent that I own now, but I have had 4-5 different bottles for more than 15-20 years. It is a delightful and quite frivolous hobby that thankfully takes my mind from life’s bigger issues. September 16, 2013 at 11:06am Reply

    • Courtney: Thank you! Yes it’s a distraction from bigger issues for sure, but it does make life that much more enjoyable. September 16, 2013 at 11:12pm Reply

  • Hannah: I’ve noticed that people on perfume blogs are pretty anti-signature fragrance, but I actually would love to only own one bottle. For now I own 5. I plan to give 2 away and then replace them with Coze and Wonderwood. This would make my collection:
    Wonderwood (school/work/grocery store)
    Donna Karan Black Cashmere (date, funnily my boyfriend thought absolutely nothing of this but was crazy about Wonderwood)
    Coze (for cold days)
    Bulgari Black (night out. Even though I don’t get out much.)
    I also have a bottle of Ouarzazate, but I’m just trying to get through it. I might replace it with Hinoki for a summer scent. September 16, 2013 at 11:51am Reply

    • Courtney: This is a very sane collection! Sometimes when I really fall in love with a fragrance I feel like I could wear it every day as a signature scent….unfortunately at this point there are too many I feel that way about :) September 16, 2013 at 11:14pm Reply

      • Hannah: Bulgari Black could have been that scent and Wonderwood could be that scent now. My mom wears Obsession and my friend wears Egoiste [Platinum, since we’ve met because his mom bought it by mistake] and I like that they have something so identifiable. Once I was at a cafe and a man sat at the table beside me and he was almost certainly wearing Egoiste Platinum and I was reminded of my friend.
        My life is pretty luxury-free, so why not indulge myself with 4 or 5 bottles? I could have an olfactory signature for my home, I suppose. I recently went a bit crazy about buying cedar chips, panels, and sachets so you get attacked with cedar as soon you open the door to my room. September 17, 2013 at 12:12am Reply

  • mayk: Lovely read. I’m totally with you for 31RC in business situations although I find it plays extremely well on a date as well.

    My list >>>

    DATE NIGHTS (IN)
    Ineke Evening Edged in Gold
    Hypnotic Poison
    Penhaligons Amaranthine

    DATE NIGHTS (OUT)
    Le Labo LYS 41
    Ormonde Jayne Woman
    Agent Provocateur

    WORK
    Le Labo IRIS 39
    Byredo La Tulipe
    Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

    RAINY WEEKEND
    Serge Lutens De Profundis

    VACATION
    CB I Hate Perfume White Ginger Flower & Mr Hulots Holiday

    NSFW
    Gucci RUSH
    Kenzo Jungle September 16, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Courtney: I love that you have different perfumes for date nights in and out! Also like the idea of wearing De Profundis on a rainy weekend….I find it to be a very contemplative scent. September 16, 2013 at 11:30pm Reply

  • Eva S.: For cross-country skiing: Chanel no 5. It is great in cold weather! September 16, 2013 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Courtney: Wow, what an elegant skiing fragrance! I’m intrigued. September 16, 2013 at 11:40pm Reply

      • Eva S.: Try it!
        I do some cross-country ski-races, I bet I am the only one wearing Chanel… :) September 17, 2013 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Isis: Love the article! I would love to have just a handful of favorite scents for a handful of occasions I keep making a list and then changing it… buf off course I have to smell EVERYTHING there is before I get there ;) . So far I have been using:

    Writing/working alone:
    no.19 , Hiris, and Violet Blonde

    working with collegues;
    Cristalle edt
    Hermes Vanille Galante
    Guerlain Vetiver

    for summer: Jardin en Mediterannee

    When I go camping: Vetiver Tonka

    When I go out: Tom Ford Black Orchid and Goutal Passion

    Reading for pleasure: Lutens Douce Amère

    For sleeping: SL Louve

    And when I have the flu I always put on a little SL Chypre Rouge. I can’t explain it but it makes me feel better when I feel really really sick.

    These weeks I have been living in a hospital, and I have been searching for a perfect hospitalization-scent. I am gravitating towards warm ambery/vanilla/incensy scents (I’ve brought some samples and decants) because they provide a nice contrast to the scent of medication and the stuff they clean and sterilise everything with. Actually, I have noticed that when I spray the blue sterillium–desinfectant-stuff on my hands to enter the ICU, I get a strong hit of what I think must be a synthetic jasmin-y scent for about 5 seconds. Is it insane if I actualy like it?) September 16, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Courtney: Thank you Isis! I imagine that spending extended time in a hospital requires something extra comforting. My favorite warm ambery fragrances lately are Arquiste Anima Dulcis, Diptyque Eau Duelle, and Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman, and Parfumerie Generale Indochine. September 16, 2013 at 11:58pm Reply

      • Anka: When I was in hospital last year, I used to wear Vaniglia del Madagascar (Farmacia) which was very comforting and calming. Unfortunately it is now associated with that period of time so I can’t wear it anymore. Maybe it would be good to have some decants for really special (problematic) occasions like going to the dentist, hospital, tax accountant, mother-in-law (joke…) etc.
        Get well soon!!

        Courtney, thanks for this lovely and inspiring post, I look forward to reading mor from you on Bdj! September 17, 2013 at 6:16am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hello Courtney, I really enjoyed reading the Wired article. It was really fascinating and informative. It’s very cool that there are robots mixing all the ingredients; I thought it was technicians’ job.

    I’ve been interested in perfumery for quite a while but I only recently started wearing perfumes on a daily basis. At the moment, I’m just trying out different samples without fixed commitment. But there is one perfume that I associate with a specific occasion: Guerlain AA Herba Fresca for airplane travel. While I check out all the latest releases at duty free, I always spritz a bit of Herba Fresca. It’s an instant refresher and it keeps me relaxed during long flights. It has almost become a ritual. September 16, 2013 at 4:23pm Reply

    • Courtney: Thanks Anne — there are still technicians in the labs that do some of the mixing, but in a large company like this it is increasingly done by the robots.

      Having a special fragrance to spritz in the duty free is a great way to enjoy flights. I’ve made the mistake of testing something I didn’t like and then having to sit through a long flight with it. September 17, 2013 at 11:01am Reply

  • Maja: What an amazing and informative article in Wired! Thank you! It is also slightly saddening though. I know there must be some kind of regulation but IFRA is … no comment. Poor oak moss, poor rodents sprayed with molecules, poor art of making perfumes.

    I don’t think I have perfumes for occasions but rather perfumes for moods or a certain type of weather. But I do notice that, when I need to focus or appear more strict than I usually am, I go for chypres and vetivers. :) September 16, 2013 at 5:38pm Reply

    • Courtney: Thanks Maja. I also wear tend to wear vetivers when I have deadlines and need to focus! September 17, 2013 at 11:05am Reply

  • Jennifer C: Welcome, Courtney!

    I just read your Wired article and really enjoyed it. I have two bottles of Mitsouko, one a full bottle of recent formulation, and the other a small vintage tester bottle that I was thrilled to come across in an antique shop a couple of months ago (and for only $6!!!). I like the recent version, but when I wore the vintage, the difference was striking. It has so much more depth. As other commenters on the article said, I wish the strategy were more about education and labeling than banning ingredients.

    Now, as for the subject at hand: I don’t know if I’m terribly specific about perfumes for certain occasions. I think I take things on a case-by-case basis and it will depend on what I’m in the mood for that day. I do have some seasonal variations, though. I like green scents in the spring and summer, and tobaccos and leathers and such come out in the fall. I also tend to like vetivers more in warmer weather than at cooler times of the year. September 16, 2013 at 8:40pm Reply

    • Courtney: Thanks Jennifer! I have a couple of fragrances I prefer in vintage form — mainly Chamade — but with others like Chanel Cuir de Russie I find the reformulation suits my modern sensibilities better. But I wish that older formulas could be “grandfathered” in and simply labeled with some kind of a warning. September 17, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

  • kaori: Welcome Courtney! During hiking this summer, I mistakenly wore a floral perfume and attracted several bees, which scared me. Vetiver seems to be safe :)
    I also enjoyed your articlevery much. September 16, 2013 at 10:01pm Reply

    • Courtney: Good warning, kaori. Yes, vetiver seems to be fine, or perhaps something with a natural bug repellant like lavender! September 17, 2013 at 11:15am Reply

  • Alice: Welcome, and thank you for the lovely piece above. Like you, I love too many to ever have a signature, but I am always pleased when I can identify a handful that work so well in particular situations that I use them consistently. Currently a few of my favourties are:
    for yoga and early morning starts: FM angeliques sous la plui
    meetings/formal work events: 31 Rue Cambon
    sailing: Labo Neroli 36 (orange blossoms blown on sea air)
    cool spring days: Patricia de Nicola musc intense
    energy and adventure (my nearest to a signature): Rossy de Palma
    elegant events: SL Daim Blonde September 17, 2013 at 1:17am Reply

    • Courtney: I’m glad 31 RC works for you too! I need to try Le Labo Neroli, it sounds right up my alley. September 18, 2013 at 5:52pm Reply

  • Wesley Hall Parker: Welcome Courtney! Fun article :)

    I lived in San Francisco for 15 years, then moved back to my home state of Louisiana 2 years ago- so I’m discovering that not only mood, but climate and local culture significantly impact my perfume choices. I’m still trying to re-establish a “wardrobe!” :) It’s hard!

    When living by the sea, I favored lots of salty scents. And SF’s air was also very transparent and mild, the weather changed little year round, and the culture was extremely casual – so I favored these unisex seasonless rainy seaside things for work & play. A favorite day scent was Lost Marc’h Ael-Mat – which is a juniper-y chamomile jasmine by the sea. Another was Le Labo’s Neroli 36 – which is swimming in Calone. But in unisex cologne orange blossom way.

    For nights out in my 20s, I wore Hanae Mori Parfum – because it was such a ridiculous, borderline trashy-dessert counterpoint to all that unisex, seasonless, hipsterness :D It worked! My husband still loves it…but I just can’t wear it out of context now.

    In Louisiana it is too literal. I just smell like an aging bon-bon. Sigh.

    So NOW, in LOUISIANA, home of hot humid summer nights, rainy wet winters, where women are hyper feminine, and there are all kinds of social rituals…my, my, how things have changed. My perfume is still trying to catch up! The last two years have been about experimentation. Lots of it with warm weather scents.

    WORK:
    I work from home, so I can wear whatever I want. Usually samples ;)
    When I have an in-person meeting – I still often go to Lost Marc’h Ael-Mat. Or sometimes Jour d’Hermes. Or Chanel Eau Premiere.

    CHURCH:
    Cooler Months = Chanel 31 Rue Cambon
    Warmer Months = Chanel Eau Premiere

    FANCY SPRING DAY PARTY:
    L’Temps d’une Fete

    MY 3YO DAUGHTER WANTS US BOTH TO WEAR THE SAME PERFUME:
    Warm months = Hermes Rose Ikebana
    Cool months = L’eau d’Hiver

    PREGNANT / COMFORT SCENT:
    L’eau d’Hiver

    POOLSIDE:
    Bronze Goddess

    DATE IN A SUNDRESS:
    L’Artisan Seville a L’Aube (or heck, anything in a sundress, female friends love this one)

    TOO HOT TO BREATHE: Something tonic like…
    Annick Goutal Neroli or
    Voyages d’Hermes

    But I still have no idea what to do about winter, or what my new “go to” date night perfume should be! I just can’t seem to find it… September 17, 2013 at 7:10pm Reply

    • Courtney: This is a wonderful description — it’s interesting how location and culture affects what perfumes fit. I do tend to adapt fragrances when traveling, especially city versus rural locations.

      It sounds like orange blossom works for you there, perhaps richer florals would work for the winter or date nights? September 18, 2013 at 6:13pm Reply

  • Annikky: Courtney, I really enjoyed reading your post, thank you! I am not too rigid when it comes to scents and occasions, but I find it very helpful to have some pairings that I know will always work.

    As many others have said, Rue Cambon is perfect for work. I find Chanels, iris scents and calm, elegant chypres all to be really good for business situations and this one combines all three :)

    Also: Arquiste Boutonniere No 7 for a cocktail party; SL Iris Silver Mist for a visit to botanical garden; Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay for Austenesque walks in the autumn; SSS Forest Walk for my mother’s house in the country; FM Une Fleur de Cassie for meeting someone disturbingly intelligent and with austere – but perfect – taste. September 19, 2013 at 5:01am Reply

  • Moira: I’m just entering the fragrance world- I’ve always loved perfume but never reached outside of my comfort zone. Your blog is so helpful for someone trying to discover the perfume-niche-world. I linked to you in my blog entry. Thanks!

    xo September 19, 2013 at 2:41pm Reply

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