Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights : Fragrance Review

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Andy discovers a fun “cheap & chic” oriental. And just because it’s made by a celebrity, it doesn’t mean that it’s boring.

“Proceed with Caution” is my go-to rule when it comes to celebrity fragrances. In the fearsome land of celebuscents, bushels of candy-coated fruit fall from trees, rivers flow with vanilla syrup, and billowing clouds of white musk fill the sky, so as far as my tastes are concerned, a visit to that part of the fragrance counter is to be met with extreme trepidation. Imagine my surprise upon testing a celebrity flanker, Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights, which eschews all the flirty fun in favor of a bolder, more sophisticated composition of patchouli and smooth woods.

fancy nights

First off, it’s best to forget the name, because the nicest thing about wearing Fancy Nights is that it never feels like I’m dressed up for a special night out. Rather, I find it a more appropriate accompaniment to a casual, cozy night in. In essence, Fancy Nights is a shoestring budget oriental, though the overall effect smells remarkably well crafted and ultimately quite unique next to almost any mainstream celebrity release I can think of in the past few years.

The top notes of Fancy Nights bring bergamot accented by a short-lived touch of dried fruit. Most interesting to the top and heart of Fancy Nights though is an undercurrent of woodsy dryness that is conspicuous but transparent, making me think of paper. My mention of paper could be a result of my imagination, but there is something about the fragrance, perhaps in the dry, vanilla scented woods that does make me think of flipping through the yellowed pages of an old book. The effect is at its best in the heart, where clean patchouli and smooth woods take on a light glaze of amber. The fragrance, luminous and enveloping, remains at this point for many hours before descending into a cozy base of toasted vanilla and sandalwood.

As a celebrity fragrance especially, smelling Fancy Nights feels like a refreshingly bold departure, with its forward woodsy oriental theme. Bold as well is the sillage, as this fragrance projects generously for me, and has wonderful tenacity. After an evening spent with Fancy Nights, I love smelling a hint of creamy vanilla lingering on my wrists the next morning, and as I’ve found in cold weather, it makes a great scent when added to a scarf before heading out.

Admittedly, as far as oriental fragrances are concerned, Fancy Nights breaks no ground, though its low price point (around $10 at US discounters) is hard to beat. It may not be highly nuanced or even smell like it contains any expensive natural ingredients, but it is generally very pleasant and easygoing. It has the worn-in ease of a classic oriental while still smelling like a modern-day creation, making it both comfortable and undemanding, a perfect compromise of new and old.

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40 Comments

  • Solanace: Funny thing, though not exactly surprising, that the fancy night perfume of normal people reads as cozy and understated in our environment! Anyway, this sounds very appealing, with the old book vibe you describe. Even the bottle is classy for a celebrity frag. I’ll certainly give it a fair sniff. Thank’s for the tip, Andy! March 26, 2014 at 7:30am Reply

    • Andy: I never thought about it that way, but what an interesting point! I would have trouble feeling fancy wearing something as cozy as this. On the other hand, the dry papery vibe is quite crisp and modern smelling, so it never quite reaches the point of total comfort and ease until that fades slightly. March 26, 2014 at 8:18am Reply

  • rosarita: Thanks for this review! Fancy Nights gets some love on the Makeupalley fragrance board but I haven’t tried it because this genre is big in my collection. But for a cheap thrill in this endless winter – well, I might be doing a little shopping today 🙂 March 26, 2014 at 8:31am Reply

    • Andy: I’ll have to check that out and see what’s being said on Makeupalley–I’m always curious to read what others have to say about a particular perfume. And endless winter is right! I’m in the Northeast U.S. and we just had snow last night. On the flip side, it makes for a great season of oriental and gourmand wearing. March 26, 2014 at 9:15am Reply

  • Martha: Nothing wrong with a pleasant, easy-to-wear perfume featuring vanilla, woods, and patchouli. I think I’ll look for this next time I go shopping. March 26, 2014 at 9:17am Reply

    • Andy: No, not at all! At one point in time I would have been a little sheepish admitting I liked a low-end perfume like Fancy Nights, but with the niche prices mostly out of my range, it’s all the more reason to find cheap thrills like this. March 26, 2014 at 9:22am Reply

  • Lauren B: I’m so intrigued by this! I just might don my trenchcoat and Jackie O sunglasses and sneak some back to my house today. March 26, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

    • Andy: Sounds like an undercover mission 😉 ! Good luck! March 26, 2014 at 10:17am Reply

  • Karima: Thanks for this review – perhaps this is the warm patchouli sandalwood scent I have been smelling for. For that price, I don’t mind blind buying! March 26, 2014 at 10:05am Reply

    • Andy: Even if it doesn’t quite reach ultimate status for you, you’re right, the price is still very palatable! March 26, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

  • Elena: I saw this at a discounter a while ago, and almost bought it because of the love it gets from perfumistas for a cheap thrill. I am with you, Andy, on the price. I also love things I’ve gotten inexpensively because I am much more likely to use them up. I use a bottle of Champs Elysees EDT as a room freshener for my daughters’ playroom from time to time! It’s youthful and fun, but way better than Febreeze, and since I wear it so rarely, it’ll actually get used. Maybe someday they’ll smell someone wearing it and have a sudden memory of playing at home at four years old, and poof! another generation of perfumistas is created. March 26, 2014 at 10:35am Reply

    • Andy: I have to agree in many ways with you, Elena. If I have a bottle of something inexpensive like Fancy Nights and a bottle of a niche fragrance, I’m bound to use the inexpensive one more generously. As much as I try to heed the rule of “use it or lose it” when it comes to perfume, I still find myself saving up my more expensive perfumes for times when I’ll really enjoy wearing them. Also, your kids are lucky to have a Champs Élysées scented playroom! 🙂 March 26, 2014 at 11:04am Reply

  • Portia: One of my go to scents. Love it. So easy and a bit like a budget Shalimar in some phases. I enjoyed your review, thanks
    Portia xx March 26, 2014 at 10:41am Reply

    • Andy: Thank you, Portia! I definitely get the budget Shalimar vibe at points when I wear this. I remember reading your impression of this fragrance before—you like it as a bedtime fragrance, if I’m not mistaken? (me too!) March 26, 2014 at 11:07am Reply

      • Karen: A bedtime fragrance! I do that, thought I was the only one! Love choosing a fragrance to drift off to especially now that work is absolutely fragrance free and I find myself feeling starved for lovely scents. Do you have any other suggestions for scents to dream to? April 9, 2014 at 7:53pm Reply

        • Andy: I’m fragrance free at work too, so I often feel the same way. For bedtime scents, anything soft and cuddly works for me. Some other personal favorites include Shalimar and Bulgari Black. April 9, 2014 at 9:26pm Reply

          • Karen: Thanks Andy! I’ll look for the Bulgari Black. Shalimar does the trick too. April 10, 2014 at 6:30pm Reply

            • Andy: Oh, if you’ve never tried it, please do! I sometimes wax poetic, because Black is one of my all time favorites, but my enthusiasm aside, it really is a fantastically unique perfume. April 10, 2014 at 7:15pm Reply

    • Solanace: Now I know where I’d read about it before. 🙂 March 26, 2014 at 2:59pm Reply

  • chamekke: I bought a $10 bottle of this after a friend gave me a decant. It’s surprisingly enjoyable and has a very comfortable drydown – a wonderful bedtime scent with all that vanilla/patchouli goodness. And you can be lavish with it!

    BTW papyrus is listed among its notes so I’m guessing that’s the papery undertone you’re picking up. March 26, 2014 at 11:01am Reply

    • Andy: I love this as a bedtime fragrance! The papyrus note was what I figured was the culprit too. The only problem is I’ve never smelled papyrus, so I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination deciding that Fancy Nights smelled papery. March 26, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

  • Aisha: I love inexpensive finds like these! Thanks for the review. 🙂

    Not too long ago, I found a large (3-oz, I think) bottle of Perfumer’s Workshop’s Tea Rose for about $7. Best cheap find ever, in my opinion. And you’re right, perfumes like these will get used up quickly. I also spray Tea Rose on my pillows before bed. My small decant of Cuir de Russie, however, still has a long way to go before it’s used up because I’m stingy when it comes to using it. 😉 I had better use it up though before it turns in to something not-that-pleasant. March 26, 2014 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Andy: I can totally relate, as I have a seemingly enormous bottle of tea rose myself. I used it in my hair this morning while I was puttering around before I got ready, just to try and pretend it was a more springlike day. And I use it a lot! My precious little bottle of Chanel No. 19 extrait on the other hand, is still mostly full… March 26, 2014 at 1:26pm Reply

      • Merlin: Another vote for Tea Rose as a linen spray! March 26, 2014 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Ashley Anstaett: Thanks for the review, I am excited to try this! Like many others here, I feel like I am so stingy with my nicer perfumes. My mom gave herself some VERY generous sprays of my bottle of Fille de Berlin the other day, and I about had a heart attack. Not that I want to be stingy, but a little bit goes a long way. This sounds like it would be a very fun alternative that would probably get a lot of circulation in the winter! March 26, 2014 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Andy: I’ve given Fancy Nights a lot of skin time this winter. Even still my bottle is very full, so even though you can be generous, it’s hardly necessary. Any more than two or three sprays and it might be too much! March 26, 2014 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Mary P.: Thank you so much for giving some attention to less expensive fragrance gems. There are so many people who simply can’t afford luxury fragrances but still want to wear something beautiful or interesting. It’s nice to see that there are wonderful options available that also have a professional stamp of approval 🙂 March 26, 2014 at 1:54pm Reply

    • Andy: Mary, you can count me among those who can’t afford a huge wardrobe of niche or high end fragrances. I’m hardly a professional, but I love to point out these inexpensive fragrance gems for other enthusiasts! March 26, 2014 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Courant: I bought it but don’t find it cosy. I think it’s quite strident and reserve it for the backs of knees and small of back. Can’t wear it ‘up front’. The complete opposite is true for Yardley Iris which I have come to love. I use it most mornings knowing it will fade and leave a base for another. Have powered through the 4 oz while FN remains quite full. So many perfumes, so little time….. March 26, 2014 at 2:43pm Reply

    • Andy: I can see where you would find Fancy Nights a bit brash, as the opening is quite loud. On my skin, that stage fades quickly and I’m left with the comfortable drydown, but the projection can be huge if I’m not careful. I’ve really wanted to try Yardley Iris, but haven’t yet, so thank you for the reminder. March 26, 2014 at 5:03pm Reply

  • Malmaison: Count me as one of those who kept reading about this very affordable perfume and decided to take a blind buy punt – I went for a fragrance and body lotion combo, and was very pleasantly surprised. The body lotion in particular is just gorgeous before bed but also forms a great base for layering with other perfumes. Finally a disclaimer: this in NO WAY reminds me of anything I have ever read about or learned of Jessica Simpson! March 26, 2014 at 3:25pm Reply

    • Andy: I don’t know anything about Jessica Simpson, but from what I understand, Fancy Nights is the black sheep in the Fancy fragrance collection. I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying Fancy Nights, the lotion sounds great! March 26, 2014 at 5:05pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Andy, “yellowed pages of an old book” sounds so warm and cozy. What prompted you to try it among many perfumes in that part of the fragrance counter? Oh, I’d like to let you know that I’m enjoying Jasmine Silver Needle Tea thanks to your article. 🙂 March 26, 2014 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Andy: I tried Fancy Nights on a whim because I had a vague idea I had read good things about it before. Otherwise, I don’t keep up with most celebrity (or other) launches very well, because I’m a very slow tester. And I’m so glad to hear you’ve been enjoying jasmine silver needle! Last night I had jasmine pearl tea before bed and it was absolutely dreamy. March 26, 2014 at 5:09pm Reply

  • Maureen: The bottle is pretty. March 26, 2014 at 8:26pm Reply

    • Andy: Certainly! March 26, 2014 at 8:39pm Reply

  • Poodle: I’m a fan of this one too. I wear it year round. I love the price too. I got a big bottle for well under $20. I’m not a big celebrity scent person but there are a handful that are worth talking about and this is one of them. Great review. March 26, 2014 at 8:46pm Reply

    • Andy: Glad to hear from another Fancy Nights fan! I agree, while I don’t typically find myself enjoying celebrity scents, this one is definitely worth a sniff. March 26, 2014 at 9:22pm Reply

  • Honeebeed: I found a 3.4oz bottle of this today at Marshalls for 10 bucks and decided to buy it. I’ve have had it on for about 5 hours now and I love how it has dried down on my skin. Keep the cheap and chic reviews coming Andy 🙂 March 31, 2014 at 4:47pm Reply

    • Andy: So glad to hear that your blind buy went well. With 3.4 ounces, I’m sure you’ll be able to enjoy Fancy Nights for quite a while! March 31, 2014 at 5:10pm Reply

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