Perfumer’s Advice on How to Choose Perfume : French Elle

How do you select the right perfume? There are lots of articles out there on this topic, including Bois de Jasmin’s perfume wardrobe series and The Art of Seducing Yourself. In February, French Elle published an interview with perfumer Jean-Christophe Hérault, who shared a few tips. Hérault is the author of Balenciaga RosabotanicaComme des Garçons Amazingreen and Chopard Enchanted, and I liked the sensible comments he shared with the magazine. I selected and translated a few excerpts below.

guerlain-bottles

Can you please give us advice on how to select perfume?

The only advice I can give is to take your time. Do not hesitate to try several perfumes to make the right choice. I also suggest you test it on your skin in order to follow the perfume’s progress throughout the day. A perfume should surprise you and develop in a pleasing manner.

How do you explain why one perfume doesn’t smell the same on two different people?

Everyone’s skin reacts in a different manner, and there must be chemistry between the perfume and the person who wears it.

Would you recommend having only one perfume?

In my opinion, there is no rule. If you are happy with your forty perfumes, I encourage you to keep them. Other people have the same perfume for years and cannot imagine changing. This is something very personal. I find it quite interesting to vary fragrances depending on the occasion, and this requires making the right choice at the right time. I like this idea. Some people even combine perfumes, which is a delicate exercise, but why not!

Is it possible to determine, based on someone’s personality, what perfumes will suit them?

Yes , I think a perfume is worn like a garment: we pay attention to our figure, our personality, we will make sure that it fits. Apart from the purely practical aspects, a garment that suits one person may not suit another. It is the same for perfumes. A femme fatale will instinctively select a perfume with a scent trail and powerful notes. But a shy person may make a strategic choice in expressing themselves by putting on a perfume with a rich olfactory aura.

To read the full article in French, please see Bien choisir son parfum : les conseils d’un nez.

Do you have your own tips on selecting perfume?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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88 Comments

  • Bea: Great article!

    I am a beginner in the perfume world and my best advice is to take your time to search for the right scent. I never try more than two or three at the same time because it’s confusing with too many scents at a time. I first try them on a paper stick, take them home and put the sticks at places that I pass many times every day: in the bathroom, on the fridge and in my kitchen. If I like the scents, I will go back and try them on the skin and let them develop for a day.

    If I like any of them enough to consider buying it, I try them at least 2-3 times on the skin. I have a small budget for scents and don’t plan to acquire a huge collection so I really have to be picky.

    It’s also interesting to learn that some scents will grow on you over time. I tried Chanel no 19 and Chanel no 19 Poudré and thought they were “meh!”, but since the first one is considered a classic I went back and continued to try it. After five or six tries, I started to love them both. The original no 19 sadly disappears on my skin after an hour, but Poudré is magnificent on my skin. After trying it probably 10-12 times, I decided to purchase it and couldn’t be happier with it, the perfect spring perfume for me. My search for a good spring perfume took five months, but I have learned so much during the time and have tried so many scents.
    I hope that with experience and a better trained nose, the process of finding new scents will be shorter – right now I am looking for a suitable scent for the Scandinavian summer. Hopefully, I will have found the right one before the summer is over! April 23, 2014 at 7:23am Reply

    • Michaela: Considering your wise approach, you are certainly not a beginner. Good luck, I trust you’ll find a very rewarding summer scent! April 23, 2014 at 8:10am Reply

      • Bea: Thank you for your kind words, Michaela!
        I have had so much fun sniffing my way throuh the bottles at the perfume counters and have met so many wonderful people in the process, both in real life and online. Perfume passionistas really are the kindest and most generous bunch I have met. I am so happy to have found this new hobby! April 24, 2014 at 2:45am Reply

    • Susan Minnicks: My father gave me a bottle of Chanel 19 when I was 17, nearly 40 years ago. I wore it exclusively until about 10 years ago, when some Hermes caught my attention. Now I’m back and forth, faithful and not, and I’m glad I gave myself permission to branch out…there are so many out there. I buy samples and ask for samples and often that’s just enough.
      Bottles last a loooooong time! April 23, 2014 at 9:22am Reply

      • Bea: No 19 really is a beautiful scent, I understand completely how it can be a signature scent. I just found a store that sells the Hermes scents and so far I am very impressed, although not yet in the “try it on the skin”-process. Will go back this week and continue my search. What are your favourites? April 24, 2014 at 2:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Bea, you’re hardly a beginner! There are so many great tips here, and I’m sure others, beginners or not, will appreciate them. Taking your time is really such an important advice, because not following it can hurt one both ways–buying something so-so on a spur of the moment or dismissing a true gem.

      Please let us what perfume you end up picking. You previously described the scent of Scandinavia so beautifully that I still have a vivid image in my mind. April 23, 2014 at 4:04pm Reply

      • Bea: Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Victoria! Your wonderful blog is what made me want to enter the scent world and it really is like exploring a new universe.

        I went back home for easter and were fortunate enough to arrive just in time for the forest anemones (Anemone nemorosa) to blossom. The grounds were covered with a thick green and white carpet everywhere. For the first time I actually got down on my knees to stick my nose into them. What I got was a rather musky smell (probably from the ground) combined with a very light and sweet scent, similar to, I think, sweet almonds. (?)
        Regardless, it was a forgotten smell from my childhood and brought me back to my grandmother’s house where the anemones were everywhere. I could almost feel the smell of warm dachshound too when I closed my eyes. I wish the two could be combined in a bottle. :) April 24, 2014 at 3:02am Reply

        • Victoria: This sounds like it could make the most exquisite perfume. I love the scents of spring flowers, because they are much more unusual–earthy, green, without the sensuality of summer florals but with plenty of character.

          And once again, you really make me want to travel around Scandinavian countries. :) April 24, 2014 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Annikky: He seems very nice, sensible and unpretentious, thanks for sharing. I smelled Rosabotanica the other day and was pleasantly surprised – I found it intriguing for a mainstream fragrance and liked it much better than the original. April 23, 2014 at 7:29am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s why I loved this short article. I really don’t like “the rules”–wear this, always do that, etc., and I liked his laidback and sensible approach.

      Rosabotanica was very good, and I’ve drained my sample very quickly. April 23, 2014 at 4:06pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Wonderful article, beautiful picture! oh, that big splash bottle of L’Eau du Coq, what a temptation!
    I have a little perfume room, cool, curtains closed, heating off, bottles in their package. I am the last person to give ”tips” on choosing perfume, I am with perfume like Don Giovanni with women, I love them all (but I treat my loves well). I have probably more than 40.
    But i always return to the old Guerlains. April 23, 2014 at 7:32am Reply

    • Anka: Oh my god, a little perfume room, how cool!!
      With perfume, I too have a quite Don Juanesque relationship, I like mine all AND want to get rid of some (but they should go to a nice place…). April 23, 2014 at 8:25am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Anka, if I were you, I would keep them. Your taste can change, in my experience it does from time to time. April 23, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! That big bottle of Guerlain cologne has been calling my name. Of course, it’s way out of my league, and I probably don’t even need it, but I just like to admire it. So, I took a photo. :) April 23, 2014 at 4:07pm Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. I love your idea of a little perfume room! I guess, I have something like it, but it also functions as my office/library. April 23, 2014 at 4:08pm Reply

  • solanace: Great tips. I like having fun with the process of choosing my perfumes. No hurry to settle down. :) April 23, 2014 at 7:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! The process of trying and discovering is the best part. April 23, 2014 at 4:08pm Reply

  • Anka: Thanks for an inspiring post! What Hérault writes about the personality and perfume correlation is interesting. One of the most heartbreakingly beautiful scents to me is Mohur of which a traveller size is standing on my desk because I sniff on the bottle every day. But I don’t wear it much, it’s nearly unused – when I want a rose, I instinctly reach out for Nahema, Eau Suave or Eau de Protection. April 23, 2014 at 8:22am Reply

    • Victoria: There are some fragrances like this for me too (Must de Cartier, Jean Patou Joy), and I’ve figured that maybe they’re just not for me.
      On the other hand, I’ve had pleasant surprises revisiting some interesting perfumes, and maybe Mohur will eventually feel more comfortable (and something you might crave) for you too. April 23, 2014 at 4:14pm Reply

      • Anka: Actually, I crave the smell of Mohur nearly every day but I don’t want to wear it often. I just want to smell it (like a flower, probably). April 24, 2014 at 4:11am Reply

        • Victoria: That sounds like such a lovely idea, though. :) April 24, 2014 at 5:06pm Reply

  • Michaela: Take your time… maybe this is never stressed enough :)
    I used to think there is no answer to this question and I didn’t see the use of such articles. Why bother?! But as I read more and more, I discover them so helpful, all the advice are driving me closer to a proper choice for the proper occasion, season or mood.
    For me, it’s still almost impossible to select a perfume as a present for my dear ones. But I felt triumph when I recently gave a sample to one of my mature and exigent friends, believing the perfume suits her, and she decided she’d have a big bottle. Finding a perfume that makes someone happy is maybe more rewarding than choosing the perfect scent for yourself. April 23, 2014 at 8:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I admit that some articles that are full of categorical rules (“everyone must have a signature,” or “everyone must change perfumes every day,” that sort of thing) annoy me. One size really doesn’t fit all.

      Selecting perfume for someone else is hard, unless you know their tastes really well, and even then, it’s risky. On the other hand, some of my friends and relatives really like sets of samples or decants. April 23, 2014 at 4:50pm Reply

  • nemo: Another useful thing I have found during my scent journey is finding perfume friends who either have very similar tastes as me, or completely different ones! The friends with similar tastes help me find something I like for a specific occasion and make me think about what I like specifically about a perfume (and it’s always nice to have someone to share with!). The friends with completely different tastes are still fun to talk perfume with, and will have an appreciation for those scents that are totally NOT me…because all perfumes deserve a good home :) April 23, 2014 at 8:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Another awesome tip! And also, having friends interested in perfume makes this hobby even more fun. April 23, 2014 at 4:53pm Reply

  • Sandra: I think its important to know what your skin holds on to best. For me, spicy and oriental notes really last all day, but soft florals and aquatic notes fade fast. Its up to you and your budget on what your willing to spend on something that may not last of develop.
    Also, perfume can be situational. For instance Annick Goutal Un matin d’orage radiates off my skin for a bit of time, so I may not want to wear that to a formal business dinner, I would go for something thats close to the skin that will not be offensive. This is why having more then one bottle or sample of fragrances may be beneficial.
    Just my opinion! April 23, 2014 at 9:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Very true! Some people don’t believe that perfume can change on one’s skin, but I’ve witnessed how much a perfume can vary person to person. Which makes buying based on the paper test very tricky.

      Un Matin d’Orage is a very radiant perfume on me too. It seems so light, but in fact, it diffuses nicely. April 23, 2014 at 4:54pm Reply

  • Nikki: interesting article, especially the comment about becoming blind to one’s own perfume to the detriment of the public (in French article). That is, alas, so true. I can’t really smell my faves anymore and I am sure I overdo it at times to be able to smell at all.

    I usually get compliments on my femme fatale scents such as Une Fleur de Cassie, Spellbound and Mauboussin original. However, the perfumes that I have a more intimate relationship with such as APOM pour femme, Gardenia Passion and Eau Duelle, never evoke any comments. They are more intimate because I either use them every day, like the scents for morning by Francis Kurkdijan, or 4711 verbena or eau dynamisante to wake me up, or because they are so close to my skin, they seem to melt into it.
    I also choose and use my perfumes because they are intricately woven into my past and the people who wore the perfumes… such is the case with First by Van Cleef. It was worn during the nineties by two special friends who have long passed on. So First is a timewarp perfume.
    Sometimes I choose perfumes because I get so seduced by the flacon and presentation, I can’t resist…Lalique for example. I love the flacons but I don’t love any of the fragrances. April 23, 2014 at 9:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, a good point! Nothing can bring the past events better than scent. Well, music, too. April 23, 2014 at 4:55pm Reply

    • Cynthia: Thank you for your insights ~ I too feel as if my ‘uniform fragrances’ have become, ghost scents … April 23, 2014 at 8:25pm Reply

  • JanLast: Great article. It’s a real shame I don’t follow any advice on selecting perfume. I am a rape and pillage perfume person. Hit a new town, search out every perfume place within 30 miles and buy as many samples as my money will allow. Smell and re smell, but don’t let the intrigue wane. I end up with too many scents, but that’s what sharing is for. I hunt the weird and unusual and wear them. I’ve grown to know and love notes I thought I hated. And the other way around!
    I want a perfume room!! April 23, 2014 at 10:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that we all need a perfume room! Or a perfume library where we could meet, talk perfume, or just read and smell something nice. :) April 23, 2014 at 4:57pm Reply

      • Maren: I love this idea Victoria, a perfume library would be glorious! April 23, 2014 at 11:35pm Reply

        • Victoria: Also, with a section of books specifically on perfume and scents! April 24, 2014 at 10:01am Reply

  • ralu: One criteria I would add is other people’s reaction to your perfume as something to keep in mind when selecting a perfume. To me that is very important since others are more aware of my perfume than I am.

    My favorite right now is Coromandel. I wonder what that says about me. Katie Puckrick’s review of this perfume on youtube is quite entertaining. April 23, 2014 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Off to see Katie’s review! I love her videos, but I missed Coromandel. Thank you for a mention, Ralu. April 23, 2014 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Merlin: I find the idea of a perfume suiting a person quite interesting. I mean this aside from the issue of actually smelling different on another person’s skin. I’v been in the odd position of loving a perfume, with a sales assistant telling me it didn’t suit me. I had similar taste to her in perfume, and she was genuinely interested in the subject – not just selling the stuff. We got on quite well and I think she saw me as a little unusual, and complex – whereas the scent was quite a sunny sweet citrus scent. Anyway, I found this an interesting question: surely a scent can make you happy even if it doesn’t fit – or is even at odds with – your overall presentation.

    I guess like every other simplification it leads to a whole chain of questions relating to identity, et al! April 23, 2014 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Bastet: I definitely like to wear fragrances that may not “suit me” because they allow me to branch out and explore new facets of my personality. I guess I’m not particularly adventurous with clothes or even experiences, but I can be with perfume. Even the most complex and serious person has a little bit of sweet sunny simplicity in them (and visa versa), so I say go for it! April 23, 2014 at 4:20pm Reply

      • Merlin: I didn’t buy it in the end because I was only in the city for two days and it was pricey enough to need more extensive testing:)

        But yes, I agree, each person is many faceted, and in any case – there is also the question of whose conception of ‘me’ does it suit? April 23, 2014 at 5:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, that’s an interesting perspective. I definitely think that sometimes I wear perfumes that feel exactly me, but there are times when I want something completely different (for instance, YSL Opium or Chopard Casmir.) It’s fun to push one’s boundaries a bit or a lot. April 23, 2014 at 5:00pm Reply

      • Merlin: Simultaneous posting, lol! Chergui does feel ‘me’ and though I like Violet Blonde it feels so ‘not me’ I don’t think I could seriously wear it too often – if ever…

        I think it does get peculiar though when you like a perfume that someone else says doesn’t suit you. April 23, 2014 at 5:05pm Reply

        • Merlin: I mean, how out of touch could I be with myself;) April 23, 2014 at 5:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: Ah, that happened to me. I was wearing Gres Cabochard, and a colleague said that it smelled wrong on me, “too tough.” On the other hand, I don’t mind smelling a bit tough time to time. :)

          Did you have something similar happen to you? Or are you just musing? April 23, 2014 at 5:15pm Reply

          • Merlin: Yeah, my first comment was about an experience I had recently in Munich. (Bastet was responding to my comment).

            It seems like your colleague sees you as ‘refined and gentle’, but why should you have to fit into her conception? Although, like the assistant I mentioned above – I’m sure she meant her remark as a compliment – but I still find it unsettling that others make such judgments!

            Was it the current Cabochard EDT you were wearing? I remember someone once describing cabochard as a leather glove holding a green jewel! April 23, 2014 at 5:37pm Reply

            • Victoria: Oops, sorry, I’m a bit out of it today. I responded to your first comment thinking you were someone else, so I didn’t make the connection between the subsequent comment.

              Exactly, we need not fit into some mold, and it makes things more interesting to try something out of character. Yes, I was wearing the current EDT, and it’s essentially a green leather perfume. The vintage was brasher and richer, but what’s use of pining after something that’s gone. April 23, 2014 at 5:51pm Reply

              • Merlin: No prob:)

                I haven’t smelled the original Cabochard. I probably wouldn’t like it. The current one is subdued, but that might be why I find it so appealing! Would it make any sense to say it is rough without being overly abrasive? April 23, 2014 at 6:12pm Reply

                • Merlin: Or what I meant is that despite being a leather, it still smells very refined. April 24, 2014 at 7:18am Reply

                • Victoria: Yes, it makes perfect sense! I used to really dislike the new version, but maybe, I’m changing or the formula has been tweaked again, but now I enjoy it. April 24, 2014 at 8:42am Reply

      • Hannah: I really can’t wear anything that doesn’t feel like me. In the post about spring fragrances I mentioned Philosykos and Iris Prima are getting a lot of wear, but I get tired of them soon after putting them on.
        I take forever to buy perfumes because it is very important that I chose the one that matches my identity. There are fragrances that I may enjoy but I almost never have the desire to wear them.

        My mom’s signature scent has been Obsession for longer than I’ve been alive, but she considered switching to Gucci Guilty and it just seemed so wrong to me. April 23, 2014 at 8:45pm Reply

        • Victoria: Philosykos feels the same way to me too. While I enjoy it very much, I never really want to wear for more than a day in row. I had high hopes for the Eau de Parfum, but the EDT is still better.

          Gucci Guilty is a very good perfume, a sweet lilac with a twist of patchouli. It seems like a nice choice to me. April 24, 2014 at 10:00am Reply

        • rainboweyes: The same holds true for me – it took me a long time to discover that iris suits my personality best. Plus iris or violet scents are great to wear in the office, too. Which is very important to me as I spend most time of the day there!
          I’ve a problem with finding a night out scent, though. Something that’s still “me” but with more impact and a different aura than my day scents. Up to now I’ve found just one – Histoires de Parfums Moulin Rouge. I actually might ask this question to the community in one of the next “Recommend me a perfume” posts… April 24, 2014 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Courant: I grew up in New Zealand’s 1950s. Perfume was such a luxury item that I still find it difficult to dislike any; it was so revered. A beautifully executed Jasmine, Iris or Rose is wonderful on anybody. Having said that I have large collection and lean on just a few April 23, 2014 at 3:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Same in Ukraine when I was growing there in the 80s, and even 90s. “French perfume” was even more revered than any other, and it pretty much remains this way. April 23, 2014 at 5:08pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: JC Herault provides pragmatic commentary. There have been mainstay fragrances in my own lifetime holding memorable moments as well as my feelings that draws me to a certain note based on (my) mood, where I’m going that day/night, even what I’m eating. Years prior one of the department stores was holding a special event with a notable astrologer and at the end of the reading participants were provided with appropriate fragrance samples. I was floored because there wasn’t one in the sampler that didn’t contain either something I had worn or considered wearing! And, yes there are no hard fast rules when it comes to choice of fragrance. There are even times I’ve bathed in a soap/body wash that holds a very subtle scent on my skin and that will suffice for the day. April 23, 2014 at 4:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: A well-made scented soap can be the best indulgence, and it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. For instance, I love Caress soap, especially the classical floral scent. April 23, 2014 at 5:09pm Reply

  • George: I like to pretend I’m a Roman Emperor and the perfumes are competing gladiators in my coliseum- Guerlain cologne on one arm, Infusion D’Iris on another- an almighty face-off- a win for Guerlain in the early rounds with that one.
    But my main tip is to remember most perfume houses manage to get a market for their perfumes simply because shopping for them is a time consuming experience more procedural than looking at clothes- i.e. their customers just aren’t aware of the alternatives, and will accept that their white florally smelling thing is a good one. My tip is always make yourself aware of the alternatives before you buy; and when you have a fragrance and its alternatives in sample form, make them compete for your thumb down. April 23, 2014 at 5:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: You guys seem your perfume collections in such stark, dramatic terms! :)

      It’s a very good reminder that there are always alternatives, especially today when many launches share similarities. When it comes to expensive niche perfumes, it’s even more important to shop around, because in some cases, you’ll find something similar and less pricey. Or you might just enjoy smelling different fragrances. April 23, 2014 at 6:00pm Reply

  • Ashley Anstaett: I thought this was fantastic and balanced advice from Herault! He really emphasizes that perfume selection is very personal, and I dig that he doesn’t try and set up a system of rules like, “This is how it has to be done.” Very thoughtful.

    People often scoff at me for wearing more than one perfume, but it makes me happy, which is what I’m in it for. It’s beautiful art! I don’t just want to listen to one song for the rest of my life or look at one piece of art everyday. And it’s so evocative, with so many different stories to smell.

    Although I’m not a one-perfume gal, I also admire finding a scent that is so fundamentally “you” that you don’t want to wear anything else again. How romantic!

    I also wondered about wearing perfume to a job interview. I had one today, and I waffled back and forth on whether or not to wear any. Ultimately, I decided to wear some because it makes me feel more confident and more myself. I wore Balenciaga Paris because it makes me feel polished and put together, and I think that it is going to offend anyone. I still worried a bit that it’s just not appropriate to wear fragrance to an interview, but I think I would have felt naked not having any scent at all! What do you all think? April 23, 2014 at 6:07pm Reply

    • Merlin: Balenciaga Paris is a perfect job interview perfume: I can see how it would make one feel ‘polished and put-together’. I also think that if I smelled it on anyone I would also assume the person was a polished and put together person:) I wear Infusion de Iris sometimes – for similar reasons! April 23, 2014 at 8:45pm Reply

      • Ashley Anstaett: Thanks, Merlin! I hope they thought that. I haven’t had the chance to smell Infusion D’Iris, but I hope to soon. Iris often smells so elegant to me. April 24, 2014 at 12:16am Reply

        • rainboweyes: I think both violet and iris are perfect for job interviews because they are mostly subtle and unintrusive. My choice would probably be No. 19. April 24, 2014 at 4:31am Reply

          • Ashley Anstaett: I totally thought about wearing No. 19 to my interview, but since I’m rather new to it I thought Balenciaga Paris, which I’ve worn for much longer, might be a little more comforting. The thought definitely crossed my mind though! It would be a lovely, understated interview perfume. Especially for an interview in the spring! April 24, 2014 at 5:18pm Reply

            • Victoria: Balenciaga Paris would be great! I was also thinking along those lines–green, uplifting, non-sweet, non-frilly. April 24, 2014 at 5:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: It all depends on what pleases you. After all, there are so people who find their style and it works so well for them that they don’t feel like changing. Or perhaps, they’re not willing to spend time. Which is ok! My main qualm with the idea of a signature perfume is that it’s often presented as something that every single person needs to have, and if they don’t, they’re somehow not complete.

      I usually wear a tiny bit of something that makes me feel more polished. I wear literally a drop, just to smell it myself if I bring my wrist to my nose, but not enough to make it noticeable to others. Some people can be sensitive about scents, and you don’t want to ruin your chances during an interview. April 24, 2014 at 8:40am Reply

      • Ashley Anstaett: Some people have really strong ideas about having only one perfume, and I’ve definitely been made to feel bad about having many. Some people act like I’m bananas, which stinks.

        Luckily I’ve found communities, like everyone here at BdJ, where people are encouraging and accepting of all kinds of fragrance lovers. :-) It’s really silly to have such rigid notions as to how people MUST wear perfume. There is no must. It should be fun and fulfilling and is different for everyone.

        Victoria, what would you wear to a job interview, out of curiosity? I just gave my wrists a teensy spritz so that I could sneak in a sniff for some quick de-stressing. It really is so comforting, too! And wearing a scent that I’ve worn for a long time and am very comfortable in made me feel like I had a nice little security blanket there. April 24, 2014 at 5:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve met such people too, but I pay them no mind. :)

          As for the interview perfumes, I would wear something green and uplifting. For instance, I like Balmain Vent Vert or Comme des Garcons Amazingreen (speaking of Herault’s fragrances). No 19 is another top favorite. I wore it for my university interview, and not only got a placement eventually, but a generous stipend as well. Obviously, it had nothing to do with No 19, but now it’s my lucky charm for important meetings. April 24, 2014 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Maren: Herault has great advice, and the one I’ve had the hardest time with is to take my time. When I starting learning about perfume not very long ago, I was like a crazed puppy wanting to sniff and buy everything! I’ve finally slowed down and feel like I can experience the rewards of taking my time. It just happened tonight, with a perfume I sampled awhile ago and thought I had to have after draining the sample. Because the perfume is a Serge Lutens exclusive, and I would have to pay big bucks to buy in the U.S. I put aside doing anything for awhile and then finally decided to try another sample just to be sure. I’m glad I did, because now I am convinced I do NOT need to have this in my life. I enjoy knowing that i can take my time and be more picky as I become more experienced and find those fragrances that truly suit me. And the journey of finding this out is just as fun as having the perfume to enjoy.
    I also think his comment about personality and fragrance is right on, except that it is fun to explore facets of one’s personality with perfume; some days I’m Carnal Flower, and others I’m Apres L’Ondee. April 24, 2014 at 12:15am Reply

    • Victoria: It took me a while to become patient, so I can relate. I really think that slowing down prolongs the enjoyment tremendously, and by revisiting the same perfume time and again, you really get to discover many different layers. But when you start out, it’s so tempting just to smell everything! :) April 24, 2014 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Adriana Galani: O it feels so good to know I am not the only one possessing at least 30 or more fragrances, according them to situations, clothes, occasion and climate. I got a few friends who do have one only fragrance as their signature and they almost make me feel frustrated saying more fragrances are signs of… instability. :( Well, since we humans are not always feeling same way, why should I smell same way all the time then? I smell like I feel, as simple. Ever tried according the scents to Your feeling sad, blest, loved or unhappy? I guess one can go on discussing perfumes and moods endlessly!
    What a sensible and down to Earth article this is! Had read the French one as well. Lovely indeed and once more proved we all as perfume admirers are a bit more…. special than the masses out there. Sorry, not modest this time for a change. :-) April 24, 2014 at 3:19am Reply

    • Merlin: That is funny! Perhaps they should include ‘wears multiple perfumes’ as one of the criteria for mental illness in the diagnostic manual… Someone needs to propose that the next time the manual is revised, lol;) April 24, 2014 at 6:57am Reply

      • Adriana Galani: Heheheh, U know? I am psychologist! :-) So based on this comment of Yours, I will make a proposal to… my team people! :-) The argument with clothing I too gave, included make up and jewleries as well…. Well Well, people do have opinions and that’s the fun of life! I still love my 30 plus fragrances! April 25, 2014 at 2:19am Reply

        • Michaela: You may include colors to appreciate or wear, as well :)
          Do enjoy your 30+ perfumes, they probably deserve you! April 25, 2014 at 9:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Do you feel unstable if you like to change clothes? If I ever meet people who argue along the instability lines, I bring up this argument. We’re all different, so what’s the point of being of such strict rules.
      But let’s be modest anyway! After all, few of us (certainly not myself) were natural born perfume lovers. :) April 24, 2014 at 5:05pm Reply

      • Adriana Galani: And there lays the question: Are we loving perfumes or the perfumes do love us? :) April 25, 2014 at 2:22am Reply

        • Victoria: You’re also a philosopher, Adriana! :) April 25, 2014 at 2:54pm Reply

  • Austenfan: A couple of years ago, when perfume was more affordable and easier to ship I “invested” in four 250 ml bee bottles of the four classic Guerlain colognes. It was spendy but I have never regretted that purchase. They are my most used bedtime scents.
    I like this article. Mostly because he leaves why one should choose a perfume so open.
    I’m actually finding it harder to decide which perfumes I really want a bottle of now that I have such an extensive collection. Your tastes change as well over time. April 24, 2014 at 1:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can imagine how they would be useful, especially if you like colognes. Guerlain’s cologne collection in general is superb, and one can find something interesting out of the array.

      My tastes definitely changed a lot, and they continue to do so. It’s fun to observe it. April 24, 2014 at 5:20pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Sometimes I just take those bottles out of their boxes to admire them. I’ve decanted what I need for my “daily” use into spray atomisers, so I don’t see these bottles that often.

        I’ve gone from liking perfumes that sort of smell like nature to liking more abstract fragrances. I’m sure I will bounce back again some day. April 24, 2014 at 5:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: I have those cycles too, but I’m gravitating more and more towards the abstract perfumes. With some aromas (gardenia, hyacinth!), it’s just so hard to find something exactly perfect in the perfume bottle, but the abstract renditions are interesting. April 24, 2014 at 5:50pm Reply

          • Austenfan: Whenever I put on, or even just smell Eau de Guerlain I’m reminded of that mountain meadow in the Austrian Alps full of flowers in one of the Sissi films. I know those films are hardly masterpieces in the way the Guerlain is, but that scene somehow shares the same atmosphere as the fragrance. For me that is. April 25, 2014 at 4:17am Reply

            • Victoria: Gosh, that vision sounds so appealing!

              My cousin finished cutting the grass in the cherry garden today, and I was in heaven–the smell of cut grass, blooming cherries and plums and wet soil. This needs to be a perfume. April 25, 2014 at 3:00pm Reply

              • Austenfan: That sounds very appealing indeed!
                I think the same person needs to create a perfume that smells just like my favourite pu erh au jasmin. April 26, 2014 at 1:12pm Reply

                • Victoria: I also love the smell of that jasmine tea. It’s one of the few dark and earthy jasmine blends I’ve tried. April 26, 2014 at 2:38pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Interesting article and comments! I agree that taking time is really important. Testing perfumes at different times of the year, trying different concentrations (extrait, EDP or EDT) of the same perfume and varying the application technique (spraying vs. dabbing) have also helped me re-discover some perfumes.

    I think it’s true that I usually gravitate towards perfumes which closely reflect my personality (or how I want to be perceived) but once I started venturing out of my comfort zone, I was surprised by some ‘hidden characters or desires’ which I never knew I had. The more perfumes I test, the more I get to know about myself. April 25, 2014 at 6:18am Reply

    • Michaela: You are 1000% right :)
      I use to think of perfumes in terms of colors. There is an infinite number of shades of every color and I sometimes like and need to wear the most unexpected ones, and it feels gorgeous. It’s fascinating. April 25, 2014 at 9:41am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: You’re also absolutely right, Michaela! ;-) I didn’t know that red was a good colour for me until I tried it one day. Before, I always wore safe colours like black, navy, white, brown, khaki etc. With many clothes, you don’t know how they will look like until you actually try them. Some of them may look great on display but when you actually try them they might not work for you and vice versa. I think it’s the same for perfumes. April 25, 2014 at 3:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love it that you approach perfume testing in such a pragmatic, scientific manner, but your conclusions are poignant and romantic. :) It’s true, I also learn a lot about my personality through what appeals to me in scents. April 25, 2014 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Mos’ Beth: I think of perfume as an experience for me and the people around me rather than self expression. Just as scents affect and intrigue me as I walk through a garden or down a street as people cook dinner or start wood fires, so does perfume provide another way to engage with the world. That’s why I like for my scent to wear off after a few hours so I can put something else on. Sometimes I will wear two compatible perfumes at the same time (not layered) to keep it interesting. May 18, 2014 at 7:10pm Reply

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