What Is The Most Versatile Perfume?

More than a month ago we ran a poll on the most versatile perfume. I asked you to name a fragrance or several that you consider versatile and can wear for any occasion and in any mood. You shared your entries–around 700 perfume names total, and I tabulated the results. Since I posted it as a casual poll, I didn’t follow the standard procedures to correct for errors. Please take the results with a grain of salt. I also don’t think that Bois de Jasmin readers represent the general population, so our idea of versatile may be rather idiosyncratic.

guerlain dali

The most popular houses are Chanel (150 nominations), Guerlain (65 nominations) and Hermes (58 nominations). Frédéric Malle received 30 nominations and Serge Lutens 25.

Among Chanel the favorites were Chanel No. 5 closely tied with Chanel No. 19, No. 5 Eau Première and Cristalle, Among Guerlain: Guerlain Après l’Ondée was by far the most mentioned perfume. Mitsouko and Shalimar gained a few nominations. Hermès Jour d’Hermes and Eau des Merveilles received the most votes in that house’s category.

Overall, the top 5 most versatile perfumes as voted by Bois de Jasmin readers were:

  1. Chanel No.5
  2. Chanel No.5 Eau Première
  3. Chanel No. 19
  4. Guerlain Après l’Ondée
  5. Hermès Eau des Merveilles

I apologize that it took me such a long time to share the results–tabulating more than 400 comments by hand was time consuming. But a promise is a promise, and the next time we run a poll, we will come up with a better technique.

Guerlain spotted at Gala and Salvador Dalí’s Castle in Púbol, Spain. Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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166 Comments

  • Marianna: Thank you for putting it together, Victoria. I appreciate what you do for your loyal readers: it must have taken much time. February 29, 2016 at 7:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you enjoyed reading about the results. February 29, 2016 at 11:03am Reply

  • Marianna: I missed the original post and didn’t participate but I’ll add my 5 perfumes here if that’s ok.
    Jour d’Hermes
    Eau de Camille
    Marc Jacobs for Her
    Amour by Kenzo
    See Chloe February 29, 2016 at 7:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for adding your favorites. A few more votes, and Jour d’Hermes would have pushed Eau des Merveilles out. It was a close call between those two. February 29, 2016 at 11:04am Reply

  • rosarita: Thanks for the hard work, V! I have four out of the five and yes, wear all of them often. Of course I don’t remember what my vote was on the original post though, senior brain 🙂 February 29, 2016 at 7:55am Reply

    • Victoria: I now don’t even recall what I posted myself. I’m fairly certain No 19 was on it. 🙂 February 29, 2016 at 11:06am Reply

      • Mia: It was! Along with at least the lovely Hermes Eau de Narcisse Bleu.

        Thank you for presenting us the results, it has been a “bit” of a job! I was happy to see for example a few mentions of Chamade – which I love. It certainly would not get into any other forum’s versatile lists than this happily open minded community’s. February 29, 2016 at 6:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: Coco Mademoiselle and Chamade! Yes, we have eclectic tastes around here. 🙂 March 1, 2016 at 10:25am Reply

  • Caroline: Thanks for posting the results. No surprises here, we have good taste with regard to effortless fragrance! Chanels are great for everyday elegance. February 29, 2016 at 8:36am Reply

    • Victoria: The brand also has that reputation, but since we have many people here who love classics, it makes sense that Chanel would dominate.

      But it is an indication of how badly Caron has fared in the past few years, because there were hardly any mentions of their perfumes. February 29, 2016 at 11:08am Reply

      • Kelly: Ah, I’m glad you mentioned it Victoria! Can you briefly list which Carons are must-try’s, without giving summary or review (I can seek those out and you have a life). I haven’t tried any Carons I don’t think, and I obviously put much stock into what you say — but I want to know if I need to seek out vintage versions of some their perfumes, I hear reformulations and quality have gone downhill with Caron? Correct me if I am wrong, of course.. February 29, 2016 at 11:19am Reply

        • Victoria: Tabac Blond, Bellodgia, Narcisse Noir, En Avion are worth trying. I also like Aimez Moi, which is not that old but is unusual and memorable. Since Carons relied on ingredients that are now either limited or prohibited, yes, reformulating them is not easy. But all things considered, the ones I mentioned are still wearable and have something of their original characters. February 29, 2016 at 11:34am Reply

          • Lari: As for Caron, I love Nuit de Noel in winter months February 29, 2016 at 12:22pm Reply

            • AndreaR: I found a bottle of Parfum Sacre at our local Goodwill and very much enjoy wearing it on a cold winter day. February 29, 2016 at 12:53pm Reply

              • Mia: Thank you for taking up Caron! It is a wonderful house. Nuit de Noel is almost my signature (how simple would it be if one had one!) but I enjoy almost all of them. February 29, 2016 at 6:35pm Reply

            • Victoria: And Alicia reminded of Parfum Sacré, another gem. March 1, 2016 at 10:10am Reply

          • Michaela: Victoria, please mention Pour Un Homme de Caron! 🙂 March 2, 2016 at 4:42am Reply

            • Victoria: I must have been tired when I responded, because I don’t know how I could have forgotten Pour Un Homme. And Nuit de Noel. And Parfum Sacre. March 2, 2016 at 2:36pm Reply

  • epapsiou: Can we have a bar graph of the result 🙂 February 29, 2016 at 9:04am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome to give it a go. 🙂 February 29, 2016 at 11:09am Reply

      • Zari: Great post. If you want to do it next time, an easy way can be to do a google survey, which tabulates for you in the back end into an excel spreadsheet, which you can use to make charts and graphs :D. Thanks! March 1, 2016 at 11:22am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you. I used it before for work, and it does work well. March 2, 2016 at 2:13pm Reply

  • Michaela: Not an easy task, for sure… Thank you for your work and thank Hamamelis for the idea. February 29, 2016 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: A big thank you to Hamamelis for encouraging it. February 29, 2016 at 11:09am Reply

  • Alicia: Thank you for the effort in compiling results. Not a surprising list, and a very lovely one. Very familiar to me, since I wear Chanel for my public life, and often Guerlain in my private one.
    It seems that you went to Púbol and took that beautiful photo. It reminded me of the summers of my childhood and my grandparents’ villa by the sea. In their bathroom there was a big Guerlain bottle, just like that; I think it was of E. Imperiale. After much trepidation, one morning I tried it, and fell in love. That was the start of my long love affair with fragrances. And now you rekindle it with each one of your posts. Thank you, Victoria. February 29, 2016 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: I did. I found the castle very sad and melancholy. But Gala appears to have loved perfume, because there are many different bottles in various rooms.
      Have you visited recently? I wonder what your impressions of the place were. February 29, 2016 at 11:11am Reply

      • Alicia: No, Victoria, I haven’t. When they were alive my husband wouldn’t go since he found Gala unbearable. He knew Dali well, since both were from the same region of Catalonia, and belonged to the same intellectual circles (Buñuel, García Lorca), but for reasons unknown he was allergic to Gala. He never told me, but I suspect some sympathy for Eluard. February 29, 2016 at 11:32am Reply

        • Victoria: She wasn’t regarded well by much of Dali’s circle, based on what I heard. Dominique Bona has written a biography “La Muse Redoutable,” which is generally considered good, but I haven’t read it. February 29, 2016 at 11:41am Reply

          • Alicia: I haven’t read that book either, but I might, if only to bring some light to my husband’s strong dislike of the woman. I know that eventually even Breton turned against Gala, considering her a destructive influence on those who loved her. Thank you for the suggestion of the book, Victoria.
            Regarding an above post on Caron. I used to loved them, but they have indeed changed. Narcisse Noir was one of my mother’s favorites. I still wear with pleasure Parfum Sacré. February 29, 2016 at 12:15pm Reply

            • Victoria: There is no denying that she had a big influence over Dali, and while she inspired some of his best work, she also channeled his talents into more commercial projects. But I suspect that there is always an element of jealousy when it comes to Gala in some of accounts I read. She was a strong woman, ambitious and driven, and she didn’t always treat people well. Certainly, not Eluard.

              Parfum Sacré is another favorite. March 1, 2016 at 10:10am Reply

              • Alicia: Yes, Victoria, Gala was also Dali’s banker or , at least, accountant. If one were to accept what many of Dalis’s friends said of her (like my husband) it is impossible to understand the extraordinary attraction of men of exceptional talent such a Eduard, Ernst and Dali, felt for her. This is the enigma attracting some of us, like me. My husband was a very reasonable man, but regarding Gala I am not sure he was that reasonable. He or some of his friends, once told me that to know Gala was to loathe her.
                I am delighted you like Parfum Sacré. Today I am wearing another beloved, SL Bois de Violette, while expecting, with fear and trembling, the projected results of the Republican primaries in the USA. A game of absurdities. I needed something comforting of uplifting beauty: this perfume is it. March 1, 2016 at 6:25pm Reply

                • Alicia: Eluard, of course, not Eduard. Hate this automatic correctors. March 1, 2016 at 6:27pm Reply

                • Victoria: I still remember the story of Dali falling in love with Gala the moment he saw her back. And on a different topic, what a fashion lover she was. At Pubol you can see so many of her garments.
                  Watching almost every group demonized during this election has left me anxious and at times frightened. March 2, 2016 at 2:31pm Reply

                  • Alicia: Victoria, these primaries on the Republican side are flabbergasting. Truly gutter politics. I am at once mesmerized and digusted to the core. At the start I didn’t take Trump seriously, and thought that he would soon implode. By now I am laughing no longer. Too dangerous. In the end, I trust in the common sense of the American people. Megalomaniac demagoguery can’t and shouldn’t win (say I in fear and trembling). March 3, 2016 at 4:00am Reply

  • Hamamelis: Thank you for compiling the results, great! On the one hand they are not surprising, but on the other hand how incredible that no 5 is still top of the list. Have you any idea to explain why it is (still) so well loved? I find it incredibly beautiful, almost mathematically so, but there maybe other reasons.
    And…unless I am mistaken and you already let us know, I am curious what your top 5 versatility list is V.! Today I am wearing the luminous lovely Ostara, thank you again for bringing this beauty to the attention of your readers. February 29, 2016 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: I had to look up what I posted!
      Serge Lutens Bois de Violette
      Guerlain Apres L’Ondee
      Hermes Eau de Narcisse Bleue
      Diptyque Tam Dao (dry woods are one of the most versatile categories for me)
      Chanel No 19 February 29, 2016 at 11:14am Reply

      • Victoria: As for No 5, I think that Gretchen is right, it’s both the reputation and the expectation. I don’t think that it’s such an inoffensive perfume at all, but if one likes that style, it can easily feel versatile. Versatile is something that makes you feel good, elegant, etc., and so the fragrance with such an elegant image will serve that purpose well.

        What I find more interesting is how many people selected Hermes Eau des Merveilles. February 29, 2016 at 11:19am Reply

        • Hamamelis: It hadn’t registered but you’re totally right. Maybe because it is so close to smelling of sunkissed and seasalty skin! February 29, 2016 at 11:23am Reply

          • Victoria: A brilliant perfume that deserves more limelight. February 29, 2016 at 11:36am Reply

        • Gretchen: By “inoffensive” I guess I mean people have gotten quite familiar with the whole genre of aldehydes and florals, and the varying degree of success in creating these, that No. 5 isn’t “shocking” in the same way as a heavy oudh might be. People may not necessarily gravitate towards it (“old lady” nonsense, which I believe IS offensive), but it’s not a scent that’s so weird or intriguingly different or carnal or anything else that fragrance might be, that one could wear it and not really drive anyone screaming from the room. It’s a “safe” choice, I guess. February 29, 2016 at 12:09pm Reply

          • Victoria: In my experience, aldehydes are the least appealing smells to those who are not used to them, so I’m not sure how truly inoffensive No 5 is. I must say that I almost never smell floral aldehydes on anyone these days.

            But I agree with you that it’s not that avant-garde today. On the other hand, Eau de Merveilles is, and it’s interesting to see it in the top 5. March 1, 2016 at 10:07am Reply

            • Zari: I’ve been told repeatedly that I smell a little gross and “like an old lady” when sampling No. 5. I personally like it for the iris and powder scent but NO ONE around me appreciates it. So i have a sample I never wear but sniff. March 1, 2016 at 11:25am Reply

              • Victoria: I like it a lot, and I love smelling it on others, but yes, that kind of combination of aldehydes and powder is not easy for those who aren’t accustomed to these notes. March 2, 2016 at 2:19pm Reply

              • Ida: My husband loves No. 5 on me. His nose is completely untrained, but it often just surprises me how accurately he can pick up notes without actually having any idea of what perfume he’s smelling. And he says “yes” to all sorts of “difficult” scents. I can wear anything I want around him. Lucky me. 😉 March 3, 2016 at 8:06am Reply

            • Natalie: Chanel No 5 in the parfum form smells really clean and soft on me and works superbly with my chemistry. Its aldehydes almost smell like cold fresh snow on me. That makes sense to me since I read the perfumer Ernest Beaux wanted it to have arctic notes. The other concentration forms do not smell the same on me at all as the parfum and I do not like them, although I have never tried the extrait which I am sure is spectacular. March 2, 2016 at 3:12am Reply

              • spe: Ho Natalie,
                I think “extrait” is synonymous with “parfum.” March 2, 2016 at 12:37pm Reply

              • Victoria: As Michaela mentions, extrait and parfum are the same thing. The story of Beaux makes perfect sense when you smell the perfume. Another aldehydic floral I love is Estee Lauder White Linen. It’s even colder and more bracing than No 5. March 2, 2016 at 2:35pm Reply

                • Ida: I realised that not everyone was aware that extrait=parfum when I asked for Beige extrait at Chanel boutique in London and a young SA said she’d never heard of such a name. Fortunately, her more experienced colleague was there to explain what I meant. I would have thought that Chanel SAs get an appropriate level of training on perfumes in general. March 3, 2016 at 7:50am Reply

                  • Victoria: It’s technically extrait de parfum, not just extrait, so maybe that’s how they were taught. March 4, 2016 at 9:58am Reply

            • eastofeden: White Linen by Estee Lauder is my all time favorites I don’t know anyone else who wears it anymore. Should buy another bottle before Lauder decides to but it in a generic bottle like they did with Azuree.

              Interesting to see that my daughter who is in her 20’s very much dislikes fruity scents. Right now her favorite is Valchemy Lab Phoenix #8. Which has lavender, clove, tobacco and old fashion rose notes. March 3, 2016 at 11:12pm Reply

              • Victoria: I liked the original Azuree bottle more, and yes, White Linen’s packaging is just perfect for the scent. At one point brands paid more attention to the match between a perfume and its bottle. March 4, 2016 at 9:47am Reply

      • Hamamelis: 😊 now I remember! I intended to sample Tam Dao but totally forgot. I often crave dryness, it is less ‘needy’ than sweetness. Thanks again. February 29, 2016 at 11:20am Reply

        • Victoria: 10 Corso Como is another perfume similar to Tam Dao, and it’s also very good. February 29, 2016 at 11:34am Reply

  • Kyle: Hi Victoria,

    Next time you should try using http://www.surveymonkey.com – it will tabulate the results for you (you’ll be able to download results into an Excel spreadsheet).

    Thanks for all the hard work!
    K February 29, 2016 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Kyle, I posted it and when a couple of hours later there were already more than a hundred comments, I realized that I should have done it differently. But anyway, it’s done and the results were fun to analyze.

      Next time we will try a simpler approach. February 29, 2016 at 11:22am Reply

      • nebbe: Ditto to Survey Monkey, makes generating and administrating online surveys a cinch. Likely other options you are into,Victoria, when you have recovered sufficiently from your number crunching 🙂
        Great list, fun questions! All the best! March 1, 2016 at 4:34am Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 I’m a hardy sort. March 1, 2016 at 10:33am Reply

  • OperaFan: On the one hand, I’m not at all surprised that No 5 made it to the top of the list; however, the fact that Apres L’Ondee is the most frequently mentioned among all the more popular Guerlain choices indeed make our community both highly knowledgeable and discerning.
    Thanks for doing this Victoria! February 29, 2016 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Apres L’Ondee and L’Heure Bleue are generally considered to be Guerlain’s most intriguing compositions by many perfumers. February 29, 2016 at 11:23am Reply

      • OperaFan: They Are, indeed. It took time for me to come around to them both, but (of course), now I love them. February 29, 2016 at 11:39am Reply

        • Victoria: L’Heure Bleue in particular was difficult for me, but these days it’s easily one of my Guerlain favorites. February 29, 2016 at 11:45am Reply

          • OperaFan: In terms of versatility, Apres l’Ondee wins hands down. 🙂 February 29, 2016 at 1:54pm Reply

            • Victoria: Without question, it’s the same for me. March 1, 2016 at 10:12am Reply

            • Zari: Is it iris-y at all? I am on the hunt for versatile scents that happen to have iris (currently wearing prada infusion d’iris absolue). March 1, 2016 at 11:28am Reply

              • Zari: I just read the review for Apres l’ondee and now see it has iris. Sorry about that! March 1, 2016 at 11:35am Reply

  • Gretchen: Huh – I agree with everyone that this truly was a labor of love on your part (thank you!) and the original poll was fun to read. I admit that yes, we readers aren’t much like the general public, but I am surprised to see Chanel No. 5 take 1st place. “versatile” and “well-known” aren’t interchangeable, but I think this particular fragrance is generally determined inoffensive or such a global blockbuster that wearing it doesn’t surprise or annoy those around you. Sadly, it’s lost its ability to arrest your senses or set you apart, which, I’d say, does indeed make it versatile. Like a comfortable pair of jeans or well-crafted black heels, it’s never incorrect. Perhaps not original, but lovely all the same. February 29, 2016 at 9:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Chanel does have the reputation for being effortlessly elegant. February 29, 2016 at 11:26am Reply

      • Isabel: Fantastic work Victoria, thanks! For me it was a real challenge to come up with a suggestion for the most versatile perfume because every perfume I have is closely related to a certain mood, a certain time of year or time of day, a special feeling I want to share… After thinking long and hard for several weeks the only perfume I could imagine wearing on a Monday morning on my way to work in November, as well as at a ball on a sultry evening in June is Chanel no 5!

        It really is fascinating that so many feel the same, I wonder why? Chanel wanted to create a perfume with the scent of a woman, perhaps this is testament to her succeding. But on the other hand, my seventeen years old hard rock drummer son likes it a lot and would wear it daily if he wasn’t afraid of accidentally smelling like his girlfriends’ mothers… 🙂 March 1, 2016 at 7:25am Reply

        • Karen A: Very cute about your son! I wonder if being a (teenage) guy #5 would wear different enough so that the moms might have a sense of something familiar and wonder why they immediately like him! March 1, 2016 at 7:46am Reply

          • Isabel: Good thinking 🙂 I will suggest this to him 🙂 March 1, 2016 at 9:36am Reply

        • Victoria: I have a friend who wears No 5, and he claims that women often stop him to ask about his perfume. It certainly smells great on him. March 1, 2016 at 10:34am Reply

          • Isabel: I remembered reading somewhere that Mick Jagger uses Patou Joy as a deodorant, but when I did a quick search online it turns out that it might have been Keith Richards. Mick’s favourite is supposed to be Chanel’s Cuir de Russie … which perhaps goes to show the greatest masterpieces are the most versatile. March 1, 2016 at 11:24am Reply

            • Victoria: Cool! I love the image of Mick in Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. 🙂 March 2, 2016 at 2:18pm Reply

          • Isabel: Victoria, speaking of Cuir de Russie: you gave it five stars in your review from 2005 – how do you think it has fared during recent reformulations? Is it still as beautiful? March 1, 2016 at 11:49am Reply

            • Michael: I tested the extrait de parfum two weeks ago and it smells creamier and smoother than the EDT. You also don’t get as much of the aldehydes in the opening as in the EDT. Would have bought a bottle if I didn’t still have a third of a 200ml EDT left. March 1, 2016 at 10:35pm Reply

              • Isabel: Great, I will check it out. Chanel is opening a boutique in Stockholm this spring, I can’t wait! March 2, 2016 at 3:40pm Reply

            • Victoria: I think so. It’s stronger on iris now, and it feels softer, less smokey, but it’s still very beautiful. March 2, 2016 at 2:20pm Reply

              • Isabel: Thank you Victoria, that is such a relief 🙂 I recently fell in love with a vintage EdT and it’s good to know it is still as beautiful. March 2, 2016 at 3:36pm Reply

                • Victoria: The vintage has more growl, but both are very good. I like a stronger iris accent. March 2, 2016 at 4:06pm Reply

              • Notturno7: Wow,Victoria. You got me daydreaming now. 22 extrait sounds so good! That incense note in the dry down must be something. I never smelled the pure perfume No 22. I have almost the whole big bottle of EdT left, so no purchase for me soon.
                Cuir de Russie I love, too. Just like Michael, my huge bottle is 3/4 full. It takes lot of time to use these up. March 3, 2016 at 4:34am Reply

                • Victoria: I don’t think you need both of the EDT and the parfum, unless you’re a big fan and can use up the perfume within reasonable time. The parfum is beautiful, of course, but at the end of the day, you get just as much out of the EDT. March 3, 2016 at 6:31am Reply

                  • Notturno7: Thank you, Victoria for being the voice of reason here and helping me. Yes, no reason to get pure perfume on top of what I have now and with so many big bottles of great perfumes in my home. I will try not to buy more (till your next 5 star review at least, haha)😄 March 9, 2016 at 4:14am Reply

          • Michael: That happens to me too! LOL One of my friends who was visiting from Taiwan smelled it on me and was so enchanted by the scent that she bought herself a bottle the next day. March 1, 2016 at 10:36pm Reply

            • Victoria: I can easily believe it!

              No 22, especially extrait de parfum, is also stunning. March 2, 2016 at 2:33pm Reply

  • Diana: Thank you for doing this! I frequently wear all but the Hermes (which I will now try). Another recent favorite of mine is the lovely and versatile Prada Infusion d’Iris. February 29, 2016 at 9:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Prada Infusion d’Iris also has done well and was mentioned a lot. February 29, 2016 at 11:27am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Victoria,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to compile the results of this poll. I look forward each day to reading your blog and enjoy all the comments from other readers. February 29, 2016 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you. Same here! I love hearing from all of you. February 29, 2016 at 11:27am Reply

  • Austenfan: Thanks for all the hard work Victoria! Much appreciated. I’m sort of surprised to see no mention of Infusion d’Iris, but maybe that cropped up in an earlier poll. February 29, 2016 at 11:04am Reply

    • Victoria: It was mentioned a lot, but not enough to make it into the Top 5. Definitely a favorite, though. February 29, 2016 at 11:28am Reply

  • spe: In the US pacific northwest, Light Blue and Coco Mademoiselle would be at the top. We are definitely not typical perfume wearers!

    I believe there was a requirement for “elegance” in the original poll. For many perfume blog readers, that would eliminate a large number of current offerings.

    Thank you, Victoria and Hamamelis! February 29, 2016 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Coco Mademoiselle also was mentioned, but not enough to make it into the top 5. Bois des Iles was another Chanel perfume that people nominated.

      The poll just stated “Please share fragrances you think are the most versatile.” So, everyone was left to interpret it as they saw fit. Which makes the Chanel No 5 result even more interesting. February 29, 2016 at 11:31am Reply

      • OperaFan: It was hard to keep the “versatility” aspect of my choices. I had to remind myself the purpose of the survey, rather than choosing the top 5 favorites. February 29, 2016 at 1:53pm Reply

        • Michaela: Me, too. Versatility was the question. March 1, 2016 at 8:09am Reply

          • OperaFan: I loved all my choices, but not all would have made it to my “favorite” list. March 1, 2016 at 10:12am Reply

        • Victoria: I know what you mean. They’re not one and the same for me. March 1, 2016 at 10:11am Reply

      • spe: Oh, I misremembered. Was thinking of a different blog post! February 29, 2016 at 2:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: We had a little black dress/white shirt perfume poll a while back, and elegance was part of the criteria. March 1, 2016 at 10:12am Reply

          • spe: That’s it! Thanks, Victoria March 1, 2016 at 1:38pm Reply

  • Patricia: Thanks for all the number crunching, Victoria! I own all except for No. 5 (have a tiny sample which is enough for me). I find No. 5 difficult and am trying to approach it cautiously through Eau Premiere :-). . February 29, 2016 at 11:56am Reply

    • Austenfan: You might want to try the extrait of it. It’s stunning and much more approachable than the EDT. February 29, 2016 at 3:45pm Reply

      • Patricia: Thanks, I will! February 29, 2016 at 5:45pm Reply

      • Karen A: Will second Autenfan’s recommendation. I only have the extrait and it is so very, very beautiful. It’s been a while since I had (or smelled) the EdP, but the extrait just sweeps down a marble staircase (with shimmering chandeliers above) to the gorgeous heart of #5. March 1, 2016 at 7:58am Reply

        • Hamamelis: ☺ very well put! Besides the extrait I have my late mother’s no 5 EdT in the splash bottle dating back to the 80’s or earlier. It survived years of sitting in a warm bathroom, unboxed, but it is as beautiful as the current extrait. My grandmother would only wear no 5. And now a teenager boy loves it! That is real versatility. March 1, 2016 at 9:26am Reply

          • Karen A: Ohhh, how wonderful! And yes, I had not thought of versility in terms of range of people wearing, but from grandmama to teenager guys – that really says something! And that comment made me rethink using Brad Pitt as a spokesman for #5 (even though the ads may have left something to be desired…) March 1, 2016 at 10:17am Reply

            • Hamamelis: 🙂 for Brad
              It is so funny, my aunt (who gladly is still alive, almost solemny declared: Granny only ever used to wear #5. (and then she continued: I only ever wear O de Lancome. I’ve tried the others, but I don’t like them. Only O de Lancome…) March 1, 2016 at 10:32am Reply

      • Isabel: Like Karen A, I second that. I never saw the charm of no 5 (on the contrary, I actively disliked it) until I tried the extrait. And then when I bought a vintage extrait from the 1950’s – oh boy, oh boy March 1, 2016 at 11:34am Reply

        • Isabel: Austenfans suggestion to try the extrait I mean… March 1, 2016 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a very good approach, I think. Eau Premiere is beautiful, and with softer aldehydes, it’s more wearable. March 1, 2016 at 10:01am Reply

      • spe: Eau Premiere is the scent my sister sniffed from the bottle, shrugged and casually asked, “This is perfect…why would you need anything else?”
        That’s high praise as I am part of a perfume-loving, perfume-wearing family. March 1, 2016 at 1:44pm Reply

        • Victoria: Very high praise indeed! 🙂 March 2, 2016 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Jackie: Yay! #19 made it! 😉

    (I _still_ haven’t tried Apres L’Ondee!)

    Thank you so much for tabulating the results, Victoria. No small feat! February 29, 2016 at 12:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also like No 19 a lot, so I was interested to see it nominated a lot. March 1, 2016 at 10:03am Reply

  • Tara C: Very interesting. I don’t care for most Chanels and am surprised that so many found No. 5 to be the most versatile. I would have picked something like Infusion d’Iris. February 29, 2016 at 12:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Infusion d’Iris also did well, not didn’t quite make it into the top 5. March 1, 2016 at 10:11am Reply

  • Karen A: What fun – both the taking the poll and reading the results! Maybe not *fun* for you, but thank you for what must have been quite a challenge! February 29, 2016 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: A little bit daunting, but with a Poirot mystery on TV it all got sorted. 🙂 March 1, 2016 at 10:14am Reply

      • Karen A: Well a good mystery can make any task more fun! March 2, 2016 at 8:38am Reply

        • Victoria: I love David Suchet’s Poirot. 🙂 March 2, 2016 at 2:36pm Reply

      • Notturno7: I love good old Poirot. Ah, bon!
        Got my husband into it and we watched all of it. There is one episode where Poirot uses this cologne with gusto and he so delights in it but it makes Hastings sneeze terribly. I don’t know why, but I can watch Poirot over and over. He’s so cute and always makes me laugh. What a great actor David Suchet is. Looks like they made all the books into the movies and this project lasted over 25 years. The last episode they recorded in Agatha Christie’s house. There is some talk that they’ll use short stories with Poirot now. I hope they make more.
        Thank you for the poll. It has been fun reading this.
        And yes, I love No 5 and No 19 too, especially the delicious and classy dry down, my favorite part. March 10, 2016 at 5:03am Reply

        • Victoria: I think it’s called “How Does your Garden Grow?” I can watch these episodes again and again and not get tired of them. March 12, 2016 at 12:43pm Reply

          • Notturno7: Me, too. I hope you saw the last few episodes. They got recorded in 2014, I think. It’s interesting how Agatha decided to end Poirot’s life. But I like to go back to the old episodes, they are so much lighter. And to see those two women with whom he fell in love. Sweet! March 18, 2016 at 5:58am Reply

  • Figuier: Fascinating results Victoria, thanks for all the number-crunching. Like many others I really am surprised that Chanel No 5 topped the list; classic as it is, I don’t smell it around much, and I wouldn’t have thought of it as versatile, given how instantly recognisable it is. Though I guess the spread of choices might have been so wide that the winner didn’t have to have that many votes, proportionally speaking, to come out top?

    I never voted on the original poll, as I actually struggled to think of many perfumes that I both wear regularly and find versatile 😉 Most of my perfumes are quite characterful so need to be suited to the occasion. Hermes Eau de Narcisse Bleu and Chanel 28 La Pausa are probably the only one I own that fit the bill; I’d add Sycomore at a pinch…

    So I clearly conform to the trend of Chanel topping the chart by brand anyway 😉 February 29, 2016 at 5:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, you’re right, the spread was quite wide, but the top choices all clustered together. The numerical difference between No 5 and Eau des Merveilles is about 10 points. March 1, 2016 at 10:22am Reply

    • Notturno7: Hi Figuier, what are your favorites?
      You mentioned that your perfumes are quite characterful and I wonder if we have some of the same ones that we treasure. March 10, 2016 at 5:08am Reply

      • Figuier: By ‘Characterful’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘strong’ – my favourites do include Annick Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cheri and her Songes, both requiring quite particular occasions/seasons, as well as By Kilian’s Rose Oud. March 10, 2016 at 12:11pm Reply

        • Notturno7: Thanks for the reply. I don’t know the other two but love Songes and have two bottles of it. One was a gift of SA that I buy things from. I love it, but somehow use it mostly in the summer! March 10, 2016 at 4:36pm Reply

  • zephyr: Yes, so interesting, thank you, Victoria! I should not have been surprised about Chanel No. 5, but its appeal is universal, it seems. Unfortunately, my MIL, with whom I do have diplomatic relations with (though she’s not my favorite person) now douses herself in Chanel No. 5. She’s in her 90s and has lost her sense of smell. She also claims to be nauseated by any other scent except this one, for her entire adult life. She is gifted Chanel No. 5 on a regular basis. So when Chanel No. 5 is in the air, it wallops me! A side note – I wonder if MIL would like Guerlain Liu.
    I definitely want to try the Hermes scent; I might like it in warm weather And I agree about A l’O – not one I own, but it’s pleasant and I could wear it. February 29, 2016 at 7:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: I wonder about that too. Many say that Liu was Jacques Guerlain’s answer to No 5. March 1, 2016 at 10:26am Reply

  • Raquel: Thank you so much for such a hard work, I enjoy so much your blog and all the comments. February 29, 2016 at 8:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Raquel. March 1, 2016 at 10:26am Reply

  • Tiffanie: Thank you for sharing this fascinating community perspective on versatile perfumes. Amazing!

    I completely agree that Eau des Merveilles is “a brilliant perfume that deserves more limelight.” It is worthy of all the love it gets and more.

    For me Merveilles is so versatile because it is not floral. It is my smell-palate refresher when No. 5 and Jour d’Hermes become too familiar. February 29, 2016 at 11:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love florals, but my own versatile favorites tend to be woods, or florals with a strong woody note. March 1, 2016 at 10:27am Reply

  • limegreen: Thanks, Victoria!
    Not surprised about no. 5, but a little at Apres l’Ondee on the list. It’s a favorite of mine, but it does not make many of these kinds of lists, so it is a BdJ special. 🙂 March 1, 2016 at 12:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Well, if our love manages to keep it in production, it would be a good thing. 🙂 Apres L’Ondee parfum is the only fragrance I truly miss. I was able to get over discontinuations of almost everything else but this one. March 1, 2016 at 10:29am Reply

      • limegreen: You wrote your review of Apres L’Ondee a while ago, would you be able to describe in your eloquent and precise way the parfum? Some of us will never smell it (not going to pay $$$ for it on eBay) and I would love to hear how it compares to the current EdT (which is what I have). Is it richer in the anise note, or iris? (drooling)
        ALO is one of the very few of which I have a backup (fear of discontinuation, probably a stupid decision, given that perfumes do not last). March 1, 2016 at 10:42am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it’s richer in iris and anise, with a more pronounced carnation note. Imagine the EDT but more saturated and vibrant, and you have the parfum. It also lasted much better. I literally have a couple of drops in my bottle, and it’s potent stuff. March 1, 2016 at 10:46am Reply

          • limegreen: (tears welling up) Carnation! What a beautiful parfum, thank you for sharing the olfactory experience. I wonder if Guerlain has the parfum for people to smell in their Paris store?
            It’s hard to imagine a potent ALO. The EdT is light but lasts nicely on me, relative to other light wearing iris fragrances (ahem, 28 La Pausa). March 1, 2016 at 11:23am Reply

            • Victoria: 28 La Pausa doesn’t last that well on me, and Apres L’Ondee is a sillage bomb by comparison.

              At the boutiques, yes, you can smell all of the Guerlain classics, but I’m not sure if you need to make an appointment. March 2, 2016 at 2:15pm Reply

          • Notturno7: I’m drooling too😍at that description of A l O. Carnations!! Mmmm. Did you get the perfume while they still made it or was it EBay lucky purchase? I always loved it but found it too light for me. I guess I discovered it after they stopped making the perfume. March 10, 2016 at 5:16am Reply

            • Victoria: A friend gave me a bottle for my birthday. It was a partially full spray refill for one of her own small golden canisters, but she knew how much I missed this perfume. March 12, 2016 at 12:45pm Reply

              • Notturno7: Lovely! Lucky you and what a nice friend you have😀😄! March 18, 2016 at 5:48am Reply

                • Victoria: Another fragrance nut. 🙂 March 21, 2016 at 10:45am Reply

  • Wara: Thank you so very much for your hard work!!!! Survey monkey is great for taking polls and then they graph it, pie chart it…..it is very user friendly. March 1, 2016 at 12:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Wara. I realized too late that I should have done it differently. Well, it doesn’t matter; the poll is done and we have fun results. March 1, 2016 at 10:31am Reply

      • Wara: You are a jewel!!!! We should dedicate a perfume to you!!! Super Tuesday here……..thanks to you and your lovely blog with such an active community……first time I am wearing Homme by Dior…..I am in love with it and it will keep me going while voting and volunteering for my favorite candidate! March 1, 2016 at 12:46pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you, Wara. 🙂 Dior Homme is another beauty. March 2, 2016 at 2:22pm Reply

  • annemarie: I’m surprised, and pleased, that Chanel No 19 did so well. I certainly find it very versatile but many other people claim to find it hard to wear.

    I just had a look at the poll and am also surprised that Narciso Rodrigez for Her did not poll better. What a funny bunch we are! March 1, 2016 at 3:53am Reply

    • Victoria: Narciso received 1 nomination, while the new Narciso in a white bottle received 2. And Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie received 4 nominations. March 1, 2016 at 10:32am Reply

    • spe: A funny bunch that is probably easily influenced! We are reading perfume blogs, first of all. And secondly, it would be interesting to see results if we voted without seeing each other’s responses. March 2, 2016 at 12:47pm Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you so much for having worked out the results, Victoria and for publishing them. I like all the top fives but in the end none of them were my top versatile scents. Caron is just breaking even, I’ve learned (through my brother). The reformulations are a bit hit and miss, I am still to try Or et Noir which you recommended recently to me; we feel the same about Aimez-Moi, its pastis note keeps me coming back for more, I acquired a new bottle recently and it’s not changed, thankfully. March 1, 2016 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Same here with the pastis note in Aimez-Moi. I find it almost addictive, and I believe that this perfume made me love pastis, and not the other way around. March 2, 2016 at 2:22pm Reply

  • Joy: Thank you, Victoria. These analysis are always interesting and fun. I do really love No. 5 for some of the very reasons that you mention. I can wear it with jeans, white shirt, blazer as well as silk and it is elegant in all cases. I even wear it gardening from time to time.
    I wonder if some of the reason that it is so popular is accessibility. All department stores in all small cities and towns carry it. For the other selections one has to be in a big city or rely on mail order. Even in my agrarian home town in Montana years ago, Chanel No. 5 was available at our one and only fancy dress shop.
    An interesting recent development with Chanel is that they have requested/required that all of the sampling companies stop selling samples/decants of their perfumes. It was a disappointing development since I had just begun my journey through the Exclusif collection. March 1, 2016 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: I read about it not long ago, and it’s too bad. It’s hard for many to acquire samples of these perfumes, especially Les Exclusifs.

      It’s very heartening though that No 5 is widely available. It’s an exceptional perfume. March 2, 2016 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Solanace: Thank you, Victoria! I somehow lost the original poll, but am in the camp of those who think iris perfumes are most versatile. March 1, 2016 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Michael: Thanks for putting together the poll, Victoria! Not sure how I missed the original post, but here are my selections:

    1. Chanel No 5 (either EDP or extrait de parfum)
    2. Chanel Les Exclusifs 31, Rue Cambon
    3. Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese
    4. Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
    5. Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel March 1, 2016 at 10:28pm Reply

    • Michael: Actually, I think that Chanel No 22 would make a versatile fragrance too – light enough to be worn to work, and classy enough to accompany an evening gown for a party. March 1, 2016 at 10:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for adding your favorites, Michael. 🙂 March 2, 2016 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Kate: Dear Victoria, I have loved reading this, and all the comments and continue to enjoy your elegant writing and photos very much. Thank you. I really agree with Chanel 5 and 19 (having recovered from some disappointment re reformulations with your help). Also Eau des Merveilles, very easy to wear but with a difference… then probably a tiny dab of Youth Dew. Lovely for going walking. my final versatile perfume is Floris Lily of the Valley which reminds me of Diorissimo. My best wishes to you. March 6, 2016 at 4:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for adding your list, Kate. You make me want to try Floris’s Lily of the Valley, which I haven’t smelled in a long while. March 7, 2016 at 4:38am Reply

  • Rozanne: I totally agree with the poll, which I also participated in. After reading your review, I bought the Chanel 19 Poudré, which I just love. I work with corporate clients, and I sometimes have to drive them around in a car … this eau de parfum is just perfect for that situation. It is even more subtle than Infusion d’Iris. I am glad my collection is so spot on, thanks to your help! March 10, 2016 at 10:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Soft, subtle but still interesting. March 12, 2016 at 12:46pm Reply

  • La Francaise: I’ve been reading this web-site for some time and find that it is quite simply one of the best for reviewing and discussing perfume, and you are clearly a very knowledgeable community of perfumistas. But, forgive me, if I say that as a French girl, one thing bothers me: why do you always misuse our language? Why does nobody take the trouble to type Après l’ondée, Arpège, Calèche etc.? Because these are all French words and in that language to omit the accent is quite simply to make a spelling mistake. Do you not realise? (And I’m using an English keyboard to type this, not a French one. The accents ARE there. It just takes a bit of effort to find them.) But you seem to be a group of people who DO make an effort in other things. March 12, 2016 at 10:56am Reply

  • Notturno7: Sorry, La Francaise. I didn’t realize this and still can’t seem to find these accents on my phone. But it makes sense what you are saying.
    Now I wonder what fragrances you find most versatile…
    Wow, wait a minute I just found the accents! Thank you😀 I thought I needed to order some new language app!! March 18, 2016 at 6:12am Reply

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