5 Perfumes for a Snowy Day

Imagine that snow is falling outside your window. Everything is white and opalescent and soft shadows fill your room. It’s a moment of winter stillness at its most exquisite. But perhaps it’s just another rainy day outside your window. Or if you are in the Southern hemisphere, a lush summer day. Or perhaps you don’t particularly like snow and have no desire to conjure up snowflakes and ice. This doesn’t prevent us from dreaming of fragrances that capture the idea of warmth and softness and that suit any season.

Such was the idea behind my list of these five perfumes. I wanted to select fragrances that comforted me and yet felt elegant, warm and yet luminous. Heavy ambers, furs, and too much leather wouldn’t do for that impression.

Serge Lutens El Attarine

Spices, musk, and soft rose petals. El Attarine is the lightest of all Serge Lutens’s ambers, so while it envelops you, it remains soft and gentle. Think of delicate cashmere rather than heavy brocade.

Chanel Misia

A voluptuous violet meets rose in this plush composition from Chanel. It reminds me of vintage lipstick and face powder, but it still feels radiant.

Comme des Garçons Wonderwood

Dark, warm, edgy. A blend of woods laced with smoke and incense. A mineral note prevents Wonderwood from becoming too heavy or too rich.

Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady

Roses and oud are blended into a dark but unexpectedly transparent composition. Its rich hues and radiance makes me think of this fragrance as a garnet necklace. That being said, this fragrance is perfect for men as well as women. Its floral facets are well-blended into the woody-musky base.

Hermès Hiris

Cool petals and powder, Hiris might be a surprising choice for a fragrance that makes you feel warm, but I find it so comforting and gentle that I reach for it often these days. Iris always seems like a note with a wintery character, so that might be the reason why Hiris fits my mood.

What are your favorite fragrances for comfort during this hectic time of year?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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52 Comments

  • rosarita: PoaL is a great choice! I gravitate to roses this time of year. DSH American Beauty and of course, Nahema. December 20, 2021 at 9:45am Reply

  • Mingzhe Wang: Bois Farine is my favorite!!! 🙂 December 20, 2021 at 9:49am Reply

    • Kamila: I live in Poland and it is snowing right now! I choose Agent Provocateur Blue Silk or Lalique Le Parfum December 20, 2021 at 3:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: Both are beautiful, and I have an especially soft spot for Lalique. December 20, 2021 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also like it very much. December 20, 2021 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Glendohergirl: Divine, by Divine. I had it years ago, but was too young for it. Peach, tuberose and cardamom conbine to make a warm, grown up perfume that doesn’t have iris, (a note which makes me wheeze). December 20, 2021 at 10:12am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried it in ages, but I remember that it was beautiful. December 20, 2021 at 3:14pm Reply

  • carole macleod: I’ve been having fun with SL Louve. I really love it, and it combines well with Tubereuse Criminelle. I’ve also been wearing a lot of Eau d’Hadrien, with some Vanille Charnellle. And it’s funny I chose to combine anything-I almost never do that. I’ve been getting compliments on Coromandel, too 🙂 December 20, 2021 at 10:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I love the cherry-almond notes in Louve. December 20, 2021 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Dorothee: These might be considered too heavy by others, but I am really enjoying Lalibela which makes me think of the way alpine pine trees smell on a warm sunny day. I also love a mix of Ylang in gold with a scant spray of Au Couer du dessert. Both have a dusty dryness that compliment each other. But layering the two makes for a richer and cosier experience. December 20, 2021 at 10:27am Reply

    • Victoria: That sounds so inviting right now. December 20, 2021 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Kimberly: Good Morning Victoria, We haven’t had any snow here yet where I live in Texas. However, we have had several chilly days. Today I am layering J’Adore Infinissime with Luten’s Santal Majuscule for flowery warmth. I also like snuggling up with Chanel’s Bois de Isle. I prefer POAL in the fall. I layer it with Nahema for my perfect rose. I hope you have the Merriest of Christmases! December 20, 2021 at 10:35am Reply

    • Victoria: You smell wonderful! December 20, 2021 at 3:15pm Reply

    • Kathy: Thank you for reminding me of Santal Majuscule – I agree this is a perfect time to bring it out! December 21, 2021 at 6:46am Reply

  • Nora Szekely: Hi Victoria and perfume lovers,
    When in snow (:)) I tend to wear L’eau d’Hiver by Frederic Malle. It is more fleeting on skin but tenacious on clothes. I also love Iris Poudrée in winter, Portrait of a Lady is my cool/cold weather favourite. The Frederic Malle body butters are also amazing for winter, expensive but worth it if you love the drydown of Portrait of a Lady or Iris Poudrée or Musc Ravageur.
    My other winter staples are Coco by Chanel and Poison by Dior, both in their 1990s versions. Poison especially give me Christmas vibes 🙂 December 20, 2021 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: So elegant, as always, Nora! December 20, 2021 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Alityke: It’s been cold, dank & dismal as it only seems to get close to the winter solstice in the north of England. Daylight becomes dirty yellow grey. Truly gloomy.
    I reach for medicinal ambers at this time of year, SL Ambre Sultan, vintage Opium & Opium Secrete de Parfum, Tabu & EL Amber Ylang Ylang all come into their own as winter warmers.
    Crisper winter days mean I reach for pluminess. TF Plum Japonais, SL FdB & Boxeuses, even the plum pudding of 4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight & SL Arabie hit the right fruited note I want in the crisp, frosted air.
    Happy holidays to all those celebrating at this time of year x December 20, 2021 at 10:51am Reply

    • matty1649: I live in the North of England and agree about the cold,damp dark weather.
      I found my violin shaped bottle of Tabu and have been wearing that,nice and warming December 20, 2021 at 1:12pm Reply

      • Alityke: Tabu is glorious isn’t it, even in its current formulation. Less than a tenner for a gift set it’s a bargain too December 20, 2021 at 2:35pm Reply

    • MaureenC: It’s exactly the same down here in the south west, not sure if that’s a comfort or not!
      Andy Tauer’s Miriam is my go to at the moment December 20, 2021 at 1:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: This pretty much describes Brussels right now, so we need our perfumes even more. I love your choices. December 20, 2021 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Carolyn Middleton: Very chilly here today in the north east of Scotland, but delighted to spot Tabu or, as friend who sadly is no longer with us, & whom I have mentioned here before, used to call it (when she wore it rather too liberally in the 70s) – ‘instant brothel’!! December 22, 2021 at 11:21am Reply

  • Filomena: At last someone who loves Hermes Hiris as much as I do! It has been my go-to scent ever since its debut! December 20, 2021 at 12:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yay! I always get compliments on it, even these days when everyone around me is masked. I still get comments on Hiris. December 20, 2021 at 3:17pm Reply

  • mayfly: Hello fellow perfume lovers, I have been enjoying the scent of pine needles from my Christmas tree scenting my home, for the last couple of days and so reached for S.L’s Fille d’Aiguilles today for some festive shopping with my kids.
    Enjoy Misia, POAL, at this time of year also and have bought myself a small bottle of
    Coromandel for Christmas.
    Hiris is also on my list, can anyone comment on whether the current version is worth investing in? if not, any alternatives? December 20, 2021 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like the current version, but if you’re trying it for the first time, maybe it’s better to go for another iris like Iris Silver Mist by Lutens or 28 La Pausa by Chanel. Hermes became softer. December 20, 2021 at 3:18pm Reply

      • Mayfly: Thanks Victoria,
        I like Iris Silver Mist, and La Pausa, although I’ve never tried that one on my skin before.
        Another good snow one is the original Kenzo Flower I think. I’m going to wear it today. December 23, 2021 at 5:21am Reply

  • Tami: Thinking of snow (which is a very very rare occurrence in my neck of the woods), my thoughts turn to the coziness of indoors with friends and family. Whether watching from the window or feeling the warmth of clustering together around a table with laughter and beverages, this is my snowy feeling. For this I think of something like Lauren by Ralph Lauren—a little floral, a little woody, a little powdery—and on the newer side, Diptyque’s Orpheon, which has juniper, cedar, and tonka bean (wintery scents for me!). It’s just this side of “heavy” for me. December 20, 2021 at 12:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Orpheon is beautiful. Yes, a bit rich, but not excessively so. December 20, 2021 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Susiebelle: My current favorite winter perfume is OJ Tsarina. Now it is described as everything you mention not wanting in a winter perfume. Opulence, leather, baroque, amber are all listed in it’s description but for me, it transports me back to ballet class. Yes, there’s the warmth of vanilla, amber and suede but I also smell the slight sweat (in a good way) and especially the rosin for point shoes. All of those layers plus the florals make it comforting and like ballet it is airy and delicate but also strong and full of movement. It is not heavy or a powerhouse on me. It is The Nutcracker! On one of my testings of Tsarina at a shop in NYC, a man and his son were also shopping. Just as I was transported to ballet class, the older gentleman came up to me and started crying. He said he was from Siberia and the perfume reminded him of home. That was an amazing encounter. December 20, 2021 at 1:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a great story! I now want to try Tsarina and see what it’s like. December 20, 2021 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I wear Mille these days. It’s bright and uplifting.
    Later on, towards Christmas, I will turn to CoCo Mademoiselle Intense. I found out that it is a perfect match with my beloved Johnny Walker Black Label. December 20, 2021 at 4:49pm Reply

  • Fazal: I think vintage Opium edt and original Givenchy Gentleman are perfect winter fragrances. POAL from your list def. and maybe Anima Dulcis, too. Anima Dulcis is probably the only fragrance in Arquiste line that has impressed me a lot.

    I am not saying there are not some pleasant compositions in Arquiste line but only Anima Dulcis stood out to me, particularly given the fact that I am not exactly a fan of gourmand. To this day, I am baffled by the popularity of Spiriteuse Double Vanille that smells so banal and much inferior to Shalimar, the latter being not only from the same brand but also much cheaper. December 20, 2021 at 5:12pm Reply

  • Sebastian: So many choices. Very often, I like to emphasize the bracing feel of a wintry day with a cool, bright and invigorating incense. I especially love Spell 125 (Papillon) and Copal Azur (Aedes de Venustas). When I want something warm and enveloping in the snow, I reach for a sample of Oud Maximus (Bortnikoff) that I have recently acquired. When I feel the need for something soft and sweet and cuddly, Muscs Koublai Khan (Lutens) always fills the bill. (The latter in particularly is not a beast at all, it is really just so wonderfully fluffy, like a soft wool shawl.) And then there is that stalwart, totally old-school, absolutely Christmas-appropriate and hopelessly outmoded Witness (Bogart) that I only ever wear this time of year. December 20, 2021 at 5:18pm Reply

    • Emily: Seconding the Spell 125, it hasn’t quite snowed yet in NYC but wearing it today to invoke that quiet, clear feeling of between earth & air that snow provides. December 21, 2021 at 2:38pm Reply

  • Frances: Lately I’ve been wearing Shalimar which is in the warm and heady category, only bergamot gives it a twist and uplifts the whole composition. Bergamot is, with mandarin, my favorite citrus note both in fragrance and food: I’m very fond of Earl Grey. Mariage Frères has several beautiful blends of Earl Grey even when it comes to Roiboos. Smelling the leaves before preparing my tea is a delight I look forward to, especially in winter.

    Another fragrance I’ve been wearing alot is Insolence. I also often wear its elder Après L’Ondée which I find to be so delicate and comforting at all times. The strange thing is as soon as it settles Insolence smells exactly like Infusion d’Iris on me (I’m speaking of the first version, the one they released in 2007). It is really mind blowing. Once I even thought someone in the room was wearing this famous Prada fragrance until I realized it was me. I suspect I must smell iris better than I smell violets (you talked about it in a post about this flower if I remember well) and that’s why the iris is so dominant to my nose. Then, I can’t have enough of the dry down which is warm but not too much.

    I also use to wear Coco for Christmas. It is a very warm scent, like Shalimar (and maybe warmer actually) but still very elegant. I mention this because I was very surprised to read online that some people find it loud and even a bit vulgar. Anyway, each to its own and to me it is a beautiful winter scent. December 20, 2021 at 7:33pm Reply

    • Amanda M: Another Shalimar fan! I’ve been wearing it a lot lately too – I find it very comforting in these troubled times of late, what with all that’s going in the world right now. It’s truly been the perfect antidote for me, to stress and anxiety…

      I also love and wear Insolence too! I managed to track down a vintage early version of the Eau de Parfum, that I’m enjoying very much. Do you have the edt or the edp, Frances?

      And Coco! Another favourite of mine. In fact, I wore Coco parfum only yesterday. (only a dab or two, mind you!)
      I adore its warm, spicy nature in spite of our Australian Summer right now.
      It only takes a small amount to envelop you in all its gorgeousness, but yes, for some it can be a polarising fragrance and maybe a little heavy for some. I like it in all forms – edt, edp & extrait. I tend to wear the edp version in Winter.
      But I personally love deep, spicy & warm Oriental perfumes, and yes, each to their own. 😊 December 21, 2021 at 12:07am Reply

      • Frances: Hello Amanda,

        I agree about Shalimar being an antidote to the gloominess and dullness of present times. It is so good to be able to smell of better days and Shalimar is just that, a bottled memory of warmth with enough added mystery to keep us dreaming. Wearing it makes me feel less anxious and stressed too.

        And you’re so lucky to have a vintage bottle of Insolence, the original design was so nice. It really captured the playfullness present in the opening notes. Speaking of which, I’m also wearing the EDP but I’m very tempted to try the EDT sometimes soon. I heard it has a real twirling quality, like a storm of flowers, when the EDP is more warm and velvety.

        And last but not least, I also enjoy to wear Coco (and Shalimar for that matter) on summer times. Those fragrances sing on warm weather: they are in their element. As you pointed out the key is to dab it. I guess people find these scents way too heavy because some wearer tend to overspray. Lately I also kept on wearing Scherrer 2 in EDT which somehow smells like Coco, only lighter and soapier. But alas, the kind of aldehydes they used in this one tend to vire metallic on my skin one time out of two. Aside from that, it is very pleasant but not as complex and deep as Coco.

        Have a very nice day Amanda and a very nice Christmas if you are celebrating it. Since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated at the though of people experiencing different seasons depending on where they are on earth. And it is so very nice to see we can enjoy both winter and summer with the same choices of fragrances! December 22, 2021 at 8:04am Reply

        • Amanda M: Thank you for your good wishes Frances! I might even wear Shalimar tomorrow on Christmas Day – just a quiet one this year which is nice, as I don’t enjoy big gatherings too much these days, especially with the world situation as it is.
          And a very Merry Christmas to you and your family too. May you have an enjoyable day, whatever you are doing. xx 🎄🌺 December 23, 2021 at 8:53pm Reply

  • Kathy: This question is quite a challenge for me because, sadly, I will get impatient with delicate perfumes. But I recently added Luctor et Emergo edt to my collection, and I think it has a luminous and warm feeling, and a soft yet definite presence. I have never tried Serge Lutens’ Louve, but the mention of it in the comment above made me think of LeE. December 21, 2021 at 6:38am Reply

  • Anna: I love Dior Gris during this time of year. I first smelled it and bought it in Moscow in December, so to me it is always a very wintery fragrance. December 21, 2021 at 3:22pm Reply

  • Michele Brown: Michele B: Victoria, thank you for your perfume descriptions for snowy days. I want to try Hermes Hiris. I love Irises and grew them at one time. I do not like perfumes that are heavy with roses, yet I love the Bulgarian rose water I purchased middle of summer. I love to rinse my hair with it watered down a bit. Makes it very soft. I know that makes no sense.
    I also have a question about Spearmint. I love the stuff. I have pots in my kitchen for use in tea. I just have to watch my little girl kitty because she likes mint too. The other day I just crushed several leaves with my fingers and sniffed. Suddenly, I felt like I captured a whiff of musk. I’d never paid that much attention to its individual notes. Do you get that same scent when you’ve sniffed it? Anyone else get this same aroma from spearmint? I look forward to reading the blog so much. Makes my wk. ❤️ December 21, 2021 at 10:04pm Reply

  • Alabaster Jet: I pick Memo Winter Palace (mate tea on a snowy day), MFK Grand Soir (one of the most delicious ambers, along with Profumum Roma’s Fiore d’Ambra or Ambre Narguile), Delina Exclusif (creamier, heavier and more vanillic than the original PdeM Delina, foregoing the rhubarb top note but retaining the lychee and adding pear), Feve Deliceuse for the ultimate snow-gourmand, Spazio per Donna by Krizia, with its cool aldehydic rose and coffee, and Soir d’Orient by Sisley for its cool, restrained handling of Christmassy spices with Sisley’s unmistakeable chypre signature. Though to my nose, an even better winter oriental scent than Poison or Opium is Estee Lauder’s Cinnabar, very much a product of its time but still an impeccable cinnamon perfume with the kind of sophisticated warmth you also get from other Lauders like Youth Dew or Wrappings (two very different scents indeed, but both beloved American holiday classic scents). December 22, 2021 at 4:25am Reply

  • Marianne: Another exquisitely put together post, thank you Victoria. I love your writing, it’s light yet sure touch, and would appreciate reading it even if not interested in perfume.
    Here in southern Australia it’s early summer, windy and changeable. We’re right at the edge of the world with only ocean between us and the Antarctic so hot days are a gift, not an expectation.
    Last week I reconnected with Chanel and hovered between Cristalle and No. 19 EDPs. I prefer the Eau de Toilette in both but a more lasting scent is on my Christmas wish list. A beautifully gift wrapped and ribboned No. 19 will now be placed under the tree.
    I also reconnected with an old favourite, Pour Monsieur, spraying its soft warm scent on my skin before leaving the counter.
    Thank you again Victoria and all the wonderful contributors. I love the boisdejasmin community! December 22, 2021 at 7:35am Reply

    • Amanda M: I also love Chanel’s Cristalle and No.19. I have and wear both edt and edp versions of both – the No.19 in eau de parfum form is glorious!
      Cristalle is lovely, light and fresh for these warm days…
      Summer indeed here in Australia – a warm 30C here today and same tomorrow for Christmas Day. Best wishes for the festive season! December 23, 2021 at 9:14pm Reply

      • Marianne: Hi Amanda, thank you for your reply, we share similar Chanel preferences … I have an enduring love of no. 19, very beautiful.
        I used to wear White Linen during summer, also Guerlain’s Habit Rouge. I’d forgotten about them! I remember both as very refreshing during hot days.
        All the best for the New Year 💐 December 29, 2021 at 9:00am Reply

  • Aurora: What a lovely post, it hasn’t snowed yet here in the UK but when it does I will wear Clinique Wrappings. I do hope it will though, it happened only once last winter. December 22, 2021 at 9:29am Reply

  • Carolin: I love vanilla scents in the winter, especially Diptyque Eau Duelle and Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidée Vanille. The latter I like to combine with Dior Escale à Portofino which must sound weird but they work so well together! December 22, 2021 at 11:16am Reply

  • Klaas: Iris and snow is such a good combination! Many an iris fragrance turns sugary on me (I can’t wear Silver Mist, it turns completely sacharine on my skin!), but Hiris is lovely, and I also very much like Iris Ukiyoe by the same brand. Though one of the best Irises I know is Iris Bleu Gris by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. So delicate, so velvety, so misty……and that hint of vanillic softness…..perfect for a winters day!

    But in the end, nothing beats a good citrus fragrance in winter……Guerlain Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat, Andy Tauers Orange Star, or Eau d’Hermès. Even Eau Sauvage!……the perfect antidote for gloomy Amsterdam (or Brussels) weather!

    Happy holidays everyone! December 22, 2021 at 4:50pm Reply

  • JulienFromDijon: On snowy days, I like to wear soapy aldehydes to match with the spotlessness of my mind, looking through the window.
    “Diorissimo” (old EDT), “N°22” Chanel, “Pleasure intense” Lauder

    As of comforting ambers, I like the glazed chestnuts ones :
    “Castaña” or “Akkad” from Delphine Thierry for Cloon Keen atelier or Lubin.
    Or an old “Que sais-je” from a miniature. Or an old “Nuit de Noël”.

    As a contrapoint from dreary winter, I love to be reminded that it’s summer on the other hemisphere. Think french ultramarine island.
    The natural tiare and vanilla in Diptyque’s “Essences insensées 2019” that has been popping everywhere for cheap lately. Or the ylang-ylang- of “Eau mohéli”.

    And downright roses, to wear under the bedsheets, meant as an escapism treehouse for reading, sleeping, and lust.
    The zellige edition of “la fille de berlin” seems to have secretly inherited of better roses (in the feeling : a rose otto, and a CO² distillated one), and a rounder composition (less hefty, more irisy). Perfect on fabric!
    The later Cartier exclusifs in samples, V “L’heure rosée” and “Oud & pink”. Galop (hermès). Alaïa extrait (spot the 20ml bottle).

    And to sum all that up in one perfume : a recent “Heure exquise” from Goutal.
    The santal is good, it’s likely to be a pacific one, because it’s milky nutty facette reminds me of the one from Manoumalia. And there’s the rose and the aldehydes.
    Emotion, adventure, and comfort.

    I almost match your choices, with your aldehyde in Misia, and me ending with an iris too 🙂 December 23, 2021 at 2:47am Reply

  • Emma: Carrier’s Oud and Santal is absolutely lovely. I’ve been wearing it constantly, despite the high price. Have you tried it? it is beautiful, yet I don’t hear many people talking about it. December 25, 2021 at 5:18am Reply

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