Feel-Good Perfumes

Marie Kondo, the author of the best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” suggests that only items that spark joy should be kept around the house. Of course, Kondo’s “spark joy” philosophy is more nuanced as she applies it to various aspects of cleaning and decluttering, but the idea of surrounding oneself with objects that are meaningful and special makes perfect sense. It can also be applied successfully to selecting a perfume.

Whenever I’m asked by friends and readers for recommendations, instead of listing fragrances, I try to determine what scents make them feel good. Or, to use Kondo’s phrase, what perfumes spark joy for them. One such composition for me is Serge Lutens’s Iris Silver Mist. It’s a cool, polished fragrance based around the scent of iris root, and when I wear it, I feel as if I’ve stepped into a secret garden filled with pearly light and the soft rustle of leaves.

As my example of Iris Silver Mist demonstrates, if a perfume inspires a daydream, it’s guaranteed to lift your spirits anytime. When sampling a fragrance, pay attention to what a scent evokes for you. Does it merely smell nice or does it make you think of a place or an emotion? Sometimes a perfume speaks to you instantly, but some fragrances take time to reveal all of their layers. Try a perfume several times and notice how it evolves and what images it paints. I find it helpful to write down my impressions, especially if I’m testing several fragrances.

A perfume that makes you feel good is the one with pleasant associations. Such a fragrance will become your personal talisman.  One of my favorite flowers is mimosa. Merely seeing its blossoms, clusters of yellow puffballs, makes me smile. Its scent of violets and cucumber peel is equally exhilarating, and I often keep a small vial of Caron Farnesiana in my purse. It’s a spring breeze in a bottle, and when I put it on, I feel uplifted.  So, think of aromas you enjoy and base your perfume search around them.

Another way to select a perfume is to envision a favorite place and to look for a composition inspired by it. I sometimes buy fragrances on my travels, but often I start on a perfume quest once I return home. Such a pursuit is an enjoyable one since it requires you to be creative. After one of my trips to India where I kept encountering sandalwood in temple offerings, face creams and hand soaps, I became determined to find a fragrance that captured its lush aroma. The closest match turned out to be a cedarwood perfume inspired by Vietnam from the French house Diptyque. Yet, Tam Dao with its musky floral accents and polished woods, reminded me so vividly of the temples of Mysore and the incense markets of Delhi that years later, it continues to satisfy my wanderlust and spark joy.

What perfumes make you feel good?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, another perfume that lifts me up is Serge Lutens De Profundis, a scent of bitter chrysanthemums and incense.



  • Noemí: I am an scholar, so perfumes based on leather, vanilla and woods bring me to libraries with hidden books. Byredo’s Bibliothèque, M.Margiela Whispers in the Library are my winter New England scents. However, since I am an immigrant, I keep bottles of baby’s cologne Nenuco, Adolfo Domínguez’s Agua Fresca de Rosas, and Myrurgia 1916 when I need to remind myself who I am and where I come from. August 18, 2023 at 8:23am Reply

    • Victoria: This is a lovely association. August 28, 2023 at 5:56am Reply

  • Laura: Today I am wearing one of my feel-good fragrances. It is Lancôme Peut- Être, a remake of the 1934 success. It is the most beautifu l Rose I had the joy to wear, and I am not a rose person. It is enveloped in veils of soft musk and citrus peel. I sprayed it also on a Japanese fan so I can enjoy in on a hot day. Gloriously okd-fadhioned, like my grandmother’s rose garden by the sea. August 18, 2023 at 9:10am Reply

    • Celeste A. Church: ZooLogist’s Cockatiel consistently makes me happy. I put it on and it brings an immediate smile to my face. I have so many perfumes and lots of them I love but this is the only one that guarantees a good mood when I wear it. Beautiful perfume and magical mood changer. Love it beyond reason. August 18, 2023 at 9:24am Reply

    • Victoria: You’ve described it so beautifully. August 28, 2023 at 5:56am Reply

  • Hamamelis: My feel-good fragrances vary througout stages in my life. A fragrance that almost always makes me feel good is 28 La Pausa, closely followed by no 19.
    At the moment Neela Vermeire’s Ashoka makes me feel really good. I think it is the softest sandalwood in the base that is so comforting. Another feel-good perfume is Andy Tauer’s Golestan, a white floral done differently. August 18, 2023 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: 28 La Pausa, closely followed by No 19, would also be among my choices. We share a love for iris. August 28, 2023 at 6:18am Reply

  • AndreaR: 31 Rue Cambon makes me feel like a million bucks followed closely by Caron’s Parfum Sacre. Eau d’Ete by Patricia de Nicolai is my go to summer summer fragrance.Etat Libre’s Rossy de Palma always makes me smile. August 18, 2023 at 10:26am Reply

    • Aida: That’s how 31 Rue de Cambon is for me 🙂
      I used to work for the House of Chanel and it is the first fine fragrance the brand gifted me. Each time I wear it I feel the opulence of our trainings and the love I continue to have for the brand 🙂 August 19, 2023 at 8:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Lovely choices. August 28, 2023 at 6:19am Reply

  • Trudy: Great post. It caused me to pause and think about what fragrance never fails to lift my spirits and feel….well, joy! After taking a quick mental inventory of the fragrances in my collection I realized the one that comes immediately to mind is Diorissimo. It just is so lovely. I’ve worn it off and on for years in different variations. I still have a tiny drop or two left in an old bottle from the late 90’s which has developed into a deep almost syrupy (but stunningly beautiful) version of itself. Recently I decided to replenish with a new bottle and was concerned about formula changes and thought my beloved scent wouldn’t be the same. I purchased a bottle of the EDT and hoped for the best. It is lighter and fresher but still beautiful and uplifting and just as lovely. There are others that can have a similar effect such as Chanel Beige or Diptyque Do Son but Diorissimo is so perfect. I don’t wear it every day or even every week but when I do it’s a mood changer. Recently I purchased a bottle of Loewe Ibiza Eclectic and it too has an uplifting celebratory vibe especially after it dries down a bit. August 18, 2023 at 10:28am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s so enjoyable to read comments about everyone’s favorites. There is often such a nice story that goes along. August 28, 2023 at 6:34am Reply

  • Rickyrebarco: A feel good perfume for me is Goutal’s Nuit Etoilee’ Refreshing and delightful. August 18, 2023 at 10:40am Reply

  • Filomena: Victoria, I really enjoyed reading this post and what you wrote is very true. I have been on a no buy mode for almost a year now as I lost my job and had to lower my spending. I do have a very large perfume collection which will outlive me, so I have been concentrating on only my own collection. The fragrance that always makes me smile is one of my very oldest ones…Hermes Hiris. Although it is a very simple fragrances, I wore it on my very first trip to Italy years ago and it always makes me happy when I wear it as it brings back those memories. Thank you for this wonderful post. August 18, 2023 at 10:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Another one of my favorites! August 28, 2023 at 6:34am Reply

  • Joy Erickson: I wore Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass in high school and college. The fresh, invigorating fragrance takes me back to Springtime in my college campus. I loved the embossed, frosted, splash bottles. I still keep a bottle, although the fragrance was changed and my bottle has degraded. The fragrance evokes feelings of youth and the carefree time of spring. I also love Diorissimo and Diorella for the same reasons.
    The fragrance of Maja soap on my skin or in the shower reminds me of my trip through Spain in 1970 on a motorcycle with my husband. I don’t care fore the lotion or the edt, though. August 18, 2023 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also prefer the scent of Maja soap to anything else in the collection. It’s a classic. August 28, 2023 at 6:35am Reply

  • Limony: I have a couple of scents that I only wear on the hottest days of the year and for that reason they are uplifting. Hot days don’t come often in England. One is a Lolita Lempika, name temporary forgotten. The other is L’Artisan’s Piment Brulant which smells like sasparilla.
    Don’t know if this counts but I find No. 5 very comforting. August 18, 2023 at 12:39pm Reply

  • OperaFan: I’m a hoarder and have bottles of perfumes spilling out of shelves and closets, which makes me a perfect candidate for the Marie Kondo exercise.
    Yet, when I think of perfumes that make me feel good, my thoughts immediately zoom in on the early Annick Goutal perfumes because they are mostly sheer and unfussy: Gardenia Passion and Passion, Hadrien, Eau de Camille, Rose Absolue, and Heure Exquise. I discovered these in a period in my life when I was coming into my own, so they have become a part of my identity as well. Wearing any of them on any given day can make me feel good. 🙂 August 18, 2023 at 2:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried the exercise with anything else before? It might be easier to start with something other than your perfume hobby and progress from there. August 28, 2023 at 6:36am Reply

      • OperaFan: I have tried with clothes (years of accumulation, especially my size change after pregnancy) but I need to learn to “let go” because there are so much sentimental attachments to many of these clothes. I have come to accept a long time ago that I will never be able to fit in them again (due to hip widening).
        What I need is a block of free time to focus. Those times are rare these days.
        Still working on it. 🙂 August 28, 2023 at 9:45am Reply

  • Debi Sen Gupta: I was just looking at serge lutens website for the iris just a few days ago. Had tried a sample and was thinking of going for the full bottle. Unfortunately it was out of stock.

    I really love this fragrance and hope to get it soon. Fredric Malles una rose is also a perfume which makes me feel good. August 19, 2023 at 1:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Another nice fragrance. August 28, 2023 at 6:36am Reply

  • Alityke: The one guaranteed to make my giggle out loud with pure elation is YSL In Love Again. I only have a cube bottle now & it’s getting dangerously low.
    Note to self – buy a back up before it’s d/ced August 19, 2023 at 4:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I like that combination of rose and grapefruit. August 28, 2023 at 6:37am Reply

  • Jamal: It is such a coincidence you posted about Iris silver mist because I just received a bottle today. I actually flew to France for it. August 19, 2023 at 11:49am Reply

  • Tanisha: Lush’s Rose Jam with its rosey, raspberry, lemonade burst of joy makes me happy. August 20, 2023 at 8:39am Reply

  • Natalie: Sandalwood is a love of mine. I think I’ll go spritz on some Tam Dao after reading this. Years ago Crabtree & Evelyn had a great straight-up sandalwood fragrance which I think was marketed for men, but I loved it (I think they reformulated it and it wasn’t as good). For a much less expensive sandalwood fragrance in hand soap form, but surprisingly decent, is Bath and Body Works ‘Sweet Sandalwood ‘ hand soap. Is it Tam Dao? No, but it’s pleasant and a solo note sandalwood to my nose without others notes to drown in out and not saccharine as the name would suggest. August 20, 2023 at 10:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Some of their blends are surprisingly good. August 28, 2023 at 6:38am Reply

  • Michele Brown: Dear Victoria, I have a deep love of the Chypres parfum Mitsuko. I can never get enough of the wonderful aroma it leaves on my clothes, hair and skin. I’ve wanted to try others, yet they either have just oakmoss or just patchouli; not together. I was reading and article by a fashion writer, this wknd, and she said these were her all time favorite parfums. Then went on to mention Bottega Veneta’s Eau De Parfum, a Chypres. I jumped on that and went to your site to see if you’d written an article on this one. You had!!!🙌🏼👏 I was so happy to read that you really liked it, and I liked what I read, as well. I ordered it immediately. Can’t wait for it to get here.
    I’ve passed on your site to so many people, especially a Lady at a perfume and cosmetics counter, after she was mispronouncing J’Adore, by Dior. Yours is the best teaching site out there in the digital realm. Thank you, stay safe.
    God Bless Ukraine 🇺🇦🙏🌻 August 20, 2023 at 2:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Michele. I appreciate your support. August 28, 2023 at 6:38am Reply

  • Marty M: I like Or du Serail by Naomi Goodsir for the Feel good effect. It has a tobacco, rum, mango mix but it reminds me of kicking through a bunch of wet autumn leaves on a cool autumn day. August 20, 2023 at 11:11pm Reply

  • Lee: Great post! The first feel-good fragrance that comes to mind is L’Eau d’Hiver. Lipstick accords also make me feel nostalgic. August 22, 2023 at 12:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: One of my own favorites. August 28, 2023 at 6:41am Reply

  • Bregje: Just this week i decided to clean out a closet in the attic. When i opened a leather bag that i haven’t used in a while i was struck by the wonderful scent that came out. It was from a tester of jour d’hermes I apparently left inside the bag. It made me smile instantly
    For me that’s an easy uncomplicated bright and happy fragrance August 23, 2023 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s the best way to find an old favorite. August 28, 2023 at 6:45am Reply

  • Emily: Late to this party, but for me the scent to reach for whenever I’m a surfeit of joy emergency is Hiram Green’s Moon Bloom. Smells like sunshine. I love it in the summer, when it blooms so beautifully in the heat I feel like I’m blooming. & I love it in the winter, to remember what that was like. August 24, 2023 at 10:07am Reply

    • Victoria: An irresistible description. August 28, 2023 at 6:45am Reply

  • Judith R: Although traditionally summer is the time for lighter fragrances, I enjoy the lightness of L’Eau de Hiver in winter. This past summer, I wore Love Coconut almost exclusively; the scent of coconut took me to faraway places while I was home recovering from knee surgery. September 25, 2023 at 7:22am Reply

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