Favorite Winter Perfumes That Evoke Sunshine

Any style rule stated too categorically is circumspect—don’t pair black and navy, avoid mixing prints, or hide colognes away till the summer. The last one particularly makes no sense to me, because the beauty of fragrance is that it allows you freedom to enhance your mood or your image. Wearing a gossamer summer dress on a freezing winter day may not be sensible, but why not don a perfume that evokes a sunny garden or a seaside vacation? Although warm spicy fragrances are delightful on a cold morning, citrusy colognes, delicate florals or bright fruity blends can be just as appropriate. It all depends on your mood.

If my mood is for sun, sand and a languid sea breeze, I consider a green floral like Frédéric Malle Lys Méditerranée. It blends the richness of Casablanca lily with bright citrus notes and salty accents. The combination is much more effervescent than one might expect from a traditional white floral, with a silky texture evoking cool petals. Parfum d’Empire Immortelle Corse opens on a citrusy note, but the twist of immortelle with its maple syrup sweetness and warmth gives it a sun-burnt glow.

Somewhere lush and tropical is another fantasy I like indulging on an overcast morning. Liquides Imaginaires Fleur de Sable is a blend of dusky roses, pepper and cedarwood.  Imagine a beach scattered with rose petals and you have your Fleur de Sable vignette. Another staple on cold winter days is Parfums de Nicolaï Juste Un Rêve, a tiaré blossom soaked in apricot nectar. True to its name, it’s a dream.

Another way to make the cold months more bearable is to find aspects of winter to enjoy—the crisp scent of snow in the air, the pearly white light, the softness of cashmere scarves, and the heady warmth of mulled wine. Winter erases many of the usual urban smells, leaving a blank canvas for the subtle scents. For this reason, delicate perfumes can be surprisingly harmonious, even more so than the usual heavy orientals suggested for winter wear. Some of my favorites are irises and aldehydes (aromatic compounds reminiscent of freshly ironed linen): Chanel 19, a classical green iris, Bottega Venetta Knot, violet petals and suede, or Diptyque Eau Capitale, a potpourri of roses and shimmering spice. A perfume won’t make a cold day seem warmer, but it will certainly add a dose of beauty. Often that’s more than enough.

What are your winter fragrances for winter?

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26 Comments

  • Ramin: Mimosa = Sunlight after a snowy day
    Mimosa le couvent December 15, 2023 at 9:16am Reply

  • Hana: I love Hiram Green Slowdive, because it’s got an amazing honey, tobacco, orange blossom accord that feels like sitting by a fire place. And Hermes L’Ombre des Merveilles, hard to describe but totally magical on a grey winter day. December 15, 2023 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s among the fragrances I think as the portable rays of sunshine. December 17, 2023 at 8:28am Reply

  • Debby: I’m currently wearing the sadly discontinued Guerlain Lys Soleila for the same reasons you chose Lys Mediterranee! It’s fabulous.
    I’m also enjoying another favourite discontinued perfume, the wonderfully sweet and powdery Karl Lagerfeld Karleidoscope which works well in the winter I think.
    I do enjoy a vintage chypre in the winter as well. And galbanum is a note I think only works on cooler days, personally. December 15, 2023 at 10:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Vintage chypres especially fit well, with their mossy, somber notes. Sherrer is one of the fragrances I reach for a lot these days. December 17, 2023 at 8:29am Reply

  • Emily: A bit obvious, but Atelier’s Orange Sanguine is an essential winter staple, especially come February & March. I have a big bottle in the perfume closet & a decant in my purse at all times. The olfactory equivalent of getting sun on your head. Necessary & medicinal. December 15, 2023 at 11:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I really like this perfume! December 17, 2023 at 8:29am Reply

  • Sheila: I am so glad that you wrote about this. I’ve been craving about citrus based fragrance in this grey winter. But of course , like you said, most suggested oriental – heavy spiced/sweet type of fragrance. I am probably going to reach to Hermes d’Orange Verte and Maison Kurkdijan Aqua Universalis – both are fresh and clean giving me warmth imagined on the med December 15, 2023 at 11:51am Reply

    • Tatiana: Those are the two I was going to mention! December 15, 2023 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, something different from the usual offer. And all the more welcome for it. December 17, 2023 at 8:29am Reply

  • Marsi: Chanel Paris-Riviera for me. December 15, 2023 at 2:28pm Reply

  • Klaas: Wintertime is about the only time I can stand rich, ambery perfumes on my skin. L’Air du Désert Marocain is so luminous I always picture it as actual sunlight on my skin. And I love Andy Tauers Oudh as well……

    Citrus, of course, in all seasons, but (and I’ve said this before, sorry to repeat mezelf) to me, nothing evokes visions of summer like lavender! Oh my gosh, a spritz on my wrist and I’m my 10 year old self daydreaming away on our campsite in Sault (Provence), which was right beside a huge lavender field. With Mont Ventoux in the background……

    I put the stuff everywhere: in my wardrobe, in the linnen drawers, scented candles, fabric softener, soap, you name it. Even salad dressing!

    And a bottle of Brin de Réglisse in year round roulation, bien sûr ! December 15, 2023 at 3:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: A few years ago a friend whose family has a farm in Provence gave me a jar of lavender honey. It was so fragrant that I was tempted to wear it as perfume. I have been looking for something similar ever since. Brin de Réglisse is a different scent, but interestingly enough, it comes close to capturing that warm, enveloping scent. December 17, 2023 at 8:31am Reply

  • Mridula Koshy: Atelier Cologne’s Grand Neroli is sunshine, languid sunshine. Its winter here in Delhi and Im thinking I should go put some on. December 16, 2023 at 5:20am Reply

    • Victoria: It sounds wonderful! December 17, 2023 at 8:31am Reply

  • Aurora: Oh, I love your list Lys Méditerranée is wonderful. Cristalle satisfies me no end in the cold months, both EDT and EDP. December 16, 2023 at 8:54am Reply

    • Victoria: So bright and uplifting! December 17, 2023 at 8:32am Reply

  • Mengyun: I have been wearing Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte every day for the past week. It’s like a ray of sunshine in these gloomy winter days. It’s very uplifting yet gentle and cuddling at the same time. I am also looking for other bergamot fragrances that have similar effects! December 16, 2023 at 1:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: The pairing of bergamot and orange blossom is a winning one. Jo Malone makes several good citrus perfumes, like French Lime Blossom. December 17, 2023 at 8:33am Reply

  • Ale: Your post beautifully captures the essence of how fragrances can transcend seasons and enhance our mood. I completely agree with your perspective that there should be no rigid rules in pairing fragrances with seasons. The way you describe using summery scents in winter to evoke sunnier, warmer climes is both poetic and practical. Your choices like Frédéric Malle Lys Méditerranée and Parfum d’Empire Immortelle Corse sound wonderfully uplifting for dreary winter days. It’s inspiring how you also find joy in winter’s unique offerings, suggesting a balance between embracing the present and reminiscing about the warmer months. Your suggestions, from the green iris of Chanel 19 to the spicy bouquet of Diptyque Eau Capitale, are a delightful reminder of the power of scent to transform our daily experience. Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful and evocative perspective on fragrances! December 17, 2023 at 2:04am Reply

    • Victoria: So glad that you enjoyed it. The pleasure of changing seasons is that you adjust your perfume wardrobe, but the way you do it is up to you. You can definitely wrap yourself in layers of amber and spice. Or you can fight the grey overcast weather with uplifting, effervescent scents. Both options are fun to explore. December 17, 2023 at 8:34am Reply

  • joan ramirez: I like Valentina. Does anyone agree?
    I can’t afford the designer’s clothes but indulged for the perfume. December 17, 2023 at 6:52pm Reply

  • Judith R: I love wearing Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver by Jean-Claude Ellena in the winter. December 29, 2023 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: One of my winter staples too. January 4, 2024 at 7:45am Reply

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