Elegant: 172 posts

Versatile and polished blends

Perfumes That Make You Feel Dressed Up

In the beginning of the lockdown, my friends and colleagues reveled in casual dress, especially those of us who have worked together for years and no longer felt embarrassed to take a Skype call in pajamas. Eventually, the Groundhog Day feeling of working from home settled in and whenever we would meet for a virtual happy hour, I’d see plenty of cocktail dresses and button-down shirts. Feeling dressed up is a terrific mood booster, and even if you lack an occasion to sport a beautiful outfit, why not put on a favorite dress to lounge around the house? My solution is different–and easier. I pick a perfume that makes me feel dressed up.

Certain fragrances make you feel like you need a ball gown to pull them off, but others feel like you’re dressed for a party, even if you’re wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt (my favorite outfit for working at home.) The choice of such fragrances is personal, linked more to your personal associations than with a specific scent, but the perfumes that make me feel dressed up have a few characteristics in common.

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Three Men’s Fragrances for Women : Modern Classics

The modern concept that scents can be gendered–roses are for women and cedarwood is for men–dates to the post-WWII consumer boom when marketing tried to find new ways to encourage people to buy more products. That’s when the different concentrations of perfume also became popular, resulting in the current trend to release Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette versions in the same way that publishing houses tempt the public with hard and soft cover versions of books. The idea, however, is nothing new. The Greek philosopher Theophrastus wrote in his book, Concerning Odors, that men should wear lilies and roses and women myrrh and spikenard. So, there you go.

The main difference in how gender is assigned to scents is cultural. The quintessential feminine note of American and European perfumery, the rose, becomes unisex in the Middle East. Vanilla is much more common among masculine fragrances in Italy than it is in the US. Orange blossom is association with crisp freshness in Spain and with baby products in France. So, for those who are adventurous, the easiest way to have fun is to forget the gender labels and try perfumes based on their notes or stories.

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5 Moods, 5 Roses

Rose is a classical note in a perfumer’s palette. It can be a natural type-rose, with rich honeyed facets, a citrusy blossom, or a musky bouquet. While some iconic fragrances like Guerlain Nahéma and Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose are rose-dominated, it often finds itself in a supporting role, which it performs beautifully. As I hope to demonstrate to you with my list below, rose is versatile and can suit a variety of moods and fragrance styles.

Although rose is most closely associated with feminine perfumery, I encourage men to disregards such labels. The truth is that citrus, metallic rose notes are already present in many masculine compositions, such as Amouage Lyric Man, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire Pour Homme and Cartier Déclaration d’Un Soir. The darker the rose becomes, the more you can experiment with it. For instance, Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady smells devastatingly sexy on a man.

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New Style-Chypre Perfumes

Chypre perfumes that rely on an intricate interplay of citrus, florals, moss, woods and musk are among the most intriguing and complex. As I’ve described in Revolutionary Perfume : A Brief History of Chypre, it attained the form we recognize today in 1917 with the creation of Coty Chypre, although the idea of a mossy-citrusy accord is much older. Many iconic fragrances are classified as chypre, from Guerlain Mitsouko to Chanel No 19. However, given the IFRA-mandated restrictions on the use of oak and tree moss in perfumery, the classical chypre is an endangered species. Its dark, warm accord contrasted with the effervescence of citrus can’t be achieved without the inky richness of moss.

For a perfumer, however, the only choice is to experiment with ingredients that can evoke a chypre-like effect. Patchouli, oud, musks, dark woods and woody-ambery aromatics can in part produce the unique sensation of a good chypre perfume–I describe it as the crinkly feel of raw silk. Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, for instance, is an excellent new style chypre, even if it doesn’t include moss.

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6 Luminous Musk Perfumes

Why should summer be all about colognes and fresh florals? Why not don a plush tuberose or a bittersweet chypre? Why not explore how our dark and glamorous favorites behave when the weather grows warmer and days longer? None of the “perfume wearing rules” annoy me more than the set-in-stone seasonal suggestions. I suspect that most of them are designed to make people buy more product, rather than enjoy what they already have. The only rule in perfume is to wear what smells good to you (in quantities appropriate for the occasion, of course). A new season is a new chance to experiment, and there is nothing better than experimenting with your favorites and discovering new facets in them.

Musk perfumes, for instance, are among the most versatile. They can be modulated by the type of application. They linger. They range from heavy and warm to radiant and bright. With this in mind here is my list of summer musks–although I wear them all year round.

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