Fragrance bar

The current collection. I love the look of perfume bottles prettily arranged, don’t you?

A few years ago, I rarely wore fragrance, usually just when I was dressed up and going out. My appreciation of scent as an accessory has evolved to the point that now I feel incompletely dressed without it, and wear daily. The right fragrance can lift my mood, and make me feel beautiful, feminine, strong, sophisticated, or all of those things.

As you can see from my collection above, I have a fickle nose!  I love the idea of a signature fragrance, but it’s so easy to be seduced by a gorgeous new scent. Right now I’m mostly rotating between Chanel No.19, Miss Dior Cherie, and Kelly Caleche for daytime wear. YSL Parisienne is also a favorite, but feels more right for Spring and Summer. For evenings, I love Fragonard’s Belle de Nuit. I tend to prefer fragrances based on florals, but they need to have some green or smoky/edgy notes to offset the sweetness. I find cloyingly sweet fragrances annoying, and generally prefer Eau de Parfum formulations to the Eau de Toilette, as EdP’s generally have more richness and complexity.

On one of our first Paris visits, I’d promised to pick up some obscure (here, anyway) Guerlain fragrance for a co-worker. After making the purchase at the Guerlain counter at Bon Marché, the lovely Sales Associate asked (quite charmingly), “would you like me to scent you?” I selected a fragrance and she proceeded to spray the air around me, and instructed me to turn around once. Ever since, that’s how I’ve applied my fragrances.

How do you feel about fragrance? Do you have a signature scent or do you like to change it up? What are your favorites?

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  1. March 8, 2012 / 7:56 pm

    I don’t wear it, I have a very strong sense of smell and find scent overpowering.

    But when I was at school I wore Chanel No 19 and Rive Gauche – ah it takes me back.

  2. March 8, 2012 / 9:22 pm

    Lovely post…love how you apply it too. I’ve always loved Guerlain fragrances…Mitsouko, Chamade and Shalimar are still favourites and Serge Luten’s El Attarine is pretty divine also.

  3. March 8, 2012 / 9:41 pm

    Variety is the spice when it comes to fragrance! “signature scent” is overrated. Women are multifaceted and should scent themselves accordingly. It is more fun that way for sure. Just like you do not wear a jean jacket everyday, you have different scents for different occasions, moods, situations. Your scent signature might be that you prefer a fragrance wardrobe from a certain house, parfumer, scent group (like florientals), or single note (jasmine, a favorite grass, sandalwood ). This way ensures you have a “signature”, yet still a choice of bottles.

  4. March 8, 2012 / 9:44 pm

    I wear my mother’s scent, good old L’air du Temps by Nina Ricci, because it reminds me of her. I also love L’Artisan scents: The pour un Ete (no accent marks) is light and fresh in summer and Fete du Jour for winter. I like florals also, but generally prefer them to be on the green side. My DH likes eau de cologne better than parfum, so I do that! Wearing scent everyday is like having some fresh flowers, or even one flower, in your field of vision ever single day.

  5. Leigh
    March 8, 2012 / 10:07 pm

    I love perfume. I can spend hours at the perfume counter,much to the chagrin of my family. I love Miss Dior ( not Cherie ), Diorella, Balenciga Paris, Soir De Lune Sisley, I am always on the lookout for more…

  6. Anonymous
    March 8, 2012 / 10:11 pm

    Shalimar, the “quintessitial” French scent-Classic!

  7. March 9, 2012 / 1:10 am

    I love perfume, when used discreetly. I think one shouldn’t smell the perfume from far away, because not everybody likes perfume! My neighbor is dating a woman who wears so much perfume (the sweet, cloying kind, too) that I can smell her on the stairs hours after she’s been through. Not cool, and not classy in my book.

  8. March 9, 2012 / 2:00 am

    I have several that I rotate through, as well. I typically like perfumes with a lot of white floral notes. Kate Spade Beauty (jasmine), Stella (orange blossom), Daisy by Marc Jacobs, and Tommy Girl for work.

    During the winter I like my frangrance to be a little muskier or have a thicker smell to it. Then I go for Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, D&G The One, Armani Mania or Amarige.

    W. 🙂

  9. March 9, 2012 / 4:04 am

    So beautiful! And I now wear perfume too, after years of not.

  10. Pam @ over50feeling40
    March 8, 2012 / 8:13 pm

    Well, I work in a high school where it often smells of pizza, gym clothes, and sweaty socks…so I always were a fragrance every day. I have a couple that I currently like, but I do like to mix it up when I can. I finally forced myself to throw away bottles…I like them as well! I sold a bunch once at a garage sale.

  11. adelfa
    March 9, 2012 / 4:23 am

    I love to display my bottles, too! If I could only pick one for the rest of my life, it would be Chanel Eau Premiere (I used to wear No. 5, but it doesn’t smell the same any more!) I love scents with a lemony topnote and have D&G Light Blue, Pure DKNY Lemon Verbena, and Balenciaga Paris. I love D&G Rose the One, don’t think of myself as a rose person, but this is so fresh. When I stray into too floral or too spicy, I don’t wear them (Dior J’adore, Mistral Madagascar Vanilla).

    I too didn’t wear fragrance for almost 25 years because of a DD with allergies, but now that she is 2000 miles away…! On the days where I have a County meeting, where fragrances are prohibited, I too feel undressed!

  12. christine
    March 8, 2012 / 8:24 pm

    I have always wanted to be the woman who leaves a characteristic whiff of fragrance behind her, but I am like you, fickle with scent. Chanel 19 was my first perfume and I still buy it sometimes ; it brings back memories of high school.. My best friend at the time still wears it after all these years. Personally, I have far too many bottles of the stuff and I sometimes apply it even if I’m not going anywhere, just for me !

  13. M
    March 8, 2012 / 8:45 pm

    I’m fickle too and like to rotate according to the season or my mood or the occasion. My most recent everyday favorite is a Jo Malone called amber and lavender. I love to mix a tad of the fragrant lotion with a cheap drugstore brand that’s unscented and slather it on.

  14. March 9, 2012 / 6:12 am

    I love wearing fragrance, but something light. I’m getting quite self-conscious about wearing scent when I walk into so many places that have signs saying “scent-free.” Makes me feel guilty.

  15. March 9, 2012 / 1:58 pm

    Currently wear Malle’s “Parfum pour Terese” for evening and Lise Watier’s “Folies” or Eau d’ Italie’s “Magnolia Romana” for day. So many great frags exist now for women who don’t like obvious scent, L’Artisan Parfumeur and Jo Malone make a number of subtle ones. For me, wearing fragrance is one of the joys of life.

    There are also classic fragrances I cannot be without even though don’t wear them often:Quartz, Norell, Chanel #19, Caleche, Fracas.

  16. Anonymous
    March 9, 2012 / 2:20 pm

    No one should wear fragrance anywhere but in their own home. As someone who suffers from multiple-chemical sensitivity, gaudy women with their toxic scents can make public life a nightmare.

    If wearing fragrance is one of the joys of your life, remember–that’s your life–and your health at risk. Do you have any idea of the actual chemical components hidden in all these top-notes and base-notes. If not, I recommend you do some research.

    The world is going scent-free for a reason. Ladies, please try to get over the monstrous egotism of thinking you are swathed in an aura of sophistication and glamour. I can assure you there are people who would like nothing better than to give you a Meryl Streepian Silkwood scrubbing.

    • March 10, 2012 / 12:09 am

      Anonymous, it must be difficult for you to be out in public as just about everything from soap to laundry detergent to hand lotion has some sort of fragrance added. I can only imagine how challenging this must be with your condition.

      I do try to apply my fragrance so that it’s only discernible to me and anyone within my personal space, which would limit to my husband and the occasional close friend whom I’d greet with a hug or bisou.

  17. Mrs. Jenner
    March 9, 2012 / 6:33 am

    My new favorite is Cartier Baiser Vole perfume. It smells floral but green and fresh. I also love Chanel no 5.

  18. adelfa
    March 9, 2012 / 2:45 pm

    Anonymous @ 6:20am, I understand your concerns! That is why I only wear one spritz of less strong fragrances when I go to work. I’m pretty sure no one can smell it, which is okay with me, because I only do it for me. For my stronger fragrances, I do exactly what you suggest and wear them at home.

  19. Katelyn
    March 9, 2012 / 3:05 pm

    I think for me, having a true signature scent would indicate that I know exactly who I am. Because I have not found the perfect scent, I’ve settled for wearing a scent I love. When I was younger it was some fabulous spicy floral by Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen. For years it’s been Burberry Brit, but a couple weeks ago I started searching for a new perfume when I realized that some scents stick around all day. (BB fades to almost nothing on me within about an hour, and I’m too low maintenance to carry around perfume and reapply.) The frontrunner is Red Roses by Jo Malone.

  20. March 9, 2012 / 3:16 pm

    Lately I am loving the scents of BOND#9 the New York collection. They can be mixed and matched and are fun and delicious. I am partial to citrusy scents. But then the schizophrenic in me comes out and I run to the scents of Fredric Malle. I guess I dont really have a signature scent, but I agree, “scenting” does give me a lift in the morning as I dress for work!

  21. March 9, 2012 / 3:40 pm

    When I read that perfumes are mostly made with synthetic chemicals now I threw out all of mine. Perhaps genuine French perfumes (purchased in France) are still made of natural materials, I hope so, but since there is no way to tell for certain I’m not putting any of them on my skin or in my lungs!

  22. Lynn
    March 9, 2012 / 4:02 pm

    I am sooo allergic that I have had to leave places where people are wearing too much scent. This is especially true in the theater where we are seated close together. I used to love it, but now I just get migraines.

  23. March 9, 2012 / 5:14 pm

    I love this post! Fragrance evokes memories, energizes us, relaxes us. We forget just how important aromas can be – and not just when it comes to cooking in the kitchen!

    My mother had a signature fragrance. My grandmother did as well, best I recall. I tend to find one that I wear for 10 years or so, then, depending upon mood or life event or association, I may change. And of course, as body chemistry changes, so, too, do our scents…

    I am, these days, a Chanel woman – a fragrance which I adore, selected for me by a Frenchman, and which suits me in all my moods… parfaitement.

    I spent some time awhile back on this subject – do you mind? (J’espère que non !) If of interest:

    Like Ms. M, I could also talk about this topic all day!

  24. March 9, 2012 / 5:24 pm

    I wear perfume for me, and it seems like such a part of who I am. I don’t have one signature scent though. Right now I am mostly wearing L’Heure Bleue or Chanel’s Bois des Iles during the day and Bal a Versailles at night, or perhaps Delrae’s Bois de Paradis, which just seems too romantic for everyday. I go through cycles of wearing Vetiver Dance and Serge Lutens’ Gris Claire and I have and love Nuit de Noel and Fracas but really only wear them occasionally.

  25. March 9, 2012 / 6:27 pm

    I wear perfume everyday. Love it. Now I wear one of two Jo Malone fragrances–Wild Bluebell or Vintage Gardenia–although I used to wear only Chanel no. 5. I consider it another vital accessory to my wardrobe.

  26. Anonymous
    March 9, 2012 / 6:52 pm

    I do love to see all my bottles lined up, and every morning I ask myself: what appeals to me today? Some, like Hermes salty Eau des Merveilles, I can wear anytime, others require a certain mood, event, or weather. On my shelf at the moment: Yves St. Laurent’s Y, Chanel’s Bois des Iles, Donna Karan’s Black Cashmere, Joy by Patou. I used to look forward to wearing Diorissimo every spring until the formula was changed and cheapened; now I’ll go to The Pour un Ete by L’Artisan for that balmy spring scent. My next purchase will probably be Chanel’s Cuir de Russie–so lean, so French. If I could afford it, I’d buy Amouage Gold, a heavenly floral, for special occasions. In humid summer weather I like only Estee Lauder’s Beyond Paradise. And when I can muster the necessary attitude, I take out a tiny vial of vintage Bandit…


  27. March 9, 2012 / 6:52 pm

    I love perfume, a trait inherited from my mother (her favorite has always been Chanel No. 5). I admire the idea of a signature scent but I can be fickle. I do have a few in rotation but try to keep it limited. Since I discovered Chanel No. 19 last summer on a holiday in Canada, I have been enamored with it. Very seldom do I have an emotional reaction and attachment to a fragrance but No. 19 swept me off my feet. I also love Serge Lutens Serge Noir (almost as much as No. 19), which has elicited a similar response. I’m on my second bottle. It’s a haunting, unusual scent.

  28. kathy peck
    March 9, 2012 / 2:03 pm

    I’ve been wearing Chanel Coco Mademoiselle for awhile. Wore Caleche, and Rive Gauche in school. And will be buying Serge Luten’s Fleur d’Oranger, when I have time to get to Barneys, hopefully next week. But, I’ve had a lot of hayfever this year in LA, and actually haven’t been wearing any come to think of it.

  29. March 9, 2012 / 10:20 pm

    Chanel No 22 is my all-time favorite, but this year I added Luctor et Emergo (POTL) and Dans Tes Bras (Frederic Malle).

    A big shout out for the Frederic Malle line of perfurmes. He promotes the “autuer” (the real person who designs the perfume) not celebrities or design houses. Service is fantastic-I did it all by phone and mail.

    There are also great mid-priced perfumes–Essential by Lacoste, Paris by YSL, the Annick Goutal line, and many more.

  30. March 9, 2012 / 10:44 pm

    Anon @ 6:20: Fragrances like Cote d’Amour by L Artisan Parfumeur are 100% natural, eco-certified products; I wear that and love it When I’m not sure with whom I’ll be working, I wear it, or no scent. And, there is wearing scent and blaring scent; ideally for day wear the fragrance should be evident only to those standing within personal space. (Evening is another story.) A personal attack on those responding to Pseu’s request will hardly win people over to your cause.

  31. March 9, 2012 / 11:18 pm

    Dear Hostess has sent me to your lovely blog Duchesse.
    Likewise I feel undressed if I leave the house without fragrance and this has been the situation since the age of 16.
    At present I am revisiting a love affair with Chanel no.5 after an absence of many years although I had been wearing her sister no.19. Another favourite was Estee Lauder Pleasures Exotic, a light floral.
    A dear friend recently gifted me Arpege (a scent I wore in my twenties) and find it delightful for daytime.

  32. March 9, 2012 / 11:18 pm

    Dear Hostess has sent me to your lovely blog Duchesse.
    Likewise I feel undressed if I leave the house without fragrance and this has been the situation since the age of 16.
    At present I am revisiting a love affair with Chanel no.5 after an absence of many years although I had been wearing her sister no.19. Another favourite was Estee Lauder Pleasures Exotic, a light floral.
    A dear friend recently gifted me Arpege (a scent I wore in my twenties) and find it delightful for daytime.

  33. Ms. M
    March 9, 2012 / 4:57 pm

    I grew up wearing fragrance. It was a common gift among women in my family. And then, in my teens, I took some school-sponsored trips to Paris (yeah, my public school district was cool that way!) and visited some perfume shops, where the sales ladies had fun spraying all us teenage girls with various scents. It was on one of those trips that I ended up with what became my signature scent for years: L’Air du Temps. It’s funny, now I read blogs which describe that as a “granny” fragrance, but back then, it was recommended to me as “appropriate for a young girl”. It was also during this trip that I discovered the difference between EDP and EDT. Like you, I tend to prefer the EDP formulations and wish they were more widely available at local counters here in the U.S.

    Alas, when I started at my current job (20 years ago), I had some co-workers who were very anti-perfume. They wouldn’t even allow flowers in the office! So I got out of the habit of wearing perfume. But a few years ago, I realized that those people are no longer working in my office, and it’s nice to wear a light, inoffensive scent. And, I’m not at work 24/7, so why not wear fragrance at other times, too?!

    Nowadays, I have a plentiful selection of samples and a few bottles of my favorites, too. I share your love of Chanel No. 19. Other than that, I tend to go for florals and vanilla-based fragrances for day, and spicy, musky orientals for evening.

    Wow, this has turned out to be a long comment. I could talk about fragrance all day!

  34. M
    March 9, 2012 / 5:28 pm

    Anonymous-from the tone of your post I think a better solution would be for us to keep wearing our perfume & you stay home.

  35. metscan
    March 9, 2012 / 5:44 pm

    Indeed, you have a fragrance bar! I only have one bottle at a time. For two years the same scent.
    Btw., do you know how long the perfumes last good after opening?
    Since I don´t, I buy one at a time.

  36. Paula
    March 10, 2012 / 12:07 am

    Essence is a wonderful scent! Only it fades so soon. After years of sniffing through the perfumeries without any luck, I have been lucky for some time, it started off with Essence and lead to Perles de Lalique. My oldest niece (14) and my sister and my mum – you could say all women in my family – were charmed by the scent of Lalique. So I guess this is my new signature scent. My first had been Eternity in 1990. Back then a man fell in love with me thanks to that sscent! It happened during the Nirvana concert in Vienna. That guy was standing behind me and had the scent in his nose during the whole concert. He was cute.

    What matters to me today is a man by my side who does not complain when I step into the car with a cloud of perfume. 😀

  37. Thyme2Be
    March 10, 2012 / 12:48 am

    My favorite scents to waft-around in: Estee Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose and Gardenia, Chanel #5, and good ole Irish Spring soap.

  38. coffeeaddict
    March 10, 2012 / 8:15 am

    Lots of mixed opinions on this post. I love perfume and fragrance in general and all of those pleasing smells like fresh brewed coffee, the smell of cut grass and so on. I like my perfumes to be unusual or not well known. There was one perfume I loved and wore exclusively for 4 years till one day when I walk past a woman in the street wearing the same perfume. Can’t really explain but it was such an unnerving experience I switched scents immediately.
    I only have two scents in my cabinet, a summer and a winter scent. I never alternate scents because the clothes always retain some of the previous fragrance and putting a different scent over it would turn into a nightmare.
    I’m also very sensitive to cheap, intruding perfumes, air fresheners used excessively in posh stores and buildings, so I partially agree with one of the Anonymous commenter.

    • metscan
      March 11, 2012 / 7:40 am

      I feel very same.
      Although I have revealed my scent, I hope everyone has forgotten it.
      I wore the very first Prada perfume for years ( no more available ), but stopped using it as soon as someone I got to know, told me it was her favorite too.
      And I too wear the same perfume 365 ( 366 ) a year, just for the same reasons as you.

  39. Zuzu*s Petals
    March 11, 2012 / 3:11 pm

    I love fragrance as long as it isn’t assaulting. Unfortunately, I lost my sense of smell a few years back, and I only rarely get fleeting whiffs of things. I used to wear perfume for me, so I hardly ever bother anymore. It also seems like so many people are sensitive to/offended by it, so it just seems like it isn’t worth the hassle. A very sad thing, I think.

    I guess I will get my joys from nature and my gardens.

  40. Susan Tiner
    March 25, 2012 / 5:52 pm

    Like Ms. M I stopped wearing scent when co-workers complained. Since then I’ve encountered scent-free policies at professional organizations and just assumed that it’s frowned upon in CA to wear scent. I love the way you apply your scent. That ought to make it light enough to avoid detection by others. I may try it!

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