Coco Chanel said it best. “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Okay, perhaps the fashion icon’s words are a bit overdramatic. Nevertheless, her quote whimsically remains at the back of my mind whenever I am on the hunt for my newest fragrance.
Spending hours combing through Bath and Body Works as a preteen commenced my obsession with perfume. Every morning, I looked forward to dousing myself with Warm Vanilla Sugar before heading off to fifth grade. Although, I think my affinity truly started in middle school when I snuck into my aunt’s dresser and became enchanted with her bottle of Jo Malone.
Fast forward to 2020, I still look forward to spritzing my favorite bottle of perfume on my wrists to set the tone for my day. Throughout my perfume journey, I’ve learned to admire the art of fragrance through the lens of curatorship. I approach perfume as a way to present my message and personality to the world without even having to speak.
In light of Coco Chanel’s statement, perfume is not essential, but it does create an avenue for self-expression. Everyone deserves to feel confident and beautiful, unapologetically utilizing any resource at their disposal. In my opinion, investing in a perfume that makes you feel like the best version of yourself is worth a heftier price tag. A quality crafted, long-lasting fragrance can withstand the test of time and ultimately reduce cost-per-wear more than cheaper alternatives. Scents have a way of bringing people back to specific memories and moments in their lives. Finding the perfect scent to remind you of those moments can help create a mental scrapbook.
After years of glares from Sephora and Ulta employees for standing at the fragrance aisle for longer than necessary and going through countless paper blotters, I have compiled a simplified list of each type of perfume everyone should own.
I tend to gravitate toward clean, sweet and fresh fragrances, however, most of the knowledge I’ve accumulated is from the amazing noses of Demi Rawling and Jeremy Fragrance, who both offer fantastic fragrance recommendations. Heart Evangelista’s perfume collection is also unparalleled and inspired me to expand my own.
I had to start with my favorite fragrances, which catapulted me into the world of “adult fragrances.” Before I even considered dorm beddings, I had my sights set on Chloé Eau de Parfum as my first “grown-up” perfume for college. I wanted something simple, yet elegant and sweet. Wearing it always reminds me of my freshman year and the memories I made. Clean and classic perfumes are best for workplace environments, school, internships and other professional settings. They are light, non-offensive and ease you into the right headspace for crossing everything off your to-do list. You can also reach for warmer notes of vanilla and amber if you prefer deeper scents.
Chloé Eau de Parfum - pink peony, lychee, rose, amber, honey
My Burberry Blush - pomegranate, lemon, apple, rose petals, jasmine
Lancôme La Vie Est Belle - iris, patchouli, warm sugar, pear, black currant, orange blossom, jasmine
Chanel Chance Eau Vive Eau de Toilette - jasmine, grapefruit, blood orange, iris, cedar, jasmine
Many other self-proclaimed perfume connoisseurs make little distinction between casual perfumes and classic perfumes. In my eyes, everyday perfumes are one-dimensional and less nuanced — typically consisting of mainly citrus notes. These are for casual errands and events that are more low maintenance than those described in the category above. Think Target trips, baking cookies with a friend or a study session at the library. This perfume should be something reliable and appropriate for almost any occasion. Consider purchasing these fragrances in rollerballs instead of full-size bottles for easy transportation.
Atelier Orange Sanguine Cologne - red tangerine, bitter orange, jasmine, geranium, black pepper
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau de Toilette - green apple, cedar wood, citron, bamboo, amber, musk
Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia - King William pear, freesia, patchouli
3. Night Out/Special Occasion
Whether your Friday night consists of dinner with your roommates, sight-seeing around a new city or a first date, everyone should own a perfume that embodies confidence and extroversion — even when you don’t feel like it. This category is the most diverse, allowing you to run in any direction from playful and feminine to earthy and musky. These bottles are only unshelved on the most memorable occasions but should always last the entire night.
Valentino Donna Born in Roma Eau de Parfum - black currant, jasmine, bergamot, jasmine tea, bourbon vanilla
Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum - bergamot, mandarin, pear, neroli, lavender, vanilla, sandalwood
Yves Saint Laurent Libre Eau de Parfum - lavender, orange blossom, musk accord
Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Eau de Parfum - mandarin oil, jasmine accord, orange blossom, cedar, caramel
4. Signature Scent/Niche
Some people refer to their “signature scent” as a perfume they just happen to adore and wear often. I view signature scents as the ultimate articulation of individuality. This requires extra research and time to determine which fragrance fits your style and physical chemistry. I have yet to find the perfect version of “Erika in a bottle.” Niche perfumes from indie brands offer the best selections for unique fragrance DNAs. They are a bit harder to find, and price points are steeper than other designer perfumes with no dupes. Despite these challenges, many fragrance-lovers have expressed that the trouble is worth it. After all, these perfumeries pride themselves on being imitated but never duplicated.
Parfums De Marly Delina Eau de Parfum - bergamot, nutmeg, rhubarb, lychee, rose, incense, cedarwood, vanilla
Kilian I Don’t Need a Prince by My Side to be a Princess Eau de Parfum - lemon, green tea, ginger, peach, jasmine, apple, marshmallow, vanilla
Vilhelm Parfumerie Basilico and Fellini Eau de Parfum - dragon fruit, basil, violet, wild fig, green hay
You deserve to surround yourself with things that are meaningful and exciting. Whether it’s a high-end designer perfume or an affordable mood-boosting body mist, wear whatever makes you feel like your best self.