How to choose the right perfume
When you think of the word “wardrobe,” clothes are probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, there is a case to be made for a scented wardrobe. Rather than having a must-have signature scent – which, let’s be honest, can get boring after a while – a fragrance wardrobe is a collection of fragrances that you choose based on your mood, the weather outside or occasion. “Perfume is also a form of self-expression, so you need to choose a scent that feels like you or even reflects how you want to feel that day,” says Clive Christian Brand Ambassador Victoria Christian. “It’s another way to change your style and it can also renew your mood,” says Julian Bedel, founder of Fueguia 1833.
But where to start to build your collection of perfumes? Your favorite scents are a good place to start, says Christian. “If you know you’re drawn to a fresher style scent, try experimenting with fragrances that capture that essence, combined with other notes such as citrus blossoms or citrus woods.” Bedel also suggests starting with the scents that appeal to you and going from there, experimenting with scents from other scent families. Don’t be nervous about stepping out of your comfort zone: “While it’s good to wear perfume styles you feel comfortable with and feel unique in, don’t be afraid to try something new”, Christian.
Below, Christian and Bedel explain common fragrance terms and break down each of the fragrance families to help you build a fragrance wardrobe.
Lexicon of perfumes
- Remarks: Top, middle, and base notes are the different ingredients or scents you smell over time. They “signify the journey of a perfume on the skin“, explains Christian. Top notes create the first impression of a fragrance, middle notes emerge after an hour or two, and base notes reveal themselves during the final hours of wear.
- Fragrance family: These are fragrances with similar key notes. There are five in total: floral, fresh, amber, woody and gourmand.
- Dry : The scent that lingers on your skin as the notes of the fragrance fuse with your body’s natural oils.
- Deal : When different notes are combined to create a new fragrance, it is called an accord.
- Concentration: It is the ratio of perfume to alcohol (the latter helps to diffuse an odor). Eau de Parfum has more fragrance and is more intense; toilet waters have less and are lighter.
These scents are classic and diverse — common notes used in this category include refreshing jasmine, heady tuberose, powdery lily of the valley, or fresh, sweet freesia, says Christian. Floral scents are great year-round, she adds, but they’re especially good for sunny spring or summer days.
“Fresh scents cover citrus, green, and aquatic scents,” says Christian, and common notes include lavender, lemon, grapefruit, lime, orange, bergamot, and rosemary. “They’re the epitome of summer,” says Bedel. “These are very fresh and uplifting scents that are ideal for hot, humid days.”
“Amber itself is usually an accord of leathery labdanum, sweet benzoin, and rum-like vanilla,” Christian explains. “Other ingredients in this opulent category can be hot spices like pepper or nutmeg, or almost edible notes like tonka.” Due to the cloying nature of amber scents, these warm scents are ideal for chilly fall and winter days. They’re also great for vaping if you’re wearing a cashmere or wool sweater, adds Christian. “The scent will cling to the natural fibers to completely immerse you in the scent.”
“Woody scents can be aromatic, deep, or smoky,” says Christian. Common notes include woods like sandalwood or cedar, musky patchouli and earthy vetiver. “Woody scents have a greater depth that complements colder days and has a bolder olfactory direction,” says Christian. The depth of woody scents also means they’re closer to your skin, adding a feeling of intimacy, Bedel says.
Winter is the perfect season for gourmet perfumes, says Bedel. The notes of these fragrances are usually sweet and warm, he adds. Think cocoa, vanilla, hazelnut and coffee.