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Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Nose Knows (But I Need Help to be Sure)

Lately, I've been thinking about perfume a lot. I find myself longing to be a woman with a signature scent.

Perhaps this has to do with my general end-of-winter schlumpiness. I'm not untidy, not unwashed, just somehow spending too much time living in long-sleeved t-shirts that don't make me look or feel put-together. Perhaps it's that I secretly long for a slightly fancier life. I don't want a suit-wearing, high-powered job; nor do I want to become one of those mommies who snub me at the playplace because I am not wearing designer skinny jeans and a full face of makeup at 10am. (Or ever, in fact. And they can tell that.) I just want somehow to be a bit more stylish when I'm not at work.

I've never been a make-up wearer -- 80s blue eyeshadow high school days excepted, of course. And so sometimes I think that maybe I would feel more together if I actually did something to my face in the mornings. You might suggest that I need a hairstyle that isn't wash-and-go. But my hair is naturally curly, and no matter how stylish my stylist gets with her scissors, I have approximately 8.3 minutes to get ready in the mornings, and I'm not going to spend them straightening and blow-drying, and whatever...

So then I'm back to perfume.

I have two perfumes that I like on myself. And that's no easy task, since most perfumes ever invented smell terrible to me straight out of the bottle and give me a violent headache in about five minutes of wearing. Poison is one I like. It's a heavy, velvety, sultry perfume. It smells nothing like gardenias, but if you know how they create a deep, heavy lingering scent, you know how Poison lasts. It's fabulous for a night out wearing fancy clothes, but not exactly trot-to-the-playground with the kiddos material. The other is Shalimar -- lighter and appropriate for daytime, but still a little much for playtime I think. (Perhaps the problem with this one is that it's too floral for my taste now, and it suited me better back when I first discovered it in college.)

What I want is something citrusy, perhaps -- like with grapefruit in it? Or something that smells like summer rain. Fresh, clean, light, not too floral. Only I don't know where to start.

And then--and here's where the Thinky comes in--I wonder: how do you know if you're a perfume person?

Some people clearly are. And some people should clearly be told to step away slowly from the bottle they douse themselves with on a daily basis. As someone with a sensitive nose, I've been in too many public places where I found my eyes watering at the awful, overwhelming stench of someone's chosen brew. I won't become that, since I couldn't stand to be in the same room with myself if I were wearing that much perfume, but I still wonder whether the scent I love would inevitably become nose pollution for someone else, since these are such personal preferences.

I really want to know: what do you think about perfume? Should it be for everyday? Or reserved for special occasions? How do you know if you are a person who can pull off scent on a daily basis? And if you are such a person, how do you find a perfume you can really make your own?


Amber said...

I used to be a daily perfume wearer during my career days. And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the scent Givenchy, which I discovered in France.

These days, I'm down to special occasions. The kids just don't seem to appreciate it as much (OK, at all). I don't mind others wearing it so long as it is not overpowering!

Jo said...

I am a big fan of Ralph Lauren's Blue for women for everyday wear. But it does smell different on everyone. I also like scented lotion instead of perfume. It's more subtle. And in my opinion perfume is like make-up -- less is more.

You also may be interested in my topic of the day:


MIQuilter said...

In my college days, I used to wear perfumes a lot (not daily, but whenever going out, etc). Now, I lean more toward scented lotions as I agree that they're more subtle.

I must comment, though. People who douse themselves with perfume really don't think they're wearing that much. Once you wear a single scent for a while, your nose gets used to it and it takes more to even register that you're wearing it. They don't think they're bathing in it, they just have worn the same stuff for SO long that they think they don't smell at all unless they can smell themselves. Which is why I like to have 2 or 3 scents that I rotate periodically.

When I first met my husband I had a single signature scent. It was the PERFECT lotion - called cool citrus basil. Not at all flowery, just fresh and clean. So of course they discontinued it. Since then I have been searching for a scent.

Often I turn to Crabtree and Evelyn (there's one at 12 oaks mall) for scents. They seem to be more light and/or herbally in both their lotions and perfumes than some of the competitors (who I used to shop at all the time until they went totally flowery and abandoned my citrus basil love). Oh, and L'occitaine is another good place to look for other light scents (also at 12 oaks). Or, if you want to have a doggie play date, you can come over to my house and sample what I have from both of those stores to see if you like them.

Personally, I think if the perfume or lotion is subtle it can be done every day. Even on playgrounds. Although, maybe I think that because I want my life to be just formal/yuppie/classy (really I don't know the right word I want to use... maybe PI??)enough to allow me to wear scents on a daily basis.

Molly said...

I at least wear a body spray everyday. My favorite perfume is one by Victoria's Secret.
I too long for a fancier life. I get jealous of all the pretty clothes when I watch Cashmere Mafia or that other show on NBC.

Don Mills Diva said...

I'm not really a perfume person but I kinda wish I was - my hubby loves it and he's always bugging me to wear it...

LceeL said...

I loves me a smell good woman. Especially one that smells good subtly, not overpoweringly. Like you can smell her when you hug her, or when she has recently passed you by, but not before she gets there. And the smell should be warm and heady - a little musky, almost, but not sharp or citrusy. A smell that says 'I am WOMAN - I am THIS woman'. Yeah. I loves me a smell good woman.

foolery said...

I used to love scents, but one of my pregnancy problems was EXTREME sensitivity to smells of all kinds, and I haven't been able to enjoy them too much ever since.

A long time ago I loved Zen by Shiseido, Givenchy (I second the motion, Amber), and 4711. I can't tell you what any of them smells like now except 4711, which is very citrus-y and fresh (plus it has a very interesting history). Anything heavier like Poison tends to drive my olfactories through the roof.

For every day I would wear scented lotion, which I love but never buy because I have a cupboard full of the ones Mr. Foolery has given me. They all smell like food. I'm not exactly sure what he's saying.

p.s. You'll have a fabulous time one-on-one with Miss Bossy, and I'm very jealous of THAT opportunity!

Mrs F with 4 said...

My grandmother (English, elegant, immaculate, wicked line in dirty jokes) told me that a lady's perfume should entice a man closer, not blow him backwards, and should on NO account be detectable at a distance of more than 12 inches.... the exception being for a 'woman of the night'.

I wear it every day - if you see me out of the house without at least mascara and perfume, you know there's been a major emergency. L'Eau D'Issey (Issey Miyake) - faintly citrus, possibly with a hint of watermelon, depending on who's wearing it.

And, Mommytime, apparently if you're going experimental, no more than 3 in one session, or your nose gets all confused, or so a wine-tasting friend told me!

Wouldn't you just LOVE to go to a parfumier and have them design one for you?

MommyTime said...

I really love the scented lotion idea. I had one that I adored, which of course (like MIQ's) was discontinued, but I would be happy to find another. My current lotion favorite is the Burt's Bees Buttermilk lotion -- which of course is made for babies. But it smells so yummy and clean. What does that say about me?

Anyway, I can't wait to go smell all of your recommendations (only three at a time, Mrs F, I promise!). I remember reading somewhere that there's something you're supposed to do to clean your nose-palate (don't know what else to call it) between sniffings...the perfume equivalent of eat dry bread between wine sips at a tasting. But I can't recall what you're supposed to smell to set it straight. Oats? Who knows...

Anyway, thanks for all the great input. And, Iceel, I'm taking it under consideration, seeking a subtle but oh-so-me scent. I'll bet my man will like it too!

Judith Shakespeare said...

Yes. I'd definitely say that I'm a perfume person.

After all, I've actually had people follow me out of malls just to ask me what I wear. :)

For the last couple of years, I've been wearing Armani's Code (it suits me). Before that it was Organza.

Oh! And the days that I'm just hanging about the house, I use sandalwood. Because I'm a total hippie like that.

MIQuilter said...

MT - what you're thinking of is coffee beans..... that's what will cleanse your palette between perfumes... of course, even smelling them not on you is different than wearing it.... if I were you i'd smell 2 or 3 and then try your favorite on for a day - usually what I do is try the sample on first thing when I hit the mall. If i still like it by the time i'm home a couple hours later than it has good potential to be a "keeper". Usually I have to scrub the scent off by the time I get home.....

K8spade said...

Perfume is about the only thing I wear, since it takes less than .749 seconds to put on, and that's about all the time I have to get ready for work at 4:30am...because I got up at 4:27, because you know damn well I'm not getting up early to get all prettied up at that hour!

So year\, perfume, and mascara if I've got an extra 7 seconds. I wear a bunch of stuff: Burberry, Anna Sui, Vera Wang, but the ones I really like are from Ralph Lauren. Turquoise, and some other kind that's pink. Try Ralph Lauren something-er-other.


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