Perfumes and fragrances are such personal things. I would never presume to impose my views about them on anyone, which is why I don’t seem to talk about them very much, although I enjoy using them.
It’s hard to talk about a perfume when you don’t have a very sensitive nose for different notes, and also when perfume afficionados can be rather intimidating, and have preconceived notions about what people should like.
There is a bit of a competitive edge, I feel, among perfume fans, who seem to scorn the more mainstream scents and brands, and who prefer seeking out the niche and unique.
Nothing wrong with that, except that it makes it challenging to discuss perfumes when everyone else is so much more knowledgeable, and what you like seems to attract a raised brow.
That said, I used to have a very strong, unwavering preference for scents. But some time in the last 6 months or so, something changed. And so did my perfume choices.
Types of scents I used to enjoy
When I started using perfume (around the time I started earning my keep and had some money to spend) I’d go for the more conventional fragrances from the department store beauty houses.
Estee Lauder Beautiful was one of which I used copious amounts. If you remember it, it’s a very strong, powdery floral scent that I would never wear today, or later in my working life LOL! It used to be a perfume that was associated with brides and the bridal season.
I also wore Dior perfumes a lot, with J’Adore being a personal favourite. I still enjoy wearing it today.
Then after 5-6 years of that, I dropped all floral perfumes, and my tastes shifted to heavier, muskier, woody, spicy scents. Scents that were commonly referred to as “masculine”. This was about when I discovered Alexander McQueen Kingdom, which I loved! Today, I can’t tolerate it anymore.
I stayed in this phase for a long time. I amassed quite a few Diptyque fragrances at this time – Volutes is a favourite, as well as l’Ombre dans l’Eau, 34 and L’Eau du Trente-Quarte (Water 34) and Tempo. Diptyque fit my preferences then as I found their rather complex scents, with strong hints of wood and spice, comforting.
Many people would give me an odd look when I said that I preferred heavy scents like these. It was unconventional especially for us here, where the weather is hot and humid, and light citrus or florals rule the day. A warm, spicy fragrance does make you feel warmer. But I enjoyed them, and sought them out.
I used to pick EdP (Eau de Parfum) because of the perceived bang for your buck. They usually last longer and smell stronger. I used to waft scents from the elevator to my desk LOL! Gosh, I hope I didn’t suffocate anyone! :P
I used to own the odd EdT (Eau de Toilette) because it was more affordable, and when my tastes shifted to the heavier, spicy, warm scents, it felt better in a lighter note. I also noticed that sometimes, scents in EdT form differed slightly from the EdP versions.
Changing perfume preferences
In the past 6 months however, I noticed that my perfume preferences have changed rather drastically.
In terms of longevity, I have found myself reaching for very light versions of scents, in Eau de Cologne form, or very light Eau de Toilette. Eau de Cologne has the lightest concentration of scent, and is therefore perceived to be of the least value in perfume-speak.
Cologne scents also tend to be lighter on the nose, and to not last as long on skin or on clothes. It is for this reason that Jo Malone fragrances get a lot of flack, as they are all colognes. I have asked them about this, and they tell me that they use a higher quality cologne absolue so it lasts longer, even though it’s still called a cologne. I’ll take their word for it because I don’t know any better :P
I used to be a little disdainful about using colognes. It was like just using perfumed water, where you get a nice whiff of scent for about an hour or two in the morning, and then everything wilts away the rest of the day.
These days however, I have found myself shying away from heavier EdP and sometimes, even EdT. I find that the longer the scent lasts on my skin or wafts around me, the more uncomfortable I feel.
Now, I find myself opting for the much lighter cologne, and often, in a fresher scent. Something with a hint of citrus to open up, but something that can dry down to a soft spicy or woody fragrance. I still do gravitate towards woody and spicy scents, but in a much lighter formula than before.
I don’t shy away from florals as much, although I do still stay away from sweet florals, fruity or gourmand scents. They either give me a headache, or make me feel nauseous :P
These days, I find myself reaching for scents like Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin for a wonderful shower-fresh feel, Amber & Lavender which similarly smells shower-fresh one me before drying down to a warm spice, and 154, my absolute favourite Jo Malone scent.
154 is a spicy, woody scent, with hints of fizz as it opens, but which settles to a comforting warmth. It should smell heavy, but isn’t heavy at all. I attribute it to the fact that it is a cologne. If it was in EdT or EdP form, it would be much more oppressive, I feel.
I have also found a slight affinity for tea-based scents. I have one I enjoy using by By Terry – The Glace, and I recently picked up the Annick Goutal L’Ille au The. They are a touch sweet, as they use the essence of green tea, which isn’t as bitter as black tea. But blending it with bergamot and citrus notes gives it a refreshing lift, that I enjoy wearing.
I have been eyeing the Jo Malone Rare Teas selection, which I always enjoy testing when I head to the store (Silver Needles is one of my favourite scents in that line) but I’m biding my time, as the asking prices do mean the sale of a body part is imminent :P
A change in lifestyle
I attribute this change in my fragrance preferences to a few reasons, chief among them, a shift in my lifestyle. I now sport a much more casual lifestyle. I have traded in my stiff corporate wear of fitted shirts, blazers and pencil skirts and heels for comfortable casual tops, flared skirts and often, flats or even sneakers.
I’ve left the pressure cooker working environment for something more laid-back and less complicating. I no longer have to go head-to-head with stubborn-headed mules, unless I want to, and I no longer have to be the only woman in a room full of men, struggling to be heard and respected.
On a personal note, I have let go of a lot of hang-ups. Things that used to bother me, don’t bother me as much, and I feel much more confident and secure in myself and what I have chosen to do.
My fragrance choices appear to reflect that.
Thinking back, when my perfume choices shifted from the floral to the spicy, it coincided with a time when I was asserting myself and making my mark career-wise. I had to be heard, and perhaps, subconsciously, I picked fragrances that had a more masculine slant, as I needed to be more assertive especially when you need to bang a few heads together.
Today, my choices are lighter, more playful, less complicated, and even a little more frivolous. I no longer have to force myself be seen. I am much more comfortable in myself, and my choices of scent seem to run that way too.
I do still opt for spicy, woody scents. Anything with a hint of vetiver or greenery always gets me. I recently picked up a bottle of Atelier Cologne Trefle Pur and Vetiver Fatal, two very “masculine” scents. But they were light enough not to overwhelm, and still fit into my light-and-easy lifestyle.
But I also wear lighter florals like Chanel Gabrielle, Coco Mademoiselle, even Dior J’Adore still, albeit more sparingly. That said, I still don’t opt for many counter brand scents, as I find myself preferring something cleaner and more simple, and less synthetic on the nose.
As a result of my pared down olfactory preference, I have found myself not reaching for my Diptyque scents as much. They have started to feel heavier and more oppressive to me. Perhaps a reminder of a more aggressive time LOL! :P
I do rather relish my current perfume choices. They are light. They don’t last for hours. But they smell lovely, and I know I’m wearing something lovely, that I enjoy. That little whiff of my scent of the day, just when I think that it’s all but faded. That delicious thrill of knowing that I’m wearing something that only I can smell, or perhaps, someone who is able to get close enough. But that would be rare – no one gets that close unless I allow it ;)
Perhaps no one else around me can smell it, but you know, I wear perfume for MY PLEASURE, not for anyone else.
At this moment, that’s enough for me! :)
Have you noticed your perfume preferences shifting over time? What sort of scents do you go for these days?
If there is a brand or a particular scent you think I might like to try, do share! I’m always game to try something new. The world of perfume is such a joy to explore :)