3 Rules for Choosing a Fragrance

Picking the right fragrance is tricky.  Overloaded perfume counters and cheeky sales associates don’t make things any easier. So, here are three simple rules to picking a scent without a buyer’s remorse.

Rule #1: Decide where you would wear it

Perfume is like clothes. You choose it for an occasion.  Would it be a casual scent to wear on a Sunday brunch; something with more presence for a night out; or a formal cologne for an evening gala?  Just like you would pick a shirt, so should you pick your fragrance.


Perfume evokes emotions. Therefore, you need to have an idea where you would wear the fragrance and how you would like to feel at that given time.

Some would argue: “yeah, that’s fine but you have plenty of universal scents that work for any occasion.”

Sure, you also have universal clothes that would work for any occasion.  You probably wouldn’t want to look sort of dressy at an award ceremony at the White House with your polo shirt or sort of casual at an amusement park with your everyday suit.  The same is true for fragrance: a universal fragrance would work for any occasion but the right one would make your experience so much better.

Rule #2: Test drive it

FragranceSamplesMost fragrances evolve over time. Generally speaking, perfumes have top, middle and base notes that smell differently and add subtle (or not so subtle) nuances to the scent.  You wouldn’t really know how a fragrance develops until you give it a full day’s wear, so you can experience it top to bottom.

Test driving your perfume is more important now more than ever. Many mass-marketed fragrances are top-loaded.  Due to budget constraints the companies use the highest quality ingredients for the top notes and the cheaper synthetics in the middle and base notes.  

This technique works because most consumers spray the fragrance in the store, like how it smells in the first 10 minutes and buy it.  After they give it a full day’s wear do they find out that the gorgeous opening is followed by a sour musk or a sharp cedar note.  Don’t believe me? Try Bond No 9 Coney Island: it opens with a great melon note and then it turns into a sour musk.  A total scrubber.

Rule #3: Always buy it for yourself

Once a sales associate was trying to convince me that I should buy a cologne that the ladies like.  She had her own recommendations, of course, none of which were half-decent.

You buy your perfume for yourself.  You are going to wear and live with it for the next 8 hours after you spray it.  It’s not worth it to put up with some abomination just for the blind chance of getting a complement from a hot girl or a guy.  Just smelling appealing to someone won’t get you laid.  Having the confidence to wear what you truly like without giving a fuck what they think, would.  Think of it this way: confidence is sexy; eagerness to please is not.


Not sure where to start? Read this blog (yes, shameless self-promotion) and the blogs of many others who spend hours discovering and writing about great scents.  The Scented Hound, Chemist in the Bottle,  and The Candy Perfume Boy are some of my favourite.

Also check out Basenotes – the largest fragrance forum to-date. There are tons of great people on there who know fragrance and would love to give you good recommendations.  The best part about them? They are honest and don’t have a secret agenda.  Something we cannot say for the sales assistants at most department stores.


One thought on “3 Rules for Choosing a Fragrance

  1. This is awesome! I know i personally create my own perfume; at this local shop back home. You can customize your own fragrance! Instead of a spray its an oil that you rub on your neck and between your wrists. Its now the only way that i will actually wear a fragrence because shopping in the stores got to be overwhelming and i felt like i couldn’t find anything right. I even made my Boyfriend one for our anniversary!



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