Monday, 23 April 2012

Guest Post: What Your Perfume Says About You

I'm off to do my monthly inspirational talk again at The Princes Trust today, so have organised a Guest Post from my friend Andrea in my absence. Enjoy!

Perfumes do say something about us, whether we are aware of it or not. As it happens with any message however, we know what it means when we send it, but we don't always know how it will be received.

For example, what a perfume says to others won't always match with what we really want to express with it.

Monika, a colleague of mine, started to wear Miss Dior Cherie recently, which I personally really like, because as I said to her  it's a good-girl fragrance. There was no irony in that: that's the genuine reason why I like it, but now, every time I say "oh, is it Miss Dior Cherie? It's really good?" she's like: "it's good, yes, but you said it makes me smell like a good girl, and I don't wanna smell like that."

I understand Monika's slight disappointment. When I tried Bleu de Chanel, I liked it because I felt that the spices in it gave a hazy, mysterious air. When I asked a friend of mine what she thought, she said I smelt like a boy who goes to mass every Sunday in his neat clothes. Nothing against church boys of course, it's just that I had something different in mind.

And then there's also the case where what a perfume says to others won't match with the idea that they have about us.

I proudly reached out my wrist to a friend of mine the other day, to show off my brand new Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia (a sadly discontinued unisex white floral). "What do you think?" I asked. "It's good, she said, but it's nothing to do with you" and she was absolutely right. And to my credit: I'm aware of that, I just wear it because I love it.

What's the way out of this conundrum, you may ask. How your perfume is perceived is one side of the issue, another side is choosing one that suits your personality. While we should get over the fact that we'll never have full control over the first we can still have a say in the latter, following three practical tips:

  •  liking it is not enough: you have to feel comfortable wearing it;
  •  quoting the most famous perfume reviewer, Luca Turin: don't wear a perfume that has more experience than you;
  • owning one single perfume is not enough, there are too many variables: seasons, moods, social occasions. There should be at least two fragrances on your shelf, but with five, it would be even better. 

But we could also shift perspective and start from the perfume instead: when you try a fragrance for the first time, what does it tell you? Here's a list of opposite adjectives:

Fresh vs warm
Modern vs classic
Clean vs dirty
Transparent vs mysterious
Simple vs sophisticated
Bright vs dark
Innocent vs sexy
Young vs mature
Flimsy vs deep
Watery vs earthy

Note that these are extreme opposites, and that most fragrances will fall at some point on the continuum, but the important thing is that these adjectives can be applied to people as well.

See where this is going? Whatever the perfume says to you, there is a chance that it will say the same thing to most of other noses, and if that is what you want to express in a given day, then go for it.

About the author: check out Andrea's perfume blog with reviews about the fragrances mentioned in the article and many many more.


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