From time to time, we all feel inclined to give a gift to a special person and perfume is often a very appreciated, much valued treasure. If you’re thinking of buying perfume for a special woman in your life, don’t despair. It isn’t all that hard. Even if you don’t know what she likes and even if you hate the idea of going to the perfume counter. I can talk you through this. The first thing you need to do is confirm that your recipient likes perfume (not all women do).
I think the easiest method is just to ask slyly if she has a favourite perfume. Most women who like perfume, even peripherally, will be able to name a couple of scents.
Some women don’t need asking. You just know by their smell that they adore perfume.
You can buy a favourite scent, but it’s even more charming to introduce a woman to her next favorite scent. How do you do that? By planning.
If you’re the brazen type you can sashay right up to the perfume counter at your local department store. This is scary territory for a lot of men (and even some women) because everybody seems like they know something you don’t. Well, they probably do, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get your perfume.
A great boon for men and people who fear encounters with the tragically hip (the kind of clerk who works at a perfume counter) is the online perfume store. The drawback is that you can’t smell before you buy. But in a lot of stores today, you can’t try fragrance on very much, either. At most department stores you have to ask specifically for a sample of a fragrance and then they give it to you on a little matchstick of paper that they wave around in the air like it was going to turn into a dove and fly away.
Perfume on paper is not the same as perfume on skin. Besides, the only way to get one of these samples is to know what you want. For example, would you like to sample the fragrance known as Cinema by Yves St. Laurent? If you know that much and can find the Yves St. Laurent territory at the perfume counter, you can ask for that. But if you don’t know to ask for it by name, you won’t get it.
That’s why online shopping is practically the same as in-store shopping. It’s not like you get to sample very much anyway.
Let’s talk types.
One of these “types” of perfume (according to my own private system that no one else uses) would have to be called French. Nobody else calls it that, but I can explain what I mean. The great perfumeries of France have a sort of trademark character to them. The scents are soft, floral, and tend to favour the powdery. Don’t expect a lot of fruit clatter. These are the fragrances that the whole world has always held up as the gold standard of sophistication, feminity, and charm. They are feminine. Women who like French scents tend to be more mature (mom-type fragrances) or women in the business world or females with classic tastes and sensibilities. Like that? Try these lines: Chanel, Nina Ricci, Yves St. Laurent. There are others but that will get you started.
Or are you looking for something fun, youthful, and hip? Then you have to go foody. Yes, perfume smells like food these days. Try Pink Sugar by Aquolina, Groove by Carol’s Daughter (or try her Almond Cookie which smells exactly, and I mean exactly, like it sounds), Sugar Blossom by Fresh or Coney Island by Bond No 9. By the way, if you’re looking to please a perfume sophisticate, you’ve got to turn up some new brand, not a big name you can get at a department store.
Belonging to this group (yet a bit in a class by itself) is a scent called Angel by Thierry Mugler. By the way, Angel is the best-selling perfume in France. Go figure.
Want to gift your recipient with a brand she likely doesn’t have (and may not have ever tried)? Go to Bond No. 9. Or buy the fragrance attached to the brand of Coach or Tiffany (yes, they have a signature scent). Or go to a boutique house like Niel Morris. All of these are sold online.
Another main type of perfume is the American perfume. American scents tend to favor orange and citrus notes, be fresh, and have exuberant florals. Who likes them? Most women can wear these fragrances with ease; they work well with most skin chemistries. They’re very flowery, so it may be that the hyper-youthful will find them “old fashioned.” But most people over 15 (in spirit if not in chronological age) will love them. I’m thinking Beautiful by Estee Lauder, Romance by Ralph Lauren, Eternity and Obsession by Calvin Klein.
Now if you want a very sophisticated little twist on the classic American fragrance, get some Euphoria by Calvin Klein. It’s a strong American scent with a bubbly smell of fruit.
Many mature women like the thoughtfulness of receiving hard-to-find nostalgic perfumes. You can still buy Youth Dew by Estee Lauder just about everywhere. For more difficult-to-find scents, shop the unlikely online source of The Vermont Country Store. They specialise in nostalgic stuff. Look for Tigress, My Sin by Lanvin, and Joy by Jean Patou.
You may want to give your youthful and lovely recipient a fragrance that is nostalgic but not because she “used to wear it.” Consider going back into the fragrance archives to dig up forgotten treasures. The best two here are both at the Vermont Country Store. Buy her Evening in Paris or Christmas Night. Both are fragrances from Paris in the 1930s. Evening in Paris was created by the same “nose” (perfumer) as Chanel No. 5 and I think it’s just as fabulous only more obscure (which makes it even better). Christmas Night is a sensational fragrance but it’s so rare even a lot of women of fragrance here don’t know it.
Both would be cool gifts to a knowledgeable perfume person to show that you know your stuff.
If you’re giving perfume to somebody who doesn’t know a thing about perfume, you can’t go too far wrong with the so-called “fresh scents.” Fresh scents were designed to smell like soap or clean air or ozone or something. They’re the equivalent of natural-looking make-up. The best fresh scent, in my opinion, is Grace by Philosophy, but any of the Philosophy line is good. You can get these online at Sephora.
Scents that work for men and women include Calvin Klein’s One and Gramercy Park by Bond No. 9
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