Historically speaking, people have been wearing perfume almost since before we were wearing clothes. All or most of the of the most famously beautiful women in history have had signature scents; perfumes they were so known for that the scent has become synonymous with the woman.
There’s a perfume for every occasion. Smelling exactly right can be the clincher in any social situation; the trick is to calibrate your perfume choice to the kind of audience you want to impress. Humans use their sense of smell a surprising amount in judging situations; it’s not a myth that pheromones are a huge part of the process of attraction.
It’s not just in terms of romance that perfume can do a lot of work for you; how you smell to the people you meet is a huge part of how they judge your grooming, style choices and general aura. Important, then, to get it right.
Here are eight very different scents for eight very different situations, accompanied with an instruction manual and a little bit of history, so when someone swoons at your feet, or gives you your dream job, you can tell them what has melted their heart/made them pick up YOUR resumè again.
8 The situation: An evening in the city
The companion: A sophisticated gentleman or lady
The perfume: Dior Addict
If your goal is to have a sleek city type hot under their stiffly-pressed collar, you can’t go wrong with a light spray of Dior Addict. The heart of this perfume is jasmine, which is one of the most expensive essential oils to produce, and has a history of being worn by everyone from harem girls to empresses. There are also heavy notes of vanilla and tonka; this perfume is a sweet, sexy Oriental, a beautifully-mixed cocktail.
Price: 1.7 oz. will run you about $90
Also try: Thierry Mugler ‘s Angel. Dior’s Pure Poison.
7 The situation: Seeing an important ex again
The companion: A former companion. Someone who didn’t appreciate your towering perfection.
The perfume : See by Chloè
Whether you’re the one that got away condescending to go for a coffee, or the painful remnants of a person who’s had their heart broken by a horrible idiot, the right scent can work wonders for both your confidence and your appeal when seeing an ex-lover. See by Chloe is a perfect blend of sharp, fruity apple and bergamot, and sweet, feminine musk and jasmine. This perfume draws you in while simultaneously pushing you away; perfect for that most awkward of situations where you have to do both.
Price: 2.5 oz is around $60
Also try: Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle or Dior’s Miss Dior.
6 The situation: A first date
The companion: Someone you want to fall just instantly in love with you
The perfume : Dolce and Gabbana Rose The One
Classical images of romance are pretty uniform; fields of roses, truffles, champagne, the sweet vanilla taste of lipstick. This perfume is the early stages of romance in a bottle. It’s super feminine; if you want to be the image of sweet sexiness that Scarlett Johannsen was as the face for this scent, a bottle of it is probably a pretty safe bet. The first notes are grapefruit and rose, light and perfect for the beginning of a date. As the evening progresses and the perfume dries-down, warm notes of vanilla and amber start to emerge.
Price: 2.5 oz. is around $70
Also try : Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb
5 The situation: Several dates in.
The companion: You’ve seduced this person already. Time to bring out the big guns.
The perfume : Tom Ford Private Blend Lys Fume
Your partner has already seen your sweet side. This is for those other times. This is a perfume for grown-up girls; it’s an intense, smoky floral, perfect for dusky bars and late-night shenanagins. Tom Ford’s super-luxurious Private Bend collection is for the true perfume aficionado, full of deep, dark and extremely adult scents. With notes of mandarin, ylang-ylang and white lily, Lys Fumè is a ticking time-bomb of sex in a bottle. Use with caution.
Price: 50ml is around $210
Also try: Chanel’s Coco Le Parfum.
4 The situation: The interview for your dream job.
The companion: The world’s scariest boss; a tiger you’ve got to tame.
The perfume: Jean Paul Gaultier Classique
Voluptuous, entrancing, with an underlying sharpness and alacrity, Le Classique smells like a perfectly-pressed white shirt and a pair of killer heels supporting a 4.0 and perfectly-applied lipstick. For the woman who wants everything she deserves and takes what she wants, this perfume is a confidence boost in a bottle. Because being feminine is the opposite of being weak, this perfume is an assertive floral, seductive with orange blossom and rose, warm with vanilla, full of attitude. You’ve definitely seen the signature ‘woman-shaped’ bottle before.
Price: 1.6 oz. is around $90
Also try: Chanel Allure
3 The situation: Impressing your partner’s parents
The companion: Your charming significant other and their mum and dad; time to make them think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.
The perfume: Shalimar
This isn’t the time to sex it up in any kind of obvious way; the situation here requires careful handling. Remind your partner’s parents of their past with this classic scent; everyone knows someone who wears Shalimar. The perfume was inspired by Mumtaz Mahal, the woman for whom the Taj Mahal, the world’s greatest monument to love was built. Shalimar makes anyone wearing it instantly approachable; like the most fabulous mink, you are suddenly touchable, the kind of girl whose hand their dad will want to hold and who their mum will tell the family about. Success.
Price: 1.7 oz is around $100
Also try: Anais Anais.
2 The situation: A confrontation; an argument where someone needs to get crushed.
The companion: The person who’s wronged you. Someone you need to make green with envy because you’re just so superior. Alternatively, just a day when you need some extra fierceness in your palette.
The perfume: Chanel no.19
Inspired by Baudelaire’s Fleurs Du Mal and Coco Chanel herself, this green aldehydic scent makes no apologies. Called ‘The Audacious Chanel”, this perfume has been around since the early 70’s and has been adorning difficult women since then. Tanya Sanchez in “Perfume: a Guide” calls this a scent for a woman in “three inch heels and a pencil skirt”. A beautiful, complex neroli and iris and galbanum blend, no. 19 certainly adds three inches to your height. This is not a sweet perfume; it’s intensely feminine and sharp, with notes reminiscent of freshly-cut cucumber and crushed forest leaves. Wear this to make anyone who you confront the same delicate shade of green as the perfume itself.
Price: 50ml is around $120
Also try: no.19’s slightly softer little sister, No.19 Poudrè. Balenciaga’s Florabotanica.
1 The situation: Receiving an award, a graduation, anywhere where champagne’s flowing freely.
The companion: Friends, family, fans.
The perfume: Hermes Eau des Merveilles
Eau des Merveilles is exactly what it says on the bottle; a little miracle. If you want to give the impression that your happiness on a special occasion is literally flowing out of your pores, this is the perfume to spray on. It smells like champagne and warm hay. This isn’t a noticeably floral perfume; rather, the citrus, amber and pink pepper make it so bright and bubbling that it’s difficult to describe the scent. Wear this for a lasting impression of youth, freshness, delight.
Price: 1.6 oz. is around $80
Also try: Hermes's Un Jardin Sur Le Toit.