Find the Fragrance to Match Your Mood
Determining your scent "personality" can be a tricky proposition. Some of us are consistent in the type of perfume persona we prefer, always opting for sensuous, romantic, classic, sporty or natural. Others select from a repertoire to magnify or complete a mood. But no matter how consistent you are when it comes to your fragrance, know that scent is able to trigger memories more powerfully than any other sense, says Annette Green, president emeritus of the Fragrance Foundation in New York City. In fact, says Green, smell (along with sight and hearing) is one of the three key senses at play when you meet someone. So with all this in mind, we analyze here what wearing certain scents says about you -- and about what you aspire to.
The classic choice if you're out to seduce is a category called oriental-blend (sometimes called floriental) fragrances. The most sumptuous and heady of fragrances, these feature exotic flowers like Bulgarian rose, jasmine and tuberose, as well as mysterious musks, woods and other exotic essences. Such fragrances also highlight the base notes (the ones that cling longest to skin; see box below), which include stronger, sexier scents like amber, vanilla, patchouli, musk and sandalwood. Sensuous scents include:
Dior Addict Eau de Parfum ($55 for 1.7 ounces; sephora.com) is a provocatively named, heady scent with ingredients such as night queen flower and bourbon vanilla absolute.
Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise Eau de Parfum Spray ($39.50 for 1 ounce; esteelauder.com) is a fantasy fragrance boasting tropical florals.
Lancôme Attraction Eau de Parfum Spray ($49.50 for 1.7 ounces; lancome.com) features gardenia, neroli, ylang-ylang, tuberose, jasmine and light musk.
True Star by Tommy Hilfiger ($60; tommy.com) luminates with honeysuckle, creamy rice pudding and toasted wheat grains.
Want to be an instant classic?
"Classic scents tend to have a sparkling quality in which you can't quite identify the ingredients," Green says. Many of these scents, which radiate elegance and originality, give off an initial tartness, followed by a floral sweetness and then end with a soft, warm scent that lingers. Classic scents include:
Ralph Lauren Style Eau de Parfum Spray ($47.50 for 2.5 ounces; polo.com) is a modern, elegant scent with lime, green violet leaves, tuberose and vanilla.
Very Irresistible Givenchy Eau de Toilette Spray ($43 for 1 ounce; sephora.com) is a feminine, five-rose formula.
Elizabeth Arden Red Door Revealed Eau de Parfum Spray ($39 for 1.7 ounces; at department stores) is an enticing scent of exotic orchids.
Feel like a natural woman?
The biggest distinction between "sporty" and "natural" is that sporty scents are usually bright and citrusy, while natural ones tend to be woodsy and earthy. People who prefer natural fragrances often steer away from complex or synthetic scents. "If you're a natural personality -- or just in that kind of mood -- you tend to love the outdoors and don't want to put on a show, but just want pure, uncluttered scent enjoyment," says Malibu, Calif.-based perfumer Sarah Horowitz-Thran, founder of Creative Scentualization. Natural scents include:
Bond No. 9 Little Italy Eau de Parfum ($45 for 1 ounce; at Saks Fifth Avenue stores and Bond No. 9 boutiques) is a spicy scent of mandarin, jasmine, tangerine and musk.
Chanel Cristalle Eau de Parfum ($60 for 1.7 ounces; gloss.com) is a sparkling, citrusy scent with water hyacinth, honeysuckle and woody vetiver.
Jo Malone Black Vetyver Café Cologne ($75 for 3.4 ounces; at Saks Fifth Avenue stores) has a rich coffee note enhanced with earthy tones of sequoia and vetiver.
Are you sporty?
"Sporty" is a fairly new genre that's grown significantly in the last decade. As you might suspect, these fragrances tend to have refreshing clean, green, citrusy notes (bergamot, orange, lemon, petitgrain and mandarin) or fresh smells, like those of the ocean, and they can be unisex. "The more you heat up, the more you burn off, so you want something refreshing -- not something that's going to overpower you [since all scent intensifies with heat]," Horowitz-Thran says. Eau de parfum or eau de toilette -- lighter, fresher, diluted alternatives to perfume -- are also better suited to sporty types (or moods). Sporty scents include:
Adidas Adrenaline Woman Eau de Toilette Spray ($26.50 for 1.7 ounces; at drugstores and department stores) is a vibrant floral-green scent with grapefruit, cedar leaf, basil and pine needle.
DKNY Be Delicious ($48 for 1.7 ounces; at department stores) is a modern feast for the senses, a juicy fragrance that mixes apple, cucumber, tuberose and sandalwood.
Out for romance?
"Romantic scents are distinct from sensual scents in that they focus on softer florals like lilacs, violets and lilies, while sensual scents focus on exotic flowers like tuberose and jasmine and base notes like vanilla," says Horowitz-Thran. Think of a romantic scent as an innocent sensual; it sends a subtler message. These blends tend to have lighter flowers with base notes that are soft rather than musky or spicy. Romantic scents include:
The Healing Garden in Bloom ($16 for 1 ounce; at drugstores) bursts with pink rose, orchid and jasmine.
Realities Eau de Parfum ($55 for 3.4 ounces; at department stores) is a mix of floral notes like bergamot and orchid, combined with slightly sensual and comforting sandalwood and vanilla notes.
Eternity Moment by Calvin Klein ($45 for 1.7 ounces; at department stores) is a luscious floral scent bursting with delectable notes of pomegranate flower, raspberry, passion flower and sexy musk.