Picture this: you’re up at dawn and a bit groggy. The air is chilly and it’s still a little dark outside, but you need to leave the house to get to work early. Or: you’re heading out to a party dressed in your Halpern sequin dress and favourite red lipstick. You’ve sipped a glass of wine while getting ready and the night ahead is an exciting prospect.
Now try to imagine what kind of perfume you’d like to spritz on before leaving the house on both occasions. A citrusy, zesty, uplifting concoction for the early morning start? And perhaps a rich, earthy, heady blend before the night out? You could use the same scent for both, of course, but it’s nice to match your perfume to your mood, as well to different vibes.
This is precisely why a ‘scent wardrobe’ is a handy concept. Rather than rely on a single favourite scent to serve all your needs, building a portfolio of perfumes to cater to different moods and situations is savvy – and a hell of a lot more fun.
Here’s how to go about putting yours together…
Follow your nose
First things first: your perfume wardrobe should compromise of smells you find pleasing. If you know that citrus smells do nothing for you or warm, oriental perfumes give you a headache, rule them out from the off. That said, it’s not a bad idea to have a look at the primary fragrance categories and think about building your mix of scents around them so that you have options.
Know your categories
Start by looking at the traditional scent categories, then see which you start to gravitate towards most once you’ve smelled a few from each. Remember that these categories represent the dominant notes, and may well be mixed with other notes, so you might have a citrus top note which then dials down to a chypre, for example.
Green: these are fresh and verdant – think freshly-snipped grass.
Citrus: citrus perfumes encompass lemons, limes, mandarins, and oranges.
Florals: flowery perfumes are the most commonplace of the categories and include a panoply of flowers. Some are especially sparkly and fizzy, and it’s likely that those will include an aldehyde element to make the florals burst when you smell them.
Orientals: these are warm and spicy, with notes like amber and myrrh.
Chypre: think woody and mossy with patchouli and leather in the mix.
The science of smell
Once you’ve decided which of the scent categories you’d like to include in your perfume wardrobe, spend a little time online looking for scents which might fit the bill, and then head into a shop armed with your list. Once you’re there, make sure you spray perfume on the blotters they’ll have – but wait a minute before you smell so the alcohol evaporates; not doing so will have a negative effect on your ability to smell new scents.
Blend and mix
Many of the fragrances you buy will contain a mix of the notes above, but if you’d like to blend a completely bespoke perfume from your wardrobe, all you have to do is find combinations that work. Generally speaking, citruses and chypres work really well together, while the combination of green and oriental notes tend to smell good. There are no hard and fast rules, though – it’s entirely up to you once you’ve amassed a collection of scents you love to layer and blend them to your heart’s content.