Fragrance Wardrobe: What Perfumes I Wear

Perfume can be the finishing touch that pulls your look together and gives you confidence just from the scent you are wearing. But finding the right scent for you is like finding your dream partner. Perfume shopping can be a bit overwhelming, trying on so many scents and none fitting right. The possibilities are endless with what type of perfume you can wear which is why I could never commit to one signature scent to wear daily. I only lightly dabbled in perfume before the pandemic, but now I really got into it!  I've been enjoying wearing perfume everyday to work from home. It's fun picking out what fragrance I'm in the mood for that day, it makes me free great regardless if I'm not leaving my home. 

Perfume Samples

It's hard to sample perfumes in stores these days, so I found myself purchasing a lot of samples off of ebay or from stores like  LuckyScentFragrancenet, Scent Split and Microperfumes. A lot of brands sell discovery sets of a handful of samples in one box.  Sephora also sells boxes of perfume samples which often come with a coupon off the purchase of a full size bottle.  I found samples to be a cost effective way to try out what a brand has to offer. Never blind buy a full size bottle, you'll be throwing your money away if you don't like it.  I think it's best to first purchase samples so I can try them on my skin several times before I decide if its full bottle worthy. 

Even if I end up not liking a bunch of the samples I purchased, I don't regret the money because now I know what they smell like as a reference.  So when I look at perfume tiktok and see someone talking about the best perfumes, I already know I don't like that one.  It's helpful to have a knowledge base of perfumes as many perfume reviews will say this bottle smells like this other perfume. So if you know you hate X, you know not to try Y. I've been watching a lot of perfume reviews on youtube and I only follow the people whose tastes somewhat align with mine, that way, I know I can take their recommendations. Everyone's fragrance journey is a very personal one, you really have to smell everything for yourself.

I love to learn and consider any new knowledge to be beneficial and worth my time, no matter what the subject is. So I get a lot of satisfaction from buying perfume samples, collecting them and expanding my perfume knowledge.  I bought a plastic lipstick organizer from amazon to hold them. I learned that perfume smells different on everyone depending if your skin is dry, oily or normal, and depending on what you eat, and what hormones you take. So you'll hear people say "that perfume doesn't work with my chemistry." Also perfume has a "dry-down" where the initial spritz on your skin smells different 30 minutes later. So it's important to try out perfume on your skin to check the longevity (how many hours you can smell it) and the sillage which is the French word for perfume trail left in the air when someone leaves the room. There are some perfumes that become skin scents which you can only smell in a hug.  

I think it's important to try a perfume sample a few times as I might love it the first time I wear it, but later realize I'm not so excited by it. One perfume I hated at first sniff, but I wore it daily anyway and a couple days later  I found it more comforting (byredo - lil fleur). So I never judge a perfume on first impressions. I give it a couple more wears before I decide how I feel about it. I found that wearing a facemask intensives the smell of perfume on your neck, and really keeps the scent under my nose. I also started spraying the outer side of my facemask so I can enjoy my perfume more when I go out. 

Quick Guide to Buying Perfume

You have to know what kind of notes you like and don't. Fragrances fall under these 6 main categories: floral, woody, gourmand (vanilla, burnt sugar, caramel, coffee), fruity, spicy (warm sultry scents and the official term in the fragrance industry is oriental), or fresh (citrus, green or aquatic). You should try expanding your olfactory senses by trying perfumes from different categories. When you look at a perfume it will list its top, middle and base notes. Top are the opening notes that you smell the first 5 minutes, middle notes come next, and base notes are what you smell for hours. Fragrances are designed to react with your skin's heat so it's best to sample on your skin. 

How to Make your Perfume Last Longer

Pay attention to the concentration of your perfume: Eau De Toilette (EDT) and Eau de Parfum (EDP). Always buy the pricier EDP because it has a higher concentration and the fragrance will last longer on your skin. Do not store your perfume in the bathroom, the humidity can destroy the perfume. They prefer a cool dark place. When you apply your perfume, put lotion/vaseline/body oil on first, then your perfume on top.  This will hold your perfume better. Also spray your clothes which will hold the perfume longer than your skin.  You can also spray your hairbrush. There's even a thing called Hair Perfume! Yep some brands make this with less alcohol so it's not too damaging to your hair. Don't rub your wrists together after applying perfume. Don't spray perfume into the air, put it directly on you. 

My Style

I found that I don't like synthetic designer fragrances and don't want to wear what everyone else is wearing (i.e. Dolce & Gabbana Light BlueMugler AlienBlack OpiumYSL Libre).  Unfortunately the fragrances I love the most are from pricey niche brands. Niche fragrances are more unique and I like smelling unique and different. Everything on my list below is sold either at Nordstrom or Sephora, but I prefer to purchase directly from the brand as they send you samples with your order to try other scents. 

Aerin Lauder said, "There’s a strong connection between a memory and a fragrance that can create an emotion that's personal. Fragrance can smell different on someone else and you. Fragrance helps you to destress and can be something that reminds you of something in your past."

When I heard that I immediately realized why I always search for rose scents,  I grew up with a rose garden at my childhood home. So I absolutely love a heady (realistic) floral garden scent which takes me back to my childhood. Rose is a favorite note of mine and there's so many different types of rose fragrances.  I'd say I'm also a white flower-holic. I love having a fresh bouquet of flowers at home every week. Smells are said to leave a stronger impression than eyesight, that's why I can still recognize perfumes someone close to me wore 20 years ago. So perfume can be the most important part of your look! It can also say a lot about your mood and what impression of yourself you want to convey. 

Dupe Houses

Did you know there are brands that clone designer fragrances? Both Zara and H&M (online) make dupes of popular fragrances and are under $20. Some other popular dupe houses that make exact replicas of expense perfumes are Oil PerfumeryALT Fragrances,  Squirtz Aromatics,  BeLayered,  and Alexandria Fragrances.  I've ordered samples from all of them (Oil Perfumery being my favorite) and can vouch for their incredible recreations. I think it's a great way to save money and try out some expensive fragrances. Oil Perfumery come in large 10ml bottles for only $15 with a metal rollerball so they don't leak.  They're also good to have as small travel size for your favorite perfumes. Or if you have a perfume that doesn't last long, oil perfume lasts longer. For instance I love Jo Malone's Blackberry & Bay  perfume but it's very faint so I bought the oil which is so strong! Here's three powerhouses I bought for the winter that people could smell through their masks. The perfumes they dupe retail from $200-300 but these popular scents I felt weren't full bottle worthy, but I wanted to wear them occasionally. 

How to Build a Fragrance Wardrobe

You'll need a versatile daytime scent (that's safe for work), an evening scent that is more opulent and sexy, a fall/winter scent that is warmer, and a spring/summer scent that is floral, citrus or beachy. Wearing a perfume in the wrong season could have disappointing performance as some perfumes work better with certain temperatures. Winter make perfumes softer so that's when you can wear bold scents.  It's good to have a broad range of fragrances for different occasions just like you have different types of outfits for casual, sexy and professional occasions.  Here's a roundup of my favorite perfumes:

Daytime scent 

Kilian Rolling in Love 

Kilian Hennessey is the grandson of the liquor maker. He has 70 perfumes in his collection and the new line this year looks like little glass liquor bottles (I'd love to buy Angels' Share if it wasn't always sold out). Rolling in Love came out in 2019 and I actually see men on youtube saying its a unisex scent. This smells likes a rich  French almond pastry with a tuberose floral cutting through and a little powdery iris. It has notes of almond milk, iris, freesia, tuberose, vanilla, tonka bean and musk. It's similar to Good Girl Carolina Herrera (the high heels in my perfume tray) and Black Opium but instead in a more elegant, grown up and blended luxurious way. The dry down is milky,  musky and powdery. The almond and the tuberose are fantastic together! This is what you would wear with a Manolo Blahnik heels, if you still remember how to walk in heels? lol 

Sometimes I layer it with Tom Ford Lost Cherry which smells like a cherry cordial with bitter almond and tonka. 

Juliette has a Gun - Miss Charming

This reminds me of Stella McCartney's perfume and was designed by the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. It's a dry, tart rose with some juicy fruit notes. I recommend getting the discovery set from Juliette has a gun. 

Evening scent 

Maison Francis Kurkdjian - Baccarat Rouge 540 

I ordered samples from Paris and immediately it was love at first sniff with its intoxicating scent of an amber, floral, woody breeze! In short its burnt sugar heaven or toasted caramel. The longevity and sillage are amazing! This is the most trending perfume amongst fragheads online.  Ariana Grande's Cloud perfume is a good dupe for it.  

Tom Ford Santal Blush 

This perfume was not love at first sniff for me but now I'm in love with it! I think because my mother used some product that smelled of sandalwood so I was used to the scent. Santal Blush smells like straight up sandalwood, caraway seeds, cedar chips and pencil shavings. I recognize that a spiced sandalwood is not for everyone but what makes it so intoxicating is the mix of musk and light florals. It's not overly sweet like so many women's fragrances are. This fragrance is bold and sensual. Taylor Swift was once on the David Letterman show and he told her she smelled like a tree. lol It was rumored this was her perfume. 

This perfume has a few cheaper dupes: Sarah Jessica Parker - Stash, Estee Lauder - Sensuous and Adam Levine. I own all three because one bottle of my favorite scent is not enough, I need cheaper backups to carry in my purse and travel with. Also last year a kangaroo attacked a jogger in Australia because of her perfume and she was wearing Stash.

Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge

This is so incredibly beautiful! It's a sensuous, audacious, intoxicating fragrance. This is one that I rarely get tired of. I'm always changing perfume every day but I always come back to this. I can not stop smelling my wrist when I have this on. The sillage is light so I bought an oil perfumery of the scent to layer with the perfume. 

Fall/winter scent  

Tom Ford Cafe Rose 

It has scent notes of roses, pepper, coffee, amber, incense and is a nice dark fragrance. The rose is loud and slightly balsamic. It's a very rich, mysterious,  and elegant. If I had to wear one scent for life I think it would be this.

Tom Ford Velvet orchid

This boozy perfume smells like rum, myrrh, sandalwood, vanilla, and orchids drizzled in honey, but not too sweet. Its notes are blended very well and is smooth and creamy. 

Summer scent 

Acqua di Parma - Magnolia Nobile (Magnolia, Rose, Tuberose, Jasmine, Bergamot)

This smells like sweet lemon, it's a bright sunny citrus. It's also blended with rose and jasmine. Imagine a warm sunny day in the spring with blossoming magnolia trees - its liquid sunshine! It makes me feel chic and clean. It also comes in a hair perfume, body lotion, shower gel and shimmering oil.  Frederic Malle's Eau de Magnolia smells very similar but costs more, I liked both, but went with the cheaper option. If you go to Blue Mercury, they have Acqua di Parma's whole collection available for sampling. Their Blue Mediterrano line has some beautiful scents inspired by the Italian Mediterranean. 

Byredo - Inflorescence (Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Magnolia)

This is a sharp grassy scent with endless florals pushing through.  Picture dewy florals and the freshness of spring in a bottle. It's a very realistic floral. 

Diptyque Philosykos (fig)

This is a woody fig scent with sharp grass and some pepper. The dry down is sandalwood. I'm also obsessed with fig candles. 

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc (coconut)

This has notes of coconut, cardamom, pistachio, and florals.  It's a beachy scent and smells a little like sunblock. It also comes in a scented shimmering body oil which I own. 

Jo Malone Red Roses 

Imagine the dewy fresh scent of roses. It's a lush gorgeous, realistic rose. No other scent notes besides rose petals. This also comes in a candle and room diffuser. 


I'm on the search for the perfect lilac perfume (leaning towards Frederic Malle) so I'll have one more to add to this list come summer. Otherwise I'm content with the dozen bottles I own now. 

As you can see I'm a big fan of Tom Ford fragrances. They are very innovative, turn heads and are all considered unisex. If you go on youtube you'll find men and women reviewing the same scents.  The thing about Tom Ford fragrances is you won't go unnoticed wearing them. I find them to be bold, daring, opulent and provocative. They are high quality and worth the investment. He has 100 perfumes in his collection and his top two selling scents are Black Orchid and Tobacco Vanille. Black Orchid was too bold for me, it has notes of dark truffles and Mexican chocolate; so I went with Velvet Orchid which is toned down. Tobacco Vanille is another scent rumored to be worn by Taylor Swift. Imagine opening a box of Cuban cigars with a sprinkle of cinnamon and dash of vanilla.  Then he has a whole collection of wood and leather scents which make a great gift for a guy. 

There's also the Neroli collection which comes in the blue bottles and are fresh scents inspired by the Italian Riviera. I like Fleur de Portfino from that line. Then he just released a new bottle this year called Tubéreuse Nue (naked tuberose) that I haven't tried yet but everyone is buzzing about. The bottles that come in the distinctive shape are called his private collection and typically cost more than the other shaped bottles. If you go to a large Sephora they will have the whole collection available to sample. So I recommend bringing a pen to write the names down on the tester strips because I bring the strips home and continue to smell them while I decide what to buy. Or buy his scents from Oil Perfumery to try. I always say if you finish a whole sampler bottle, then you really want the full sized bottle.

If you follow me on tiktok, I rate the most overrated perfumes everyone is wearing that you should avoid. If you're in a fragrance rut, and wearing the same perfume everyday or still wearing what you wore in high school, it's time to explore what else is out there. Would you wear the same hairstyle for the rest of your life? New perfumes come out every year!

Sean John - Unforgivable Woman 

This was my first adult fragrance and was my dinner/date/clubbing fragrance for many years. This was a gift to me from a guy and not something I would have picked out for myself.  I wore it exclusively for 10 years, in the winter only at night. I had some of my best nights with this perfume!  It's a woody, powdery, floral scent with top notes of bergamot, orange blossom and apple.  The middle notes are jasmine, violet, lily of the valley and rose. The base notes are Tonka beans, vanilla, cedar, sandal, oak moss, patchouli notes. The composition of 23 notes layered together makes it a very sensual woods fragrance and a powerful scent that commands attention. It's a creamy sexy aphrodisiac sandalwood.  It smells absolutely gorgeous on me! I've moved on from this scent, but wanted to mention it here for prosperity. It's slightly similar to Estee Lauder - Sensuous and Adam Levine's perfume, hence no surprise when my taste palette advanced I went from this to Santal Blush, everything is within the same family.  

There's a company called Scentbird that for $15 a month sends you a fragrance of your choice in a decant bottle. They say their vials equal to about 120+ sprays,  enough to apply 4 sprays daily for 30 days. What a cool concept! They have all the major brands and 600 perfumes so it's like getting a monthly beauty box with brand name samples. 

When this pandemic is over, I was thinking about throwing a perfume party where all of my girlfriends bring a bottle of perfume that is collecting dust on their shelf and we do a swap.

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