That said, why trouble yourself with finding a signature scent at all?
The answer to that question lies within the stylishly transcendent virtues of a fragrance and its power to instantly bestow upon one's character not only an instant injection of confidence but also a constitutionally effortless (and flattering) form of elegance.
It will simply elevate your style, strengthen your mental fortitude, and enliven your disposition.
For you see, fragrances tend to have transformative qualities that can enhance the perceptive characteristic style of a gentleman; they possess the distinguishing faculties to act as harmonious olfactory extensions of one’s exquisite taste — the perfect complement to ones signature wardrobe and style as it were.
Moreover, a signature scent can also impart upon a man an instant psychological boost (which was alluded to previously), a confident pick-me up, as it were, that can be called into action before a big date or during a long trying day at the office when one's energy may be waning.
And the clincher? A signature fragrance is something that we can — much like our wardrobes — customize (and rotate) to meet all the precise (social/cultural/work) demands we must contend with on a daily basis or just rather to simply satiate our inner most desires and personal whims.
Case In Point: A gent’s signature scent is the finishing touch of his style, being something that will characteristically define him to his peers in the same manner in which an animals musk delineates his marked territory — it is his aromatically candid calling card.
Which is why it should be unique, well-though out, and suitable in just such a manner as to convey who you are and what you believe in on a strictly olfactory level; it is an investment that should be treated as just such, something to be provided with the same level of respect and care that one takes when tackling the essential tasks of curating both his signature wardrobe and personally polished aesthetic.
Having said that, settling upon a fragrance that perfectly reflects your personality, desires, and tasteful inclinations can be a difficult — albeit not insurmountable — task. Fortunately, help is here in the form of the following stylized feature + guide to scented glory.
So, where does one begin his search?
My advice: Opt for a fragrance that makes you feel on top of the world, an endearing scent that you will want to return to day-in-day-out without hesitation. Ideally this would be something utterly sophisticated and masculinely refined, a fragrance that you will be proud to associate yourself with (and be content in the fact that people will come to associate you with).
And the first step to accomplishing that? Naturally, that would be identifying what sort of scents speak to you, which is what this simple primer on the differing fragrance families will help you accomplish…
: 1 :
Begin the process by picking a base fragrance family (which were outlined above) as the foundation anchor in which to build your scent upon
: 2 :
Contemplate and decide upon what fragrant top and middle notes (more on this to follow) that you feel would best suit your fancy
: 3 :
Determine the fragrances purposeful intent: where you plan on wearing it (social/cultural/work occasions), what season best befits its compositional core, and what time of the year it is
: 4 :
Set aside a budget by deciding whether you want to invest in an eau de parfum (bespoke fragrance), eau de toilette (recommended), or eau de cologne (last resort/sporting purposes)
: 5 :
Research + sample a wide variety of scents (within the fragrance family of your choice) before settling upon one that you feel best represents who you are as a man (reflecting upon your likes/dislikes)
|| A Scent Fit For The Occasion ||
In layman’s terms, this means that selecting an appropriate scent (and it's dosage) to accompany any occasion — much like choosing the proper wardrobe to suit any particular event— is of upmost importance as a simple misstep or poor judgement call can cause quite a stir and reflect back poorly upon one's character and social standing.
That said, it is important for a gent to have a collection of fragrances that can be used to (stylishly) convey the different characteristic moods we cycle through on a weekly basis, to cater to the seasons we must contend with, and to serve the needs of the cultivated nature of our social calendars at any given time of the year. And it is for those reasons why it is critical that all men understand that some scents were crafted to function better then others while worn to occasions with specific (dress-code) parameters or during the transitional seasons of the calendar year.
Basically, the overarching message is thus:
Just as you would never even consider wearing your favoured leisurewear to a formal event nor should you ever flirt with the idea of spritzing on a heavily spiced, leather scented fragrance to spend a day of leisure sprawled upon a beach at the height of summer.
Why? Because fragrance, much alike fashion itself, is a highly contextual entity that is transiently susceptible to the ebb-and-flow of seasonal suitability.
Nevertheless, fragrances do have resonating effects and powers that extend beyond the simple confines of style.
And chief among them?
That would be the ability to formulate scented trigger points within our psyches that make us approach, associate, and recall the defining moments of our lives in a unique manner that is solely tied too an olfactory experience. For example, just image for a moment what specific scents have the innate ability to awaken long forgotten (or dormant) memories from your days of lore (child or adulthood), the ones that instantly trigger memories upon experiencing a simple whiff of its peculiar scent lingering in the air.
Naturally, there are indeed concepts one could expound upon — layered notes, accents, flourishes — but the overall olfactory experience is purely subjective and unquestionably individualistic. And, that is precisely why wholly recommending one specific scent that will satiate the needs and desires of the masses is a difficult task to consider (there are just too many variables in play).
From one individual to the next, our personal responses to any particular fragrance can differ immensely, which is often the reason why a lot is lost in (verbal or written) translation. As such, it can be said that a scented experience is one that is quintessentially environmental in the very same ways as music is; scent (like sound or music) simply occupies air and nothing else. And that is what makes it so special and unique — albeit fleeting like life itself. It is a magnifying artifice, something that does not occupy actual space (like a gentleman’s curated wardrobe does), being neither physically encumbering nor tangibly visible to the naked eye.
Consequently, it should now be clear (if it already was not) to one-and-all that to truly gauge a scent — its purpose, function, and appropriateness —one must experience it on a personal level to fully comprehended and appreciate its situational merits.
And now that you understand the power that a scent can wield, as well as the importance of rotating scents, I’d recommend starting out by investing in no less then two signature fragrances: an aquatic (fresh), aromatic, or citrusy blend for your summer and everyday/workwear and a darker, more elegant woody, leather or oriental fragrance to accompany intimate occasions, evening wear, and winter itself.
Those two alone will carry you through most any social occasion at hand and provide the pillars of your budding fragrance collections base foundation. Whether you progress beyond them, well that decision is completely in your hands…
To that tune, here’s a few fanciful picks, ranging from the iconic to the neoteric, that can serve as either your signature fragrance or as a sophisticated accoutrement for any social occasion or season…
Wimter (+ Evening) Scents
Winter (and evening + intimate occasion) scents are often intense aromatic affairs that are resoundingly masculine in elemental essence, which is precisely why the dominant base (and heart) notes within many of these fragrances are commonly musky, leathery, woody or heavily spiced. Tack on sensual middle notes like vanilla or rose and the famously long-lasting scented aromas of vetiver, oudh or amber and what you will have is a sophisticated and masculine scent that is ready to seduce.
Iconic scents like Creed: Green Irish Tweed (green and woody with notes of sandalwood, violet and Iris), Aqua di Parma Ambra (Brazilian orange and Siciian top notes teamed with a heart of rose and Paraguayan petitgrain alongside a base consisting of —rare— leathery ambergris and cedar wood), and Tom Ford: Black Orchid (a decadent noir gourmand with black truffle, bergamot, and lotus wood that is balanced by patchouli, incense, vanilla and vetiver) are all sensuous blends that fall under this fragrant umbrella and are most definitely worth strongly considering (despite their invested buy-ins).
Acqua Di Parma Colonia Ambra || Creed: Green Irish Tweed || Burberry: Brit Rhythm || Tom Ford: Black Orchid || Yves Saint Laurent: La Nuit De L'homme || Valentino UOMO
The Courting Gentleman's Scent
Intimate occasions call for like-minded scents that both pack a punchy grabbing top note and a sensual finish whilst having an enduring longevity that will see the night to its conclusion.
Accordingly, a provocatively sexy leather scent like Burberry Brit Rhythm (cardamon, juniper and basil top with a leather, patchouli, and resin heart alongside a cedar wood, incense, and tonic bean base) or the seductive Yves Saint Laurent: La Nuit De L'homme (sage, violet and iris top with an oriental heart alongside a vanilla, patchouli and tonic bean base) should be your port of call come the advent of an evening out on the town or an intimate romantic rendezvous.
Don't fancy any of these? Thats fine, just look for an alternative winter scent with vetiver as its main ingredient so as to get the most our of it.
Summer (+ Work) Scents
Aquatic, fresh, and citrus bases usually compositionally define summer scents, all of which are explicitly blended to contend with the intensifying nature of summer temperatures (heat and humidity)…albeit at the cost of longevity.
As versatile a fragrance as you are to find, fresh summer scents such as the stylishly sophisticated Giorgio Armani': Aqua di Gio (fresh calabrian bergamot, neroli and green tangerine top with a heart of jasmine petal, rock rose, rosemary, persimmon alongside a base of Indonesian patchouli), Aqua di Parma Colonia (Sicilian citrus fruit top with a herby, floral heart alongside an earthy base of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli), and D&G: Light Blue are all able and willing to handle any situation you present them with — work, leisure, or tropical vacation.
Acqua Di Parma Colonia || Bvlgari AQVA Pour Homme || Acqua di Gio || D&G: Light Blue || John Varvatos Artisan Acqua || Dior Sauvage
The Professional Gentleman's Scent
Loud, overpowering scents are not appropriate in an office environment. Contrarily, what you want is something simple, clean, streamlined, and that leaves a small hint of presence rather then a nauseating cloud of odor.
Accordingly, something green, herby (or even slightly citrusy) will work best in the office or boardroom, with scents like Dior: Sauvage (Reggio di Calabria Bergamot top with a ambrosian base) or Hermes Terre d’Hermes ( earthy, woody and spicy with top notes of grapefruit, pink pepper, geranium and a base of cedar and vetiver) being willing and able to have you smelling the proper part without drawing the ire of your working colleagues/clientele.
The best bet: wear something discreet and subtle, possibly within the aquatic, woody, or fresh fragrance families and apply with a light touch.
|| The Delicate Art of Scent Layering ||
Ergo, what follows is an insightful dissection of the three transitional (scented) stages that naturally occur within a single fragrance (after initial application) alongside a brief guide on the extended layering accentuation of ones chosen fragrance with like-minded scented grooming compliments (soaps and washes).
But before diving into extensive scented layering, let us first delve into the marked composition of a quality fragrance, which should deliver three sequential differing levels of lingering notes — top (head), heart (middle), and bottom (base) — that give off unique aromas at each predefined stage (in reverse chronological order).
At the top of the aromatic totem pole rests the base notes, which are what most fragrances are formatively built and expounded upon. These foundation notes deliver the essential “mature” scents within a fragrance and are what you predominately smell about an hour after applying until the effects of the entire fragrance dissipate completely. They are the predominant notes within a fragrance, being the ones that hit last and endure for the greater duration of the day (or evening). As such, strong distinctive scents such as citrus, wood, tobacco, leather, or even heavier (oriental) spices tend to dominate the base note category.
Next we have the heart (middle) notes, which as the name would imply come into play after the head notes (which will be addressed last) have played there part. Often consisting of more subtly masculine middle spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, woods, and heavier citrus scents such as grapefruit or orange, middle notes last for roughly an hour. And despite being evident from the start, they typically require about 10-30 minutes to fully develop on the skin. Moreover, the heart notes of a fragrance also carry with them the distinction of being used in order to classify the predefined fragrance family (aromatic, oriental, chypre, etc.) in which the fragrance will ultimately belong too.
And last but certainly not least come the top (head) notes, which are most often defined by — and employ — subtle touches of fruit, citrus, lighter spices, or even aquatic scents that have a tendency to dissipate roughly about ten minutes after initial application. They come in strong and quick before departing in the blink of an eye.
With the layered compositional ingenuity of a fragrance covered, lets progress into discussing the purpose of additional scent layering , which is an art that is often neglected and cast aside by one-and-all.
Simply because it will harmoniously elevate and amplify the effects of your signature fragrance whilst flatteringly reflecting back upon your character and stylish persona in an endearingly sophisticated manner.
For you see, the storied effects of complimentary fragrance layerings is precisely why — which may also come as a surprise to some — luxury brands (and the like) sell boxed fragrance sets that include any of a wide variance of complimentary grooming essentials (body/facial washes + deodorants) that are meant to accentuate the effects of a fragrance (cologne, eau de toilette, et al) when applied together.
This heightened effect brought on by next level scented layering is something that must be experienced to be fully appreciated; it is also a simple tactic to employ that additionally affords a gent the ability to avoid smelling like an uneducated adolescent who sprayed on one too many competing scents.
That alone speaks to why it is by no mere coincidence that brands (and retailers) box together accentuated scents as they understand just what resoundingly positive effects that the art of sophisticated layering can do for one's style…and you would do well in paying heed to their practical (and sage) knowledge.
The Takeaway: Stay within one single fragrance family—aquatic/fresh, woody/mossy, and oriental are the three most popular amongst men — by teaming washes and deodorants that will complement your chosen fragrance in order to reap optimal results.
Not particularly a fan of grooming products that smell the same as your signature fragrance (or to the additional costs attached to attaining such items)?
No problem, just opt for working in some fragrance-free elements into your grooming routine so as to avoid any cross-pollinated scented calamities.
Having said all that, I’d be remiss if I did not mention the fact that this is not a difficult art to master but rather one that takes a simple change on your part. For you see, you are already layering your scents (soap, shampoo, and various other grooming products) on a daily basis —you just may not be doing it in just such a manner as to achieve peak effect.
So, why not take the small extra step that will elevate your style (and fragrant essence) in spades, to put two and two together and master the art of layering scents correctly so as to reap the full benefits of your fragrance and never again be the root cause of an upturned nostril or a snide comment as consequence of poor (or brash) scented layering tactics.
|| What To Look For ||
Point Being: Do you have any inkling or notion as to what differentiates an eau de toilette from a cologne, or an aftershave from a perfume? Many haven't the slightest of clue…and that is certainly understandable as well as easily placated.
If not, then what is to follow is for you. It’s an informative (abridged) exploration into the differing components and uses for the various types of fragrances available today alongside a how-to guide detailing what precisely to look for when searching for and investing in any peculiar type of scent.
That said, the subtle differences between an eau de toilette and cologne (for example) can initially seem quite trivial — while also being unrecognizable to the untrained eye (or nose as it were) — but in truth could not loom larger in compositional importance to a fragrances overall quality.
And yet, the differences are all rather quite elementary in basic essence, with the one polarizing discrepancy being the precise (yet variable) % (percentage) of perfume oil concentration present within a fragrance. This compositional concentration of perfume oil is what ultimately defines a scent and marks it for associative grouping (i.e. eau de toilette, cologne, or perfume) while having profound and resounding ramifications upon its potency and longevity as well.
. For a general idea of what that means, an eau (water) de toilette has an oil concentration of 4-10% that is diluted and blended into 90-96% alcohol /water (including other aromatic components as well).
And that definitive oil content labelling system is exactly why a perfume (which has a wax + highly concentrated oil base) trumps all contenders when it comes to quality (as well as price). Thats not to say eau de toilettes are pushovers themselves, they are actually more practical. fiscally sensible and nearly as aromatic as their perfume brethren. And a the tail end of the spectrum is an eau de cologne — which in itself is essentially a more affordable, less intense contrivance of pre-existing poplar eau de toilette fragrance lines. And yet, that does not mean you should avoid eau de colognes altogether as they do indeed have there place (sporty fragrances + more affordable versions of luxury eau de toilettes).
Well, that would be a seemingly contradicting yes and no, seeing as each classification of fragrance has its cultural and social pros and cons. For example, while a highly concentrated blend (an eau de toilette or perfume) will undoubtably last for a longer duration, it will also be offset with a lower, as the French have deemed it, "sillage" – which compositionally delineates its noticeable drawing distance and how prominently it lingers in the air after the bearer has departed.
This all alludes to the fact that while highly concentrated scents may adhere to ones skin better (and last longer) they also require one to be within arm's reach to fully experience on any level. Whereas a lower concentrated scent (like a cologne) will have a more encompassing effect but trail off much quicker.
It’s all rather straight forward at its simplest measure, but for those who would like (or require) something a little more tangible and knowledgeable, what follows is an abridged breakdown of each type of fragrance (sans aftershave) available on the market starting with the weakest (and most affordable):
: EAU DE COLOGNE :
Oil Concentration: 2 — 5%
The entry level fragrance for most men, eau de cologne’s affordability is its primary draw for many men. Often quite overpowering upon initial application, colognes have a high sillage (i.e. everybody within a room will likely smell it) but brief life (avg. 2-5hrs.). Consequently, one would be best served by applying it with a subtle touch and re-touching throughout the day as needed (or desired) so as to avoid becoming socially reproachable.
That said, it is not the ideal choice if you desire something that can be counted upon to make a lasting impression or that will last throughout the duration of an average day.
TIP: A lot of fragrance companies have an eau de cologne that mimics the scents of their famous (and more expensive) eau de toilette lines, which ultimately means that you can get the same scent but with less intensity (albeit at a more sensible cost).
|| Scented Origins ||
Oil Concentration: 4 — 10%
The gentleman’s best option to investment into just so happens to be the likeliest and preferred fragrance group for those with an elevated sense of style and cultivated manner.
Eau de toilette’s tend to offer the best of all ends of the fragrance spectrum: affordability, sillage, and longevity (avg. 6-8 hrs) whilst being nearly identical in every manner — aside from oil concentration — to an eau de perfume.
: EAU DE PARFUM :
Oil Concentration: 8 — 15%
The pinnacle of liquid-based fragrances that can be sprayed, eau de perfume’s are pricy (often bespoke) affairs that are accompanied by an elevated aromatic concentration that is high enough to last for an entire day while its base is a slowly evaporating liquid that works to lift and carry the subtle notes off of one's skin so that the aroma can be noticeable — wafting as it were — to a greater drawing distance.
Alas, do not expect to find them at any common retailer or at a sensible cost (although you do ultimately get what you pay for).
: PARFUM :
Oil Concentration: 15 — 30%
Rarely will you come upon a man’s perfume — they are the fragrant equivalent of hitting the lottery jackpot.
A highly concentrated oil dosage (and wax instead of water blending) implies that a little dash will most certainly go a very long way (it cannot be sprayed), which is why you should expect to pay an exorbitant price for its unrivalled longevity…that is if you are of the select few within the tax bracket that can afford to do just so.
|| Parting Words ||
That said, your chosen scent says as much about you as a man as does your daily uniform — which is why it's constitutional essence should reflect not only your core values but also your characteristic ideals.
And that is why having a signature (go-to) fragrance is so important: it's a stylized olfactory elixir of sorts that instils confidence and effortless class upon its bearer in spades, a truly thought and memory evoking entity that creates lasting impressions upon all those who come into direct contact with its intoxicating aroma. It is simply something that has the transcendent power to transform and elevate your signature style to an otherwise unattainably sophisticated level
So, whether you opt for a sensually masculine oud that can perfectly reflect your refined gentlemanly nature, a playful and sporting aquatic scent for your everyday and summer wear, or if you decide to build an extensive fragrance collection (which is advised + would be a sound investment) that can act as an extension and reflection of your characteristic persona, there is indeed a scent out there that will suit your creative fancies. You just have to be willing to seek it out.
And the only way to do that? Sample and test various varieties out, following your gut (or better yet, your nose) wherever it may lead you.
Spritz Sensibly Gentlemen!
Do you already have a signature fragrance? If so, what is it? And, what are your thoughts on scented layering?
Chime in below with your two-cents on fragrances…