When I graduated from college, after working for a year, I took my first real vacation as an adult. I would only be gone for a week, but I already missed my future husband.
One night while writing in my travel journal, my companion walked in and declared in a confused tone that the room smelled like Dapper boyfriend (he was a boyfriend at the time). I smiled at her and held up my journal. I had sprayed his cologne on the endpapers.
By now, it’s common knowledge that smell has strong ties to memories. Dapper Husband has always smelled good, but when the wedding day was on the horizon, he took special care to find the perfect cologne. After all, it would be the scent that conjures up our special day for the rest of our days.
He managed not to find just one cologne, but a scent for every occasion:
- The everyday
- The evening
- A black tie soirée
Number four was discovered by my nose from a small set of Tom Ford colognes he had purchased. Perhaps it was my summer spent horseback riding in Germany, but I find leather (and cedar!) to be a most wonderful smell on a man. I fell instantly in love, but he doesn’t find it the most appealing.
Once again, taking inspiration from my new husband, I decided to find my own Signature Scent and not having too much hope as perfume has given me headaches in the past, I would be happy with just one.
Five Tips for Finding your Signature Scent
- Start with a little bit of introspection
Once again, I’m drawn to the idea of storytelling. When I close my eyes and take a deep inhalation, certain scents create a beautiful picture. For instance, cinnamon makes me think of Christmas trees and the first snowfall. Amber and frankincense conjure up images of antique shops and dusty books. Do I want to smell like Paris? Not the actual city streets, but that chic Parisian woman sitting in a street side cafe sipping a café latte and what aroma paints such a portrait?
- A list
From your story or just life experience, make a short list of your favorite scents. Or your favorite types of scents. Do you enjoy sweet smelling things? Musky? The smell of roses? Citrus? My personal favorite is Jasmine.
- Recon in the perfume section
A lot of perfume counters will have little jars lined up that you can sniff your way through for some ideas; it can be particularly helpful if your list from number three is a bit lackluster. While on such a discovery, I found I greatly enjoy a musky scent with a hint of amber.
- Wear a scarf and take a visit to the perfume counter
I have never found the coffee beans sitting on the counter to help my recover my senses. However, a quick sniff of my shirt often resets my nose to take on the next experience. I sometime feel less than elegant lifting my shirt up to my nose. Instead, I like to wear a scarf. It’s must more discrete and carries the same cleansing-your-palette power.
- Don’t be shy about talking to the person behind the counter
The person behind the perfume counter knows their products. They can help you find a few to try especially when you come prepared with a short list of what you’re looking for.
- Test drive some samples
Perfumes wear differently on everyone and the scents will morph throughout the day. It’s best to get a few samples for consideration (perhaps three at most) and give them a chance to open up all their little secrets to you.
A Word Bank of Smells to help you get Started
More detailed descriptions and additional words can be found here.
A clean starting point
When I decided I would start investing in perfume to mark my signature scent, I switch my other beauty products to fragrance free versions. I didn’t want to interfere with the scent of the perfume or create a competition between the smells. However, you might find that whatever you use on your skin now helps you create a even more uniquely you combination. There’s no right answer– only what makes you feel like your best self.