Finding your signature scent is a lot like finding Mr. Right: you sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the right one. The upside is that unlike Mr. Not-So-Right, dating around with fragrance won't break your heart. The downside is that, if you're not careful, it might break the bank. How to find a happy medium? Here's a five-point plan:
1. Know Thyself: You know that old self-help maxim about learning to love yourself before you can love someone else? The same is true with finding a scent. How can you know what to look for in a perfume if you don't know what you like to smell in your every day life? Take an inventory of the scents you enjoy the most. Do you love walking into a home where the scent of apple pie hangs in the air? Does the smell of a freshly laundered towel keep you inhaling deeply? What kind of flowers do you tend to buy for scent? Try noticing for one day all of the scents that you experience and how they affect your mood. Write down the ones you like most.
2. Dress the Part: Do you like structured, well-tailored clothes with the perfect accessories to match or are you more of a vintage-loving tight-jeans wearing hipster? Your personal style says a lot about the kind of fragrance you might gravitate towards. If you like avant-garde style, you might gravitate more naturally toward off-beat scents. If your wardrobe is filled with sartorial concoctions that would turn the most glam diva green with envy, you might be interested in some of the richer femme-fatal fragrances that have stood the test of time. Take a look at your closet and think of a keyword to describe your style.
3. Investigate : It's nice to do a little research to find the most lauded fragrances of all time, but sometimes a little snooping in your friends' cabinets can turn up hidden gems. What smells amazing on your best friend may turn out to be nothing more than Jean Nate body splash. Don't get too turned on by fancy brands or bottles, sometimes beautiful scents come in humble packaging.
4. Try Before You Buy: After you've compiled your initial research and have an idea of what you're looking for, it's time to hit the stores. Good sales help can make your search easier, but be careful not to get caught up in someone's sales pitch for a particular brand. Remember: you are on a mission for finding your signature scent, not to increase your salesperson's commission. Give your salesperson an idea of what scents you like and he or she will offer you several choices. Don't try more than three scents at a time (the brain can't distinguish scent in a subtle way after three).
Some perfume counters will offer you a whiff of coffee beans in between sniffings in order to "clear your scent palate." Pick your three favorite scents and spritz on wrist, elbow joint, and forearm. Then (this is the hard part) walk away. You need at least a few hours to see how the fragrance develops before you spend the cash. Even better, ask for a sample you can take home. (Sephora gives these out for free).
5. Say "I do": You've been smelling your wrist ecstatically for the last two hours, and you're ready to commit. Congratulations! Now when you get the bottle home, spritz away on your pulse points, clothes, and hair and wait for the compliments to roll in.
Of course you hope for a lifetime of happiness with your signature scent, but if the passion wanes, a little soap and water will clear the way for another signature scent romance.