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August 25, 2011


Beauty and the Scientist

I wear it solely for my own pleasure and if someone happens to like it, that's a bonus.


As a lifelong perfumista, I wear perfume primarily for myself, because I enjoy smelling it throughout the day. Other people do come into consideration, but only to the extent that I try not to overdo it and choke anyone with my sillage. I don't really care whether anyone else can smell me, and I don't want to encourage the anti-perfume movement by giving another reason to hate perfume. The ideal for me is to use enough that I can smell it and enjoy it, but not so much that anyone else can easily notice it. I did play around with the idea of using perfume to attract a man when I was in high school and college, but I found that it didn't work. Even then, I wouldn't wear a perfume that I didn't personally like. I do think my point of view is influenced by the fact that I have no children. I have heard many stories of people recalling their perfume memories of their mothers and grandmothers. If I had children or grandchildren I would probably be influenced in my perfume wearing habits by a wish to smell good for them. As it is, I have a husband who is somewhat anosmic to perfume, so it doesn't matter much to him what I wear.


I wear it for me.

Genie Gee

I wear perfume for my own pleasure. Once in awhile I will get brave & adventurous like I did a week ago when I tested civet paste by itself on the back of my hand.

I have learned from experience when I wear most Middle Eastern oils to apply a drop or two on my arm then go outside for a few minutes to let the desert heat expedite the drydown. It can take up to an hour for it to totally mellow out and blend with my chemistry which *could* offend others if I just apply and walk out. Middle Eastern oils can be quite strong, but they are so long lasting!

Italian fragrances also are long lasting on my skin.

My other half doesn't care what I wear either so I just let my mood in the morning determine my scent. Fragrance is my only vice.


Beauty and the Scientist — I think that's a great way to put it. It IS a bonus if others like it, but it shouldn't be a litmus test. (Although it's no fun to hear only puzzled and/or negative responses to what you're wearing.)


50_Roses: "The ideal for me is to use enough that I can smell it and enjoy it, but not so much that anyone else can easily notice it."

I try to do that, but I have a heavy hand, the perfume lover's equivalent of the chef who throws in too much butter and salt.

You say your husband is somewhat anosmic; can he smell what you're wearing even somewhat? That's got to be a mixed blessing...


DianaWR: Would you be tempted to spritz with a lighter hand or change fragrances if someone made a snarky remark?


Genie Gee: Civet PASTE? Wow. The real stuff? How did you get your hands on it? I would imagine it's pretty powerful stuff! I have a Givaudan synthetic and I've gotten used to smelling it, even up close in the bottle, but I've had people retch when I gave them a whiff. A little too realistic! Mandy Aftel let me take a sniff of vintage civet oil; that was much mellower and with floral facets...

I'm very curious about where you live, and what your sources of oils are. When you say, Middle Eastern oils, what are you referring to specifically?

Also, it must be nice to have a partner who's not too picky about what you're wearing. Thanks for stopping by!


I wear perfume pretty much entirely for me; I only consider others in that I try not to offend with too much. I would sometimes wear it for Himself, but he doesn't like any perfume much, so what I do for him is sometimes not wearing it.

However, even though I wear it for myself, I'm absolutely delighted at the occasional compliment. So apparently I crave approval even though I won't do anything to earn it. :)


I wear perfume for myself but I do take into account the environment where the sillage will be available for others to smell. So no MKK to work, or heady tuberoses and similar.
At home, I try everything and usually have to stop myself from putting too much on my arms. I never test a perfume by itself.
For some reason I got used to testing 2 perfumes simultaneously because it makes me appreciate the different notes better.
I don't know if anyone else does that though...

Thanks for the link to Man Repeller, I liked the little I browsed through the blog. :) I'll go and read more now.


It is so interesting that you wear perfumes at home that you don't love, but can admire and appreciate. That is s step that surely only a few perfume wearers will make. For most people, liking a perfume is the first and only criterion for acquiring it.

I wear perfume mostly for myself but I there are perfumes I wear exclusively at home when I'm alone. At the moment (and in the winter) this set includes rich, lush classics like Chanel No 5 extrait, Joy EDP, Arpege, Diva and Deneuve. For some reason I find I never wear these out. I can't say why. Maybe they signify too powder-puff glamour from another era, satin negligees and high-heeled slippers with fluffy pom-poms. (Well, not quite.) But maybe I have a deap-seated need to to wear 'intellectual' fragrances, like Chanel No 19, out of the house, and sex-kitten stuff like Arpege at home. Oh well, who cares. It's only perfume!


Hi Anne: I guess semantics are interesting here given your comment. The only way I can try perfume out — even in a store — is to put it on. So I suppose if I'm at home, trying Animale, for example (a perfume I detest), I'd say I've applied it rather than worn it. Yes, it's on me, but simply because putting it on skin is  the only way I feel I can get a real sense of it.

But if I love it and I'm out in public? I'm wearin' it.

As for your perfume-wearing habits, I think it's very charming that you wear the sexy mama stuff at home, and the chic, intellectual perfumes out. It makes sense! Some of those you love are like olfactory lingerie...

Dante's Bra

What a great question! I like it when people comment on my fragrance, but that's not why I wear it. And like others who've commented above, I try not to blast everyone with my sillage. But I like talking to people about what they're wearing, even if it's not something I'd wear myself.

I read and drink coffee for at least an hour in the morning to wake up, and that's when I do the same opium den thing you do: sniff, re-sniff, think, sniff again. The coffee probably affects my smell, but i'm relaxed enough to notice things I usually wouldn't. This is my nose education time, and I'm already noticing after a year and a half of exploring perfume that my tastes are expanding, and much more seems beautiful to me, especially chypres and white florals. I love how a classic chypre evolves on my skin through the day, and they evoke a strength and resilience and femininity that I just love.

I LOVE your blog, by the way, it's one of my favorites! I squealed when I found your review of Ysatis-- I think it's such an unsung treasure!


Hi Dante's Bra - Thanks for stopping by. (Your first time commenting, right? I'd recognize the name otherwise!)

Morning is one of the best times for me, too, especially with coffee. My brain needs to be in a heightened state and coffee helps with that! Late at night, as well...And I love chypres, too. To me, they project strength, beauty and elegance. (And as Anne suggested above - intelligence or an intellectual nature.)

So glad youre loving the blog! I write for people just like you. :-)


This review was perfect timing for just yesterday my husband was in a heightened state of distress/anger because of the perfume I was wearing. He has really bad allergies and believe me, he lets me know it! When I was young, single and childless I could wear whatever I so desired and did so with quite a heavy hand. Now I have a spouse and children, as well as a co-worker who HATES perfume, so I really have to be quite mindful of what and how much I am wearing. For me perfumes have always been about memories and associations. Of my most beloved fragrances much of my admiration is not only because I adore the juice but, more importantly, the memories of individuals/times/places that are conjured up in my mind when wearing them. I have my collection of everyday/benign/non-offensive scents but I also have begun to collect some of my "memory scents" that I can dab on every once in a while (sparingly) to transport me to another place/time. I wish I could find a signature scent because I would love for my children to have that as a remembrance of me. But I am a perfume fanatic and love trying new (and old) fragrances that I have never worn before. So it is nearly impossible for me to be a one perfume woman!! Yet, since the age of 12 not one day has gone by when I am not wearing some sort of fragrance : that's over thirty years of daily usage!


And, Barbara, I have to say that I was laughing hysterically as I read "loll about like an addict in an opium den". I, too, have become intoxicated upon many occasion and out of all the things that individuals can become addicted to (caffeine, alcohol, gambling, food,etc) my vice has always been perfume!


Probably I won't say anything new compared to what previous commenters have already said (as I was reading their replies I nodded more then a couple of times) but I just want to chime in.

I do all my initial testings - those where it's a new scent for me and I do not know how the perfume will play with my skin - at home. Not only for the others' sake but just to be in the right proximity to hot water and soap. Just in case.

To work or those public places where other people will be subjected to my choices without being able to escape I try to choose those of my favorite perfumes that I think are the least controversial if I want to _wear_ the perfume or apply the minimal amount to my wrist if I want to experience the scent only for myself.

For parties, going out, etc. I use those of my favorites that, in my opinion, are "crowd pleasers" because they are part of my outfit. I can say all I want that my special clothes, makeup and styled hair are all for me but it won't be completely true: yes, my opinion and how I feel is the most important but I still think of how others will perceive me. So I extend that approach to my perfume choices.


When I say my husband is somewhat anosmic, I mean that he can smell some of my perfumes better than others, and some he seems barely able to smell at all. He doesn't have a very discerning nose, either, at least with regard to perfume. Usually he'll just say that my perfume smells "nice". He wears fragrance himself, but mostly because I buy it for him and like to smell it on him (and he likes that I like it on him). It is a mixed blessing--I wish he could appreciate perfumes the way I do and share my interest, but then at least he doesn't hate perfume. Whenever he does comment on a perfume, I try to make a note of that fact, as that means it is one he can smell relatively well.


Hello dearest~
Yes I wear perfume for me but I am always pleased to get noticed,complimented and admired for smelling good.
If I happen to wear something that my family doesn't care for or thinks is "Ugggh." ;)I am amused and curious -I don't get offended because I love what I smell like regardless.
Being confident in my scents means I can throw on the "big girl panties" ones and feel right at home.
I enjoy and revel in perfume, it is a pleasure to my senses and I seek that high every day, huffing my arms,cleavage and hair.
I also love that I've found a community like no other.
Generous,caring people who I call friends and we all smell wonderful!
I always love your reviews and question B! Thanks for that.<3



I wear perfume for myself. But I try to be cognizant of others who may not love it quite so much, meaning, well, Everybody -- the Public. People in offices, or libraries, or restaurants or concerts. I'm lucky in that I work alone and do a lot of blending in my studio, which has a door I can close; I put different things in my diffuser according to my mood. So far no complaints!

I really revel in my collection while getting ready to go to sleep -- picking that night's scent, over-applying it gleefully. My husband, once in a while, will ask me not to wear something again, but I've learned that he shifts a lot -- I may wear it again a week later and he'll love it. So I agree sweetly and then go ahead and apply whatever I want. In general, he likes perfume and is getting pretty good at identifying notes, sometimes better than me!


Brigitte - Your comment made me think. Who is it I know who would tell me that my perfume was annoying them? My mother. A lot. But then if she loves something I'm wearing she'll be the first person to run out and get some. Also — 30 years of perfume wearing is no small thing. A true perfumaniac!


Undina - Proximity to hot water and soap is important when trying perfume. So true! There's nothing like spraying something on at the mall and being completely unable to get rid of it immediately. It's like suddenly putting on platform shoes and bell-bottom jeans and being unable to get out of them! As for wearing a crowd-pleasing scent, I can't remember the last time I wore something that was unanimously a crowd-pleaser...I'd love that!


Hi Tarama J. I need to get better about having a family member say, "Uggggh! What are you wearing?" Time for some big girl panties for me, too! Haha. And yes, it's nice to get high on perfume and have a great community around you who partake and understand! Thanks for stopping by.


Olfacta - I think, without knowing it, I have refrained from wearing perfume out too much because my tastes became less conventional and I too was aware of The Public. But now that I'm not in Berkeley (Ground Zero of Perfume-o-phobia), maybe I should pull out the weird stuff and wear it with abandon! Your nighttime ritual sounds familiar, and lovely that your husband is into it to the point hes identifying notes! So cute.

Angela Cox

I certainly wear it for myself. If it made my husband or daughter sick I'd wear it when they were out if I really loved it. I just fell in love with Burberry's "Society" a discontinued fragrance that I have a mini of . I found a 30ml bottle on eBay and asked my husband what he thought of this divine elixir "so, so" . So you can see why I wera them for myself.


Angela - When something you love gets a so-so response, at least you can wear it knowing he doesn't hate it!


I wear it for myself and care not a fig about what others think. Why are women always asked to be the compromising, considerate ones about every thing they like? My closest (male) co-worker smells like an ashtray and my husband never wears enough anti=perspirant (even though I've prompted him ever so gently). They don't care what I think, apparently. If I run around in a cloud of Fracas, turnabout is only fair play, baby.


Rednails — good point! I'm constantly smelling things I don't want to on others! Part of the reason I asked the question is because I run into perfumistas (like you) who seem to use perfume differently from how its marketed to us with promises we'll be sexually alluring or whatever (fill in the blank: rich, young, hip, etc.) Since I've gotten into perfume and spoken to perfume lovers, it's so clear that is certainly not the only reason women wear perfume. In any case, running into a cloud of Fracas would be an olfactory provocation for sure. Provoke on!


I wear it for my own pleasure. Compliments are nice, but not necessary. I apply a bit on the heavy handed side, but until someone complains I'm wearing the amount I feel comfortable and confident with. BUT I do take into consideration others' allergies, if I know I'll be around someone with allergies or say, visiting someone in the hospital, I go easy and/or chose something light.

Like the others here, most of my test drives are done at home. I don't want to get "stuck" wearing something I'm not completely happy with all day. I also keep several tester vials in my purse, just in case the mood changes or I'm caught in a downpour.

Perfumanic, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who takes a long time to make a decision on how I feel about a perfume. I used to think the ones I couldn't decide on were ones that weren't a hit with me, but some I've come back to later on and loved.


Interesting question. The easy answer would be for myself. And that is true as I only wear scents that I enjoy wearing. However, at work I only wear perfume oils from BPAL as I have a workmate who is scent sensitive, but have no problems with those oil. Also, I do tend to use perfumes less even if I like them, if they are in what my darling call "soap-category", and often only wear those when he isn't around.


I have always, and always will continue, to applied fragrance for my own pleasure. I have never thought of anyone else; whether it is liked, not liked, been a male magnet, etc... I always wear scent for my own pleasure, I also apply liberally; let the whole room smell of Bellodgia, it makes it nicer.
I consider it the sacred and ancient art of parfuming myself, for myself, to create for myself a nicer environment than the one I may be subject to at a given moment or time.
On the plus side, my scents which are all vintage/classics (even Cabochard and Bandit) have elicited the kindest comments from strangers , male and female. So I guess it is sometimes a win-win situation.


Liberally applied vintage Bandit and Cabochard eliciting compliments? That's great, Gabrielle! I don't think I've ever worn either liberally enough to have anyone notice. I wonder if I should try...


I think you should try. Especially as autumn approaches. Bandit is very enchanting on those cool and crisp autumn evenings when we all need a little coziness. Good luck and happy spritzing!


Hi Isis,

I've been curious about BPAL. First of all — what an amazing name! (For those of you who don''t know: Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. So goth!) Which ones do you wear? It's so interesting to me the notion that synthetics bother people but natural oils don't. (Is BPAL natural? I wonder why their oils don't bother your coworker.) So-called natural fragrances are actually filled with more allergans...

It's a pity you do have to be careful with coworkers and significant other when you wear perfume. Most of us do.


I concur with Barbara: it's the natural essential oils (lavander, jasmine,rose,sandalwood,etc) that give my husband terrible headaches during allergy season when I wear them. I have heard of BPAL and have even looked them up... they do some interesting amalgamations. I would also love to know which ones Isis recommends (there are so many to choose from!).


That's great, Gabrielle! I don't think I've ever worn either liberally enough to have anyone notice. I wonder if I should try..


I think most of the people wear perfume (if any) for themselves. Taking others into consideration should mean you don't overdo it - don't put on tons of strong perfume that others might not like.


froske1 - I think most people wear scent for themselves, but more people than you would think take into account how seductive a scent may be...And yes, moderation in scent is good!


Yes I do wear perfumes. I love having myself in a very nice scent, that makes me more comfortable and feel pleasured. I love fruity mist scents, that giggles my smell.


Pour moi! Perfume is becoming to me less like getting dressed and more like listening to music, drinking wine, or reading poetry. It is an event more than a thing. Of course it's nice to have your fragrance choice be noticed, and there are scents I'm more apt to wear going out, and others I wear at home, L'Heure Bleue being an example of the latter. It is too private an experience for me. Likewise some of the more civet-laden scents. In public, Rive Gauche is a go-to by day, and when I wore Mollie Parnis, people followed me around, so she was for all of us :)


I love this Julie, and even quoted you on Twitter! "Perfume is becoming to me less like getting dressed and more like
listening to music, drinking wine, or reading poetry. It is an event more than a thing." It IS an event! Brilliant.


You are too kind! It occurred to me during a discussion on basenotes, re: how much to spend. The conventional wisdom is that we get more satisfaction from spending on experiences than on things. Lightbulb. Perfume is an experience.


perfume is so incredibly personal to me and such a reflection of where i am (or how i've evolved) that i can't image wearing it for someone else. however, in my experience, what i like usually connects back to the people who like me.


One thing to remember about men vs women is that compared to women most men are a tad anosmic. Something to do with estrogen levels and could conceivably have had evolutionary advantages both ways. http://www.livescience.com/3457-women-smell-men.html

Even so, the circles that I travel tend to be quite averse to fragrance. I suspect that for some it is as much the discomfort of getting automatically aroused in public as an actual dislike for or allergy to a particular scent. I recall smelling an incredibly sexual fragrance on a woman, asking her what it was and getting the response, "Oh, Rapture, most women hate it but men seem to like it."

Another in that category is Ciara. It is one of those formerly expensive ones that has become a "cheap" drugstore brand. It only smells good after at least an hour, and then it is amazing. Too bad my wife can't stand it and calls it the "stinky" perfume.


I've heard that women's sense of smell is stronger than men's (but not that men are a tad anosmic). I didn't read your link but I wonder how much of the smell thing is cultural? I think it's interesting many gay men are more open to perfume than straight men. Surely it's not the estrogen? Also, can men be BOTH "a tad anosmic" and oversusceptible to being aroused  by scent? Just throwing that out there.


A relative difference -- I did not mean to imply total anosmia, sorry.

The not smelling as well, and being aroused by what can be smelled, go together just fine.

The easily aroused comment was meant to apply as one potential reason for both men and women's aversion to potent public perfume. After all, given the direct connection of the olfactory organs to the amygdala, if a person has sexual associations with even some of the notes/ingredients, they might be aroused by a fragrance no matter who is wearing it. Some find that uncomfortable.

I've also encountered the opposite as the reason for disliking a fragrance, associations of that fragrance with someone actively disliked.

I'd have to do a whole bunch of research before addressing the gay vs straight men thing...

Joyce Sweeney

I am sick and tired of hearing disparaging remarks about "old ladies". Substituting words that target ethnic minorities or lesbians/gays in your sentences, instead of "old lady", will illustrate how truly offensive this is.

Atty Tude

I wear perfume for myself. Having said that, you can't deny the fact that today's innumerable (and insufferable) rules and regulations seriously curtail our freedom to wear scent. Do you know that in Nova Scotia it is illegal to wear scent? It is even illegal to wear a strong-smelling aftershave or deodorant. If somebody can smell scent on you, that's it. You are in serious trouble. That's why I decided I'd rather go to hell than to Nova Scotia. Can't be worse.

And don't even start me on the hordes of hot-house flowers ... Oh, pardon me, I mean the terminally allergic to scents. Like an ex-co worker of mine, who affected asphyxiation every time she smelled my perfume ... and the I caught her smoking on her coffee break.

Now before someone goes into hysterics and sics the BATF on me, I do understand that there are people who are genuinely sensitive to scents. My sister is one of them. But there are also those who just dislike perfume and resort to the allergy excuse to prevent others from wearing scents.

So do I wear perfume for myself? I like to think I do. Until
I run into the terminally sensitive to scents contingency. Then I am forced, very much to my annoyance, to not wear scent because of others.

BTW, I completely agree with Joyce Sweeney's comment about the highly offensive "old lady scent" term.

little parrot

My first comment on your blog! I am a vintage fan!!
I wear perfume for myself, a good example; yesterday i was stressed and tired and we had to visit some friend in the hospital.
One hour before we should leave the house I put on 2 drops of pure perfume CABOCHARD Gres. I know this perfume grounds/centers me, its also calming and strengthing and uplifting and so very suited for coping with difficult situations.
So that's pretty an experience for myself i think so...
Also most vintages(for me they are very private) I keep for myself as a hidden gem,I don't want to hear comments on them (I don't want to get hurt about my vintages I guess)
For mainstream fragrances I am not that sensitive about comments, so I think vintages is more of my soul

By the way i was searching for your review of CHOC Cardin


I wear scent for myself, but enjoy comments too. I love niche and vintage perfumery but also love those odd little gems I may find in a drugstore (I live in Germany) or maybe a weird little aromatic oil in a health food store. I dress for myself (lots of tulle...I'm 49 and love a bit of a Stepdford Wife vibe) and that's how I scent myself. My horror of horrors would be for someone to be able to identify what fragrance I am wearing. I like to smell as "different" as I look. My husband loves Chanel everything on me. He can't remember the name of a fragrance to save his life, but he can always identify a Chanel on me...even the Exclusifs! He lets me do my "thing" and indulges me when I am on the hunt for something. I often have to just pop in to someplace for a quick sniff or spray. I love so much about perfumery, but find it very personal.

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