With care and patience!
NEVER rush it. Half the pleasure is in the choosing and the deliberation. You are making an investment here so take your time and let it be a good one.
The Golden Rule: shop alone! A companion will only distract, get bored, put you off or impose his own views. Perfume is ultra-personal, highly subjective. The most important thing is to please yourself: you are looking for a scent that you can’t wait to spray on every morning.
As you sally forth on your quest, consider in your mind what exactly you are looking for: do you want a single signature scent, or is this the first step in building a wardrobe of fragrances so that you have appropriate perfume for every mood, occasion, climate and season? What do you want the scent to do? Reflect your personality, create a fantasy version of yourself, empower, seduce? Think all this over before you arrive at the store – present yourself along with a brief of what you are searching for. If nothing else, make a list of smells you love and loathe; or a list of fragrances you have enjoyed over the years.
If you come away from the shop with the perfect scent for you, chances are it will please those in your orbit.
Remember, fragrance is to make YOU feel good: if you feel great, you will bring out the best in those you meet.
Therefore you will need time to deliberate in your own space. Perfume is supremely subjective; each human nose is as individual and unique as a fingerprint. Whatever you smell in a fragrance is in that perfume for you; judge the scent as much by how it makes you feel, as by how it smells on your skin. Does it elate you, amuse you, seduce you..?
A word of advice here – most feminine notes will generally fall away on a male skin, so if you feel attracted by what appears to be a more female scent then try it anyway: your hormones will tone down the flowery notes and accentuate the musks and woods. This is why the distinction of scents by sex is totally false and arbitrary, a mere marketing device: cast your net wide. Be expansive. Every fragrance will smell at least slightly different on each individual: it truly becomes your unique signature.
This is where advice from a really good IMPARTIAL sales assistant is invaluable – a speciality at Les Senteurs, by the way. Seek out someone who knows his stock, is experienced and who is prepared to listen. Beware the assistant who talks over you: YOU are choosing the scent with HIS assistance. The good consultant will save your time and energy by listening to you, observing you closely and then selecting a two or three relevant fragrances for trial.
Nothing is to be gained by trying dozens of perfumes on one occasion: the nose tires quickly and so will you. This is when frustration sets in and the wrong purchase made. Ask for samples and come again another day. Then try those samples at home where you can judge them a in a relaxed and more receptive frame of mind.
It is essential to try the fragrance on your skin: paper mouillettes are of use only to get a broad idea of what may appeal to you. You must experience the interaction of fragrance with your skin and body chemistry before you can properly judge. Remember that an intricate perfume may take many hours to develop – even when it appears to have reached the base note, it may yet have tricks to play. Give it the full 24 hours to resolve with your mind, body and spirit.
Then go back to the shop and try again: if you still love it, buy it. Bravo! You are well on the way to becoming your own perfume expert.
Then you come home, get it out of the box and start to worry…
Written by James Craven, LES SENTEURS’s nationally quoted fragrance archivist and expert chronicler of all things culturally fragrant, lends his invaluable service to the business as it continues to guide customers through its unparalleled collection of fine fragrance and scented accessories. Please visit Les Senteurs here: