Life is rarely easy but it’s always interesting in its complexity and there’s nothing that cannot be improved, enlivened or sweetened by a spritz of the right scent. Fragrance says a great deal about the wearer so you need to be artful with its deployment. Perfume can work for you or against you: make sure you keep it on side. It can change your state of mind dramatically and alter your mood with immediate effect, far quicker than any medication. Here are various emotionally stressful situations where the choice of which fragrance  you wear is especially important and influential; and where the use of scent needs particular fine-tuning and application. Good luck!

First Date

An occasion which can be subdivided into a multitude of potentially hair-raising situations but I’m thinking here of the traditional straightforward upfront approach: no speed-dating, double dates etc. You’ve met a gorgeous girl and you’ve asked her out. What do you wear? Nothing obvious, nothing brash. And for Heaven’s sake nothing that cries out “sexy!” from the housetops. Your clothes will be already suited to the style of the occasion, but I’m sticking my neck out with fragrance and proposing something a little bit out of the ordinary: this lucky girl wants to be assured that she’s found someone special, a bit different, not a man who follows the crowd. “Mr Wonderful, that’s you!” And he’s the type who wears CARDINAL by James Heeley.

Now you might think this rather off-the-wall but hear me out. CARDINAL belongs to the ultra-fashionable sub-family of scents that draw on churches and incense for their inspiration but this one strikes an original note. For one thing it’s youthful: there are no gloomy niches, streaming walls or tarnished censers. CARDINAL is all about crisp white linen, fastidious grooming, with a crimson flash of bitter orange and the warm pure odour of myrrh, vetiver and patchouli. CARDINAL will give you confidence and gravitas. It’s tenacious, it’s imaginative and it evokes the sense of Woman as a Goddess. You present yourself as an acolyte at her shrine. She’ll love it. And surely that’s the whole point of the exercise, no? ”

Cardinal by James Heeley, £120

Meeting Her Parents

Your future mother-in-law wants to know that you are clean. Her husband will be assessing your honesty and good credit. Whatever the venue, buff yourself up to a high gloss, paying especial attention to your shoes and hands. No matter how profuse or scanty your hair, have it cut and washed. Dress is less important as long as you avoid the egregious and the shabby. But fragrance is paramount: a skilled nose can pick apart every facet of your personality by dissecting your cologne so take it as read either that your new relations are avid readers of Ape To Gentleman & Basenotes, OR that they are dated subscribers to the notion that Men Do Not Wear Scent. So be on your toes. Avoid anything showy, heavy or potentially effeminate. Trying to be witty with your choice of cologne will get you nowhere.

A wise man goes for TREFLE PUR (Atelier Cologne). This will do you nothing but good. It’s a burst of freshness: not girly-flowery nor lemon-acid, but a meadow of cut grass after morning rain; woods and open pasture full of the green lushness of midsummer. The heart is clover (that’s the “Trefle”), an accord developed over 100 years ago so it adds familiarity and classic style besides a breezy sweet sharpness. Neroli, moss, patchouli, bitter orange and basil exude the poise and calm of a clean-cut reliable wholesome masculinity. Hey! They’re not losing a daughter but gaining a wonderful son!

Trefle Pur by Atelier Cologne, £90

At the Office

I think it is fairly well established by now that it’s fine to wear fragrance to work. The devil is, as ever, in the detail. Naturally you’ll want to wear something that bucks you up, makes you feel good and helps to get you through eight hours at the coal face. But remember, your choice is not entirely your own as you’ll be in close proximity to a diverse collection of critics not shy to voice their opinions. Even if the consensus is favourable it can be depressing to greeted on arrival by a chorus of  “you’re wearing Boss again!” as you take your seat among the prairie-dogs. Probably you exhibit a slightly re-adjusted personality at work, discrete to the office; certain aspects of your character are veiled if not concealed. Somewhat exiguous talents and abilities may be played up, even exaggerated, and this element of disguise must be taken into consideration when you select your scent. Go for a fragrance that enhances your chosen image. NEVER advertise the price of anything you are wearing. You don’t want to be labelled a cheapskate nor thought to be either overpaid or an embezzler of petty cash.

So be subtle, play everything down. Creed’s JARDIN D’AMALFI is just the ticket. It costs a bomb mind you, but no one needs to know and it’s an excellent investment. 250 ml works out considerably cheaper overall than Creed’s 75ml sizes and, correctly stored, your flacon will last several years. JARDIN D’AMALFI is a millesime eau de parfum so it will linger on the skin; but it stays wonderfully light with crisp transparent hints of tangerine and bergamot above a sunny warmth of vetiver, sandalwood and a breath of ambergris. It is smart, sociable, non-intrusive, clean and impeccably stylish. Most importantly, it gives away nothing, remaining deliciously ambiguous. A power perfume that plays it cool.

Jardin D’Amalfi by Creed from £140


Many of the Office observations also apply here, especially in regards to the image of yourself you wish to project. The difference in this situation is that you have yet to get the job so you need to project, to stand out, to inspire confidence. Don’t buy a new fragrance to match the new suit and shoes (which you will have wisely broken in at home). Choose a scent with which you are familiar and which makes you feel on top of your game. A fragrance which gives you confidence and poise, encouraging you to hold up your head and straighten your back. A classy green chypre will have precisely this effect on many of us. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why they are the least popular of perfumes, despite being the type most admired within the business and often thought of as being the most stylish. Like a strict but caring schoolmaster, the chypre perfume is demanding – it insists you make the best of yourself and consequently it is not exactly relaxing to wear but puts you on your best behaviour. Chypres seem to energise and clear the mind : it’s all to do with the aromatherapeutic qualities of the oils the style requires.

So, for that crucial interview, I’m going to ask you to consider Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s LUMIERE NOIRE POUR HOMME, a spicy woody elixir with the sharp herbal pull of wormwood and tarragon to keep all your wits about you. The heart is a dark bitter rose blended with cumin, patchouli and pepper. Not a trace of roughness, all is smooth and silkily insinuating. Cutting-edge without being eccentric, incisive, alert and intelligent this should send you straight to the top of the short list.

Lumiere Noire Pour Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, £105

Wedding Guest

The Golden Rule is that the bride takes precedence in every way at all times. No one will be looking at you, as many wise nannies have always advised. Nevertheless you are within your rights to wear the fragrance of your choice as long as it’s not too flamboyant or ostentatious. Everyone in the immediate bridal party will be on the look-out for potential “problem guests” as they trail into the Reception and unattached males are particular objects of suspicion. In this regard emulate the advice already given with regard to future in-laws. On the other hand, there’s nothing like weddings to nourish love: romance breeds romance. In short, pick-up potential is high. So accentuate the vibes by spraying a cologne with a sense of humour (nothing sexier than wit and laughter), a mood of celebration and a certain come-hither factor. Such as Kilian’s BAMBOO HARMONY, an Oriental symbol of human perfection translated into fragrance.

Far more complex than it first appears, this is an intriguing green floral which starts with icy hesperidic notes that slowly heat up into something really rather sensual and passionate as the day wears on. By the time the dancing kicks off you’ll be wrapped in a warm earthy embrace of oak moss, tea, fig and animalic musky mimosa. The kind of scent to get you noticed and remembered – in the best way. Bamboo Harmony combines the finest of modern and traditional techniques: it’s decidedly masculine without being brutish and it’s kind of fun to wear.

Bamboo Harmony by Kilian, £155


An occasion on which fragrance is traditionally notable only by its absence; yet ceremonies of committal are now so varied in type that the choice of scent is now a valid issue. A clergyman tells me, “ Funerals come in four colours: black, purple, white and green”. Whereas deep mourning may eschew perfume, those rituals which celebrate the deceased’s life rather than mourn his passing certainly call for a carefully selected scent. I’ve heard of occasions where each guest is invited to wear the loved one’s favourite and I’ve been asked for a “show-stopper” (sic) to be worn by a grieving widow. A mourner should be unobtrusive, perfectly but inconspicuously turned out, and his fragrance must echo this air of well-groomed sympathetic anonymity.

Atelier Cologne’s OOLANG INFINI is the perfect choice: soft, ultra-discreet, poised and cool.  A scent that never turns the spotlight on the wearer nor irritates the nose of the most agitated companion, Oolang Infini chooses the most exotic oils and transforms them into an eau de parfum that will last the day but exhales the most scrupulous discretion and tranquillity. Notes of blond leather, tobacco flower and neroli combine with the dryness of blue tea, jasmine and soothing neroli. Peaceful, still, confident, reassuring and elegant.

Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne, £80

Visits to Barber / Doctor / Dentist

What the devil does a guy wear if he’s the sort who feels undressed without a fragrance but is shy of situations where he’s put directly in the power of another male? ( Or a girl, for that matter). It’s only natural to feel a certain trepidation at visiting these characters. They make their living from your faults and flaws: they are liable to be critical of your health, your hair, your oral hygiene routine, your diet. If you’re anything like me, you want them to at least approve of your smell and to appreciate that you keep yourself clean. Surgeries and barber shops are full of the scent of barbicides, disinfectants and human secretions which trouble us like animals arriving at the vet’s: these are intensified by airless heat and the press of other human bodies in the waiting room and queue. So opt for something to keep you calm and fresh while the barber or medical locum pokes around your orifices, or the dentist ratchets up the chair for an even more intimate vis-à-vis. Pick a cologne strength every time.

Frederic Malle has, as always, the very thing. COLOGNE BIGARADE is perfect for spritzing all over once you’ve showered. It’s super-light, it will cling to the skin beneath your clothes and surround you in a refined and delicate aura of bitter orange, cedar and bergamot which metamorphose into a unique sillage of sweet hay, rose, pepper and those cracking aldehydes which give a fragrance unique gloss and sheen. Your care technician will approve the out-door glowing aroma of healthy skin, the natural redolence of the good body. Note too there is also a much stronger BIGARADE CONCENTREE if you catch the eye of the receptionist on the way out.

Cologne Bigarade by Frederic Malle, £105