I started out not really knowing what I liked or disliked, but after a lot of sniffing, I've started to get a better feel for what works for me and what doesn't. I will try to do more in-depth reviews of some of these, but I thought I should at least give a sketch here. For more detailed notes and opinions on specific fragrances, see my full perfume spreadsheet here.
Things I like
Chypres, particularly fruity or floral
Tuberose, of the full-fledged soliflore variety: go big or go home
Orientals, particularly fruity or floral
Guerlain perfumes (with the exception of L'Heure Bleue, below)
Things I am unsure of
Violet, iris, and heliotrope
Citrus (I love Eau Sauvage, but haven't yet tried enough other citruses to know how I feel about the note in general)
Things I don't like
Really dry, woody scents (like Timbuktu, Knowing, Azurée, Terre d'Hermès)
Over the past couple months, I've managed to build up quite a perfume collection (just samples, but even so!). I've not only learned more about what I like and dislike in perfume (see below), but also where to buy samples and how to store them. So, being the giver that I am (read:OCD nutjob), I figured I should share! I am by no means an expert, so I shan't be explicating the ins and outs of perfumery (for that, see the blogs listed under "Beloved Blogs: Perfume" on the right sidebar), but I can offer suggestions for basic perfume entry-level skills!
Firstly, samples. They are your friend. Never buy a full bottle without wearing the scent, preferably more than once. If you're just getting started, chances are you don't know what you like (I didn't, and in large part still don't!), so I suggest trying out a variety to see what strikes your fancy. (My spreadsheet has some 300 perfumes with primary notes, scent family, rating in Perfumes: The Guide, and the occasional note from me, all extensively color-coded. Use it if you want! I'd like to think my obsessive research tendencies can benefit someone besides myself.)
If you can, get samples for free from department stores (Nordstrom is apparently the best, and Macy's the worst). If you live near a mall or someplace that has lots of perfume, you can also go in and sample sniff, though you should take it slow at first because your nose needs time to get trained lest it get exhausted! If you're like me, though, and live in a place with merely a Macy's, you may find the selection of perfumes somewhat lacking. That's where online ordering comes in!
Samples from The Perfumed CourtThe Perfumed Court and Surrender to Chance are two sample companies that offer pretty much everything under the sun. Shipping is $2.95, 1 ml sample vials are $3+ (mainstream fragrances are cheaper than niche or upscale fragrances, and current formulations are cheaper than vintage), and you can often get a better deal on more obscure scents if you buy them as part of a sample set. Both sites have extensive sample sets available, which is a great way to try a variety! Aedes is just flat-out amazing; if you live in New York, you can go to their store (and tell me all about it!), but even if you don't, you can order 7 samples (I believe they're 0.7 ml, as the vials look smaller than those I've gotten from TPC, but I could be mistaken) of obscenely expensive niche fragrances for $15, including shipping. You just list the fragrances you want to try, along with a couple of alternates in case they're out of anything. They carry Amouage, Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle, L'Artisan, Diptyque, and oodles more. I've ordered from them twice, and both times my samples have arrived quickly (one time they got here in 1 business day! From New York! What the heck!) in individual labeled baggies. It's far, far cheaper to order from them than getting the same scents from TPC or StC, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Oh, you also get $5 off any order you place from them if you get a sample set. Of course, a $220 Frederic Malle isn't much better than $225, but still...Lucky Scent also offers perfume samples, though I haven't yet ordered from them.
I buy samples in vials and transfer them to small atomizers, because I prefer to wear my perfumes sprayed, since the sillage is generally better, and it's cheaper than buying larger sizes (which come in spray bottles).
|Empty and filled Lotion Crafter |
2.5 ml atomizers
|Filled and empty Pilot Vials|
2 ml atomizers
these) are also an excellent option. Those who are really dedicated store their perfumes in a refrigerator, but I just keep mine in my office, out of direct sunlight (you also shouldn't store perfumes in the bathroom, because the heat makes them break down).
So! What perfumes do you like? How do you store your samples? Where do you like to order from?