Set yourself apart with a sensory calling card
Just like a favorite piece of jewelry or item of clothing, fragrance can function as part of your public persona. Your chosen scent can say a lot about you, relaying as much about your personality and attitude as your fashion sense. Here’s how to ensure your signature scent creates an indelible first impression—or whichever effect your desire.
Why select a signature scent? There’s no hard and fast rule, but stylists and experts recommend wearing one or two trademark fragrances in your toolkit. We can think of two reasons: one) it’s fun! After all, there’s something irresistibly romantic about wearing an instantly recognizable perfume and observing its effects on people you know and passerby alike. Reason two? Wearing a signature fragrance is an efficient, sophisticated, but highly subtle way to guarantee you (and your intoxicating perfume) will never be forgotten.
The rich and famous have relied on fragrance to amplify their mystique for centuries. As early as the ancient Persian kings, Xerxes was known to favor Lily of the Valley as part of his wardrobe. More recently, Megan Markle favors Wild Bluebell by Jo Malone London, actress Susan Sarandon prefers Eva by Santa Maria Novella and Rihanna likes to wear Love, Don’t Be Shy by Kilian. Meanwhile, actress Jodie Comer admits she copied her signature scent, Le Labo’s Santal 33, from a woman she used to stand next to on the workplace elevator.
First off, don’t try to choose a signature fragrance in a hurry. Be prepared to spend a couple of weeks on the decision. If you’re new to the world of fragrance, you might want to brush up on the basics: an introductory article like How to Become a Fragrance Aficionado can help you get started. If you already know that you prefer green scents to exotic Orientals, for instance, you can skip ahead to Step 1 on our list:
- Visit a reputable perfumery/beauty shop. Be sure to head out straight from a shower, wearing no fragrance or scented deodorant, and wearing clean clothes.
Bonus tip: Don’t try out too many scents at a time—stick to max four fragrances in one visit to avoid developing what professional perfumers call “nose blindness.”
- Spritz some perfume on paper test strips and allow them to dry completely.
- Sniff your selections and decide on two that you’d like to spray—one on each wrist.
Bonus tip: We know it’s tempting to try an armload at once, but trust us and stick to just two scents! If you try on too many scents at once, you risk confusing your senses and choosing based on a false impression.
- Leave the shop. That’s right, walk away! Allowing your samples to linger and develop on your skin will grant you an idea of how each will smell throughout a day of wearing.
Refer back to your scented strips periodically over the next few days, or up to a week if you’re still undecided. Try sniffing in different environments (gym, coffee shop, car); does the scent change? What overall impression is the fragrance creating? You may be tempted to ask for outside opinions: we strongly suggest resisting that urge. You want your signature fragrance to represent you—whether that means fresh, hip, mysterious or classic. The final decision is best left to you alone!
Need a shortcut? Check out a perfume sampler. By picking up multiple fragrances in one set, you can quickly weed out which scents aren’t you enough and be on the road to perfume mastery in no time.