Dear Scent Diary,
I heard a quote once that stuck with me. It was advice for women who want the upper hand in business transactions when dealing with men – “Dress like a woman but smell like a man,” it said. I would have to argue that this boardroom psychology seems very sound.
I know many fume nerds often chafe at the idea of gender categorizing perfumes. I’m in total agreement, however, there are certain smells that seem to have been assigned gender by western culture; flowers + fruit = feminine, woods + lavender = masculine. All of which, when you start to break it down, starts sounding ludicrous. Lavender is masculine? But our noses have been trained over the years and it takes some retraining to ‘unassign’ smells.
So here’s a list to get you started. These are the ‘Pour Homme’s’ that I feel can be easily worn ‘Par Femme’.
1. Castile by Penhaligon’s – What rich people smell like when they get out of the shower. A high-end, quadruple-milled, creamy white orange blossom soap scent. Sometimes it’s all you want and all you need.
2. Bois d’Argent by Dior Collection Privee – The boys on YouTube have claimed this one but it’s actually in no way masculine. It’s a beautiful, gauzy, almond-y, shimmering wood scent. Easily worn by a woman.
3. Virgin Island Water by Creed – Again, only the men seem to talk about this but its fresh, tropical, boozy happiness is completely genderless if you ask me.
4. Fleur de Male by Jean Paul Gauthier – This is one the guys might actually feel was mislabeled in the first place. It’s an orange blossom scent with some dry herbaceous notes that attempt to lean it masculine, but its glorious honeyed white floral nature make it very wearable by women.
5. LP no. 9 for Men by Penhaligon’s – This one is quite fresh and masculine early on. If you can make it to the drydown, it’s well worth it. It sweetens dramatically and becomes an intoxicating blend of amber and spices licked with vanilla.
6. Comme des Garcons Incense Kyoto – A beautiful, spiritual, calming, clean woodsy scent. I refuse to allow men to be the only ones to enjoy this. It does lean masculine but it’s worth trying on your skin to see if you can rock it.
7. Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford – Dense, rich, sweet and spicy tobacco. I tend to wear this one for myself when I’m by myself. I find it exotic smelling on a woman.
8. Original Santal by Creed – Perhaps the perfect scent to accomplish the quote at the beginning of this post. To me, sandalwood is genderless, and this one has a slightly sweet, balmy warmth that is very comforting.
9. Egoiste by Chanel – Hold on, actually this is the perfect scent to rock the boardroom in. Warm, spicy sandalwood that manages to be both sexy and professional smelling on a woman. Lean in baby, lean in.
10. Back to Black by Killian – No, wait! This is the ultimate boardroom scent for a woman. Dark, rich tobacco and honey. You will fill the room with a “Don’t fuck with me” aura.
There are many more, I’m sure. What do you recommend?