Ten men’s fragrances women can easily wear

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’.

Unknown1. 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.

Unknown-22. 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.

Unknown-33. 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.

Unknown-64. 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.

Unknown-15. 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.

Unknown-76. 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.

Unknown-87. 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.

Unknown-48. 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.

images9. 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.

Unknown-510. 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?

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12 responses to “Ten men’s fragrances women can easily wear

  1. I’ve mentioned that recently in some other discussion, I consider feminine/masculine just one more type of characterising a scent that is culture-based whereas,for example, floral/woody/oriental/etc. is a component-based classification and sweet/dry/airy/etc. is a perception-based system. But after all possible classifications are done, it all comes down to either one likes the perfume or doesn’t.

    Out of the ten you’ve mentioned I tried only three. I do not like Bois d’Argent (not because I think it’s too masculine), I adore Tobacco Vanille and I like Back to Black.

  2. Dasi

    I’m so glad you did this post. In my super newbie days, I always wondered *which* masculine scents were most commonly de-masculinated (:-)?) by the female ‘fumie community. I found that most of the mainstream (Sephora) scents marketed to men smelled sooo similar to me – with that repetitive “man cologne” accord – so I couldn’t believe it … until I got more experienced with niche/less-typical mainstream scents.

    Completely agree on the three that I have/tried from your list (Virgin Island Water, Tobacco Vanille and Back to Black). My additional suggestions are:
    – Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris
    – Spicebomb (both recommendations from Elisa’s ‘The French Exit’ blog)
    – Diptyque Vetyverio (the SA who sells this always tells me “It’s a man’s scent, but more women than men buy it!”)
    – Dior Homme

    And, I loved your closing line descriptor for Back to Black 🙂

  3. As one of the Youtube boys myself, this list made me smile. I’d add to it Dior Homme, whose soft iris note is unabashedly feminine (one of the reasons why I adore it) and Burberry Touch, whose soft powdery violet plays very well on a woman’s skin. This practice goes both ways, as well. Manly though I am, I am still more than happy to wear YSL Opium (the women’s EDT smells better and has a sexier bottle), Prada Infusion d’Iris, or Tom Ford Black Orchid, gender labels be damned.

    • A YouTube boy! I’m honoured! I definitely need to try Dior Homme. I’ve heard it compared to Carner Barcelona D600 which I really enjoy. Have you tried Narciso Rodruigez for Her? It’s quite musky and would smell great on a man I think.

  4. John

    Interesting post! I stumbled upon it after searching on Google whether or not someone had mentioned LP no 9 and Tobacco Vanille in the same thread or blog. I think they both have share a great dark and vanilla-heavy vibe, and was curious if others thought the same.

    You should sample some Le Labo Santal 33 and Rose 31. Although unisex, they lean feminine in western culture. Strangely, in South Asia, both of these scents are commonly worn by men. It goes to show how silly gender classifying fragrances can be.

    • Thanks John! Glad you enjoyed this post even though it wasn’t exactly what you were looking for. As you can probably tell, I agree with you about LP and TV.
      I love Rose 31and need to get more of it as a matter of fact. I tried Santal 33 in the store and remember liking it, but don’t have a good memory of what it smelled like.
      Hope you stop by again sometime!

  5. Lara A.

    I would add Obsessions pour homme by Calvin Klein to the list, I personally find it works very well on me.

  6. R

    Heritage by geurlain, Vetiver and L’instant de guerlain pour homme and the extrême are all favourites of mine, a sexy blond fit 42year old woman!

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