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?

Newest baby: L’Artisan Vanille Absolument

Dear Scent Diary,

18820-vabbIs there anything more exciting than a perfume sized package in the mailbox? My husband knows of and supports my obsession, and yet I still attempt to contain myself in his presence when this holiest of holy occasion occurs. I forced myself to put a few groceries away first so as to appear ‘normal’ before I ripped open the box with glee.

L’Artisan Vanille Absolument starts as a true to life, spicy vanilla pod: leathery, a bit tart, and vanillic without any hint of sugariness or baked goods. Then the notes that gave this scent its original name, Havana Vanille enter the fray: rum and pipe tobacco. It’s gorge. The way the notes read, it sounds quite masculine, but the balmy vanilla (it has an overall sweetness but is in no way toothache inducing) makes it very wearable for a woman. High five, Bertrand Duchaufour.

It’s love, Diary.

Ava Luxe Cafe Noir

Dear Scent Diary,

Oh. My. God. Can’t get my nose off my wrist. This is dark and deep and delicious and aromatic and genuine and well, just plain gorgeous. This is the type of fragrance that tickles the bottoms of my lungs I’m compelled to inhale so deeply. imagesIt’s true I’m a sucker for coffee scents but this one is more than just java. It’s strong black coffee on steroids with a hint of cardamom and lavender giving things an aromatic edge, while sandalwood and vanilla almost imperceptibly round it out. No kidding around though, it’s all about the coffee. I bet there are some who’ll complain that they smell like they spilled a pot of coffee on their shirt or that someone stuffed their pockets full of beans when they weren’t looking. Yuk, yuk, yuk. I guess I’ll just be over here rolling my eyes at them with both nostrils glued to my wrist. Most would probably call this masculine, but as you can probably tell, I call it unisex.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris – APOM

Dear Scent Diary,

UnknownI’m wearing one of those seamlessly blended fragrances today. The lines where one note blends with the other are airbrushed away so completely. I often think of perfumes as olfactory colours – this one is made up of orange blossom, cedarwood and ambergris – white, green and grey combined to make a muted…aqua. It’s a warm, clean scent that’s fairly strong and forthright, but somehow lacks complexity. The notes start and stay perfectly blended throughout the day. The orange blossom tilts things toward the soapy side of things – something I don’t mind, but don’t love (even though I love orange blossom). I believe this is classified as a ‘pour homme’, but I find it quite unisex. I’ve enjoyed wearing Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris APOM today, but I don’t lust after it. No full bottle for me.