Over the years,. I’ve read fragrance enthusiasts say that they are “done” with fragrances or going to “take a break.” Others say they are still seeking their “holy grail” fragrance or think they have finally found it, while a few say they are content with a small “rotation.” Still others say they are on a fragrance shopping spree and can’t seem to stop buying. And still others say they have a huge pile of samples and are trying to get through them, but they continue to acquire new ones. I’m sure you get the idea.
I’ve been waiting for a time when I can say that I fully understand my “position” and am either satisfied with what I have or think I will be soon (it began for me in late 2007). However, I have never felt any pressure to make some sort of final decision. And while I have been disappointed by the many fragrances that smell very similar, I just “keep my head down” and continue to enjoy what I have, while trying something new now and then. My biggest disappointments occur on the days when I wear a fragrance that I don’t like. I feel I’ve wasted a day that could have been used to wear a fragrance I do like.
And this brings me to the major point of this post, which involves two questions: do you know what you are seeking and can you be sure that you will not change your mind about it (if you find it) for a very long time? After thinking that I liked a particular genre more than any others, then changing my mind, several times now since 2008, I no longer concern myself with such classifications. In fact, I think I would be get bored very quickly if I wore one kind of fragrance 95% of the time (or more). Instead, what I look for these days are certain characteristics: balance, dynamism, complexity, naturalness, richness, depth, etc. There are few, if any fragrances that contain all of these elements to the highest degree. However, fragrances with no depth, for example, generally fail to impress me. One example is Elegance by Lacoste. When I wear it I wonder what it would be like if it had some depth, because I like everything else about it (though at times there is a hint of the “synthetic” about it). However, because there isn’t anything like it, I have to decide whether it is worth wearing a fragrance that is lacking in a major way, yet has certain features I can’t find anywhere else (or if I can, those fragrances are not as good).
Of course, you may not care about depth at all (or you are not at the point where you understand the concept). But this is the kind of thing that causes major issues, at least for me. I think I know what I’m seeking, but what about fragrances that are lacking in one of those areas? I’m still trying to sort that out! Question number two is more difficult, though I think my “solution” is to have access to may different kinds of fragrances. However, here the issue for me seems to be sensitivity, meaning that I don’t always experience a fragrance the way I did the previous time I wore it. Thus, sometimes I don’t smell certain notes (or don’t smell them well) while other times certain notes are too strong (leading me to consider the fragrance unbalanced). Because of this, I’m not sure it really makes sense to worry too much about the future will hold, in terms of how you perceive fragrances. Having a large number of them to wear provides me with a sense that if one begins to irritate or bore me, others (perhaps ones I haven’t like much in recent months) will get the job done.
What general advice can I offer you, especially if you are a “newbie?” Don’t get caught up with niche versus designer, or with needing to have at least one fragrance from each “major house.” Make sure you understand the basics before spending a lot of money, which is what I did. This included buying decent quality “cheapos” that represented the major genres. Lomani (1987), for example, is a fairly simple fougere that has been selling for less than $10 per 100 ml since I began looking at prices, back in 2007. Don’t allow yourself to fixate on top notes, which often leads newbies to think that a fragrance is “weak.” This was a major problem to me, and I finally solved it by holding my breath, spraying on the chest, then leaving the room and blowing on the area sprayed. I would turn my head and breathe in, trying not to experience much of the top notes). And lastly, if you have a sample in a vial, you may need to use more than you think, though top notes will seem weaker than if you had sprayed it on.