Last week I watched this video by Victoria of EauMG that lists her recommendations of feminine fragrances that men should try and are likely to enjoy. I agree with Victoria's idea and most of her recommendations are spot-on (well, I dislike Angel and Light Blue For Women equally on men and women, so they don't count). The subject did make me think of gender lines in perfume, and about how the general population of men (civilians, muggles, whatever you want to call them) views scent. The other day I was talking with my brother-in-law and he told me that he felt somewhat weird when a cab driver complimented him on his fragrance. He was wearing Voyage d'Hermès (which I gave him to the joy of my sister, his wife), and the cabby commented that it smelled classic and elegant, "very different from the stinky stuff most guys wear when I drive them". I thought this was fabulous, but my sweet brother-in-law wasn't sure how to take it.
Which leads me to the subject at hand: Things we (I?) want men to know about perfume. When I requested the husband's help with relevant suggestions he gave me a look, said "they should wear it" and went back to whatever he was doing. The Blond has a point. Not enough men wear scent on a daily basis and that's a shame. There's more to that, though. So here's a quick list:
1. Don't call it "cologne". Unless you are wearing an eau de cologne, and even then it's scent, fragrance or even "perfume". Perfume is not a feminine product.
2. Please don't wear Drakaar Noir under any circumstances. I don't know what you see in the mirror when you spray yourself silly with this stuff, but here's how I see you:
3. Speaking of spraying and spritzing with abandon: Please Don't (unless your scent is a weakling that actually needs a healthy dose to stay on skin). We can smell you, I promise, and that should be enough. No need to waft all the way to Irkutsk.
4. A perfume (fragrance, "cologne", eau de toilette, whatever) is not an aftershave. Don't splash it on your face. Use a skincare product on your face after you shave (a lotion or a balm that calms and hydrates the skin and doesn't sting or irritates), and apply the fragrance to your neck and/or chest. Yes, that's the manly (and right) thing to do.
5. When someone compliments you on your fragrance take it at face value. They liked your taste in perfume, so thank them and smile. You can always elaborate on what you're wearing if they're interested.
6. Experiment. There are plenty more appropriate scents in the world than what you got for your Bar Mitzvah, graduation or Christmas. Look it up, there's a whole world of fragrances out there, beyond the drugstore, beyond Macy's and Sephora. Have fun.
Let's talk about it: Whether you're a man or a woman, what would you like to tell guys about perfume? What do you wish they knew?
Fashion illustration by Rene Gruau, 1955.
1970s fashion photo via San Francisco Chronicle.