Monday, March 18, 2013

Men And Perfume: Things We'd Like You To Know

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.


  1. Well, the only thing I would say is that a guy should wear a perfume his partner likes. I made my ex change his perfume because it was terrible to my nose. Terrible = no romance! lol Also, I don't really find the smell of Tide attractive. Slap on some cologne or perfume!

  2. I suspect I will be in a minority of one but I don't like aftershave on men. Just clean skin is fine.

  3. Your husband got my main one - "they should wear it". I'd like more men to wear fragrance which isn't just in deodorant or aftershave format. (And to avoid over-applying not just perfume, but also scented products like deodorant.)

    Close on the heels of that previous one - not saving perfume for special occasions only. I wish I could get my husband to wear fragrance on a daily basis!

    I'd also like more men to mindfully choose a fragrance for themselves, whether that's with help from someone more experienced or just following their noses.

    Lastly, I'd love it if more men embraced the idea of a fragrance wardrobe.

  4. I would say that there's no such thing as "feminine" or "masculine" scents. Wear what you like and that's about it!

  5. Again, don't use the word cologne as a catch all, it is lazy in the extreme.

    Don't wear anything that is "popular" it doesn't make you fashionable or cool, just a sheep. If you like anything popular, buy it now, wear it in 5-10 years.

    If you are scared of so called "feminine" scents (and you shouldn't be), hit the classic off-beat unisex gems and lines e.g. Bvlgari Black, the "masculine" L'Encre Noir from Lalique, L'Artisan's Dzing, Voleur de Roses, Etat Libre D'Orange's Rien, Like This, Fils de Dieu.... Fresh's Cannabis Santal or go for old school frags from the past Knize Ten, Molinard's Habanita, Stetson - so many to choose. Often things from the past marketed at women are equally wearable by men today - Gres Cabochard, Halston Catalyst, Lou Lou (is it so different from Joop Homme!?), O de Lancome and many more

    Go try...

    Today I am wearing SJP Covet layered with Cabochard, yesterday was ELdO Rien, day before was L'Aritsan's Timbuktu, day before was Encre Noire layered with Ferragamo's Tuscan Soul, before that Beene's Grey Flannel, day before Stetson, day before Paestum Rose, day before Dyptique's Ombre Dans L'Eau.........

    Ok I am a fragonerd, and an utter sucker for something different. I fragrance for my mood, the weather, where I am going.

    I am chap in his 40s in the UK and not a sheep! :)

  6. Hi Gaia, great subject. I agree with all your suggestions, & mostly with #6. Men should venture a bit away from the mainstream & try some of the many "other" perfumes out there. Perfume is a beautiful thing, & many (women too, by the way) are missing out by always going with the crowd and smelling like everybody else (& in the end, actually smelling like nothing!)

  7. I would be happy if the guys in my life (boy-friend, co-workers) wore any perfume AT ALL. For some reason men seem to think that fragrances are in the same category as having your nails done and therefore unmanly. No, they are not! We like you to smell good and won't think you're a wimp if you do. Go for it!

  8. Dear Young Men,
    Please don't wear Axe Bodyspray, but if you insist, please don't wear the entire can in go. My lungs implore you!
    Betty Sue

  9. Pink ProvocateurMarch 19, 2013 2:06 PM

    I agree that more men ought to wear fragrance. Perhaps they already are, but have heard number three so many times that all they do is spritz their neck one time? Personally, I =want= to smell the fragrance. I have been known to follow a great-smelling gentleman through a department store. I met many superb gentlemen that way when I was young and single. ;-)

  10. If all this sounds too complicated, simply default to Guerlain Vetiver and you'll usually be the best smelling person in the room. ~~nozkoz

  11. Very interesting subject, there would be many things to say, but from guy a to a guy, I would start from these two.

    Wearing perfume is not the highest peak of metrosexuality. You don't have to be a ultra-sophisticated dandy to wear one.

    Whenever I ask a guy what he's wearing and he says "I don't know, my wife gave it to me" I cringe a little. Don't wear blindly what your partner gives you as a present. You wouldn't do it with your clothes, so why do it with perfumes. Go to a perfume shop and smell it yourself.


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