Thursday, April 03, 2014

Evyan- White Shoulders (Vintage Perfume)

Sometimes you meet someone and there's an instant dislike. You just don't click. Your personalities are misaligned, your sense of humor is incompatible, any attempt of a conversation is plagued with misunderstandings, awkward turn of phrases, and exasperation because the other person's just doesn't get you. It's no one's fault, really. You just have to hope that your sister doesn't end up marrying him (mine didn't).

Some perfumes are like that. I never liked White Shoulders. Not in the past and not now, when I'm much more tolerant of just about anything. It's not even the overabundance of floral notes, since I do like gardenia. It's the statement White Shoulders make: ultra-feminine, covered in petals, and have I mentioned flowery? I get that it's pretty, but it never meshes with my skin. Which makes the fact that I actually own an older bottle of the extrait de parfum a complete mystery. I don't know how that happened or where it came from. It's not even a very old vintage since it's from White Shoulders' post- Evyan days (the company, or at least this best-selling perfumes was sold and resold three or four times).

White Shoulders opens as a  gardenia flanked by other flowers. I smell honeysuckle, muguet at first, which create the impression of a heady white floral, but soon after there's a very powdery rose that arrives at the scene, and then lilac. And as much as I love lilac in theory, this stuff never works for me. The whole composition just sits there, just hovering over my skin like a flowery slipcover on a sofa. It's undisturbed by the passage of time or by body heat, and neither the touch of powder nor the hint of a creamy woody dry-down make it shift, move, or smell a bit more human. I can picture White Shoulders as scented drawer liners or sachets in the linen closet. It's pretty, it smells good, it offers a clean innocence that is still not childish or juvenile. But it doesn't fit me in any way.

White Shoulders is readily available at the drugstore, while older bottles are everywhere on eBay and such. I'm not sure about the current formulation, but most of the incarnations I've smelled over the years were pretty similar. Some had more tuberose, others smelled like a cheap Bellodgia, but to me they were all in the same ballpark. I will say that the extrait is nicer than some of the samples I gathered. Naturally it's smoother and the dry-down is more robust, balancing the over-exuberance of the muguet note and its friends.


  1. I never liked it either, despite the fact that I usually like muguet and honeysuckle, and gardenia, too. Just maybe not all together? Growing up, I remember this being very popular amongst my friends; but I could never relate to it. "Hovering" "like a flowery slipcover"-- yes, exactly.

  2. Ahhhh, now! This is one of my favourites. I used to buy it for a cousin of mine as well, and she too, loved it. One does not come across it much anymore.

  3. I have some vintage bottles from ebay. It smells sort of good to me, and I think I would like it had I not worn it in the early sixties. Unfortunately, it recreates an intense feeling of small-town, 1950s carry-over repression. nozknoz

  4. So glad to see this reviewed. It's a favorite with both my sister and me, and her skin especially brings out the best of it. Budget-minded the both of us, we find it a stand-in for Diorissimo. Don't laugh! I agree with the above "ahh, now;" and I also note your "slipcover" image, which describes an effect I like. I think I am especially drawn to honeysuckle because of childhood memories of standing under a tangle of it on our home fence and tasting and smelling the sweetness of the white and yellow trumpet flowers. Also love your choice of ads: one almost James Bond like; one bridal, and one maternal. Something for everywomen in this scent? I like both the new and the older versions, but have never tried the extrait, just EDP and EDT.


  5. I just loved that pink powder box with the fluff puff!
    Always wanted one but White Shoulders was sold in Australia when they had that powder box .
    I did not care what it smelt like ! LOL

  6. There was a girl I didn't particularly care for in high school who wore White Shoulders as her signature scent - a cloud of it followed her wherever she went. I remember imagining it as some sort of evil force field since I didn't like her (would have been quite the opposite sort of force field had I liked her). Anyway, I stayed away from it till about five years ago when I decided that the list of notes sounded too good to still be avoiding it after so many years. Have ordered at least a half dozen samples in different formulations and (I'm guessing) from different eras. They all still conjure up high school for me - not so much of that girl, but, instead, as memories of myself diligently working on getting a deep, dark tan (aargh!) - the very antithesis of "white shoulders". All of the samples come off on my skin as having a distinct suntan lotion vibe that I just can't shake. That might not be so bad, but I also feel that, even with the parfum, it somehow falls short of creating the beautiful scent that I feel it should from the list of notes on paper. Whatever it is, I've never felt that I need to move on from sampling to getting a bottle.


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