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.