One of the greatest virtues of adulthood – just when you thought there weren’t any – is knowing and finding your signature scent. It is the mundaine, grown-up, equivalent of you etching that you ‘waz here’ with a compass on your school desk, hoping that the succeeding generation of equally bored year 8s would be mesmerised by your ancient presence, in the very same seat, a year before. A great scent will saunter behind you as you run to catch your bus. Juicy notes of pear, deep aromas of black coffee or the delicacy of jasmine flowers will be a testament to your presence in the room. Upon your absence, the enigma you carefully slip over and under, like bridal hosiery, teases to give itself away by the enchantment of the scent that dances in place of you, like one does when you get high alone in your bedroom, listening to Enya.
So, here is a guide for you to pick out your signature scent:
1) Match your liquor to your perfume.
Notice how many words to describe scent can also be used to describe taste: sweet, fruity, rich, balsamic, creamy, zesty, citrus, herbal. This is no accident. So, before you intoxicate those around you with your aroma, what do you choose to intoxicate yourself with? A sweet and enigmatic dark rum and coke? A sophisticated and deep whisky-soda? A fresh and light mojito? Or a cheeky rhubarb-infused gin and tonic? Match the colour of your preferred poison to the tint of the liquid that composes your perfume. Next, consider the bottle of your favourite drink. Take a bottle of Hennessy X.O as an example. It’s a classic, ornate, but not enough to distract you from the hypnotic, deep amber glow of its content. This would be matched wonderfully with Coco by Chanel, inspired by Gabrielle Chanel herself, who “cultivated the art of paradox. The woman behind an understated, pared-down style that revolutionised women’s fashion [who was] equally fond of the baroque style”.
2) Spray on either side of your neck, lift your hair and close your eyes. Does it make you feel sensual?
First, and foremost, we’re done with eau de toilettes – parfum only. We’re trying to feel sensual; eau de toilettes are like wearing multipack cotton undies.
A saccharine scent could be deliciously enticing on a perfume tester strip. But, when you atomise it and allow your body heat to pervade the droplets on your skin, you may find that you feel like an iced-cupcake in a shop window, on a hot, sweaty day. Equally, it could also make you feel like a leisurely afternoon, having a Corinthia high-tea of Cornish cream, strawberry preserve and scones.
Closing your eyes will heighten your senses as you are transported by the scent to where, and how far, it will take you : melting cupcake in shop window? Or high tea in the grandeur of Whitehall?
3) It should smell even better the second time.
It is quite true that there is nothing quite like the first time. The first kiss, the first love, the first heartache, the first break-up, the first pregnancy scare… But, when it comes to perfume, the second time should always be the most memorable. This is because, if it is going to be your signature scent, you must fall in love with it every time you wear it.
So, if you think you’ve found the one, the perfume that knows you, that was made for you – steady yourself and smell the coffee. Really, ask for coffee beans. Smell the beans to exorcise whatever remnants of the scent that still linger in your nostrils. Take a 15 minute break and return to your chosen perfume. If it smells better than it did the first time, and fills you with an overwhelming feeling of comfort and devotion, you’ve found it – congratulations.
However, if its scent suddenly seems tired, clichéd and dulled, it has sadly a been a short affair and isn’t your signature scent. In which case, persevere, and try again. Your signature scent is still out there…