I'm a signature scent woman. For years now, my calling card, at least scent-wise, has been Chanel Coco Mademoiselle ($124; sephora.com). For me, this pefume encapsulated the perfect mix of youthful sexiness and spice, while still being delicate. I'm a strong personality, and so was my personal fragrance choice.
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That choice, it turns out, was so strong that people literally associate the perfume with me. A friend once asked me if I was at a restaurant because they smelled my signature fragrance wafting by — not only was I not in that restaurant, I wasn't even in the same city that evening. And while I still love and adore my Coco Mademoiselle, I found myself getting a little olfactory antsiness, but I also felt a little worried that if I strayed from a scent that quite frankly, felt like an integral part of my persona, I would lose a part of my "signature" je ne sais quoi.
So, what's a girl to do in these situations but reach out to those who have made fragrance their lives' work. First, I spoke to Lucie Harlin, the director of marketing at Acorelle, a natural fragrance brand. She explained to me that people can become very attached to their perfume because the smell becomes addictively reassuring — especially if a child, friend, spouse, or anyone you are attached to also associates you with this scent. Hi, that would be me.
But, here's what I didn't expect, Harlin explains, "even if someone is very attached to their perfume, it's imporant to change ones' scent every once in a while to get the pleasure from once again arriving at that familiar, comforting, favorite smell." I also reached out to Tom Knotek, a fragrance consultant and industry vet whose resume boasts jobs at Slatkin & Co., as well as Bath and Body Works. Knotek emphasized to me that fragrance is an extension of who you are, as well as a reflection of your emotions, explaining, "Wearing the same fragrance every day would be the same as wearing the same outfit everyday— it's a uniform and not an expression of you."
Well, if that wasn't confirmation that I need to start "dating" new fragrances, I don't know what would be. But, where was I going to start?
Who better to reach out to than Clara Malloy, the co-founder of one of my favorite fragrance houses around: Memo Paris. Malloy suggested that when branching out and developing my fragrance style, sticking to one scent family wasn't just necessary. Rather, she believes that a fragrance should make you feel liberated and at peace with yourself. In other words: When in doubt, follow your moods. Maybe have a fragrance for how you want to make yourself feel — be it sexy, empowered, or calm. The possibilities are endless.
But, of course, the science of finding a new perfume has different approaches. Lucie Harlin, also suggested to me that "in order to change perfume, it is important to understand the composition of ones' favorite perfumes in order to choose a new one." For example, this could be a note, like bergamot, or a family, like oriental fragrances. Furthermore, with brands like Acorelle, the fragrances aim to be natural solutions to feelings like stress or tiredness, so a fragrance choice can be based on what scents will alleviate a particular condition. Jennifer Mullarkey, a fragrance expert Perfumania, emphasized that not only can you try something in the same family, but if you like your scent, maybe try something else made by that same brand.
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On the other hand, Clara Malloy advised me that "sometimes wearing a scent that is the oppostite of your personality might bring out a hidden self or bring out an underdeveloped side of your personality." Intriguing, no?
So, how am I approaching my search for a new fragrance? A little bit of each experts advice. Just like dating, fragrance finding is fun. I still love my Coco Mademoiselle, though— we're just in an open relationship now.