In terms of Valentine's Day gifts for your beau, fragrances are a safe bet, but finding one to suit his personal tastes can be a challenge if you aren't familiar with the various categories of man perfume on the market. To take the guesswork out of the process, Alex Reside, InStyle.com's photo editor, rounded up a list of men's fragrances your guy is sure to love, broken down by scent family and personality.
As someone who received cologne gift sets from my grandma multiple years in a row growing up, I feel like I am pretty knowledgeable on the subject of cologne. Thinking back on it, maybe it was just her gentle way of telling me that I smelled bad. Either way, this time of year, as you are looking for that special gift for your Valentine, colognes can be a great option. The best part about giving the man in your life a bottle of cologne is that you can pick what you want him to smell like, whether you want a woodsy mountain man, a fresh sporty chap, or a maybe a spicy gentleman in a leather jacket---you get to choose. Also, it’s great if you just want to let him know he’s got a bad case of "Hooba-Stank."
I sought out to round up some new and classic scents for every kind of man at every price point, because let’s face it---Valentine's Day gifts are hard, and depending on how long you have been together, you might not want to break the bank on a gift just yet. After doing a whole lot of sniffing Post-It notes sprayed with cologne in my office, I narrowed down six options to help you out this Feb. 14.
Let’s start with the woodsy mountain man in your life. If you want your Paul Bunyan to smell like the sweet woody scent of the forest, look no further than Ursa Major's Willoughby Cologne ($40; ursamajorvt.com) and Dior Homme ($86 for 3.4 oz; sephora.com).
Ursa Major's Willoughby cologne is definitely outdoorsy. It's citrus and spice blended with a mint and woody base. What makes it unique is its rollerball application. It rolls on like an oil but absorbs quickly and lasts a long time. Dior Homme has been in my personal rotation for a while now---and it’s a great blend of deep woody smells with a slight, fresh sweetness. It’s a great all around cologne, plus Kanye made it so easy to remember how to pronounce in "Devil in a New Dress": “That’s Dior Homme, not Dior, homie.”
Is your man less "4x4" and more "sports car?" These fresh sporty scents might be more his speed. With notes of citrus Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue ($65 2.5oz; nordstrom.com) and Gucci Guilty ($80; gucci.com) are great options to freshen up your athletic dude. Both are much lighter than the woodsy options but still maintain a woody base with fresh citrus top notes.
My wife bought me a bottle of Dolce and Gabbana’s Light Blue shortly after it came out and she still tells me that it’s her favorite cologne. It has a fresh beach-y feel that makes me want to leave New York winters behind forever. It’s long lasting and not too pricey for a designer label. Gucci Guilty is a little brighter with more floral notes, but still has a woody cedar and patchouli base. Its sleek packaging looks great on the dresser, and if you want to splurge for the all gold option, it would blend right in inside a trophy case. Both options are a slam-dunk, homerun, touchdown, or whatever sports euphemism your man prefers.
If you hate the outdoors and you hate sports, maybe you are drawn to a bolder and spicier scented gentleman. Maybe you are the person who only eats the spicy roasted garlic rye chips in a bag of Gardettos. If this sounds like you, you might want to give him Jay Z's Gold Extreme ($95; macys.com) or Tom Ford Noir ($92 for 1.7 oz; nordstrom.com). I hate to pit Jay Z and Tom Ford up against one another since they are such good friends, but it wouldn't be an article by me if I didn't mention Hova at least once.
Gold is Jay's first cologne entry under his own name; however, he is a veteran at this point with his numerous Rocawear colognes of years past. This fragrance is spicy, strong, yet sweet and might make your Valentine feel like he's seated at the 40/40 club with you, his Queen Bey. Tom Ford Noir, is definitely the stronger, more unique, and more spice filled of the two options. It's bold, layered, but subtlety warm. In my experience, it's extremely long lasting and fades nicely throughout the day.
All right, we know giving is better than receiving (unless we're talking about cinnamon rolls), but what if you gave him something you could share? That's right---a scent you can both share (or you could just use all the time). I've been a big fan of unisex cologne for a while now, but these two new fragrances are pretty exciting. So do a little giving to yourself this Valentine's Day and pick up Rouge Bunny Rouge's Incognito ($169; rougebunnyrouge.com) and Malin+Goetz Dark Rum ($150; malinandgoetz.com). They are both very unique and eliminate the need for his and hers sets.
New to the U.S., Rouge Bunny Rouge definitely sounds like a feminine brand, but they actually have a wide range of unisex fragrances. Incognito is unlike any fragrance I've worn before. It leans more on the feminine side overall because of it's fruity sweet nature, but it also has a strong leather and muskiness to it. The name Incognito comes from how it changes slightly with the wearer's skin. Malin+ Goetz's Dark Rum also leans more feminine but it smells so incredible that I want to wear it all the time. It's like being on vacation in the Caribbean sipping on a sweet rum drink somewhere where you conveniently don't have access to your work emails.
Lastly, if you aren't the decision making type---The Motley has made it easy with their cologne sampler ($55; themotley.com). It comes with all four Motley scents, Atlas, Oud, Bergamot, and Cyprus---plus a gift certificate that can be redeemed for a full 1oz bottle of his choice. Much like one of those cool books, he can choose his own adventure.