I have been mulling this post for some time. Why do so many of us buy into the notion that fragrances are specifically “male” and “female”, “him” and “her”, “homme” and “femme”?
For a long time, I was also guilty of such self-limiting behaviour. In my defence (and this is admittedly a rather weak defence), I associated “women’s fragrances” with all things sickly sweet. Blame it on the joys of badly ventilated, open-plan offices where everything is to be shared.
Of course, there’s so much more to female fragrances than candy overload. Just as there’s so much more to male fragrances than aquatic notes. A lot of women already know this fundamental truth. They buy men’s fragrances not only for their fathers, partners and sons. They buy men’s fragrances for themselves, because they realised they were missing out on a good thing.
To a large degree, a lot of “male” and “female” is just marketing, with gender stereotyping galore. Perfumer Mark Buxton summed it up best in a recent Fragroom interview: “If you like a specific smell, wear it. What’s masculine or feminine in the perfume world anyway?”
“If you like a specific smell, wear it. What’s masculine or feminine in the perfume world anyway?” – Mark Buxton
3 very good reasons why men should wear female fragrances
Your masculinity will not be questioned. Au contraire. It takes a very self-assured man to be brave enough to explore a whole new world of possibilities.
It increases your options. If buying a new fragrance, gets you going, just think about all the choices you will now have at your disposal.
Fact: Floral notes work very well on men, especially roses.
3 tips to get you started
Next time you are out and about buying a fragrance for yourself, make a detour via the female counters or shelves. If you are not quite ready to say you are looking for a female fragrance for yourself, a little lie will be acceptable. “I am looking for a great rose fragrance for my girlfriend” will do.
Allow yourself some initial olfactory confusion, and even revulsion, at first. You are just retraining your brain and sense of smell to respond to new stimuli.
As with any fragrance, experiment until you find what works for you. And always try the fragrance on your skin.
Ready to explore? Here are some female fragrances I have taken to wearing recently. Perhaps you will like these. If not, keep hunting…
Please note that this teeny-weeny selection doesn’t even include the classics: Chanel No 5, Guerlain Shalimar, Dior Poison…
Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pure EDT
With its marine opening and minimalist character, Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pure EDT is a gentle intro to the world of female fragrances. Then you will be hooked by its jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and orange blossoms. Methinks the water-drop bottle design has a tool-like appearance.
Elizabeth Arden White Tea EDT
Yes, your mama will probably have several Elizabeth Arden fragrances and she knows best. Like its namesake, Elizabeth Arden White Tea is a relaxing and comfortable scent, with notes of fern, the sea, clary sage, white tea, tonka and musks capturing this mood so well.
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme
You should already know Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb. While Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme provides some floral fireworks in the form of jasmine, orchid, osmanthus and freesia notes, the major helping of vanilla gives it serious sensuality.
Alaia EDP Blanche
There are only five listed notes in Alaia EDP Blanche: powder, solar, vanilla, musk and white flowers. It’s very elegantly on the right side of sweet. If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, Alaia EDP Blanche scores big time.
Elie Saab Nuit Noor EDP
A big fragrance for big boys and girls. Rose takes the leading role in Elie Saab Nuit Noor EDP. Ylang-ylang, wood, incense, patchouli and black pepper add to the sense of drama. Master perfumer Francis Kurkdijan created this one, so top quality assured.
Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her EDP
Don’t judge a perfume by its lurid pink bottle. I did not like Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her EDP at all when I first tried it almost six months ago. What was I thinking! Rose, peonies, pink peppercorns, patchouli, musk and amber make this a superb, stand-out fragrance.