Thanksgiving is coming up, and you know what that means: a house full of the aromas of roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. Maybe there will be a fire blazing in the fireplace, too, and if you're really lucky someone will mix up some Old Fashioneds before dinner while catching the last few minutes of the Detroit Lions game. What perfume goes best with this mix of family, craziness, and coma-inducing food?
Maybe it's easiest to think about what perfumes don't work well at Thanksgiving dinner. For the most part, a grand French perfume or a pungent floral will bomb, especially if your dinners, like mine, are more likely to include Chex Mix than foie gras. Smelling of Chanel No. 22 or Amouage Gold while you ladle gravy over Parker House rolls doesn't seem right.
On the other hand, spicy perfume — something with cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom, for example — could be perfect. L'Artisan Tea for Two, Donna Karan Black Cashmere or Chaos, Comme des Garçons (the original), a drop of Estée Lauder Cinnabar, or any of the spicy Serge Lutens fragrances (Arabie, Five O'Clock au Gigembre and Louve come to mind) would smell wonderful with a warm casserole of baked yams or a slice of apple pie.
Vanilla-based fragrances might work well at Thanksgiving, too, because they would go so well with sweet relishes and winter squash as well as with dessert. Plus, even family members who aren't used to fragrance will probably like vanilla. A few popular vanillas are L'Artisan Vanilia and Serge Lutens Bois Vanille, but a trip to the drugstore will turn up lots of vanilla options. A perfume with a hit of orange would complement dinner, too, and it might cut some of the heaviness of the food. Fendi Theorema is a creamy, woody orange, and Bois 1920 Sutra Ylang is a crisper, more herbal orange.
Another approach to Thanksgiving Day perfume is to choose something warm and neutral that will blend into the background but still give its wearer something beautiful and comforting to smell as an antidote to family "episodes". In this category, Serge Lutens Chêne smells deliciously like burning wood (although not much like smoke), and it would be perfect on Thanksgiving, especially when you take the dogs for a walk over leaf-strewn sidewalks late in the afternoon. Guerlain Vol de Nuit is as beautiful and appropriate as polished wood — a great choice if your dinner is likely to be served on real china. Estée Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang is soft and vaguely sweet and would be nice to smell while sorting puzzle pieces or playing that fifth game of Clue.
I'll be wearing L'Artisan Dzing! this Thanksgiving, and chances are so will the other two grown women at dinner. We'll sniff each other's wrists to see how it differs on each of us and talk about how much we love it. I first introduced them to Dzing! five years ago when I'd put on a spritz too many to go to a benefit. I brought them both samples the next day, and now they each have their own bottles. Maybe Dzing! isn't the "book perfect" scent for Thanksgiving, but it's my tradition, and to me that's what Thanksgiving is all about.
Note: images (all cropped) are Finale Cranberry Sauce in Cobalt by cobalt123 at flickr; some rights reserved. Roasted Turkey Breast with Gravy and Chorizo Stuffing by Special*Dark at flickr; some rights reserved. Chai Spiced Pumpkin Pie by QuintanaRoo at flickr; some rights reserved.