My perfume is stored in a glass cabinet perched on top of my dresser. To guests who only have a bottle or two of fragrance, the cabinet makes a pretty impressive display. After a moment of shock, many people ask, "How do you decide which perfume to wear?"
Little do they know that I choose a perfume to wear not just every morning, but every time I change my clothes — and sometimes more often than that. I wear one perfume when I first get dressed, another one if I go out in the evening, and yet another after my nightly bath. Then there are the "bonus" perfume situations. For instance, I've rented Bell, Book, and Candle to watch tonight and am planning something witchy (maybe Lancôme Magie Noire?) to wear while I watch it.
Usually I just tell people who ask that I just wear whatever strikes me. But the real answer is more complicated.
First, my perfume choice depends on the weather. Thicker, warmer, "bigger" perfumes I tend to save for cold weather, and lighter, fresher scents I wear in summer. The bigger perfumes can explode — and not in a good way — in the heat. Lighter scents, on the other hand, can disappear in the cold. Right there, a section of my perfume cabinet falls away.
Next, if I'm not testing something to review, sometimes I wear whatever it is I'm enthusiastic about at the moment. I might wear the same thing for a week if I'm feeling it. Lately, Comme des Garçons Daphne has been getting a lot of air time.
Those are the easy cuts. Then it gets more complicated. I decide what clothing I'm going to wear and try to balance my perfume with my outfit. I tend to wear a lot of vintage clothing, but I don't always like matching a 1950s dress, say, with a 1950s perfume, because it feels too costume-y. I might wear a 1980s perfume, Guerlain Samsara for instance, with a 1950s dress, because the impact of both the dress and the perfume feel balanced. Or, if I'm wearing a crazy mix of patterns — an old blue and green paisley shirtdress with a brown belted cardigan and a purple 1950s scarf, for example — I might choose a conservative perfume like Jean Patou Joy.
The colors I wear influence what perfume I choose, too. Certain colors and fragrances seems to go well together: Caron Farnesiana with yellow and ivory; Lalique Encre Noir with dark green or black; Balenciaga Le Dix with purple; Guerlain Nahéma with pink (of course) or gold.
Finally, mood plays a role. Certain perfumes, like Caron Tabac Blond and Guerlain Mitsouko, buck me up. Some, like Molinard Habanita, Lancôme Cuir de Lancôme, and Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut, soothe me. Others, like Serge Lutens Bois de Violette and, strangely, Chanel Cuir de Russie, hone my concentration.
I know I'm not the only one with a generous selection of perfume to choose from each day. How do you decide which perfume to wear?
Note: top right and left images adapted from Butterick pattern 6541 via Vintage Sewing Patterns Wiki.