It happens to most of us at least once a year: we struggle through the sore throat and lethargy of a cold; allergies tickle our throats and clog our sinuses; or we’re completely laid up with a virus. These past few days for me, it’s been the flu. I feel achy and sluggish, but I still want the comfort of a little bit of fragrance. What perfume is best when you’re feeling under the weather?
Obviously, if you’re nauseated no scent is safe. When I’m feeling queasy, my nose goes into overdrive, and even the faint whiff of someone on the street can make my gorge rise. Simply hearing the words “amber” or “powder” turns my stomach. (On a related note, why does Tums even make a tropical fruit flavor? When I need an antacid, the last thing I want is some kind of faux mango in my mouth. Give me the pure chalk, please.)
If your malady is more in your chest and head, perfume will probably sit better with you than if you have intestinal issues. Sure, your nose is clogged and you feel like someone crammed a futon in your skull, but that’s no reason to completely let yourself go. Put those pilled yoga pants and stretched-out tee shirts in the laundry, and use your illness as an excuse to take out your dressing gowns and pretty nightclothes (even if you have to wear doubled-up tube socks to keep your feet warm). A few drops of pine or lavender-scented bath oil in the tub — nothing too sweet — might be all the fragrance you need. Somehow resinous smells harken back to Vicks Vaporub and feel both refreshing and medicinal. (Plus, the hot water of a bath is great for warming your hands and feet and for easing body aches.)
If you have the energy or someone to give you a hand, change your sheets after a fevered night so you don’t have last night’s shivery perspiration polluting tonight’s sleep. When the bed is stripped, try a few spritzes of a dry cologne on the mattress. I’ve been loving the tart lime in Guerlain Eau Impériale on my pillows. Watch out for those perfumes that start out crisp and cool but heat up as they dry down, like Frédéric Malle Angéliques sous la Pluie. Any amber or sweet sandalwood might be too cloying for you right now.
Once you’re feeling well enough to comb your hair and ponder leaving the house, you might try easing back into your perfume wardrobe. But plunging straight into Bond No. 9 Chinatown or Mugler Angel could send you right back to bed. For me, florals don’t work until I’m completely well. Even an innocuous rose gags me when I’m still sick. Forget about the orientals, powder, or big chypres, too. Yves Saint Laurent Y is about as floral and chypre as I can handle, and that’s only because of its crisp, clean green edge. Keep anything fruity far away for now.
Soft lavenders, like Christian Dior Dune, or just a dab of a dry incense-wood fragrance, like one of the Comme des Garçons Monocle fragrances or L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzongka, sit well now. At this point, I can also start wearing Eaux de Colognes that have a little more warmth to them. Sweeter citrus, like Jean Patou Colony and Parfum d’Empire Azemour les Orangers, start to smell good about now, too.
Soon enough — certainly by the time you read this post — I’ll be on feet again, digging through vanilla-laden leathers and ambery orientals, looking for something to wear without a thought to being nauseated.
What do you do about fragrance when you’re feeling under the weather? Do you wear it all? If so, what smells good to you?