I recently attended an online work meeting that opened with an "icebreaker" question: what's your favorite comfort food? I enjoyed hearing the responses, which included some sweet-and-starchy favorites but a few spicy and savory treats, too. The idea of "comfort," just like most things, can vary and shift. I'd say the same thing about "comfort scents" — I definitely have a few vanilla-based favorites that make me feel like I'm tucked into a fluffy blanket, but lately I've also been reaching for fragrances that offer other olfactory routes to calm and security. Here are just a few that I've recently encountered or re-encountered.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Couverture d'Hiver: This is DSH's latest Holiday edition, which takes "a foresty hillside covered in snow" as a starting point and segues from a whiff of brisk winter air, with hints of petrichor and pine, into a cozy white-cocoa-and-musk skin scent. An ozonic gourmand? Why not?! It's friluftsliv with a dash of hygge. (available at the DSH website, in various sizes priced $6-$145)
Zoologist Dragonfly: This perfume caught my interest back in 2018, but that first sample is long gone so I ordered another. Dragonfly is a quirky fragrance that balances nostalgic notes of baby powder and rice milk with shimmering aldehydes and watery-green notes of lotus and bamboo. I'm guessing it's a love/hate scent for most people. I happen to love it.
Maison Violet Tanagra: Once you get past the nonsensical promotional copy ("revealing the invisible, evocative of the unspeakable," etc.), Tanagra turns out to be a muted take on a classical theme, with a fruity-lactonic introduction leading to a heart of sheer, silky iris and an even sheerer sandalwood. It's quietly soothing but still polished. (available at Indigo Perfumery, $165 for 75 ml Eau de Parfum)
Imaginary Authors O Unknown: This pick is a little bolder than my others; Robin called it "offbeat-but-wearable," and I agree. It mixes notes of black tea and a very dry, rooty iris with a modern ambergris base. It's more conventionally "masculine" than my typical perfume choices, but it has the effect of calming me while simultaneously making me sit up straight and get back to business at my desk.
Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Honey: This is probably the most predictably "me" of the five scents I'm listing here. I used up a sample ages ago and purchased a small bottle last summer when I found myself craving its bohemian blend of blood orange, dusky rose and earthy clove. I like dabbing on a few drops at the end of the day. (available in various sizes, $48-$195, at Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery website)
Have you been finding comfort in any fragrances that aren't "typical" comfort scents lately? Do share in the comments!