We often plan our outfits with the finale of the look to be the accoutrements added to establish one’s style. Though the bow tying the look together, or at least the cherry on top, can similarly be seen as the fragrance chosen to accompany the ensemble. Almost instantaneously, the addition of a scent can distort how we, as humans, perceive situations, ourselves and others. The way we’ve been wired results in a subconscious first reaction to smells, that can be crucial in our thought process in regard to scented stimuli.
In the time we live in, the level of availability of fragrances, especially for men, is at an all-time high; colognes, aftershaves and perfumes being sold in most high-street, high-fashion and boutique stores around the world. The surge in accessibility leading to two different viewpoints: the saturation of the market meaning the majority of consumers don’t stray from the handful of the most popular marketed scents.
Or if you’re more of a flacon-half-full kind of person, then it means that the growth of the industry has led to a seemingly infinite selection of aromas in which society could personally select and scent to aptly portray their character and taste.
Though for those who haven’t taken the time to knowledge themselves in the art of choosing and styling scents fear not. The brand Hawthorne, founded by Hood by Air designer Phil Wong and business partner Brian Jeong, has modernised the process for the modern man. Through a simple survey asking questions pertaining how you enjoy spending evenings, your field of work or even your choice of beverage, Hawthorne will tailor a plethora of grooming supplies to meet your needs for the man you are. Including contrasting, yet complimentary, fragrances for both work and play. So, Jack smells good no matter how he balances his time. Smelling luxurious doesn’t always require the privilege of a high-end price tag.
Furthermore, it can be admissible to pay the high-end price tag if you can. Many favoured aromas come straight from the Replica collection of Maison Margiela’s perfumery for multiple reasons. Instantly the bottles themselves have become ubiquitous throughout the industry and the cult following stems from their approach. Margiela scents are very much indicative of the effect they aim to achieve; with titles such as “Jazz Club”, “Lazy Sunday Morning”, “At the Barbers”, and many more atmospherically described perfumes to their name. The impression behind these fragrances is that the unisex smells focus on environments, memories and the fragrant tones that tie them together. Playing upon the impact that nostalgia-based aromas have on people with each scent meaning something different to those who encounter them.
Different fragrance types.
Something important when perusing different scents is to remember that they do not denote gender. And for that reason, men shouldn’t feel the need to stray towards colognes first. There’s nothing wrong with colognes, originated in a city in Germany (no points for guessing which city), other than they’re quite diluted in terms of fragrance, with between 2-5% of it being an aromatic compound. Offered as a diluted, cheaper, alternative to other fragrances in the 20th Century, they became popular amongst men and it became more of a norm to be associated with cologne.
Though Eau de Cologne is merely a type of perfume, and if we ever needed a reason for men to steer away and towards other categorised perfumery, let it be that one.
As barriers detriment and norms begin to crumble, it’s become much more commonplace more men to traverse other categories of scent- including, Eau de toilettes with 5-15% (usually 10%) made up of aromatic compounds. Lasting for a few hours and a popular choice, it’s more appealing than cologne in terms of its presence and worth.
Eau de Parfum comes next, with an increased percentage of between 15-20% fragrance, these scents will last most of the day, are very common, and can be very recognisable as a result of the strength and popularity.
Finally, we come to Parfum. The highest concentration of perfume commonly available. Usually containing 20-30% The perfume extract is the most expensive out of the four fragrances described, though also the longest lasting with a potency that can linger for up to 24 hours.
Fragrance can be daunting to get into, yet it’s only an accessory. But one that can epitomise a style. Though the important thing is to enjoy the scent. Whether you stick to the age-old system of “if it ain’t broke” and continue to wear Ol’ Reliable, as you have for the last half a decade, or you open a Brian Fantana-esque chiffonier to a carefully-curated routine of different scents for different days, moods, activities and outfits.
As complex as it can sound, fragrance is important and can holster many benefits. Not only can it remind you vividly and strengthen memories of when you last experienced that smell, though I also believe there’s a three-fold increase in appeal when someone takes the time to focus on perfumery. The first fold comes from the human body:
People who smell good, naturally come across as more attractive, and that’s chemically wired into our brain to feel this way. It can’t be denied and the olfactory system doesn’t lie. With some perfumes directly using pheromones, it’s not uncommon for scents to be described as having seductive power even without, through the same effect.
Confidence is something that will come with knowing you smell good, it’ll be effortless to be more confident and perhaps something you may not notice. But others will. Leaving the house after applying a generous, or a meticulously curated, routine, spritz, it’s impossible to not feel so good when you know you smell so good.
When someone begins to take the time to choose their scents and make the effort to smell good, it usually means they also take the time to look after themselves in other regards too. It’s the little details.
The choice of scent can be integral to enhancing a style. Whether it’s a carefully-selected fragrance, heavily musky with an undertone of jasmine or the lightest aroma that reminds you simultaneously of frolicking through floral meadows, yet with a base note of your mother’s cooking. A scent mustn’t define the style nor the person, yet should elevate both. That’s the perfect fragrance. One that consolidates the wearer, with the rest of the ensemble, yet also has a nostalgic-triggering, personal, reason that enticed the wearer to it in the first place. It’s important to account for strength and notes, will it be a potent fragrance that announces your presence from several steps away? Or a more covert, subtle, scent that can only be enjoyed by those who are up-close and personal.
You’ll know when you’ve come across your scent. Almost prophetically, you’ll come across the fragrant holy grail and it’ll fit better than any clothing and hopefully be enjoyed by many. Walking through the town, leaving traces of your aromatic calling card on anyone you meet.