Finding the one and only, perfect fragrance for yourself can be as hard as finding the right mate, and the latter is hard enough. Fortunately many people embrace the idea that there are many types of potential partners that can bring you joy, and so it goes for perfume. In fact, another way of looking at perfume is as a personal statement or fashion choice. You wear different clothes to match your mood, occasion, and personal style among other factors, and you can do the same with perfume. This knowledge makes the gift selection process somewhat less daunting, but only a little. This is because perfume can indeed be extremely personal and intimate. If you want huge success in selecting a perfume for a lover, friend, or family member, you do need to know a fair bit about them.
1) Which fragrance family do they like?
All fragrances fall into family groups, such as woody, floral, spicy, fresh etc. People tend to stay with a certain smell family, either because it evokes positive memories, or simply because it stimulates their olfactory receptors (sense of smell). If you are looking for a fragrance gift, it is a good idea to look at what that person already likes and try to find something else within that particular family group. It’s likely that if they like one particular woody fragrance, they may also like others. Get the person you are buying for to share with you their favorite perfumes, then, using a perfume scent finder (see links in the sidebar) or consult with a capable sales staff member to get suggestions for other fragrances. People often feel there is a lack of logic to their scent preferences because one’s sense of smell is so emotional. However, it is highly likely that the fragrances people love most belong to just one or two of just over a dozen different fragrance families.
If you don’t know the names of the recipient’s favorite perfumes, ask a consultant for advice. Describe the person for whom you’re buying. Her hair color or age is not relevant, but her fashion sense, personality, activities, and preferences are. Ask the consultant to suggest three fragrances, just three, never more. Test their scents on testing papers, not your own skin (see below for why). Take your time. Which fragrance ‘talks’ to you most about that person? Relax and try not to be logical but instead let your instinct take over. You’ll find that your nose won’t do such a bad job!
2) How do they see their own personality?
A fragrance tends to reflect a person’s personality. A floral fragrance is traditionally associated with someone who is feminine, while a strong musk tends to depict the personality of strong independent type (note that I did not refer to male of female people; some men appropriately wear florals and many females smell superb wearing spicy musks!). But do be careful what kind of message you want to give out to those you are shopping for by having a sense of how those people want to be perceived, more than (just) how you perceive them. As you might have guessed, the kind of music your gift recipient listens to, the kind of movies they watch, and the kind of food they like are some basic things that may help in making decisions, so you might what to share that information with a sales consultant.
3) When will It be worn?
I Personally don’t believe that you have to stick to general perfume marketing parameters, but there are some fragrances that have been specifically designed for different periods of the day. Does the recipient of your perfume gift enjoy wearing fragrance to the office, or only in nightclubs or on dates, or out to the ballgame? People usually prefer lighter scents for daytime and those of a more intense allure for evenings… but not always! Along the same lines, light and fresh scents are often preferred in the spring and summer, whereas stronger, heavier perfumes are the choice in fall and winter. If your recipient lives in the tropics, then s/he may not be into the richer variety. Note that colognes and Eau de toilette (EDT) perfumes are lighter and therefore may be more appropriate for the daytime or in warmer weather than eau de parfums (EDP).
4) How much can you spend?
There are plenty of high-priced perfumes that are not as good in quality as cheaper fragrances, so don’t be deterred if you are on a budget. That said, the bottle, packaging and brand may be important to the person for whom you are buying. Be clear in your mind how much you want to spend before you begin contemplating different scents.
5) Will it smell great on their skin?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do to predict this. If you like the smell of a particular scent on yourself, note that it may not smell exactly the same on someone else, for better or worse. Fragrance reacts uniquely on different skin types or under different conditions, such as body temperature, weather, stress level, medication being ingested, individual genes, and yes – the individual’s diet. Many boil it down to individual body chemistry, but it’s often not that simple. This is why is it probably better to test fragrances on scent strips when buying for someone else. You cannot predict how the smell will alter, if at all, on their skin, but why introduce the extra variable of your own body?
On that note, if you’re in a perfume shop or fragrance section of a department store, sniffing a gift out, remember again not to try more than three at any one time. Not only will you get confused, but your nose may become de-sensitised if you try more than a handful. A traditional way to avoid smell fatigue is to inhale coffee beans between sniffs, but if that’s not doable, just take a deep breath through your nose and smell your sleeve or cuff. This will clear your nose of any lingering notes.
If you choose to purchase perfume as a gift, do realize that making a good choice can be a toughy. You need to know what they like, know about their own style and personality and how to relate that to a matching perfume, know when and where they usually wear fragrance, and understand that how a scent smells on yourself is not necessarily going to be what it smells like on the person for whom you’re buying.
Personally, I feel one of the best things to give is a scent collection – a package of smaller-sized perfumes all from one particular brand you know that person likes or may like, or a mix of scents from different brands.
Of course, if your perfume recipient is running low on her favorite bottle of Jimmy Choo, then your choice may already be made. As it will have if the individual tells your right out what s/he wants. A lot of the time, when buying a fragrance as an intimate gesture for a significant, romantic other, be careful that you’re not really buying it for yourself (perhaps a good thing?). If that’s the case, feel free to ditch much of what I’ve just written.