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Fashion: Smelling Well to Smell Good

| Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We are animals, us human beings. It’s only natural that we smell like them. We do our best to avoid it, taking more showers and dining hall mints than are healthy for us.

But what’s this? Perfume, a magical elixir that not only covers up our bodies’ less appealing odors but replaces them with fresh flowers, spices and traces of places far, far away? Perfumes, both masculine and feminine (the word ‘cologne’ actually just refers to less-concentrated perfume), can function as far more than a mere deodorant. Smell is the sense most closely linked to memory; perfume can instantly and vividly resurrect days and scenes long-forgotten. A plethora of perfumers have turned out many masterpieces over the years. Chances are there’s a perfume out there, reader, which perfectly suits your nose, your personality and your wallet.

However, pursuing and using the perfect perfume is far from a simple task. The perfume representatives at the local department store circle you like hawks in hairdos, plotting to sell the ‘hottest new fragrance’ at insane markups. Maybe you find a scent you love, play whack-a-mole with the sprayer and suffocate everyone in the classroom. Or worse, your crush hugs you, jumps back in disgust and informs you that you smell like a middle-school girl or a grandpa. Now he or she won’t come within five feet of you. You just wanted to smell good. Where did it all go wrong?

Whether you’re a guy thinking about upgrading from your $2 deodorant or a lady looking to spice up your collection, a couple tips can help you make the most of your nose so you, and the noses around you, are happy.

First of all, you have to be careful when testing perfume. Your nose will be physically ‘fatigued’ after trying anywhere from six to 10 fragrances, so don’t enter a department store expecting to smell everything on the shelf. Instead, do some research ahead of time. Use a website like Basenotes or Fragrantica to see which perfumes have good reviews and which have ‘notes,’ or specific scent-building blocks like cinnamon and lemon, that you know naturally appeal to you.

When you go in to do some up-nose-and-personal testing, smell a small selection of fragrances that interest you on tester strips. Because many fragrances change their smell over time, make sure to keep test strips labeled so you can fully experience each scent. Many perfumes are tricky, smelling great at first, but becoming boring or even repulsive as the minutes pass.

After you think you’ve got a handle on which two perfumes you like the most, spray one on each of your wrists. Perfume almost always smells a bit different on skin than on paper. Check up on the scents over the rest of the day. If you realize you have spent your last hour looking absolutely ridiculous and walking around with your wrist plastered to your nose, you know you’ve found a winner.

Before picking up a fragrance in a brick-and-mortar store, search online for cheaper prices. Perfume is one of the most marked-up items to buy in-store. However, make sure that you’re buying from a reliable source with good reviews; fake perfume is as prevalent online as it is on the streets of Manhattan.

So now you have your awesome new fragrance. What now? It’s usually a good idea to go in for round two of research. Search the name of your perfume on YouTube and look for a review; a respected reviewer will almost always cover how many sprays they use of a given fragrance. The back of the neck and the chest are prime perfume-wearing spots. Wrists can always be good targets if you’re wearing your perfume for the first time and want to gauge how strong it is. Try testing different spray locations and numbers until you feel comfortable wearing your fragrance. Remember that it’s better to be subtle than sorry. But also keep in mind — and yes, I’m looking at you, guys — that the only way to know you don’t smell bad is to know you smell good.

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