One of the most frequently overlooked pieces of style advice for the dapperQ is how to up your scent game without over-doing it. Now that I’m comfortable in my gender identity and relish in the freedom to curate every aspect of my personal style, for me, the right scent can change everything. Here I’ve compiled some of my favorite brands and tips for breaking out of the scent binary and exploring some dapper sensory clashing. I present as masculine and I like my scent complex and woody on top, with ginger and wildflowers at the end. But, I also like to play around with scents quite often, especially lighter, summery florals and citrus when I pull out my tie bar and wingtips. I think there’s definitely something to be said for having as much sensory control over one’s gender as possible, and scent is a fun and sexy way to express all of that dapper uniqueness.
Curating a personal scent identity begins and ends with treating your scent like a style accessory. That means don’t overdo it and never underestimate the power of smelling good. Everyone has their own natural smell and any additional scent should compliment your body’s natural oils and act as a subtle or bold fourth dimension to your attitude and OOTD.
Getting the chemistry just right is totally up to you, but I do have these basic tips:
- Avoid chemical-heavy products. They might smell good and strong at the outset, but they will always fade fast and leave you with a generic or stale scent. They also tend to leave a residue on your skin and are generally not a healthy option. If the big brands are cost-prohibitive, skip the cheaper versions and make your own. Buying a few essential oils will let you mix and match several dapper DIY compounds that you can keep in vials or spray bottles for a fraction of the price of one major label parfum.
- Toilette vs. Parfum. As a rule, toilettes are more water-based, lighter, and last around 4 to 6 hours, while parfums are heavier on their oil compounds, require less on application, and last from 8 to 12 hours. This can vary from product to product, but many brands offer the same scent in both a toilette and parfum.
- Don’t buy immediately. Quality scents interact in complex ways with your body’s chemistry, and in general the scent will change and smell differently on your skin in three stages. The initial spray or application will be strong and heavy with the top notes of the scent. After about an hour it will change again as it settles into your skin and you’ll be able to smell the more nuanced undertones. Finally, the smell will change a third time after several hours of wear, once you’ve left the store, exposed it to sunlight, sweat, washed your hands, changed clothes, etc. So, if you’re in the market for a quality product that perfectly compliments your style, don’t be hasty with your scent purchase. Try a couple that you think you’ll like and let them sit. Leave the store, have a latte, buy a hat and then smell again. You’ll either love it even more or you’ll be glad you waited.
1) AUTOPORTRAIT by Olfactive Studios
This one is my top pick. Olfactive Studios is a unique collaboration between perfumers and photographers, and Autoportrait is by far their most seductive design. The complex middle and bottom notes in this one are oakmoss, elemi and incense. The first time I smelled it, I was totally transported. It’s androgynous, sexy and woody without being too rustic, and still airy enough to work in the summer—something reminiscent of frankincense on a road trip to the beach. Autoportrait is a perfect everyday wear for the discerning dapperQ who’s always on an adventure.
2) Do Son by Diptyque
Diptyque is my go-to for a spring/summer scent. Do Son is a particularly good choice for a more masculine floral scent. While tuberose is typically used as a complimentary note, it’s front and center in this one and is followed-up by a sunny creaminess that helps to temper the heavy floral tones. The perfect choice for a dashing garden party.
3) Amber Pour Homme by Prada
Another good option for a lighter, floral scent, Amber Pour Homme is a little more biting than Do Son, with heavier citrus notes. This one combines fresh mandarin, orange blossom, vanilla and cardamom for a lovely, light and less complicated summer scent.
4) Vintage by John Varvatos
Another one of my favorites, Vintage is decidedly elegant and nuanced, and would definitely be my first date pick. It’s mature and masculine with notes of wood, leather, cinnamon tree leaves, Turkish tobacco, and rhubarb. It’s a great fall/winter scent that pairs particularly well with a wool scarf, dark denim and sued oxfords.
5) Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford
Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille is at the highest end of my list. It’s worth every penny if you’re looking for something that’s suave, masculine and sophisticated, but still as complicated and nuanced as you are. A classic scent combination, tobacco and vanilla are layered with dry fruit accords and sweet wood sap to create a sexy, curvaceous scent that’s just begging to be brought to your level.
6) Solid Perfumes by The Soap & Paper Factory (with Patch NYC)
If you’re looking for something understated (and more budget friendly), solid perfumes are a great alternative. The Soap & Paper Factory has an awesome collection in collaboration with Patch NYC, and they’re all pure jojoba and beeswax.
7) Essential Oils
For the dapper DIYer and anyone who’s looking to keep it all-natural, blending your own essential oil scents is a breeze and your options are basically unlimited. All you need are the oils, a perfume diluent, and a fixative, all of which can be found at your local natural foods store or apothecary. It’s a great way to experiment and customize the perfect scent for every mood. Here are my recommendations for a dapper essential oil arsenal:
- One part oil
- Six parts perfume diluent (vodka works just as well)
- One part fixative (liquid benzoin or powdered orrisroot)