For centuries, perfume has been an essential part of human culture: people have perfumed their hair and bodies with oils, resins, flowers, herb extracts and animal scents since earliest history. Wearing scent is pleasurable; it’s an expression of eccentricity.
Nowadays, women are more likely to treat fragrance as an accessory, changing their perfume daily.But sometimes, too much choice can lead to confusion. If you're like most women, you have multiple perfume bottles cluttering your vanity table.
There are eight major perfume categories:
Infused with the tangy essence of citrus fruits, these perfumes are lively and energetic. They are best enjoyed as a daytime delight, just the thing to wake you up in the morning before you've had that second coffee. Wear a citrus perfume to meet your girlfriends for brunch, brighten a baby shower, or ride your bicycle to the organic market.
Sweet and romantic, these scents are the "good girls" of the fragrance aisle. Florals are sometimes single note, but generally combine the scents of various flowers to create a classic feminine appeal. Spritz on a floral when you want to show off your sweet-and-girly side -- when meeting your boyfriend's parents comes to mind. These scents are also appropriate at the ballet, or your best friend's wedding.
Like a cheerleader with a wicked side, fruity perfumes are fresh and spicy. These fragrances please the nose with the bright and familiar smells of apple, peach, berry, mango and other juicy fruits, often blended with florals to create a compelling aroma. Pretty without being overwhelming, these perfumes are ideal for a movie-and-dinner first date. Just apply sparingly.
Smelling of fresh leaves and newly-mown grass, the green fragrances are a natural and energetic group. These scents tend toward the unisex, so are best left on the shelf when you're dressing to impress a hot date. Save them for daytime instead, when their sporty, modern appeal makes them a great fit for any casual or outdoor gathering. Wear one to cheer on your favorite football team, at the golfing range, or on a flea market amble with friends.
Oceanic perfumes are a modern invention, first appearing with Christian Dior's Dune in 1991. These scents use a blend of synthetic compounds to evoke natural aromas such as mountain air, ocean spray or clean linen. Crisp and fresh, they are an ideal choice for job interviews, when you want your perfume to say, "I'm clean, efficient and won't stink up the joint if hired."
Think of oriental perfumes as the fragrance equivalent of cleavage and a killer pair of stilettos. Exotic and distinctly feminine, these sensual blends feature an earthy, animalistic base scent such as musk or ambergris, often combined with warm notes such as amber. Wear one when you want to seduce, whether it's a third date or just a rare night out without the kids.
Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what these perfumes smell like. Uncap one and be transported to your mom's kitchen - if your mom was the type who baked cinnamon rolls and gingerbread from scratch. With notes of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper, spicy perfumes are comforting and alluring in an old-fashioned way. Wear one to your next parent-teacher meeting, or at lunch with that handsome officemate who you wouldn't mind sharing pastry with.
Woody scents are built on base notes of bark and moss, conjuring winding forest paths. While more unisex than other fragrance categories, that's not to say these scents are masculine. They evoke a particular brand of no-nonsense femininity. This strong and classic appeal translates well to the corporate office, too. Wear one to your next performance review.