It’s been said that scents bring out memories, which is maybe why some men shy away from wearing fragrances. Everyone has had the experience of being trapped in an elevator or a subway car with someone who applied too much, and those few experiences can be enough to scare us away from wearing something ourselves.
Anything worn poorly, however, can also be worn well. In the summertime, a light fragrance can be a way to spruce up an outfit when it’s too hot for anything except a breezy shirt and some chinos. The key is to choose well. Much like the rest your wardrobe, fragrances are often suited to certain occasions and seasons. Citrusy, aquatic, and “green” scents are better for spring/ summer; boozy, smoky, and “woody orientals” are best for fall/ winter. If you’re open to trying something this summer, here are nine that I like:
- Terre d’Hermes by Hermes: The scent that makes it onto every summer list. Despite the name, Terre d’Hermes has very little earthiness to it. Instead, it smells like grapefruit blended with green, lemon leaves. Fresh and citrusy, without feeling too young, this one is an easy crowd-pleaser.
- Aventus by Creed: Another popular choice. If Terre d’Hermes smells like grapefruit, Aventus is pineapple. Downside: like all Creed fragrances, this doesn’t last too long on the skin, which is a bummer given the price. If you’re interested in an alternative, try Creed’s Green Irish Tweed, which is an aquatic that’ll remind you of ‘90s Coolwater.
- Colonia Assoluta by Acqua di Parma: A more sophisticated, sultry take on citrus. Orange blossoms mixed with jasmine, white woods, and the tiniest hint of spice. Good for summer evenings, especially with tailored clothing. Unlike Creed, this one lasts a really long time, which means – even if the bottle is slightly pricey – the fragrance is cheaper by the sniff. One of my favorites this past month.
- Bergamote 22 by Le Labo: Oranges rubbed over cedar. Nice and upbeat, but also more suited for the daytime than night, and better for casual settings than anything formal. Think of Colonia Assoluta as something you’d wear to an outdoor evening party, but Bergamote 22 as something for a day at the park.
- Vetiver by Guerlain: If citrus isn’t your thing, try vetiver – a greener, earthier scent with a hint of vanilla. Guerlain’s version is one of my favorites and appreciably affordable.
- Vetiver Extraordinaire by Frederic Malle: Fragrance expert Luca Turin described this vetiver as being mixed with “lead-pencil cedar notes and what could be a touch of lemon.” That sounds about right. Clean, bright, and green, but with the creamy, earthy base that makes this class of fragrances popular.
- Rive Gauche Pour Homme by YSL: Along with citruses, aquatics, and vetivers, summer is a great time for fougeres – a class of “fern-like” fragrances that’ll remind you of barbershops and wet ferns. This is good if you’re looking for a more traditionally “masculine” scent for summer.
- 2 by Comme de Garcon: Clean and bright, this smells like wet ink on paper. Not strictly a summer scent, but fresh enough to work on a hot day. Like Bergamote 22, this feels better with causalwear than suits and sport coats.
- Polo by Ralph Lauren: Again, not strictly a summer scent, but a personal favorite. Starts off kind of smoky, but quickly dries down to an earthy oakmoss and soft leather. A little heavy, but has a comforting feel. Wear this on cooler summer days when we get closer to fall.
For samples, stop by Surrender to Chance or The Perfumed Court (the second is having a 20% off sale today with the checkout code HOTFLASH). Just be sure to get your samples in atomizers, not vials. It makes the fragrance a lot easier to apply.