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Tips for choosing the right men's fragrance

Choosing the right fragrance to wear is difficult. It's almost as hard as finding the right partner. Like most good things, it takes a little effort to find a new perfume that is just right. Start by understanding the difference between the fragrance families.

Choose from the fragrance families

Floral - These are obviously fragrances that smell of flowers. I know, I know.. you're thinking that won't the fragrances smell girly and feminine? But that is not necessarily true. Lavender is a flower note that is found in a lot of mens fragrances. Let's take Dior Homme for example. It has iris, lavender, and sage which are flower scents. The combination with woody scents makes it a super sexy fragrance for men.

Fresh - This is the most popular category for mens fragrance. An easy way to describe this smell is by imagining the fresh out of the shower smell or riverside smell. Clean, crisp, soapy, cool, and zingy. You can tell the fragrance is fresh just from the color of the bottle. They usually come in blue color or clear transparent like Acqua di Gio.

Oriental - The mysterious and seductive category. Personally, my taste tends to gravitate towards this category. I love the herbs & spices mix with sweet notes and musk. If you're going for sexy masculine, this is the category for you.

Woody - These are the fragrances that remind you of the outdoors. But that doesn't mean that you can't wear them indoors. These scents are the definition of manly. It makes you feel more powerful and gives off a more mature and confident appearance.

These are just the main categories. There are actually a total of 14 fragrance families. Michael Edwards, a fragrance expert, created a guide about the fragrance families called the Fragrance Wheel if you want to learn more about the sub-categories.

For beginners, you can start with the main categories I mentioned above. Based on the explanation, choose one that fits you best. I like to have fragrances from two of the categories so I have some options.

Think of the occasion

Now that you understand a bit about the fragrance families, another factor when choosing the right fragrance is to think about why and when will you be wearing the fragrance. This can get even more complicated than the 14 fragrance categories. But I will give you some real life examples from my own experience and the people that we've consulted at Your Scent Station.

For everyday wear - e.g to work or school

This is the most common situation for wearing fragrance. You just want to smell nice around people. Most guys that I know will just put on some deodorant in the morning and that's it. That's great but deodorant just prevent you from smelling bad. It doesn't really put out a statement and the generic smell doesn't match well with your personality. That's where perfume comes in.

  • If you want to be more respected in the office, go for the woody fragrances.
  • If you want to feel and smell clean, go for the fresh fragrances.
  • If you want to impress people you are meeting with like a client, stick with the fresh fragrances.

For functions/events (with a lot of people)

These are usually the kind of events where you have to dress up (dapper). You want to make a great impression and stand out from the crowd. There isn't one fragrance category for this situation but my general rule is to wear fragrances with great projection. These fragrances will linger around as you pass by.

  • To impress people at more formal black tie event, I suggest the higher end fragrances (Amouage, Creed, Tom Ford etc.)
  • My personal suggestion for a formal event is wearing fragrances that are woody aromatic such as Polo Black by Ralph Lauren, Versace Dylan Blue, or Bleu de Chanel.
  • Oriental fragrances will smell nice to you wearing it but they don't project far. Only people standing really close to you can smell it.

For the gym

Any fragrance in the fresh category will work for this but if you want to smell clean and fresh while looking to impress the ladies, go for the aromatic sub-category of fresh. It's fresh, manly and sexy at the same time. (Dior Sauvage, Moschino Uomo etc)

Date nights

This is when you're going out on a date to dinner and a movie (1 on 1 close encounter). Oriental fragrances is the best for this situation. It really gives off a feeling of warmth. Very masculine, sexy and seductive kind of smell. (Spicebomb, 1 million Privé, Armani Code Profumo)

Try to avoid fresh fragrances during this situation because they are really sharp when get too close.  Aromatic fragrances like Versace Dylan Blue may also work in this situation but only if you are outdoors like at a carnival.

Anytime, anywhere

If you don't want to think about having different fragrances for different occasions, then I have good news for you. These fragrances do exist! Here are some choices for you that you can wear during the day, during the night, at work, on a date, casual or formal.

  • Bleu de Chanel
  • Mont Blanc Individuel (My current signature)
  • D&G The One
  • Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani
  • Mont Blanc Legend
  • Versace Dylan Blue
  • Creed Aventus

There are a lot more, these are just my personal suggestions.

Test, test, and keep testing

The best way to know if the fragrance is right for you is to test them out. Get started based on the guidelines above such as learning about the different fragrance families and thinking about the situation you would wear the fragrances. Then, start testing them out. You can go to the mall and   try on the 'testers' first if you don't want to spend at first. All the best!

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