My Life in Perfume

Have you ever discovered an ex’s shirt buried in the back of your closet? Where even though you hold it far away — using just two fingers like it’s a biohazard — you can’t help but catch a whiff of that old familiar scent? And in one avalanche of an instant, all the memories come flooding back to you. (Is that only me?) Studies say scents can trigger memories even better than images can. As I recently discovered, perfume is no exception. Join me, if you will, on a scent-laden walk down memory lane…

Tommy Girl
The year is 1996. I have big front teeth and large, elfin ears and all I want is to disappear inside a pair of the very baggy jeans my parents won’t let me buy. The cool kids wear black lipstick paired with androgynous CK One that wafts through the middle school hallways. My poison of choice is Tommy Girl, which is wedged in my Christmas stocking next to No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. I spritz it as I lounge in my red pleather bean bag and contemplate the boys who do not like me. According to the marketing copy, Tommy Girl smells like “wildflowers growing in the American landscape.” Now there’s a nice way to describe growing up.

Calvin Klein Euphoria
Fast forward to 2005, my senior year of college. Thankfully, I’ve grown into both my teeth and ears. I wear this scent as soon as it’s released. I’m attracted to the bottle, which looks like a sexy taco from outer space. It smells spicy, sophisticated, hard to describe. I long to be all of these things. Revisiting this scent over a decade later, all I smell is panic. Panic over internships I didn’t apply for, over my college boyfriend moving away, over holy-crap-graduation-looming-do-I-have-to-figure-out-my-life-now? The taco cannot solve these problems, only time will do.

Diptyque Eau Duelle
What, exactly, is adulthood? Is it when you live independently for the first time? When you start making well-informed decisions? I stumble across Eau Duelle on a walk through Soho during my lunch hour. I’m in my mid-twenties, and if I’m honest with myself, I want this fancy liquid in a fancy bottle because I don’t feel fancy. I want to be the kind of woman who leaves a trail of sweet-but-spicy air in my wake, a minor spectacle on her way to somewhere important. I want to be, above all things, a woman. One day, I will learn that this feeling is perfectly okay. In the meantime, I will smell like a pleasant but overpriced marshmallow.

Maison Louis Marie No. 4 Bois De Balincourt
Like many of my current favorite things, I “borrowed” this idea from a friend. (Thanks, Alex!) In a word, Bois De Balincourt smells like sandalwood. But in a feeling, it smells warm and comforting and sensual and amazing. Multiple times a day, people near me will sniff the air and inquire as to what smells good, only to determine that what smells good is ME. I recommend this feeling. It’s not overly feminine, nor overly complicated. It’s a nice place to be.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian À la rose
My favorite perfume shop gave me a sample of this, because they want to ruin my life. It smells like sticking your face into a rose straight out of a fairytale. I’m sure that wearing this perfume would make my life immeasurably better, but I cannot allow myself to purchase something this expensive while my bureau is cluttered with scents. I use the tester on special occasions. (Tuesdays, PMS, overcast days… these count as special occasions.) My future self will wear this perfume. I like to think she’ll really have her shit together. It’s good to have dreams.

Have you worn any defining scents throughout the years? What are you wearing these days? I’d love to hear.

P.S. Now I’m dying to know what THIS smells like… that price tag!