My Life in Perfume

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!

  1. Laverne Simoneaux says...

    I love perfume! I have an amazing sense of smell. I can figure out odors coming from spices in food. In my youth, I thought of becoming a perfumer. I have worn LOTS of different scents. One of the first perfumes I wore was 70s fave of teenagers everywhere-Skin Musk oil by Bonnie Bell. I remember smelling my wrists in school. Musk was really big in the 70s. It was counter culture, hippie, cool. Coty’s Wild Musk oil was the chic, bad girl scent. I had a bottle of that, too. Another high school fave was Love’s Baby Soft (you need to check out some of the ads for this, HILARIOUS!). I wore Jean Naté and of course Charlie by Revlon. My first investment into a high end perfume was Opium by Yves Saint Laurent. I felt Studio 54 chic wearing it. In the early eighties, I embraced a more unisex personal style and wore Eau Sauvage for men by Dior. I still LOVE the way it smells and have given bottles to a few men in my life including my son. When I met the man I would later marry, he didn’t like perfume. I deferred. This was one of many red flags I ignored. I probably should have let perfume win. In my middle life as a single working mom, I wore a Gap Scent called “Grass.” I don’t like smelling like everyone else. While everyone buys up Light Blue by Dolce and Gabbana, I was wearing I Love Love by Moschino and Bond No. 9 Fire Island. I also love Bond No. 9 Brooklyn. Currently in my 60s, I like classic scents. I adore Love in White by Creed which is a lovely fresh, feminine smell. I have had many men pass me and stop me to ask what perfume I was wearing. They love it. Another fragrance I am wearing now is Rose Nobile by Acqua di Parma. This is a clean rose scent that is not cloying. I still put on perfume most days and during this time of Covid 19, I check my wrists regularly to make sure I still have my sense of smell.

  2. Erin says...

    I’m allergic to many perfumes but absolutely love them. In high school, I don’t think I wore any scent but my high school reeked of the Body Shop body oils (vanilla, peach and strawberry) and the GAP scents! I think I did wear Air and maybe Grass? Had completely forgotten about those!

    In my undergrad, I wore a fabulous perfume my glamorous older sister had bought for me in the South of France. Ariele by Fragonard. They don’t make it anymore but everyone loved that one.

    Starting in my grad degree, I started wearing Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker and am still wearing it 15+ years later. It’s lovely, it’s light, it’s me.

  3. Sarah says...

    I love this so much! I’m 34 and here’s my scent history:
    Elementary school sneaks: CK One
    Middle school: Sunflower (Elizabeth Arden)
    High School: Abercrombie & Fitch (I can still imagine the scent…)
    College: Mademoiselle Coco
    20’s: Daisy (Marc Jacobs)
    30’s: Carnal Flower (Frederic Malle), Bois de Balincourt (Madison Louis Marie), Lys 41 (Le Labo)

  4. Cecilia says...

    Charlie by revlon in teenage years
    Paco rabanne from boyfriends
    Miss Dior early twenties
    Poison from a trip to europe
    Magie noir mid twenties
    Polo woman, ck be, romance, in the forties
    And now in my fifties: alternatively light blue by dolce & gabanna, untold by elizabeth arden, yellow diamonds by versace

  5. Kate says...

    I’m 42 and I still wear Tommy Girl – it smells like summer to me! I also love Issey Myake. When I was a teen I overpowered everyone with Vanilla perfume from The Body Shop or Poeme by Lancome. My favourites now are Pure Tiffany Eau de Parfum and Bvlgari Pour Femme which I wore for my wedding. I feel naked if I go out without a quick spray.

    • Anne Elise says...

      My roommate gave me a half-used bottle of Tommy Girl. I wore it around my boyfriend one day, and now I wear it whenever I see him because even though I can barely smell it, it makes him crazy. And now I know that smell will always remind him of me.

  6. Cheryl says...

    I’m kind of late to this post, but I’ve absolutely enjoyed reading the comments! Bois De Balincourt and Nova Om are my go to scents. They both are amazing on their own and layer together oh so beautifully!

    • Cheryl says...

      Nova Chakra, not Om……I think it’s time for bed?

  7. Hilary says...

    Caroline- you’re my favorite. For all the things.

  8. I loved this post so much that for the first time, I even read all the comments!
    I really enjoy your texts Caroline, they make me smile :)

    My obsessiveness with perfumes started early on in my childhood. I remember being 10 and dying to get a bottle of Poison, My mother of course, wouldn’t allow it.

    The first perfume I sprayed till the last drop was (now vintage) Giò by Armani.
    End High School – 5th Avanue by Elizabet Arden
    Early twenties – Blu by Bvlgari
    Late twenties – a short interlude with Versace Crystal Noir
    Early thirties – Teint de neige by Villoresi

    Those are/were my staples, but of course, I always have at least 20 bottles in my collection and around 15 more on the ver growing wish list…

  9. My first perfume of choice was an Escada that is no longer available. Through the years I found myself attracted to some perfumes my mother used to wear while I was growing up (like Kenzo eau d’ete), and also realized how Dior perfumes have a good staying power on me (Addict, Hypnotic Poison). In the last years I’m changing perfumes by season and never buying the same twice, but I have many on rotation. I’ve used DKNY be delicious, burberry BLV, boss orange, paco rabanne ultraviolet, several perfumes by korres. This year I’m using Korres Vanilla-freesia-lychee, ck euphoria, and dior hypnotic poison for winter, and Korres White tea-bergamot-freesia, boss orange and estee lauder bronze goddess for the summer. :)

  10. This post was so much fun! Reading everyones comments made me reminisce as well about all of my past and present smells.

    **HS- The very first scent I ever wore was CK One. If you didn’t wear that then you may as well have worn nothing at all.. lol. Wearing it even today still makes me feel really cool. Kinda like when it’s the first day of school for the new year and you have on your new school clothes and you feel like a bada$$!
    **College-I was really into Victoria Secret then. It made me feel really sophisticated even though the sprays were only like $9. I used to love love love “Scent #88”!! It was a lovely sweet and powdery smell. Oh! and you can’t forget Love Spell. I felt like every girl I knew wore that one…
    **Now, I really love sweet and spicy smells! Sometimes I’ll wear my finace’s Valentino or Polo Double Black. They’re such warm scents. I also really like Mont Blanc Presence for women! It’s super mello and spicy and unlike any other scent I’ve come across for women.

  11. Twyla says...

    I started wearing Wild Musk by Coty when I was 13 because my very cool, very popular older cousin wore it and I idolized her. I always have to stop and smell the bottle in drugstores (they still carry it 25 years later!)
    In high school it was the vanilla perfume oil from The Body Shop (does anyone remember these?!). Boys would always ask “Why do I smell cookies?!”, which I loved replying with “It’s me!”. I alternated that with Grass from Gap (!) because it didn’t smell like anything I had smelled before.
    I find as I get older I’m quite picky with scents and don’t like anything too mainstream, floral or perfum-ey, so now I wear mostly essential oil blends, which everyone comments on, and occasionally Hanae Mori because it’s yummy and complex.

  12. The first scent I felt fit me was Daisy by Marc Jacobs. This was right after college when I felt that I needed to have a signature scent. A few years later when walking through Nordstrom someone handed me a perfume paper tester of Jo Malone Nectarine blossom & Honey. I was in love with it! I went back and purchased it and it is still my favorite scent. I have always found Amber oil to be interesting. It smells so differently on men and women. I had a friend at work that would it, it had gentle sweetness to it but not in an overwhelming way. It apparently smelled like some sort of dessert down the hall because many a coworker would come wandering to her desk mistaking her amber oil for edible sweets.

  13. Marlena says...

    I just finished reading, The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr. A fantastic peek into what it takes to make a perfume. Fascinating!! As a girly girl who has always been obsessed with perfume, starting out with cheap drugstore options in Junior High, Love’s Baby Soft anyone?!? Thankfully my olfactory tastes matured a bit and in High School it was Liz Claiborne. In College my tastes and budget caught up with each other and and I was a Paloma Picasso girl in winter and Calyx by Prescriptives in summer. Now I have a full “closet” of scents and some are pretty popular like Coco Mademoiselle but I am also partial to Sel Marin by Heeley Paris. Quartre by Boucheron is a current favorite…..I am not faithful to one only…;)

  14. I didn’t start wearing perfume until last year, which is crazy as I am a huge beauty lover and 26, but I’ve certainly made up for my lack of perfume spending during the past 10 years. Right now my favourites are Prada Candy, Lancome La Vie Est Belle and Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black.
    Though I didn’t wear perfume in my teens and early twenties, I did wear a lot of scented lotion from Bath and Body Works, The Body Shop and Victoria Secret. Whenever I smell Victoria’s Secret Pure Seduction, it’s 2008 and I’m falling in love for the first time. I can never wear that scent again though, because it will only ever remind me of my ex-boyfriend, and I would rather be reminded of my now husband.
    Funny how scent is so connected to memory, isn’t it?

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  15. Oh I absolutely loved this post! So hilariously true!
    High school for me was DKNY So Delicious.
    During college I experimented with different perfumes but used mostly Juicy Couture’s Viva La Juicy
    Early-mid twenties I used Chloe and I am currently made the same shift you did into something not so overly feminine or complicated with Jo Malone’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt. It’s so perfect and lovely for right now :)

    • A Martin says...

      OMG we have the same perfume history! My favorite is mixing Chloe and Stella (the original scent). I always get a lot of compliments and it smells so fresh with great staying power.

  16. sadie says...

    I love your writing style. :)

  17. I love this post almost as much as I love all the lovely scents that remind me of various points in my life.
    High School: Feeling very grown up and sophisticated in my Happy by Clinique perfume.
    College: Dream Angels Heavenly by Victoria’s Secret, a sweet scent to match my tiny college budget.
    Present Day (and several insignificant scents later): Hello by Harvey Prince. So lovely.

  18. Lisa says...

    Oh ha ha! You guys are the best! I’m catching up after a week of vacation and I really missed you all. : )

  19. Nina says...

    Pre-high school and maybe a little into it Jovan Musk Oil

    High school – Lauren by Ralph Lauren – I could be preppy with my scent because my body would never fit the pink and green glory with polo shirt and penny loafers that was prep in the 80s. Then Poison because I asked my dad to bring me back a different perfume from paris and this is what he brought.

    College – Calvin Klein Obsession – I was, obsessed.

    the few standouts since then – Alien, Flowerbomb, Gaultier 2 by Jean Paul Gaultier. Since I’ve had my child, whose 8!, I haven’t really found anything I love plus – my chemistry makes everything sweet and annoys me – who has money for perfume?! I remember reading someone on here who said something like they wear perfume to stand out, not be part of them…but I am on the eternal, elusive search for that scent that just enhances me and doesn’t shout “SHE’S WEARING PERFUME HERE” I really like Tokyomilk Dark lipbalm – I use it as a scent on touch points but it fades quickly.

    Thanks for the descriptions and memories.

  20. LOVED this post! Made me smile and laugh and just resonated with me as a woman. So good! Caroline, I love reading your personality through your articles! :)

    Scents I am currently loving:

    -Michael Kors Mod Noir (I keep the rollerball in my purse – it makes me feel fancy when I need it on the go!)
    -Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black (a great date night scent)
    -Santal 33 by LeLabo (a super trendy smell I know, but I enjoy thats its a more masculine and clean scent for every day)
    -Crabtree & Evelyn’s Evelyn Rose (a super affordable rose scent)

  21. Laverne says...

    I love this entry. I am perfume-crazed. After a burglary a few years ago, the first thing my daughters asked , “Did they steal your perfume?” This made me crack up. Teens– Skin Musk by Prince Machibelli– Very 70s, inexpensive, drug store lovely that I still wear. 20s– Eau Sauvage (classic) for Men. Buy this for your guy. It is clean, strong, citrusy. 30s– Gap scents “Grass” 40s– Bond No. 9: Brooklyn, Fire Island (summer), Nuits de NoHo (winter); Jo Malone Pomegranite Noir. 50s– Creed Love in White ” Men smell me and ask. My Deal Breaker-Men who don’t like perfume!

    • Thanks for the tip about Eau Sauvage. Will look it up.

      As a male, the scents I have come to love over the years and wear are:
      – Davidoff Cool Water (my favorite)
      – Joop! Go
      – Ralph Lauren Polo Sport
      – Calvin Klein CK One
      – Sergio Tacchini Classic
      – Hugo Boss Boss Elements Aqua
      – Hugo Boss Boss Elements Aqua

  22. Carly says...

    Ralph by Ralph Lauren and Very Sexy from Victoria’s Secret will forever remind me of high school. Also, did anyone else wear Moonlight Path from Bath and Body Works?? Ahhh the memories with that one….

    On a funny side note, this reminded me of a Stuff You Should Know podcast episode on perfume where they mentioned that Tom Ford said he wanted his cologne Black Orchid “to smell like a man’s crotch.”

    • katie f. says...

      omg moonlight path!!!!! My first perfume in jr high was Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers. I’m kinda shocked I haven’t seen that yet!! I got it for Christmas in a set with lotion and body wash, and ooh lala was I soooo special. I rubbed a magazine sample of Chanel Allure on in HS and my CRUSH commented how good it smelled. I have been wearing it ever since. HA!

  23. Capucine says...

    Aqua Motu by Comptoir Sud Pacifique…the fragrance the french guy I was besotted with wore, I could detect it blocks away. The only sadness in marrying him was that over time I could no longer really smell it properly. Magic, that one. We used to restock his stash together in Paris until Guerlain bought the company and Sephora started carrying it. Less romantic but so much more convenient!

  24. Jodie says...

    Youth Dew by Estée Lauder is what my Mum wore, it always reminds me of her!

    Oscar Del La Renta, my first perfume in my early twenties!

    Thirties was Coco Chanel in the Winter and Eternity Calvin Clein and Giorgio Armani Aqua de Gio for Summer and daytime.
    After having my children I went without perfume for a while and this year I was given some Eternity again, loving wearing it for the memories!

  25. Milou says...

    I loved this! It’s really fun to think back…
    HS was Giorgio Beverly Hills then Calvin Klein Eternity (In my defense, I was in small town CT and fashion magazines were my savior)
    College was Ralph Lauren Safari until my roommate came home with a bottle of her own and I got creeped out
    20’s was Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien (Like nearly everyone, although it still smells nice)
    30’s was a combo of Fresh Cucumber Baie and Sugar Lychee Shower Gel
    Early 40’s was Chanel Mademoiselle
    Last few years has been Eau Duelle Solid (almost gone) in the summer and Egyptian Musk Oil. I think the Musk Oil will stick around – it’s quiet, but still sexy.

  26. Kaitlin says...

    I literally just bought Bois de Balincourt this past weekend. HA! Small world. I loved Chloe when I turned 27. I felt grown up. I loved Marc Jacobs in college in Maine because I felt so stylish and Waterville Maine is anything but. Now it just smells like hangover to me. :) I moved on to Stella when I moved to Manhattan to go to the publishing course at Columbia and dated someone far too old for me. What fun memories!

  27. Alice says...

    Grew up wearing:
    Ralph Lauren Romance
    Vera Wang

    And now recently: Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede

  28. Linda says...

    Oh, how I wish perfumes didn’t give me horrible headaches, because I want some awesome scent memories like yours!! Your writing is hilarious and heartfelt!

  29. Maire says...

    GAP Pink reminds me of my best friend and high school. Aqua di Gio smells like drama, first love and mistakes. Kate Spade Twirl smells like my quarter life crisis- joy, despair, grief, and freedom all mixed together. Harvey Prince’s Eau de Flirt smells like falling hard and fast and magical first dates. Currently, I am wearing BCBGMaxAzria’s Bon Genre in the fall/winter and then I think I will buy Foile de Joie for spring/summer.

    • Jeanelle Teves says...

      “Aqua di Gio smells like drama, first love and mistakes.” Omg, hilarious. Couldn’t agree more!! Love this post, love the comments. Feels like cocktails amongst good girlfriends.

  30. I used to wear Euphoria Blossom by Calvin Klein, still like them but now my fave are Chanel Chance all of them but Eau Fraiche especially ;) and GUCCI II
    I just love them :)

  31. This was gold! so funny

  32. CF says...

    I love your writing, Caroline! You’ve invoked such a feeling of nostalgia in me that I’m seriously considering buying a bottle of Tommy Girl just so I can smell 15 again.

    • Siobhan says...

      I had exactly the same thought! That was the first perfume I bought for myself, on a family holiday to Florida (I’m Scottish) when I was 13 along. I think I wanted an American souvenir.

  33. Meredith says...

    I did Love’s Baby Soft and Jean Nate as a kid…..and awful Lauren by Ralph Lauren in middle school. But then Junior year of high school Christian Dior released Poison and I was in love. Every time I went into a fancy department store I would douse my coat in it. I couldn’t get enough. Alas, it was too expensive and then it went away for awhile. I got by with Hypnotic Poison and Joop ( a man’s scent I still love) and then regular Poison came back. I bought my first bottle for myself for Christmas. Still love that scent even though it is strong. I also sometimes wear La Vanila and have random men tell me they want to take a bite out of me.

    Fun post!

  34. jen says...

    Oh good, I love perfume posts. My first perfume was Chantilly which I got for high school graduation. Then I wore Muguet des Bois, so fresh. After that I found Casaque (now discontinued but available on ebay) for all of college. Lately I’ve been trying all kinds of things. Sadly, my husband’s fave is a cheap perfume, Boyfriend, that I’m sort of tired of..

  35. I’ve never worn perfume, never understood people who wear perfume. I prefer to smell people’s detergent when I hug them BUT, I was browsing at a Natural Grocers and found Nemat Amber Oil. LIFE [period] CHANGING [period]. $15 for 10 milliliters of pure sex. One of the descriptors is ~resinous~ I mean…come on.

  36. I love this, Caroline! You’re such a great writer.

    I am also a perfume-hoarder. There’s the Vanilla Gap perfume which smells like awkwardly auditioning for the high school play, Lacoste Pink, which smells like getting ready with my college roommates, listening to “Ignition”, and flirting with the boys down the hall, Lolita Lempicka which smells like moving to France and choosing to use my limited funds to purchase an 80 euro perfume instead of buying myself food for the week.

    Now I work at a cosmetics company and get so much stuff for free I try something different every day. Which is now making me sad because I realize I’ll have no defining scent for this period of my life. Perhaps I’ll make myself wear the same thing for a year, or at least a season…

  37. i really love this posts takes me back to those days where had to impress to join in the crowd, my first ever perfume was Elizabeth Arden i can not really remember the name but it was sharped in a female form with a little bow was so happy to have it. love the versace diamond perfume.

  38. Sacha St. Germain says...

    What and endearing, hilarious and honest post. I very much enjoyed reading and can relate. Mid 1990s (read junior high and high school), I drowned my adolescent fug in CK One, for sure. And Tommy Girl! The following are in somewhat chronological order from top to bottom:
    D&G Light Blue
    Stella by Stella Mc Cartney
    Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil
    Hannae Mori Butterfly
    Recently, Florabotanica by Balenciaga
    I’m open to suggestions and looking forward to smelling that pricey rose scent you mentioned!

  39. Nicole Brant says...

    What a fun post! Thanks, Caroline!

  40. Julie says...

    Acqua di gio— all of junior high and high school, the halls reeked of it. Every boy wore it, I swear.

    Sandalwood Rose lotion from Bath and Body—they discontinued this and started making it in limited quantities again recently, but it really is just the best. Calmest, base, slightly sweet and earthy scent. Wore it all through high school and just purchased a bottle again, woot woot!

    Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir—started wearing this at the beginning of a very physically passionate and totally destructive relationship (wow, that sounds weird) with different scents over it, and so whenever I smell it I feel a tumult of 2345643452 different emotions. Thrilling, but sad. Spicy, though, for sure!

    Blackberry and bay from Jo Malone—wore this when I was first married. Still in love with it. Reminds me of summer, and fighting with my husband and then having very adorable makeups the next day. Haha.

    Hothouse Peonie Ea De Perfum from Royal Apothecary (sold at Anthro) is what I’ve been sporting lately. Astoundingly sweet, so I must not be worried anymore about smelling like a teenage prostitute like we all did in the Victoria’s Secret Love Spell days.

  41. sarah says...

    this had me laughing out loud!! Love this post!

  42. Julie says...

    A taco from space! I laughed out loud. Delightful post.

  43. I am in my 60’s so Patchouli Oil along with Sandalwood were right at the top of my hippie lifestyle scents.
    When I became a mom and lived in Montreal I was completely smitten with Courreges and Channel Numbers 5 and 19
    Then my friend who I emulated started wearing Sung so that was my scent for a few years.
    For the last 10 years at least I have been using Origins Ginger Essence and I still love it.

  44. Rachel K says...

    I was not expecting this when I read the title. I almost skipped over it but I’m sure glad I didn’t. What a beautifully written piece! It’s amazing how much nostalgia a scent can elicit.

    I really like the last bit about your future self. For me, I like to think about the future version of myself that takes the Amtrack whenever I visit New York, instead of Megabus (I live in Boston). That’s when I’ll know I’ve made it ;)

  45. Ana says...

    I remember all my ex-boyfriends by their scent and if I close my eyes and forget about the persons they were and just focus on how they smelled, I swear I still get goosebumps.

  46. Isabella says...

    Such a great article! I remember when I was in junior high, there was a spate of “rain” fragrances available in local bubble-bathy-type boutiques. Must have been some hot, new aromachemical on the market at the time. I and all my friends wore some iteration of it for at least a couple of years. Nowadays? Oh, lordy. The other day I was digging through my perfume cabinet for something and my husband remarked to our baby boy, “Uh oh; Mama’s going into her *addiction closet*”

  47. Such an amazing post. I think the number of comments are a testament to how scent lingers in our memory. I love seeing everyone’s scent evolution!

    *Bath & Body Works- Juniper Breeze takes me back. We received it in a hotel once and I fell in love.

    *Bath & Body Works-Warm Vanilla Sugar- only the cool girls were wearing it, so I become obsessed. Who didn’t want to smell like a cookie in middle school?

    *Once I discovered I could obtain fragrance samples from the beauty counter, high school became a crazy time of experimentation. The one that lingers in my memory is Estee Lauder’s Beyond Paradise (I was in love with the bottle)

    *College years: alternating between Calvin Klein’s Eternity Moment and Banana Republic’s Malachite (what a stunning color collection that was, too!)

    *Graduate school, and sometimes now: Philosophy’s Amazing Grace, Chloe, and Prada’s Infusion D’Iris (perhaps discontinued now?)

    *Coming soon- my wedding scent is Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet. I have a feeling that it’ll stick around a while!

  48. Trish says...

    Beautifully written.

  49. Catherine says...

    This is soooo true!
    – Amarige, in high school, because that’s what Gwyneth Paltrow wore
    – Romance, by Ralph Lauren in my young love college days
    – Gucci Rush, when I wanted to appear older and most sophisticated in my early 20s
    – Tresor, in my early 30s, when I became a francophile and that’s what our French exchange student wore in the 90s
    – Bottega Venata for today, as upon smelling it, it instantly reminded me of being a child, getting dressed for dinner with my grandmother and great aunt and smelling their fancy aldehydic perfumes. A rush of memories that makes me feel at once nostalgic, and as though I’ve arrived.

  50. Carrie says...

    Does anyone remember Bath and Body Works Sheer Freesia?? I miss that smell so much!! Seriously so good.

    The smells of my life probably go something like this:
    Exclamation by Coty (my mom)
    Amarige by Givenchy (also my mom)
    Peppermint Lip Smackers (that counts right?)
    ***Sheer Freesia at some point***
    Ralph by Ralph Lauren
    Victoria’s Secret Love Spell (my friends and I all shared one bottle at a time and doused ourselves in it at school)
    D & G Light Blue
    Calvin Klein Euphoria and then Euphoria Blossom
    Stella By Stella McCartney
    And now, mostly Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black

    • Nancey says...

      I LOVED Sheer Freesia!!

  51. Lisa says...

    My life in scents – when I was a teenager it was Elizabeth Arden sunflowers, which is now forever linked in my mind with the smell of feet as I tried (I don’t know why. I was fifteen) to clean my fake caterpillar boots by spritzing them with sunflowers. At university it was a scent by van kleef and arpels that I thought someone who had their sh*t together would smell like (I’m not sure it was, but it’s still quite nice but way too much on someone so young). Now it’s Chanel Chance l’eau tendre, just because it smells nice

  52. Erin says...

    Most adorable post ever.

  53. love your writing style, caroline! one of my favorites for sure.
    i wore calvin klein “be delicious” for a while back in my in high school days, but have been loving bvlgari “rose essentielle” for the past few years.
    (sad to admit… but i still own a bottle of ck one and i love it!)

  54. Madeleine says...

    Caroline your writing is incredible, thank you for this post! My most loved perfume as a teenager was Baby Doll by Yves Saint Laurent. I also LOVED Allure by Chanel which is entirely different and a lot more “grown up”. But I must say, Eau des Merveilles by Hermes is my all time favorite, although a little pricey. Now all I want to do is go buy a new fragrance. That’s how great A Cup of Jo is :)

  55. Jen says...

    Caroline’s writing is just a pure joy to read. Even if I can’t relate at all because I never really wore fragrances (ok ok I did dabble with Tommy Girl, CK One, Sunflowers, Happy, and all that in middle/high school! ) and to this day as a 31-something professional woman, I really have no desire to add fragrance to my grooming routine. In fact when it comes to grooming, cleaning, etc., I try to go for scent-free products most of the time. I also recently worked with a colleague who has a strong chemical sensitivity and whose actually has trouble breathing around people wearing certain types of perfumes/body lotions, so it’s made me more aware of the negative effects fragrances can have on others. I did some reading into this earlier and found this helpful article that — not to freak anyone out — brings up some good points about the ingredients in perfumes and how some might not be so great for us. It mentions that some ingredients are banned in Europe but still available in the US (maybe explaining why Julie above has found some European scents to not give her headaches). Disturbingly, our chemicals policy in the US is based on the assumption that a chemical is safe unless proven otherwise; the burden of proof is on taxpayers, not producers. Well, that got serious fast but I just wanted to both appreciate Caroline’s writing while maybe throwing a little caution onto the perfume love-fest :-)

  56. Nicole says...

    Loved this! My everyday scent is Jo Malone Peony Blush and Suede and my go to scent for when I want to feel like a fancy lady is Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee- when you were this one men will smell you from 20 feet away and flock to you- perfect for your ‘special occasion’ days!

  57. Lauren E. says...

    Oh my gosh, I am DYING. Big front teeth! I also had awkwardly large teeth as a middle schooler, as well as comically large lips, but thank god I grew into both.

    I actually wear a perfume now from Tocca because it reminds me of a sweet floral scent I loved as a child (some random lotion I found in my mom’s closet) but in a more grown up version. Funny how directly scent is tied to memory.

  58. Mags says...

    Omg! I’m thinking about Bath and Body Works Cucumber Lime Verbena, Gap Dream and Gap Grass, the Zara knockoff of Coco Mademoiselle, Kate Spade, Burberry Brit– it’s a recreation of my life between 2004-2012! Lately, I’ve been wearing Ralph Lauren Romance and Hermes when I’m fancy. I like clean florals for every day and something muskier for when I’m feeling dramatic. My mom wears Narcisco Rodrigues’ original and that floral powdery scent smells so grown-up and ladylike to me.

  59. Jude says...

    Growing up, the women in my family adored perfume and cologne. ADORED it. Consequently I had an opportunity to try many fragrances from a young age. When I was a teenager, Windsong and Emeraude was the rage and then Joy Sin was the thing. As I got older, Opium became my fragrance of choice and then Chanel #5 which I’ve worn for a long time now. After my Mother died, I kept some of her beautiful lingerie in sealed plastic bags. Sometimes, every now and then, I will open a bag and her essence envelopes me and I have a bit of an emotional moment. Our senses are a gift that we sometimes take for granted.

  60. Amy says...

    I love perfume! I work the register at a pie store and when customers smell good, I ask what they’re wearing. It’s always a fun conversation. Smell is my favorite sense!

    I wear Chanel Mademoiselle in the winter because it reminds me of Christmas time. I also wear it if I want to feel sophisticated because, you know, Chanel. My mom gave me some Jo Malone samples and I love the spicy Pomegranate Noir. I want to wear fancy perfume, but I tend to come back to Victoria’s Secret scents for everyday wear–Sexy Little Things Noir and Night are my current favorites. And when my husband is gone (military), I wear his tobacco cologne because it smells like sweet tobacco (obvs) and reminds me of him.

    I loved this post and your walk down memory lane. Curve in the green bottle will forever remind me of my high school boyfriend. I don’t remember what my roommate wore, but if I smelled it I would know it in a second.

  61. Kristin says...

    I remember ck one and Gap Om from middle school, and wearing some completely hideous sprays in high school that either smelled like cotton candy or gummy bears. (What was I thinking?) Lately I’ve been wearing Armani Si quite a bit.

    • Carrie says...

      Forgot about Gap fragrances! I used to love Grass and Om both