Perfume Smell Test

What fragrances do you like? I’ve been wearing Santal 33 this year, and I’m always curious to discover others. As my friend Gemma once told me, “Life is too short for a signature scent, I want to smell like as many beautiful things as I can.” So, we invited our officemates to smell seven fragrances and gives us their unbiased reviews…

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume Smell Test

We sprayed each fragrance on slips of blank paper — so they had no idea which scents they were smelling. (They “cleansed” their noses with coffee beans in between perfume sniffs.)

Perfume Smell Test

Above, the seven very different scents we tested. And here were the panel’s findings:

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume #1: Coriander, by D.S. & Durga, a cool husband-and-wife studio based in Brooklyn. (Remember Kavi?)

Price: $175 for 50 ml.

How the brand describes it: “Sparkling leaf, cubeb, green pepper and cracked Ukrainian coriander seed. Cool spices and Mediterranean sea breeze — like the hills above Odessa.”

Our officemates’ reactions:
“It starts out sharp and green.”
“Did you dip this piece of paper in gin? Is this gin?”
“Smells nice.”
“It has a salty vibe.”
“The opening is very masculine almost barber-shop-y, like pine and herbal.”
“It smells like a hipster barber shop.”
“The gin smell is mellowing out.”
“It has a juniper/cedar vibe.”
“I love this.”
“I want to smell this in two hours; I bet it would spread out and get larger and woodier and smell amazing.”

Who they imagined would wear this: “A Scandinavian street style girl. It’s cool, like wearing oversized glasses.”

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume #2: Sole di Positano by Tom Ford, the super luxury brand beloved by beauty editors.

Price: $225 for 1.7 ounces

How the brand describes it: “A bright new dimension bursting with a luxurious mélange of sun-drenched citrus. The delectable new scent evokes the dream-like brilliance of the Italian coast with succulent bite. A masterful blend of Italian bergamot, petitgrain bigrade, lemon and mandarin gleams with the sharp contrast of shiso leaf, reflecting the sunlit vibrancy that evokes coastal paradise.”

Our officemates’ reactions:
“This is so floral.”
“More understated.”
“White flowers.”
“An abstract jasmine/tuberose kind of thing.”
“A classic.”
“Fresh, good for warmer weather.”
“Bright, happy.”
“I’d wear it on a hot day when you want something fresh but not typical.”

Who they imagined would wear this: “You’re going on vacation — you’d wear this at the hotel.”

Perfume Smell Testto

Perfume #3: Garden Rose by Aerin, a classic American brand founded by the granddaughter of Estée Lauder.

Price: $165 for 6.8 oz.

How the brand describes it: “Garden Rose Eau de Cologne takes you into the English countryside, filled with the irresistible sent of wild roses.”

Our officemates’ reactions:
“It smells like a flower, but I can’t place it.”
“A nice long bath, with a bar of soap.”
“I could wear this.”
“I would wear this, too.”
“I wouldn’t mind this on a date.”
“Smells like soap.”
“A nice summery fragrance.”
“It’s rose, a straight up-and-down rose.”
“It’s really nice.”

Who they imagined would wear this: “I would!”

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume #4: Paperback by Demeter, a fun brand sold in drugstores, with playful scents like New Baby and Kitten Fur.

Price: $17 for 1 oz.

How the brand describes it: “A trip to your favorite library or used bookstore. Sweet and lovely with just a touch of the musty smell of aged paper, Demeter’s Paperback harnesses that scent with a sprinkling of violets and a dash of tasteful potpourri.”

Our officemates’ reactions:
“I really don’t like this one.”
“Way too junior for me.”
“It’s like Nickelodeon.”
“It smells kind of fun, like first sleepover.”
“I don’t hate this.”
“Woody vanilla and a little bit of cocoa.”

Who they imagined would wear this: “A friend who is 15.”

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume #5: Chanel No. 5 by Chanel. Arguably the most iconic perfume of all time, Chanel No. 5 was the first fragrance launched by the famed fashion designer Coco Chanel in 1921.

Price: $125 for .25 oz.

How the brand describes it: “N°5 exudes the very essence of femininity… This floral bouquet composed around May rose and jasmine features bright citrus top notes. Aldehydes create a unique presence while the smooth touch of bourbon vanilla leaves an incredibly sensual trail.”

Our officemates’ reactions:
“Really strong to me.”
“Smells like straight-up baby powder.”
“If paisley could smell like something, that’s what it would smell like.”
“A classic floral.”
“Smells like bar mitzvahs because it’s what everybody’s bubbes wore in 1985.”

Who they imagined would wear this: “A boho girl who got it from a thrift store, and it was 30 years old.”

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume #6: Beach by Bobbi Brown, the minimal makeup guru.

Price: $76 for 1.7 oz.

How the brand describes it: “An eau de parfum inspired by Bobbi’s favorite place — the beach. This best-selling fragrance captures the atmosphere and essence of summer. Designed with a lightly intoxicating blend of sand jasmine, sea spray, and mandarin, this fragrance is wearable anytime, anywhere.”

Our officemates’ reactions:
“Tea, sunscreen.”
“Oooh, it does smell sunscreen-y!”
“It’s the sunscreen scent!”
“Is this just sunscreen on a stick?”
“A little tougher smelling than the rest, it has an edge to it.”
“Equal parts sunscreen and candy, like SweeTarts.”
“It smells like my mom on a family beach vacation in 1983.”
“Definitely has the Coppertone vibe.”

Who they imagined would wear this: “Someone on vacation, or during the winter if you have seasonal depression.”

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume #7 (and the crowd favorite): Mojave Ghost by Byredo, a cult favorite brand created by a tattooed Swede who grew up in Toronto, New York and Stockholm.

Price: $150 for 50 ml.

How the brand describes it: “The soulful beauty of the Mojave Desert is as comforting to many as it is hostile to others. In this xeric wilderness, the ghost flower is a rare species that dares to blossom above this baked, hard ground. Mojave Ghost is a homage to this most bewitching flower — it has a woody composition with a light and graceful character that slowly discloses its true intensity.”

Our officemates’ reactions:
“Peachy, pleasant.”
“I just want to snuggle up in a blanket with this.”
“It feels like a daily perfume, not just for a special occasion.”
“It feels warm; there’s a warmth underneath it.”
“It’s daytime, I want to wear this in the morning.”
“It’s an easy wear, like jeans and a sweatshirt and your favorite sneakers.”
“Kind of green and watery.”
“I’m getting some sort of stone fruit; some woody stuff coming up.”
“It’s definitely unique.”
“I love it.”

Who they imagined would wear this: “A great laid-back gal.”

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume Smell Test

Perfume Smell Test

What do you think? Do you wear any of these? What is your go-to fragrance? Thanks to our officemates for playing!

P.S. My life in perfume, and an eyebrow before-and-after.

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo at Friends Work Here. Thank you so much to our perfume testers: Tory Williams, Ben Wagner, Christine Sirois, Paul Jun, Wesley Verhoeve, Hayley Nichols, Amy Fuller, Jeff Beil, Hans Hendley and David Paul O’Brien.)