A few weeks ago I was scouring the internet for perfume recommendations and came across an article entitled 10 Perfumes Every Woman Should Own. Written by Roanna Day and Rebecca Hull the article begins “Having more than one perfume is not an indulgence, it's a way of life. Picking a scent from a well curated collection to complement your mood or the occasion is one of the greatest pleasures in life.”
The article continues with “You'll have your go-to signature scent of course but there are other iconic perfumes across a range of categories that you need to make space for on your dressing table …we’ve rounded up ten industry-insiders to share the 10 perfumes that they feel every woman should own, or try at least once in their lifetime.”
I have a few go-to perfumes but I never once considered having a “perfume collection” to match my moods. Well, why not? I have clothes, jewelry and shoes to match my mood or whatever statement I’m trying to make on a particular day, why not perfume? I made up my mind to try these suggested must-have perfumes*, see if I liked them, and then try to create my own collection.
For each perfume I included the description found on the creators website, my thoughts on the product and whether or not I'm likely to add this to my own perfume collection. These are my opinions only and in no way am I encouraging or discouraging anyone to buy, wear or try these scents. And if you love the ones I don't or hate the ones I love, it's all good! Leave a comment and let others know your opinion on these perfumes or tell us your favorite(s).
*Some of these perfumes were impossible to find, so I only tried 8 of the 10 and added 2 recommendations of my own.
Fracas Eau de Parfum (edp)
Them - Create a little chaos with this lush white floral. Distinctly feminine, this intoxicating, classic fragrance combines tuberose, jasmine and gardenia with a hint of orange blossom before giving way to a base of sandalwood, vetiver and musk. Fracas is the signature fragrance for women who want to make an unforgettable impression.
Me - talc-ish (is that a word?), subtle but could be overwhelming if you use too much, classy, classic, jasmine, musk. It was just meh. I feel like I’ve smelled a hundred like it. Not unique enough. Only lasted for 3 hours, then very very faint lingering scent.
I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it - but at $48.53 per ounce it’s a hard pass for me.
Breath of God
Them - On a trip to Tibet, our perfumer was inspired by the fresh clean air of the mountains and the smoky scents from the Tibetan temples. He rushed home to create two perfumes: Inhale and Exhale. Inhale is a light, melony scent while Exhale is a deep, smoky incense that he then combined to create Breath of God.
Me - This combination of Inhale and Exhale should have been called Hold Your Breath. I detected 0% light melony and 100% heavy smoky. I saw on their website that they also sell this in incense form, and it explained so much. It would be a so-so smelling incense, but as a perfume I couldn’t wait to wash it off. There was an undertone smell to it that I can’t put my finger on. I only know it was, well, yucky.
Perfume critic Tania Sanchez says “it’s one of those scents that inspires either immediate revulsion or jaw-dropped adoration on first sniff, with no revisions possible.” In case you haven’t picked up on it, I am firmly in the revulsion camp.
I'll save myself the $49.95 per ounce price tag, go to my corner gas station, buy some pine tree shaped car freshener and wipe that on my neck.
Them - A sensual interpretation of Iris: fresh and light, like a tender veil. Precious, elusive and perfectly balanced, reminiscent of the clean scent of crisp linen sheets and naked skin.
Me - They have the description spot on. It is fresh and light. Very light. I had to put on quite a bit in order to smell it at all. It’s a pleasant scent. Not too flowery, or too musky, or too smoky, so perfectly balanced is a true statement. This would be a great scent to wear to work since it is so light and faint. I will say I was not impressed that there were quite a few egregious spelling errors in the description of this perfume on the Prada website. Prada.com needs a serious spellchecker, unless spelling sheets with three e’s is an Italian thing that I’m too ignorant to know about. Made me question if their attention to detail when creating their products was as lax.
I could take it or leave it, but at $47.32 an ounce I’m unlikely to buy it myself, but I wouldn’t hate it if someone slipped this into my Christmas stocking.
Caldey Island Lavender Water
Caldey Abbey Perfumes
Them - This perfume is handmade by Cistercian monks on a tiny island off the coast of Wales. Profuse growth of wild lavender flowers on Caldey Island prompted the monks of the abbey to create scents with new fragrances. This Lavender Water is considered to one of the best soliflores (fragrances that strive to recreate the scent of a single flower) ever made.
Me - It’s quite lovely. Simple. Easy. A fragrance for work or anytime you will be in close contact or in stressful situations as the therapeutic properties of lavender could have a calming effect on those around you.
Worth the money, but nearly impossible to find a seller of the spray version online. I got my 1 ml. sample from Surrender to Chance, and they sell up to 15 ml in a glass spray bottle for $51.87. That’s roughly $103.74 per ounce, YIKES! I will definitely buy the 5 ml. spray at $18.35 and save it for very special occasions.
Them - With a sexy perfume like the Encens Jinhae, you will leave a lasting impression. Its main ingredients, among them incense from Samarkand, lemon from Sicily and cherry blossom from Jinhae, turn this floral oriental fragrance by Atelier Cologne into a must for men and women who want to attract attention. A wonderfully soft way to cast a sensual spell!
Me - I liked this but it was a bit too strong for me. I can see how this could be worn by both men and women as its scent is neither masculine or feminine. The was the longest lasting scent of those that I tried. I put this on in the morning and could still smell it when I went to bed. So, bang for your bucks, it’s right up there.
This is the most expensive of those I tried at $150 per ounce. This would definitely be an indulgence and I’m not likely to indulge in this particular perfume. On the plus side, I suspect a 1 oz bottle would last for years since you don’t need to put a lot on for this to remain all day.
Them - For Her fragrance collection is a profound statement about sensuality and beauty. This fragrance line has an enduring intensity that is intimate and sensual; it is addictive.
A rare weave of pink florals with hints of rose, peach pulp, soft amber, and wood. Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Parfum is a glamorous, sensual, intoxicating fragrance that embodies true elegance and timeless luxury.
Me - This definitely reminded me of something I found on my grandmother’s bureau when I was a kid. The description got some of this right. I would call it elegant and timeless, but not necessarily in a good way. The best word I can use to describe it is old fashioned.
Even though this is one of the least expensive of the “luxury” fragrances at $36.53 an ounce, I still wouldn’t buy it and wouldn’t wear it even if was gifted to me.
Them - Mitsouko is a homage to the heroine of La bataille, the novel by Claude Farrere. It is the story of an impossible passion: Mitsouko, a beautiful Japanese woman and the wife of Admiral Togo, is secretly loved by a British officer. In 1905, when war breaks out between Russia and Japan, Mitsouko awaits with dignity the outcome of the battle, nobly overcoming her feelings.
Me - Ahhh, what a beautiful tale. When I read this description, I couldn’t wait to try this very highly rated perfume. I opened the vial, placed this precious elixir on the inside of my elbow, and waited for this “masterpiece” to blow me away. I’m still waiting. I’m beginning to suspect that my nose for scents is like my taste in wine. Not sophisticated enough for the “good stuff.” I didn’t like this at all. The first whiff reminded me of rotting fruit and it just did not get better for me even though I desperately wanted to love this.
Coming in at a mere $18.04 cents per ounce, this is definitely a reasonably priced perfume if you like it. Since they now sell this a Walmart, this is clearly not the high-end exclusive perfume it was in it’s heyday. This perfume hit the market in 1919 and I guess the alone makes this a “classic” perfume, but it’s a miss for me.
Chanel No 5
Them - Since its creation in 1921, N°5 has exuded the very essence of femininity: An abstract, mysterious scent, alive with countless subtle facets, radiating an extravagant floral richness. 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.
Me - There is a reason this is still around nearly 100 years later. I ashamedly admit that until I decided to write these reviews I had never in my life owned or even smelled Chanel No 5. I’ll also admit that had I smelled this in my twenties, I probably would not have wanted to wear it. But now, in my fifties, I won’t be happy until I have a bottle on my bureau. This is a classic - an elegant fragrance that is neither too young or too old, doesn’t go on too strong and lasts all day. Surprisingly, the price point on this iconic perfume is only $39.71 per ounce (for the 3.4 oz bottle - the price per ounce increases for smaller bottles). I couldn’t find samples of Chanel No5 anywhere online, so the perfume counter is really your only option.
This is one I will definitely add to my collection and wear when I want to feel like a sophisticated grown up.
Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum
Them - Imagine femininity, luxury and style- bottled. Expressing an aura of strength and beauty, glamour and confidence, it is inspired by modern women. Luminous green top notes, a heart of rich and exotic tiger orchid and lingering sensual base notes of sweet toffee and Indonesian patchouli leave a sensual memory on the skin.
Me - This perfume was not on the list in the original article that inspired me to write these reviews, but I’m adding it anyway. I firmly believe this IS a perfume that every women should own or at least try. This was an accidental discovery made while I was trolling the perfume counter at Macy’s begging the saleswomen for samples. Nearby, an obnoxiously cheerful person was happily spritzing passersby with a scent that stopped me in my tracks. “What is that?” I asked. “Jimmy Choo perfume” she responded. I thought I might be in love. I grabbed the tester, applied this to my inner elbow and my neck and made my way home. It’s important at this juncture to mention that all along in this process as I tried the different perfumes, I asked my hubby what he thought. Some he liked, even if I didn’t, some he didn’t like even if I did, and some he didn’t really have any feelings about either way. I didn’t even have to ask his opinion of this one. When I arrived home, he gave me a hug and the first thing he said was, “You smell good.” I explained that it was new perfume I was trying and he said “it’s really sexy.” That was a first and it sealed the deal. I went back the next day and bought it.
At $34.85 per ounce, this is reasonably priced for a designer perfume and money that I happily spent. I typically don’t buy perfume for myself, instead asking for it from my hubby as a Christmas gift, but this one I did. I left the perfume counter happy and not feeling the least bit guilty. In fact, I can’t remember ever feeling so good about spending money on myself. You can get a .15 oz sample size at FrangranceNet.com for $9.99 and I encourage you to do so.
Inis the Energy of the Sea
Fragrances of Ireland
Them - A sparkling, clean fragrance that captures the coolness, clarity and purity of the ocean, Inis the Energy of the Sea is a favorite around the world. Inspired by the beauty and energy of the wild western coast of Ireland, Inis (the word means ‘island’ in Irish) instantly refreshes and brings a happy feeling. Fresh, clean and energizing, top notes of lemon and marine bring a fresh feeling, like sunshine on your face, heart notes of lily of the valley are like a soft summer breeze on your body, while base notes of sandalwood and clove give an earthy warmth like sand between your toes.
Me - Yes to all of the above. This was also not on the original list, but I wanted to include it because this is my absolute favorite perfume for everyday wear that I discovered on a trip to Ireland. It’s a lovely clean scent, soft and inviting, and every time I wear this someone comments on how good I smell. Even strangers at work events have mentioned it, both men and women, young and old.
It’s a universally appealing scent and quite affordable at $55 for a 3.3oz bottle ($16.67 per ounce). It isn’t sold in stores in the U.S. but can be found on their website, or Amazon if you want to take advantage of free shipping.
So what's in my collection?
Inis, Caldey Island Lavender Water, Jimmy Choo EDP, Happy Heart by Clinique, Euphoria by Calvin Klein, Tiffany & Co. EDP, and hopefully soon, Chanel No 5