Build a Fragrance Library
Words by Cory Ohlendorf
There’s nothing particularly wrong with having a go-to cologne. After all, the heart (and the nose) wants what it wants, right? And there's something to be said for having a signature scent. One that you can rely on or that people associate with you.
But then again, there is a phenomenon known as “nose blindness,” a temporary, naturally occurring adaptation of your body that leads to an inability to detect or distinguish common scents in your surroundings. Which means the more you wear a cologne, the less you'll notice it. Fine for others, but you chose that scent because you liked it, right?
Fragrance is a form of self-expression. The scents we layer on our skin say something about us and the image we want to project out into the world. Just like the clothes we wear. And like our clothes, swapping out one fragrance for another has the same effect on your psyche as taking off a cozy hoodie and replacing it with a leather jacket. You feel it, right? You carry yourself differently.
That's why we need a fragrance wardrobe. Like your closet full of clothes, this collection of colognes can be pulled from depending on your mood, your planned destination or simply the day's weather forecast.
As cooler weather approaches and you start swapping out your summer clothes for heavier pieces, consider replacing your light summer spritz with a richer, darker and more Fall-minded fragrance. Or perhaps you'd like to choose a different cologne for work and play—something masculine, powerful and spicy for the office or meetings, and a cleaner, brighter fresh scent for your off-duty fun.
If you're wondering how best to begin building the foundation of a proper fragrance collection, Michael Edwards, founder of Fragrances of the World, suggests starting with your all-time favorites. The renowned olfactory expert is the man responsible for why we classify scents into families like woody, floral, green and amber.
And just like with your clothing wardrobe, you'll likely gravitate towards similar things that are compatible but have slight variations—not unlike the several navy chore jackets I have hanging in my closet that each have just enough differences to justify owning them. Fragrances of the World maintains a massive database of every scent on the market and calls it the “ultimate fragrance finder.” Enter the name of your favorite bottle (or maybe something you loved in your youth) and up pops several other bottles that share the same notes and ingredients.
The other benefit of maintaining a fragrance wardrobe? You'll open yourself up to new releases, which allows you to step outside your comfort zone now and then. To help you kickstart your discovery process, we've rounded up some new bottles from brands big and small worth sniffing out.
Bare Sentient Nocturnal
A mix of tobacco, copal resin and singed sage give a smoky edge to the herbaceous sweetness of fig and tonka bean.
From $76 by WILE
Eidesis Eau de Parfum
A warm, earthy scent. It starts out spicy with Frankincense and hints of black pepper, cumin and cedar, but evolves into a rich finish of dried wood and vetiver grass.
$195 by Aesop
No. II Ground
Eau de Parfum
A lighter wood scent. It combines dried sandalwood bark with creamy undertones of fig, ginger and musk with a subtle, powdery finish.
$137 by Gabar
724 Eau de Parfum
A fresh scent inspired by city living that mixes florals like jasmine with citrus and an effervescent, almost metallic finish.
From $170 byMaison Francis Kurkdjian Paris
Signature Collection: British Leather
If you love the smell of fine leather shoes, this classic fougère (that's French for fern) scent mixes bitter citrus with pure leather accord.
$158 by Dunhill
An incense-y blend of burning patchouli, pine and Japanese hinoki wood (known for its natural hints of spice and citrus). It's earthy and deep with a subtle sweetness that eventually develops on the skin.
$98 by Boy Smells
H24 Eau de Toilette
A shower-fresh scent that's masculine yet light, with floral notes and hints of spicy rosewood and dried clary sage.
$82 by Hermès
Hero Eau de Parfum
A deeper, richer take on their popular Hero fragrance, this cedar-forward fragrance combines several types of wood for a rich, amber scent.
$104 by Burberry
Eau de Toilette
Inspired by “the holy forests of Indochina,” this scent combines sandalwood with fresh cut cypress and cedar to smell like the inside of a beautiful, delicately carved wooden box.
$115 by Diptyque
Don’t be that guy. There is a right way (and a wrong way) to apply your cologne. Here are some of the other most common cologne mistakes to avoid.