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How To Choose A Signature Fragrance Without Being Weird About It

How To Choose A Signature Fragrance Without Being Weird About It
Carly Jacobs

spent most of my mid-twenties trying to find my signature fragrance. I’d been wearing Givenchy Organza for ever when I suddenly and arbitrarily decided it was a pedestrian fragrance and I needed something much more underground and hipster. I flitted around for a few years annoying the women in Klien’s on Brunswick Street trying to get something that was same-same-but-totes-different to Organza until the lady behind the counter pretty much told me to get over myself and just wear Organza. So I bought myself a bottle last Christmas and it was an excellent life choice because it makes me smell like a sexy cupcake. For those of you that suffer from perfume indecision here’s a simple no bullshit guide on how to choose a signature fragrance without being weird about it.

Heart made of pink petal flowers

Narrow it down 

There are far too many fragrance categories and sub-categories for us to get too technical so I like to narrow down to the main categories. Floral, oriental, wood and citrus. There other categories but you have to a bit of fragrance head to really care about them. We’re just doing the basics here.


Think rose, lilies, fresh cut flowers and lovely shops that sell potpourri and sweet smelling hand cream. Floral scents are very feminine and quite sweet. If you love the smell of flower shops and rosewater you could start with Chloe by Chloe, Flower by Kenzo or Flowerbomb by Victor & Rolf.


Oriental fragrances usually have incense, amber and vanilla as their main notes. Imagine chai tea, beautiful vases of jasmine flowers and vanilla bean custard tarts. Oriental scents are quite sexy and seductive so if this sounds like you, try Yves St Laurent’s Opium, Givenchy Organza or Dior’s Poison.



Wood based scents and orientals can seem quite similar but woods are deeper and heavier than orientals so think cedar tables, leather couches, tobacco and wood fires. If you think you are a wood woman you might want to consider trying some unisex or men’s fragrances like Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille or anything at all by Comme Des Garçons.


Citrus fragrances are clean, youthful and summery. Think big green salads with lime dressing, icey cocktails with lemon slices and freshly squeezed orange juice. If you’re a zesty citrus girl try Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin, Guerlain Eau de Guerlain (well known as the citrus masters) or Jo Malone Grapefruit.

Follow your instincts

Once you’ve figured out if you’re floral, oriental, wood or citrus you can start exploring fragrances in your category. You’ll often find that you’re naturally drawn towards bottles of perfume that are in your category. For instance lots of woody fragrances are in dark, moody looking bottles that won’t appeal to someone who likes fresh citrus fragrances. Similarly florals are often in very feminine, pink hued bottles that a minimalist oriental lover wouldn’t be drawn to. Trust your eye and see where it takes you.

Let it cook 

Never commit to purchasing a perfume unless you’ve worn it for at least 8 hours. Only try two fragrances at a time, spray one on each wrist and periodically smell them through out the day to see how they settle on your skin. By the end of the day, you should have a fairly solid preference for one over the other.

Jasmine flower in hand

Try samples 

Many perfume stores are more than happy to provide you with samples if you ask nicely. It’s a great way to spend a week wearing a fragrance before investing in a whole bottle. If you visit LuckyScent they actually sell 5 and 7ml samples of most of their fragrances for just a few dollars which is an excellent way to test out expensive artisan scents.

Be adventurous 

Mix it up a little. Just because you lean towards loving orientals doesn’t mean that a rose based scent won’t work for you. If you’ve been wearing nothing but powdery Cacheral scents since you were in high school you might like to mix it up with something from a fragrance house with a fresher style like Prada or Gucci.

Get over yourself 

Don’t be a perfume snob. Some people get very uppity about cheap or celebrity fragrances but if you love Katy Perry’s latest perfume and it smells UH-mazing on you then wear it.

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What perfume do you wear and how did you decide on that one?


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  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid 9 years ago

    I’m a nightmare when I go perfume shopping – I try about 50 million (that’s only a slight exaggeration) different ones and send my sense of smell into all sorts of confusion. I like floral scents mostly and despite my shambolic system for perfume purchasing I’ve never bought one I didn’t like. Right now, I’m wearing Marc Jacobs Honey because I love the bottle as much as the scent! What category does Organza fall into?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Organza is an Oriental! I’m always an oriental gal. I’ve experimented with rose and florals but they just aren’t my bag. If was rich I’d wear Tom Ford’s Tabacco Vanille – it’s an Oriental Wood and it smells like the best sex anyone has every had in the history of the world. It’s like $300 a bottle though so def not! I love Honey – it cooked badly on me but smells great on my friend!

  2. Kelly NH 9 years ago

    I have so much trouble with fragrance as heavy sweet scents give me shattering migraines.
    So I will say to PLEASE consider the environment you work in before going to heavy on the fragrance!
    It may smell gorgeous to you, but if its too heavy or floral-ish, guaranteed someone at your place of work will be suffering because of it!
    I have a fear of smelling like my old boss who basically showered in Red Door. I pretty much spent about 8 years of my work life breathing through my mouth, and opening windows to assist with my not dying.
    I also hate Tabu, any impulse spray, musk and heavy vanilla scents. Bleurgh…….
    I normally wear DKNY green apple (not sure what its actually called?) and I just bought the solid Dirty perfume from Lush. Its an awesome unisex (I think its actually mens?) minty/grassy/fresh smell. Love!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Oh totally! I went to uni with a woman who had a registered disability associated with perfume. Like she’d hyperventilate if anyone wore it to class. We were all asked not to wear perfume to class, which is fair enough. I did think that was weird though because she used to go to the theatre all the time with no trouble at all (and people DROWN themselves in perfume at the theatre) but when she was in class it seemed to be a much bigger deal. She was a bit of milker. But it’s definitely a thing. Sometimes even I get it if an old lady has gone mental on the Chanel number 5.

  3. Vehs 9 years ago

    Unfortunately my signature fragrance is Britney Fantasy (10 years strong!) – I had my mum make up candles for our wedding favours in that smell as well so now my guests houses smell like me!
    There was a time when I was use BBW Warm Vanilla shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and anti bac and my (now out of the closet) work husand noticed when I wore a new citrusy perfume, “You don’t smell like you…” I let him smell my anti bac “.. yes! That’s you!”

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Ha! Hilarious! I say if it smell good, then go for it! Also there’s a plus to wearing celebrity frangrances, they’re usually cheap! 🙂

  4. Cilla 9 years ago

    My signature scent is black afgano by nasomatto, which contains hemp. It is a woody oriental and unlike anything else I own. It is a special occasion perfume. I have others for everyday.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Oh that sounds delicious! I used to have a special occasion scent but I ran out! Should grab more actually! 🙂

  5. merilyn 9 years ago

    all good thanks smags!
    my very favourite is chanel no 5
    but a bit lighter ones are doclce & gabbana red
    ck one, bvlgari silver love the bottle, gaultier, … love shape of woman bottle!
    tre’sor, dune these two are a bit ott …
    my clients used to give me perfume and i got into the habit!
    these are all in my cupboard now! whoops! what can I say? what mood am I in?
    love m:)X

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      I used to wear Chanel 5! But I decided I was a bit too young to pull if off… I’m waiting until I’m a bit more mature to work it again! 🙂

  6. Tash 9 years ago

    I’ve always picked a perfume by the shape of its bottle and then by the smell. Absolutely love Flower by Kenzo, Wish by Chopard and Mademoiselle by Coco Chanel

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      You’re a floral lady! I love Mademoiselle – my bestie wears it but it doesn’t sit right on me.

  7. Tanya 9 years ago

    Prada d’iris…I must have sprayed a hundred dollars of it all over me whilst waiting for a script to be filled at the U Pharmacy at South Yarra…I fell in love instantly so I bought 2 bottles whilst overseas last year.The next time I went in though,I noticed the tester bottle had been moved behind locked display doors…Oops…
    I’m also a Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue fan but my heart still beats that little bit faster when I smell Rive Gauche – I was 21 years old and it was my first “grown up” perfume…27 years on..It still evokes such great memories

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Ha! Hilarious! I’m the same with Aqua d’gio – every guy I dated in the early noughties wore it and every time I smell it it my heart gets all racy!

  8. Erin 9 years ago

    I’m all about rose and florally smelling stuff – which you would think funny if you knew me. I’m sarcastic and droll with a bit of a geeky nature – hardly pretty like flowers. I found Chloe’s Rose de Chloe last year and I’ve adopted it as my new signature.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Chloe has beautiful scents. If I was into florals, I’d be a Chloe gal.

  9. Kat 9 years ago

    I think I prefer woody orientals, but I’m not too biased. Too sweet scents don’t sit nicely on me though. How great is Kleins?! I go every time in in Melbourne. My daytime favourite is Bois Farine by L’Artisan. Love it, it’s kind of creamy which is a strange way to describe perfume isn’t it? My nighttime choice is Penhaligon’s Malabah, love it. I don’t mind Poison as well. Actually, love all perfumes really. And yes, I think perfume is a lovely subtle way to evoke a bit of who you are into the world.

  10. Author
    Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

    I LOVE Penhaligon’s! They have a beautiful one called Artemisia that adore but it just doesn’t last on me. It’s such a shame because it smells amazing! I was in Singapore last year and they had a whole Penhaligon’s store in a mall. I spent so much time there!

  11. emmabovary 9 years ago

    My signature scents are Juicy Couture Dirty English which is a discontinued mens aftershave – I bought it for Mister when we started dating and it smelt horrible on him, but on me? wowza! and also Guerlain Champs Elysees which makes me feel strong and powerful (and intelligent, is that weird?)

  12. I’m definitely a floral girl. My wedding day fragrance was Chloe by Chloe and my all time favourite is the Roses version of Chloe (the limited edition EDP they released a few years ago, NOT this new EDT version which I have but don’t love nearly as much as the EDP… le sigh).

  13. Kelly 9 years ago

    So helpful to narrow it down! I remember interviewing perfume expert Chandler Burr a few years ago and he gave me his top ten recommendations to try. Oh, that reminds me of it now! I’m going to search for it and go on a bit of a perfume quest now! Thanks Smags x

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Oh totally do it! It’s so much to try out new scents. I’ve been doing it for years – I’ve only just given up and settled back on Givenchy.

  14. Dr Na 9 years ago

    I love perfume – don’t feel dressed without it. I mostly wear YSL Cinema (for work), Gucci Guilty (night time) and recently Narciso Rodriguez For Her as a casual fragrance. I am still mourning Fendi’s Theorema which was super spicy and the first bottle I ever bought.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      YSL do great classic fragrances. I love them! I need a night scent I think… perhaps Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille! 🙂

  15. Bec 9 years ago

    I have committed to Chloe and LOVE IT! I am now a Chloe gal but also mix it up with Burberry Body or Marc Jacobs Daisy. Now I want to go and douse myself in perfume.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Chloe is beautiful! I give lots of approval to Chloe fragrances!

  16. Michelle... 9 years ago

    L’eau d’Issey girl right here. First tried it when I was 15 or 16 and while I’ll happily try other scents [hugely disappointed with the latest incarnation of Sunflowers 🙁 ], I always end up back there.

  17. Frankie 9 years ago

    I have a large collection of perfume oils by a boutique perfume house in the US called Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. One of my very favourites is Snake Oil, a spiced vanilla blend- their blends actually age really well and these tiny 5ml bottles can fetch hundreds over time!

  18. Alison 9 years ago

    My brother wears one of the Tom Ford ones and I love it! I made my own perfume. I just can’t one I like. I put in lime, jasmine absolute and vetiver. Spicy, floral and hint of citrus. I love it!

  19. Tegan 9 years ago

    I wear Vera Wang’s Princess and Beyonce Heat. I used to wear the men’s Joop (the purple one) but I found it too heavy for everyday wear. My partner gave me Tabu for our first Valentine’s together. I was horrified as I was only 19 at the time lol!

  20. Carmen 9 years ago

    I’ve never been a big perfume wearer, cheaper scents can give me a nasty headache, After having a kid i stopped wearing it at all for years, am only now just getting back in and trying to find a scent i love. Picked up some marc jacobs mini’s a while ago to try and loving them so far, but no clear favourites yet.


  1. […] was reading a blog post from Smaggle about finding a signature fragrance (great tips) and it reminded me of an interview I did with with international perfume expert […]

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