Top Ten Fragrances

In my last post, I made a top ten book list. It was difficult to narrow down all the books I have read into ten, but my list was a very good one, I think. I think it represented my reading tastes and interests very well. While I wrote that post, I got the idea to do a top ten fragrance list, as this is another great interest of mine. This list was not much easier to write, but here goes…

I came upon my interest in fragrances by way of wetshaving. My dad has never used aftershave or any type of fragrance, so I was on my own when I began my search for an aftershave. In the process of browsing the toiletries sections of various stores, I began noticing all of the fragrances that were available. But, still I settled for aftershave for several years. Then, late in my teenage years I got more serious about trying to find a fragrance to buy. My interest has grown exponentially since. So, here is my top ten fragrance list in the order in which I first tried them.

Shulton Old SpiceI am a huge fan of Old Spice. I always have the deodorant, aftershave, and cologne around. This is a good first cologne for a man of any age. It smells clean and pleasant, with notes such as lemon, carnation, cinnamon, vanilla and musk. And, to the surprise of many, it was originally for women.



Ralph Lauren Polo– This was the first fragrance I purchased at a department store. My best friend had been wearing it, and I loved how it smelled so I bought a bottle. I love Polo on a tester strip and on other people. But on me it doesn’t smell as good. But it still makes my top ten list. It is a very deep, masculine fragrance with notes such as: thyme, patchouli, vetiver, tobacco and oakmoss.



Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel This is my other fragrance choice from this list that was influenced by my best friend. I had not heard of it when I first saw it in his room. But I smelled it and knew I wanted a bottle. Luckily, this is a fragrance that smells more expensive than it is. The notes include: neroli, bergamot, violet, geranium, vetiver, and cedar.



Guerlain Vetiver If I had to pick one fragrance, a signature fragrance, to wear all the time, Vetiver would be the one. It is just right in every aspect for me. The notes are well-balanced. It smells great in every season. It fits perfectly any occasion. I love green fragrances, and vetiver-focused ones in general (vetiver is a type of grass). This was my second experience with a vetiver fragrance (Frederic Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinaire was the first). I hope to never be without a bottle of it. This is one of the rare cases where I seek out the vintage formula, as it is much better than the current product. Notes include: lemon, nutmeg, pepper, tobacco, and vetiver



Rive Gauche pour homme– One of my favorite categories of fragrances is barbershop style fragrances, and this is a prime example. Rive Gauche smells spicy and clean- Pinaud Clubman meets Brut meets Barbasol shaving foam. It’s classicly masculine, but without feeling out of date to my nose. Notes include rosemary, star anise, coumarin, guac wood, and patchouli.



Chanel Pour Monsieur– Most of the time, I don’t pay much attention to fragrance conventions such as when, where, and by whom a fragrance should be worn. Pour Monsieur is an exception. This is my special occasion fragrance. I reserve it for times when I put on my black suit to attend a night at the symphony or theatre, for example. You will be noticed in a good way when you wear PM. Notes include: lemon, verbena, cardamom, and cedar.



Bvlgari BlackIf I were ever to describe a fragrance as intelligent, I would apply it to Black. Most fragrances have three stages of development: top notes, heart notes, and base notes. Black does not progress that way. Instead, you smell all the notes come in and out at different times throughout the time you wear it. I love that it doesn’t have a standard development, as my nose isn’t sharp enough to notice how fragrances typically develop through the “pyramid”. Notes include: lapsang souchong, leather, amber, and vanilla.



By Kilian A Taste Of HeavenAlong with vetiver, lavender is a favorite note of mine. I have my friend Jane to thank for suggesting I try AToH after she learned that I love Caron Pour un Homme. A full bottle of this would be a big splurge, but I will always have at least a sample of it in my fragrance wardrobe. Notes include: orange flower, rose, lavender, and tonka bean.



Bespoke Fragrance– It is a nice perk of having friends who experiment with fragrace oils to make custom blends. A dear friend of mine made a custom blend for me after she learned how much I love lavender notes and A Taste Of Heaven, specifically. She did a very good job of replicating the notes. So I naturally had to include this one in my list.


Chanel #5– I wanted to include at least one feminine fragrance on my list. It was between this one and Guerlain Shalimar. My philosophy with fragrances is that if I like the way a fragrance smells, I wear it. It doesn’t matter to me which side of the counter it comes from. And Chanel #5 smells very good. The aspect of this one that stand out for me is aldehydes. They smell of clean linen brought in from the fresh air. Almost everyone knows this since Marilyn Monroe popularized it. If you haven’t smelled it, you should. Notes include: aldehydes, neroli, jasmine, iris, sandalwood, amber, and vanilla.



Honorable mention– I couldn’t leave out two from Guerlain- Habit Rouge and Shalimar. HR reminds me of a more sophisticated Old Spice. “Sweet dust” is how Luca Turin describes it in Perfumes: The Guide. Shalimar is rich, spicy, sweet, and powdery. In a word, luxurious.

So, here you have my top ten fragrance list, with a couple more thrown in for good measure. What do you think of my list? I would love to hear from you. As always, thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “Top Ten Fragrances

  1. Dear Jim,

    I loved reading your choices as well as your thoughts about them. I found myself nodding in agreement with your assessments more than a few times. For example, “intelligent” is an uncannily apt characterization for Bvlgari Black. Like you, I pay no mind to gender designations for fragrances; if I like the way it smells on me, I wear it. And you know all about Shalimar ‘n’ me. 🙂 My top ten would include vintage Shalimar parfum, Creed Angelique Encens, Chanel #22, Caron Parfum Sacré, Hermès Hiris, Thierry Mugler Angel, vintage Coty Émeraude, Sarah Horowitz Perfect Veil, Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, and Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger.

    Wonderful fragrances, my friend. Elegant and great – just like the wearer. xo

    • Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts, Terry. I always enjoy reading them. From your list, I love: #22, Shalimar, and L’Heure Bleue. Love to my sweet, fragrant friend.

  2. I couldn’t agree more on Guerlain’s Vetiver, I wear that one a lot (the masculine one). It’s truly great.
    And I also believe one should wear perfumes one likes, no matter how they are labeled. My brother-in-law fell in love with L de Lolita Lempicka and my boyfriend rocked Shalimar at one point. 🙂

  3. Great to see Old Spice on this list. I avoided it for years but now when I splash it I feel like I am channelling the wisdom of my grandfathers. Guerlain Vetiver, what a classic: this was the gateway to Encre Noire. Somewhere I have a vintage bottle of Grey Flannel which I would like to find.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Jordan. I didn’t have any preconceived notions to cloud my thoughts when I got into fragrances, and I’m very glad for that. I hope you find your Grey Flannel. I need to try Ecre Noire. It seems like I would like it, but I haven’t bought a sample yet.

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