Scents of a Woman

I used to have a “signature” scent, three times; one in high school, one throughout college, and one later in my thirties.  In high school my best friend used to joke that she would always know if I had been in a classroom the session hour before, or in somebody’s car the day before she was, because she could smell me.  In college it was not unusual to be told in line at the store or cafeteria or walking through a corridor that I smelled “so good,” or to be stopped at least a few times a month by somebody asking me “what are you wearing? it’s wonderful!”  Later in my mid thirties I found a unisex scent that I loved and started to wear it regularly, but at that same time I also learned about Bath and Body Works sprays, so while I used some sort of fragrance every day, I no longer had just one.  For my birthday this past November my Mom bought me a new fragrance by Lalique in a stunningly beautiful purple bottle, that she indeed bought BECAUSE OF the bottle, but also she said because she knew I was looking again for a new scent and she figured she’d gift me one to try.  I like it very much and have worn it almost every day for nearly two months, but it does not “feel” like it wants to be “my” new signature scent, even though it is spicy and peppery and has, according to the Lalique web site, top notes and base notes that I love.  I am on a journey of essence discovery so to speak, ready for a change, and looking for notes and undertones that somehow feel, or smell,  like they define who I am right now.

When my sister was in high school she had a girlfriend who smelled so good, all the time; like fresh soap, or sun dried fresh air sheets, just a clean and pure and fresh and delightful smell.  AND she always smelled the same way to me, and I never knew or asked what it WAS, and maybe it was just ‘her,’ and honestly over the years I have thought about her when sniffing around for a new fragrance or body spray, and am sure if ever I smell anything even remotely similar to it, my olfactory memory will go off like a siren!  Years ago when I worked in retail, one of my regular customers also had a scent about her that I just loved, and  every time she walked into the shop I felt happy by the aroma, sounds silly but almost like a high, and after so many years of waiting on her, finally one fall weekend, remarked to her that for years I had been enjoying her signature scent and asked what did she wear?  She told me it was Bob Mackie and that she bought it at Bloomingdale’s in the city.  AND the next time she came into the store, she told me that she had recently bought a fresh bottle, and from her ridiculously expensive French handbag, pulled out a bottle of perfume about 1/4 full and gave it to me.  I was so excited!!  …and so the next day I spritzed it on for work, and NOTHING.  NO joy, NO whiff of wonderfulness, NO feeling good, NO high…it was, on me, nothing special.  AND I was terribly disappointed, but of course used it up until it was gone, but that was when I fully understood that our own individual body chemistry has more to do with a fragrance than perhaps anything else!

I read an article in Women’s Health Magazine last year that explained that our sense of smell diminishes as we age and that this fact alone can determine what scents appeal to us at different times of our lives.  I have taken quizzes in Oprah Magazine on how to pick a fragrance and have taken personality questionnaires which are supposed to determine, based on a variety of seemingly unrelated and insignificant questions, what bases and aromas and top notes appeal to me.  It’s all well and good to take a sniff of somebody and ask what they wear, but if it does not jive with my brand of soap, or my skin, it doesn’t really matter how much it costs or where it is sold, if it is not the “right” scent for me, it’s just not a good fit.

I frequently use a bar soap from India called Chandrika, and a few times a week use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castille liquid soap,  and I often use plain old Ivory soap too.  All three of them get me clean, smell good, and I use them equally as much, but although the bathroom smells wonderful when I am sudsing, none of them linger on my skin.  There are some smells in nature that I LOVE, like jasmine, vetiver, orange zest, cedar, red wine, and good clean fresh soil.  I love how my house smells when I am baking apples or roasting a chicken covered in fresh rosemary, but I don’t want to smell like my oven.  There are some smells in nature that I really dislike too, such as roses and Asiatic lilies, so I know I don’t want to smell like them either!  It is somewhat difficult to “find” a new signature scent when you are a woman who no longer goes to school, or works in retail, and seldom goes out socially.  While I work a job that has me often dirty, I do wear lipgloss EVERY single day, and more often than not I also wear earrings, even if I am in jeans with the knees blown out and a Sherwin Williams t-shirt that, while once was white, now has a clear color sample example of every single room or house I have painted in the last three years, and I do wear fragrance every day…I joke that since I work a job typically associated with men, I try to get my *girlie on* any way I can…SO I am simply at a point in time that it is time to find a new scent that says, ‘oh, R* was here’ …time to get my sniffer sniffing.

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