We’ve all heard of the “signature scent.” You know, the one that is instantly identifiable, and lets our friends know whether we’ve just left the room based on a ghost-like trail of fragrance (a pleasant one, we hope). Maybe you even took a quiz in a magazine to find yours, or spent an afternoon perusing the aisles of Sephora to find The One.
But the ubiquity of a few popular scents — you know the ones — has led many to diversify the perfumes they wear from day to day. And even while most of us worked from home in recent years, fragrance became an “affordable luxury” that people continued to add to their vanities, according to Judah Abraham, founder and CEO of Slate Brands, an incubator for celebrity fragrances. We can also thank Gen Z for the newfound interest in mixing up fragrance: “It comes as no surprise that rather than wearing one perfume every day of their lives, Gen Z is actually actively searching for their personal scent library,” writes Marina Azcárate in The Next Cartel. “As with their makeup, they want to be able to pair their fragrance with their day, their mood, and their aesthetic.”
Meet the Experts
Mona Kattan is the founder and “nose” of Kayali Fragrances.
Enter: the fragrance wardrobe. “People are stepping out of their comfort zones a little bit,” says perfume guru Mona Kattan, the founder and “nose” of Kayali Fragrances. “Fragrance is supposed to be fun, and it allows you to time travel to certain memories or your favorite places. I change up my fragrance every day depending on my mood and how I want to feel that day!”
Kattan is also a prolific collector of fine fragrance, having amassed over 3,500 — yes, really — bottles from around the world. So, who better to share her expertise on the matter? Ahead, find out everything to know about building a fragrance wardrobe, along with Kattan’s tips.
What is a fragrance wardrobe?
The word “wardrobe” is intentional, as the idea is about more than just collecting multiple perfumes; rather, it’s about having options that fulfill different needs. “I like to think of fragrance as an accessory that I never leave home without; it’s just as important if not more important than my outfit or shade of lipstick I wear,” says Kattan. “Like clothing, I love to mix and match my fragrances by layering them to create my own mood and unique scent.” And although Kattan has thousands to choose from, she insists that it’s quality over quantity that truly matters: “It’s not about how many fragrances you have, but rather having the ones that you love; the ones that speak to your heart and nose and make you feel good when you wear them.”
How do I build a fragrance wardrobe?
Whether you go big like Kattan or for a tightly curated collection, it’s good to have a scent strategy in place. “Usually someone’s fragrance wardrobe will consist of a couple tried-and-true, go-to favorites, a few that will layer well with those, and a few to experiment with,” says Kattan. Here are a few tips to consider when building your wardrobe:
1. Think about scents for different occasions
Expand the possibilities beyond the standard daytime and evening options. “I have fragrances that I like to wear to the gym, scents I spritz before bed, and one I love to layer with everything,” says Kattan.
2. Narrow down the notes you love
In general, it’s nice to have at least one option from every scent family: floral, spicy, citrus, woody, fruity, aquatic, musky, and gourmand (fragrance-speak for sweet). But there are no hard and fast rules, and every fragrance wardrobe is unique depending on the wearer’s personal preferences.
“I would recommend finding a couple of your favorite notes and searching for fragrances that contain those,” says the expert, adding that “Samples are a great way to discover new scents and test them before committing to full bottles.”
3. Don’t rush the process
Like your closet, curating your scent rotation happens over the course of years. “Just like fashion, our taste in fragrance can also evolve over time,” reminds Kattan. “One of the best parts about looking through my fragrance wardrobe is seeing what scents I used to wear and where I was in my life during that time. It really takes me back and lets me relive certain memories all over again whenever I spray them.”
What if I’m drawn to one specific type of scent, such as florals? Can I still build a fragrance wardrobe?
You do you. Even with her extensive collection, Kattan admits she favors a certain type. “Fragrances within the same fragrance family can differ drastically,” notes Kattan, who says, “I personally love gourmand fragrances and have so much fun seeing how they can all vary depending on the notes they are paired with.”
Remember, your fragrance wardrobe is just that: yours. Find the scents that make you feel great while wearing them, and you’ll never have “nothing to wear” again — at least when it comes to your perfume.
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