Girl Talk: Finding a Signature Scent

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I always wanted to have a "signature scent." A perfume that was just so "me" that it would be my fragrance calling card. I had heard about women stumbling upon their signature scent by chance, but I had to enlist expert help to find my just right perfume. After years of trying one scent after another, I finally broke down and spilled my fragrance woes to the perfume department manager at my local Nordstrom.

Versace Crystal Noir
Versace Crystal Noir

$41.62 - $70.00
Available at:;

I let him have it with my seemingly impossible list of perfume requirements: I hate most florals. They fit with neither my personality nor my sensitive nostrils. That being said, I do enjoy orchid, stargazer lily, and gardenia in very small doses. I love spicy oriental scents, but detest musk (the most common scent in oriental fragrances). I want my perfume to be fairly unique. That is, I don't want to smell like the latest issue of Vogue or like every third woman walking down the street. Finally, I want my perfume to be lush enough for nighttime wear, yet not too heavy to use during the day. I thought I had him stumped.

Michael Kors Woman by Michael Kors

$42.49 - $79.99
Available at: Perfumania

He thought about it a good long minute or two before producing a small, deep purple bottle. It was Versace Crystal Noir (photo top left), which was both brand new and relatively unknown at the time. The scent was sweet gardenia and orange blossom transformed into a lush oriental with the addition of hefty amounts of amber and sandalwood. Serendipity.

I finally found my signature scent, after a lot of trial and error. Do other women have the same problems finding a just right perfume? Moreover, in the era of constant makeovers, is the idea of the "signature scent" dead? I called in the Stiletto Jungle Girl Talk panel to dish on their experiences with finding a signature scent.

"My first signature perfume was Michael Kors (photo top right). It was introduced to me as a gift from a now ex-boyfriend-- the only good thing that came out of that relationship-- back in December of 2001," divulges Jennifer, a 31-year-old nurse from Long Beach, California. "It has a hint of freesia and is not overpowering [and] not too floral, 'cause I can't stand the smell of someone who smells like a flower shop. It is feminine, but still suggests that I am a strong woman. Those who know me, know that is my scent. Those that don't... compliment it!"

Sounds like you've found yourself a signature scent, Jennifer. And you still love it after all these years?

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio
Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio
icon$49.50 - $65.00
Available at:

"There is not a day that has gone by where I don't get questioned as to what I am wearing. Whether in the grocery store, or picking my daughter up from school, or out with my husband. I have actually had men walk up to me in front of my husband and ask me what I am wearing. Thank God he is understanding when they actually have, on more than one occasion, leaned over to smell my neck or the inside of my arm!" Jennifer continues. "Sometimes, when I go out, I apply a small amount of Vaseline to artery sites-- brachial, radial, carotid... if your a nurse, you know-- then I spray. I can do that with this perfume because, like I said, it's not overpowering and not strong. I also add a spray to my hair. That way, for you single ladies, when you give that gratuitous hair toss, you give them a little something extra."

That's a signature scent story if I've ever heard one! But, not all of the Girl Talk ladies have had similar experiences. "Random Chick," a 31-year-old executive assistant and freelance writer from Corona, Califonia, isn't caught up in the signature scent dilemma.

"Signature scent... not really, I guess. I like changing things up and rarely get the same kind of perfume twice in a row, although I don't wear perfume very much at all now that I think about it," "Random Chick" muses. "Everything is scented anymore and I prefer not to expend too much energy keeping track of which scent is where. I don't want to care about what might happen if I combined 'calming' lavender aromatherapy body wash with a citrusy perfume, which is like aromatherapy for 'energy.' That would make me what? Calmly energetic? Anyway I usually keep anything scented I buy very light and in the same scent family-- I tend to like earthy/citrusy stuff-- so there's plenty in my normal routine to keep me sniffalicious. Subtly so, which is nice since subtlety is both polite and alluring. My current fave scent is actually a body lotion: Aquatanica Spa Soothing Seaweed, which I randomly found in Bath & Body Works the other day. Since I just got it the verdict is still technically out, but you know it's a good sign when you can't stop sniffing yourself."

Yves Saint Laurent Baby Doll
Yves Saint Laurent Baby Doll
icon$54.00 - $78.00
Available at:

I agree, that is a good sign! Pearl, a 28-year-old LA-based music industry coordinator, also tends toward clean scents. "I wear Giorgio Armani's Acqua Di Gio (photo above left) and it's definitely ME," says Pearl. "I think I found out about it just trying it on in the mall and walking around with it and just loving it when I came home. I'm obsessed with the stuff. It's a pretty clean scent, without too many overpowering flower additions... it's more of a water-y smell. What I love about it is the way it mixes with my own body chemistry. I've had friends who have tried it, and it smells just a little different on each person. I've had plenty of compliments on it, but my favorites are the ones that I get at the end of the day when I think the smell is totally gone. It's fabulous stuff!"

Michelle, a 40-year-old SoCal nurse, is another big Michael Kors fan. "As we know, my favorite of faves is Michael Kors. I will spend my last dollars, if I have to, to make sure I have it!" offers Michelle. "I stole it from my best friend. She was wearing it one night and I had to have it. Luckily, she's a great friend and she didn't mind. Now, if she dosen't have it, she knows she can always find it at my house!"

"I love Yves Saint Laurent's Baby Doll (photo above right)," offers Po, a 28-year-old attorney. "Not only does it come in a gorgeous pink diamond bottle, but it leaves a fresh, feminine scent on my skin. I received it as a gift in 1999 and have been a loyal user since!"

Wow, that is loyalty. If the Girl Talk ladies are any indication, it looks like the "signature scent" isn't dead after all.

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