Okay, so I know writing about men’s fragrances on a women’s website is probably the most irrelevant thing I could possibly come up with, but a bunch of you have asked me to! And a few posts back, a couple of readers suggested that I do a “Tynan’s Guide to Men’s Fragrances” so they could have some tips on what fragrances to buy their men for the upcoming holiday season and Valentine’s Day. So MyCuntYourFace, librarygrrl64 and Brooklynbee, this is for you.
(Oh, and my best friend Matt asked me for some cologne recommendations like a month ago, too. A request that I promptly ignored. Sorry, Matt.)
The thing is I would almost never buy someone a perfume or cologne. I think that a fragrance is a personal decision and only the person wearing the scent can pick the one that is perfect for them. But some people just don’t want to spend the time to sniff out the right fragrance and are more than happy to let you pick out one for them.
And what better way to ensure that your main squeeze smells good then to pick out their fragrance for them? Maybe picking out your significant other’s fragrance is a bit self-serving, but YOU’RE the only person they should be trying to impress, RIGHT?
Anyway. I fucking love fragrances and I could talk about them all day. I’ve mentioned before that it’s really hard to impress me with men’s fragrances, I’m just used to them smelling so old. And I’m not trying to be an ageist or “age-shame” or whatever, I just don’t really want to smell like a pine tree or a baseball glove or an old boot. That, to me, is how many men’s fragrances smell.
I have spent a whole lot of time sniffing dudes and it’s not always been pleasant. When I was lucky enough to come across a guy who actually took the way he smelled into account, chances are he would smell like one of the following five things:
- Armani Acqua Di Gio
- Burberry Touch
- Old Spice
- Fierce by Abercrombie and Fitch
Now, there is nothing wrong with most of these scents (except for numbers four and five) but EVERYONE wears them. And when that many people wear the same fragrance, they’re inevitably going to end up smelling like someone’s ex-boyfriend. Do you want your new man smelling like your ex? NO.
So here are my favorite scents for guys that are easily accessible but not worn by everyone on the block.
John Varvatos is one my two favorite fragrances ever and it is my go-to for the fall and winter months. I like my fragrances to be either very simple or very complex. I want to be able to pick out every note that the fragrance is made up of or to be delightfully mystified. John Varvatos falls into the latter category. The best way I can describe it is if you spilled a chai latte into an old leather jacket. It’s spicy but not overpowering, sweet but not cloying, a bit leathery but not obviously so. It’s balanced. It’s perfect!
But let’s stop with the abstract and break down what actually makes John Varvatos so great.
Its top notes are (are you ready for this?) DATES! Gross! Just kidding, not gross, but doesn’t that remind you of fruitcake? ‘Tis the season! The middle notes are comprised of coriander, caraway and, sage. Finally, vanilla, balsam, and leather make up the base notes. It’s SO good, I promise you.
There are a couple other fragrances in the John Varvatos line that are equally as impressive. John Varvatos Artisan is noticeably more citrusy, like they took the original scent and mixed it with a gin & tonic. John Varvatos Artisan Black is an extension of the aforementioned scent, adding more ginger, patchouli and SPICE. The newest Varvatos fragrance is Star USA, which is a more youthful, sporty scent. (“Sport” scents are huge right now.)
Let me start by saying that Kenzo is olfactory witchcraft.
Kenzo Pour Homme is a widely overlooked fragrance that I feel hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves. Released in 1991, this fragrance was way ahead of its time and still wears much better than many of the men’s fragrances on department store counters today. Normally if a men’s fragrance is more than five years old, I don’t give it a chance because I’m an elitist bitch.
Kenzo smells clean and warm and green and kind of woody. It has this subtle herby sweetness that’s immediately met with this earthy musk. It’s how I imagine I’d smell after rolling around in the grass under the afternoon sun. I wouldn’t know, since the most nature I get in my life is drinking champagne on patios, but one can dream.
Kenzo opens with bergamot, “green foliage” (so, leaves?) and OZONE.
WHAT IS OZONE? Ozone is a fragrance-y term that basically describes the smell of fresh air. It comes from that sexy smell that comes before a thunderstorm or after a rainfall, when ozone is released by electrical interactions in the sky. Does that make ANY sense? I know it’s sort of a stretch, but you see “ozone” in a lot of fragrances and I’m here to help.
So after THAT circus of top notes, nutmeg, clove, sage and geraniums make for a spicy middle. Finally, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood and cedar round it out on the bottom.
Kenzo Pour Home smells a lot like a forest after it rains, but a little sweeter. I’m wearing it right now and it’s seeped into this sweater I’m wearing that makes me look like an impoverished Eskimo and I can’t stop smelling my sleeve. In public. You’re welcome!
Finally, we have Bulgari Pour Homme Soir. “Soir” means “evening” or “dusk” in French, as the French to English translator just told me. Is that correct?
Bulgari men’s fragrances are very hit or miss for me, some of them can be too musky or metaly, but this one, THIS ONE is perfect. It’s another scent that’s hard to break down, but we can try. The fragrance is initially bright because of the citrus notes at the top, but not sweet because the citrus zest is tempered by black tea. In the middle, there are bergamot, wood and honey notes, with musk pulling it all together at the base.
Though this Soir is the hardest fragrance for me to wrap my nose around, it’s definitely one of my favorites. It’s tangy, but mellow enough to wear all day. Juicy enough to wear in the summer, while still warm enough to cuddle up with in the winter.
So those are a few of my favorite men’s fragrances ever. There are a few more, but I think that holy trifecta is a good place to start. Are there any dude fragrances that you’re curious about? Hit me up in the comments!
Tynan is ignoring his best friend on Twitter, but he won’t ignore you: @TynanBuck.