The Scent of You…Or Not

“No woman worthy of the name has ever been persuaded to use perfume. It’s the essence of femininity. It gives you an incomparable “lift.” It’s as much a finishing touch for you as icing is for the cake. And it can be a distinctive trademark of your personality.”

– The Handbook of Beauty by Constance Hart

One of my favourite thing about my grandmams house as a little girl was her perfume collection. My gran wore only the best and there were bottles of every top of the line perfume – dozens of them. I especially loved the beautiful Chanel No. 5 bottle. Who doesn’t?

Chanel No. 5


The problem was I HATED the smell of EVERY.SINGLE.PERFUME. Sorry Miss Hart…seems I am not worthy of the title “woman” but given I shot four kids out of my vagina I think makes me enough woman without perfume.

For years my gran dragged me from luxury counter to luxury counter (note: my grandmother was not particularly well off…she just liked to act like it) and it all seemed to smell the same to me. I found it over powering and most perfume gave me a headache. Maybe it was just the way my gran wore it. I lived with her for a year and her perfume routine went like this…

  1. Spray liberally on freshly showered naked body (my gran was a performer and even as a very big lady she didn’t seem to notice she was no longer living alone)
  2. get dress and spray liberally on clothing
  3. Drive to location. Shut all the windows and spray half a bottle and surround yourself in a scent cloud (just like Tom Haverford in Parks & Recs) for a few minutes and not allow your grand-daughter out of the car even though she is dying.
  4. Top yourself up every few minutes…just in case.

I can’t help but wonder if My gran could have taken Miss Dariaux’s advice…

“It is also inelegant to leave in one’s wake a trail of heady perfume, like some exotic heroine of a pre-world war 1 novel.”

 A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

I don’t think it is any wonder that I didn’t love perfume. I did eventually settle on a bottle of something just to keep her from harassing me too much. I can’t even remember what it was. It was like an inverted square stepped pyramid bottle. I never wore it.

When it came time for my wedding I felt I *had* to wear a nice perfume. Problem is I couldn’t find any that didn’t give me a headache. Then in big w (or somewhere equally classy…it may have even been the reject shop) I found a scent that was almost not a perfume. It was all citrus-y and smelt almost like rain water. It also didn’t give me a headache. It was nice enough but hubby didn’t notice and I wasn’t so fond of it so I just gave up wearing it. I just assumed I wasn’t a perfume person.

Then a few years back I was shooting a wedding. The bride was putting on her perfume and BAM! All of a sudden I was 8 years old walking up the steps to my great grandparents house. Either side of the stairs was a beautiful gardenia bush that my great nana took so much pride in. I knew that scent was poweful…but it never occurred to me it would literally transport me. It was then I realised I had to have a perfume that did that. I may have hated my grandmamas perfume cloud in the moment, but when the sheets I was given when she died stopped smelling like her I was sad. Whenever I get a whiff of Chanel No. 5 I think of her. It may seem a little odd, but I want someone to feel that way about me.

I am still on the hunt for the perfect perfume. I pretty much have my heart set on a Gardenia fragrance…but I thought I would take some advice from my vintage charm books on how to find the right perfume for me. The one that makes a man lean in slightly, the one my girls will smell when they snuggle up, the one that makes me feel glamourous and beautiful. It has to be just right.

According to Constance Hart from “The Handbook of Beauty” choosing a perfume is a mattter of instinct. Some scents will apeal, while others (as in my case) will not. She also points out this is definately an avenue you can go wild with and really express your personality. She suggests you spend a decent amount of time going to different counters and really trying lots of different scents.

Lesson Number One

Try the perfume on your skin. Different perfumes react differently on your skin. The only way to make sure it’s right is to try it on. See how long it lasts. Does the scent seem different when you have it on. Better? Worse? Or do you have to run for a shower to scrub it off. 

When I find the right one I dream of taking Miss Dariaux’s advice

“The height of refinement is to have your toilet water, perfume, hand soap, bath salts, dusting powder, and even sachets for your lingerie drawer, all secented with the same perfume.”

Of course I would have to decant my perfume into a  beautiful vintage atomiser, while sitting around in a gorgeous silk robe and vintage turban while the staff ran my erands for me….

Vintage Atomiser

In the end Miss Dariaux and Miss Contance can’t decide if it’s best to have a signature scent or to go wild. Given how much effort it will have taken me to find one, I know what my answer would be.

So lovely ladies do you have a signature perfume? Prefer to wear different scents for different moods? Do you wear perfume at all?

Miss Fairchild xoxo

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10 Responses to The Scent of You…Or Not

  1. Teresa says:

    I use to hate going through David Jones when I was little because I found the ground level, with its bright lights, mirrors and perfumery so overpowering. It use to make me a little dizzy. Perhaps it overloaded my senses?

    I’ve always been a loyal, singular perfume scent lady. Once I found the one I loved and seemed to suit me (Kenzo) it’s pretty much all I’ve worn and I wear it daily. People who know me know it as my scent and I kinda like that!

    I don’t have a vintage atomiser but I’m starting to wish I did!

    (Love this post!)

    • My three kids can’t stand myer/david jones for that reason (they are all on the autism spectrum so have sensory processing issues).

      I love the idea of people knowing my scent. I really think I will likely be a signature scent lady.

  2. Some of the women in my family overdose on perfume (Chanel!) and it really does make me feel ill 😦 I also can’t handle the perfurme departments much! When my first child was born I stopped wearing perfume and now nearly 9 years later I’m still not wearing it. I used to wear Maroussia in winter time which was a ‘cheap’ perfume because it was sold in Target/Big W. I remember reading a fashion mag once and there was one of those smelly-flap-advertisement thingies and I fell in love with Maroussia from that moment. I used to wear a tiny bit and honestly got so many compliments from men!

    In summer I wore a fig apricot fragrance from a company called Index Fresh or something like that. I still have lots left because Husband had once gone overseas to work and was in the same street as this company so he got me couple of bottles.

    I think my first perfurmes ranged from Revlon ‘Charlie’ when I was a teenager, then I bought New West which smelled like watermelon. Then like so many other girls I went to the Body Shop and alternated between Fuzzy Peach and White Musk oils.

    I don’t wear perfume now though, but I did recently buy a vanilla perfume stick from Lush. I recently used some Norsca roll on deodorant the smell was so strong I couldn’t handle it. So I think if I’m going to wear my perfumes, I’ll have to spray a little on a cotton ball or something and dab it on, instead of spray right on to my skin. Otherwise I have to go and wash it off because it’s just too strong 🙂

  3. Kim Campbell says:

    My mom is a Chanel 5 lady. I overdosed on the perfumes in the 80’s. I have gotten the most complements with Jason’s Peaceful Patchouli lotion. Go figure!!!! I’d forget that I even had it on! Lol!

  4. Kim Campbell says:

    I also have the same book! A Guide to Elegance. 🙂

    • It’s a great book isn’t it? I found it after I read a novel about a girl who finds it and tries to live her life by the rules. Then I loved the actual book so much I also got an original 1960s copy as well LOL.

  5. Mary says:

    Ha ha! I love that description of your Grandmother’s scent routine. I believe that’s called ‘layering’ by the scent industry 😉 I wear Chanel No. 5 but VERY sparingly. I had some awful occasions when growing up where I would get into a lift with someone wearing perfume which was so strong (and cheap) that you hold your breath for the whole journey. I live in fear of being that woman and really believe you should only be able to smell perfume if you snuggle up to someone!

    • LOL! I would also say it’s know as overkill 😉

      YES! That’s exactly how I feel about perfume. You might catch the tiniest whiff when you brush past someone, but you can really only smell it when you get close.

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