“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?
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…
- 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)
- get dress and spray liberally on clothing
- 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.
- 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….
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