The Haute Écriture Guide to Buying Fragrances

Shopping for a fragrance is more complicated than you might think. It’s not just about spraying something on you to smell good, it’s about how you want to appeal to others. A fragrance can add to your aesthetic and equally take away from it so you need to know what type of fragrances to buy for any outfit or situation. Follow these tips when shopping for fragrances and you’ll impress everyone you meet.

Choose the Correct Scent Type

Fresh, Floral, Musky, Fruity, and Sweet are words that are commonly used to describe fragrances. You’ll especially hear these if you make your way into the fragrance section of a department store. Fresh or floral perfumes are the scent families that are usually worn in the spring and summer for obvious reasons but something that many people don’t know is that fresh and floral perfumes are also what’s best for formal events and elegant looks. It’s okay if it’s a little sweet but fragrances that are too sweet or very fruit tend to be taken as cheap. The reason being that most cheap perfumes and cologne have very sweet scents.

Another thing to avoid is putting on musky or warm scents during the summer. This seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many people do it. Warm and musky scents are best reserved for the colder months, unless you really know how to pull it off and that applies to both perfume and cologne.

Try Before You Buy


You’re mostly likely going to go to a store like Sephora or Macy’s to shop for some fragrances. When you get there, try to smell as many fragrances as you can. Of course, the sales associates are going to come at you with aggressive sales tactics but don’t listen to them. Don’t even ask them where you can get a floral, fresh, or musky scent because they will just direct you to the newest one or the one they were instructed to sell. Do ask them for that can of coffee beans though.

Next, you need to try some on. I know they have those little papers and they do come in handy but don’t be shy about spraying some on you. Use those sample papers until you find one that you really like and then put the one you’ve chosen on your arm. Some sales associates might get mad if you use the sample bottle on yourself but do it anyway.

Once I was at a Macy’s with my husband and he decided to try Dior Homme on his arm. All was fine until he decided to do it again because he was smelling other cologne and forgot where he sprayed it. The sales associate then decided to get angry and raise her voice saying “Why does he need to spray it? I already sprayed it on him. What is he doing?” She then proceeded to rush from behind the counter while saying “What is he doing!?” in an attempt to get him to stop spraying the sample bottle.

As unnecessary as that was, my husband and I didn’t care and neither should you. They are SAMPLE bottles and they are there to be used so don’t be shy about putting it on your arm or wrist. Just don’t go overboard and start spraying all over your body like you’re about to go out. The sales associate will have a legitimate reason to be a little upset with you then, but hopefully in a much more cordial way.

Test Its Longevity

Now that you’ve learned how to survive the fragrance section of your local department store, it’s time for the longevity test. When you find a fragrance you like and spray it on your arm, spray it on a pulse point. That means to spray it on a spot where you can feel your pulse like your wrist or your inner elbow. These are good test areas because these are areas that people generally spray perfume or cologne on anyway. After two hours or so, go ask someone if they can smell it on you. If they can’t, it’s no good. Good fragrances last throughout the day and if it’s really good it’ll still be on you when you wake up.

Eau de quoi?

Finally, we have fragrance types. On the bottle, underneath the fragrance name, there is an indicator of what kind of fragrance you’re holding. It should say one of the two most common types sold at these places “Eau de toilette” or “Eau de parfum”. Eau de toilette is the lightest fragrance type and can be used more because they don’t last too long. Eau de Parfum is more oil based and only requires one spray on the neck to last all day.

Make sure you use these tips when shopping for fragrances and you’ll be fine. Just use the correct scent family, try it before you buy it, test its longevity, and read the label. So tell me, how do you usually shop for fragrances? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. I myself look for the light and airy fragrance. I find that the light and airy fragrances are more pleasant to the scent. If the fragrance is to strong it kills the scent and makes it unpleasant to smell. Sometimes even unbearable. Some people think the stronger the scent the better. They believe if it’s stronger it will last longer. Although that may be the case, you also can find light and airy perfumes that last just as long and not so unpleasant to the scent.

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