In the way that few of us fancy becoming wine connoisseurs in our twenties (the focus then being on quantity rather than quality, according to my somewhat hazy memories) an appreciation of fragrance and a passion for exploring this whole, extraordinary creative world can sneak up on women in mid-life, I’ve observed.
Happily, there are now plenty of ways to while away many a happy hour (and not of the type that includes half-price Bacardi Breezers) discovering more about scent on blogs, books, courses and workshops. (I’ll be sharing some of those with you later this year.)
One of the best ways to enhance your appreciation is to take time shopping for fragrance. Proper chunks of time, setting aside hours (not the usual minutes) for what is quite an important investment.
As almost nobody knows more about how to shop for fragrance than Lorna McKay, I asked her to share her tips. Lorna is a fragrance buyer with 30 years’ experience and is a scentophile, constantly nosing out new and exciting scents for her own olfactory pleasure. She says:
• Never shop for fragrance in a hurry. It’s expensive! When you rush you make mistakes, because you’re making snap judgments and perfumes take time to unfold on the skin.
• Duty Free is the place to replenish perfumes you love, but not to decide on a new scent. You could have arrived in Italy before the base notes emerge, and those are what you really live with!
• Blotters are a useful way of eliminating no-hopers and lining up possibles, but they’re not enough to base a perfume purchase on. You need to smell a scent on your skin.
• When you’ve narrowed down your choices, don’t try more than two at a time (one on each wrist). At a push, you can try two more on the inside of the elbows, also good pulse-points.
• Before you part with your cash, be sure you love every stage of a perfume: top notes, heart notes and the lingering base. Allow a fragrance to develop on the skin overnight before you buy it, even if that means having to make a return visit to the counter. You need to live with the base notes.
Now I’m about to introduce you to some of the most divine fragrances I’ve ever encountered and which – as a woman of un certain age myself – I know smell fabulous on older skins. So seek them out. If you don’t already know them, they are worthy of at least a brief encounter, but will (I suspect) have you falling in love…
Discover Jo Fairley’s ten fabulous fragrances for the sophisticated woman
Read part one of this article: Scent of a (mid-life) woman
Four fragrance fixes: how to get back the smell of your favourite perfume