You've started a fragrance collection; maybe you've even become a little obsessed with perfume, but you're still struggling to find a signature scent.
You like all of the fragrances you own, and you know what notes you want, but nothing really clicks for you. Nothing seems to give you that Goldilocks "just right" fit.
It's enough to make you feel like your perfume obsession really is as crazy as some of your friends think it is. All these purchases, and you still haven't found the one?
And what about that fantastic fragrance that you love and paid big money for, but it's so fancy you can only wear it three times a year at outdoor cocktail parties where you won't overwhelm the room? You must be a fragrance fraud for buying that!
So, how do you find your signature scent? You know, that one fragrance defines your essence and makes you instantly recognizable to everyone around you. The one that casts a spell of confidence, sexiness, free-spiritedness, soothing vibes, summer fun, dressed-up formal allure, and dressed-down casual chill…uh, what?
If you're not finding your signature scent, here are six reasons why it might be happening and what to do about it.
(And, at the end, I'll share the most versatile scents from FZOTIC, the ones that lend themselves to being "signatures.")
1. YOU'RE NOT EMBRACING YOUR COMPLEX LIFE.
The search for a signature scent often stems from the desire to simplify our lives. We yearn for that one fragrance that perfectly encapsulates who we are and projects an invisible aura that transforms how we'd like to be perceived. We want to set it and forget it.
But in practice, that doesn't really work.
Let's re-frame this search: would you ever look for a signature shirt that could do everything?
Real life asks us to show up in different ways at different times of day, for ourselves and for others. Fragrance can enhance all those moments, but our lives are not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
We accept having a summer and a winter wardrobe. We accept having loungewear that we only wear to binge-watch our favorite shows. We accept that we don't go on coffee dates with old friends in black-tie attire.
Instead of one single signature scent, look for two to four signature scents that fit different occasions: something for the morning when you're feeling fresh, something for casual evenings out, and then a few accessories: a unique occasion scent for getting really dressed up in winter, and another for getting dressed up in summer.
2. YOU'RE NOT EMBRACING YOUR COMPLEX SELF
The notion of a signature scent puts undue pressure on individuals to adhere to one fragrance. It implies that consistency and conformity should take precedence over exploration and self-expression. This expectation can be stifling, especially for those who value diversity and change. We're not one-dimensional beings, and our fragrance choices should reflect that.
Moreover, the signature scent fosters the idea that we must conform to societal norms and expectations rather than embracing the ever-evolving journey of self-discovery. Accept that you'll buy some winners and some losers.
Understand that two years from now, you may return to those "losers" and discover delightful dimensions you weren't ready for at the time but which some part of you was aspiring to and exploring.
3. YOU HAVE OLFACTORY FATIGUE
Have you ever met a friend who told you that you smelled great when you had forgotten you were wearing a fragrance?
Olfactory fatigue is when we become "nose blind" to a particular odor after prolonged exposure. This happens faster than most people realize. Even wearing a scent for a few hours will reduce your ability to smell it.
Perfumers are well aware of this phenomenon: and it's the reason why they (unfortunately) can't wear much perfume. It's also why many people complain that their perfume doesn't have much longevity when their friends know otherwise. It's also the main reason people over-apply fragrance.
Wearing a "signature scent" every day is the best way to become blind to whatever it was that delighted you about that scent in the first place.
To counteract this, rotate your fragrances, not just between different favorites but between other fragrance families. If you wear gourmands every day, you will become somewhat noseblind to all gourmands.
4. YOU'RE LETTING YOURSELF BE INFLUENCED
Maybe you're immune to "influencers," but celebrity culture surrounds us, and many celebrities have perfumes. Iconic Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn became synonymous with specific fragrances, marking the early origins of the celebrity signature scent.
Catherine Deneuve became "the face" of Chanel #5 in the '70s, and who doesn't aspire to be as put-together as Catherine Deneuve? The allure of smelling like your favorite celebrity is a powerful marketing tool.
This leads us to compare ourselves to highly styled (and often unchanging) celebrity images instead of being true to our authentic, multi-faceted selves.
Let yourself be aspirational, but remember that since you're not a celebrity, you don't have to project the same personal brand for your every waking hour. No matter how hard you try, you'll never be David Beckham or Beyoncé, and that's not only okay, but it's probably a much easier life!
5. YOU'RE SEEKING SAFE CHOICES AND NOT TAKING RISKS
Nobody likes to feel that they've wasted money on something they don't really like, but that fear holds us back from trying things that are outside our comfort zone.
If you're searching for a single signature scent, you will inevitably buy scents that are easy to wear. There's nothing wrong with being practical, but in the end, you'll simply have a library of "all-purpose" fragrances in your collection, which means a lack of variety or novelty. Research shows that actively seeking new experiences is correlated with living happier, healthier lives.
Try branching out a bit to allow yourself a little adventure. If you're a woody-amber person, try to find a floral that works for you. If you're a gourmand lover, explore a few freshies for a change. In the same way that exploring a new neighborhood in your hometown can renew your outlook, rotating a few wild cards into your fragrance routine will light up your stand-by scents with a fresh perspective.
6. YOU'RE STUCK IN AN OLD VERSION OF YOURSELF
Like Taylor Swift, we all have our eras. But sometimes, we get stuck in one of them when the rest of our life has moved on. We keep buying the same looks from J-Crew until one day, we wake up and realize that we stopped being a J-Crew person four years ago, and none of our clothes reflect who we are today.
Don't you just love a 200 mL bottle? Me neither.
As a general rule, buy smaller-size bottles; even if you love the scent, you can always buy another bottle. I can count on one hand the number of bottles I've ever totally finished. Feeling obligated to wear a scent you were in love with three years ago simply because you have yet to cash out that expensive bottle is a surefire way to end up in a rut.
Instead, save it and come back to it as a time capsule. Use it to foster emotional growth and reflection. Revisit that fragrance as a time capsule and reflect on who you were then, who you thought you might become, and who you, in fact, became.
Accept that you wore CK One in high school, and it was a part of who you were. You may even still have a bottle in your collection, and while you've moved on, you still have that bottle to spritz for a weekend Target run where you can shop while the store plays the hits from senior year.
THE TAKE AWAY: EMBRACE THE JOURNEY!
Rather than being bound by the concept of a signature scent, let's celebrate the diverse and dynamic world of scent. Perfume is an art form that can be a mirror to our ever-evolving personalities and experiences. Our scent choices should reflect the many feelings, places, and moods we experience.
Why should we limit ourselves to just one signature scent in a world that embraces individuality and the beautiful spectrum of human experiences? Let's liberate our noses, our spirits, and our fragrant imaginations.
The world of scent is wide and wonderful, and there's a fragrance out there for every facet of our beautifully complex selves. So, let's embrace the fragrance journey with all its twists, turns, and delightful detours. After all, what is more emblematic of life's complexity than a fragrance wardrobe that evolves with our every mood and moment?
So, after all that, you can probably tell I don't really believe in signature scents, but I understand what it is to have go-to, all-purpose scent.
Here are my top "signature" recommendations from FZOTIC:
VETIVERSSIMO - Vetiver, even for people who hate vetiver; easy to wear, grounding, and fresh.
MONSERRAT - Grapefruit, apricot and osmanthus combine to create a citrus-fruity scent that's fresh but not candy sweet.
ROOM 237 - Distinctly odd and surprisingly easy to wear for being odd. Creates an aura that never quite reads as "fragrance," but smells fresh, unusual and compelling.
TAKE A NEW FRAGRANCE JOURNEY WITH OUR CUSTOM DISCOVERY SET
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