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5 things to think about when choosing a perfume

Updated on November 9, 2013

Are you paying for the smell, the label or the fancy bottle?

Choosing the right perfume is a complex process, it's harder than choosing the right wine, because there are so many extra factors to consider: wine rarely comes in anything but a standard shaped bottle, occasionally it may have a presentation box, it is only slightly affected by the latest trends and fashions. To appeal to your buying decisions, the perfume industry needs to look at every aspect of how they present their products to their target market.

Old Perfume Bottles as Collector's Items

The presentation of the perfume will affect your buying choice. Perfume bottles can be a luxury item in themselves and many will be kept on display long after the perfume has been used and will go on to become collector's items.

There are many books written about this if you would like to get even more out of your perfume collection. The New York Times reports that that old perfume bottles from The Titanic, along with fine China and other artifacts, will be up for auction on 1st April 2012 at Guernsey's, one hundred years after they sank to the ocean floor. In total, there will be over 5,500 items with an estimated value of over $189 million.

If you are choosing perfume as a gift, then the presentation needs to be just right to fit in with the profile of the person you are giving it to. If you want a light, fun on-trend perfume, you might be influenced by Jean Paul Gaultier's range which come in a range of fun shaped bottles that resemble torsos and bodies, or Anna Sui, with her bottles shaped to resemble the name of the perfume, such as Dolly Girl, with its female head shaped bottles. These perfumes tend to be for younger people, who want something playful to wear.

For more sophisticated styles and fragrances, go for classic elegance in the style and shape of the perfume bottle, such as the simple teardrop shape of J'Adore's bottle, with its long slender neck and orb on top of the lid. Or Chanel's simple geometric square perfume bottles resemble the elegant lines of the fashion styles that the Chanel design house is so well known for. These perfumes tend to be in the higher price bracket and the scent will be longer lasting and probably more suited to a slightly older age range, suggesting style, sophistication and success. Presentation of the perfume also includes the box, and wrapping. More sophisticated perfume labels often have elegant cardboard boxes in sumptuous colours, with a cellophane wrapping, carefully sealed with a logo sticker.

If, on the other hand, you are simply choosing a perfume for yourself to wear as an everyday wear for the office, to be kept in the drawer of your desk, then presentation may not matter as much as quantity.

As with any buying decision, knowing your budget is a key factor. Depending on how much money you have available to spend, you will need to consider how you intend to use the perfume. With a very small budget, you could buy a tiny 2.5 ml vial of a luxury perfume such as Coco Chanel and spray this on for a one-off special occasion. On the other hand, you might like to buy 30mls of a less expensive perfume for everyday wear in the office, when you might need to re-spray during the day.

The purpose of the perfume needs to be taken into account. Is this for wearing in the summer to the office, where you might be looking for a light, citrus, refreshing scent, or is it for a romantic meal out where you want to sit by the log fire and think cosy thoughts of musky tones of sandalwood, plums, spices and vanilla. Is the perfume for you or a gift for someone younger or older? Is it to keep handy in your handbag or for pride of place on the bedroom dresser?

Depending on the time of year, but particularly in the festive period, perfumes will often be presented as boxed sets, with elegant boxes and extras included, such as stylish cosmetic pouches, body lotions, shower gels or other makeup or related beauty products from the same designer. While these may be more extravagantly priced than just the bottle of perfume alone, they not only make more of an impact when given as a gift, but they help the fragrance of the perfume last longer, by layering the scents of the body lotion first, before spraying on the EDP or perfume spray.

The perfume itself needs to be considered. Perfumes have 3 layers of notes or smells that basically hit you when you first spray (top notes), then give way to a middle layer (middle notes) that will change to the drydown, the base notes that linger after the top and middle notes have faded. Leave a perfume for a few hours after spraying before you decide whether to buy or not, it will smell very different from your initial spray burst. Also remember that perfumes react differently to where you spray them depending on the natural body oils of your skin and how they react to the chemicals in the scent. Perfumes sprayed on your wrist may smell different than when you dab them behind your ears or on your neck or even on your hair.

Finally, preference. You know what you like. Perfumes can be evocative of strong memories, what you wore when you got married, when you were first dating, your first trip abroad or your first job. You will remember the smell and so will the person who shared those memories with you, even subconsciously, they may recognise the perfume without realising it. If you're giving a perfume as a gift, the wearer will have a list of preferences too, perfumes that have a nostalgic power for them. If you want to give your parents a special gift for the wedding anniversary, for example, know what perfume is a favourite for them and let them re-live some old romantic magic!


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    • Sarahredhead profile image

      Sarah Jackson 5 years ago from Southern United States

      Bravo!

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