Walking into a shop selling fragrances can be an intimidating experience. In and behind the counter, the different brands and scents are too many to count making it both confusing and difficult to select the ones for you. Traditionally, our fathers had one they used all the time. The variety was less and it was an easier choice. Old Spice, Aramis, Brut, Tabac Original and Quorum were some of the more popular ones. For many a boy, their first interaction with a fragrance was secretly using their father's cologne before heading out.
What to do when you reach the age where you have to establish your own identity? How do you avoid becoming the guy whose scent empties a room quicker than a fire? The best place to start is a counter in a retail outlet prepared to spend some time, experiment, play and return. The process is not an exact science. With the advice of the experts behind the counter, remember that you have to feel comfortable with the fragrance, since you are the person wearing it. Your personal taste will guide you, but if you are prone to a blocked nose, ensure that you do not overcompensate.
The key to learning about fragrances and determining what is best for you is understanding the different fragrance groups, such as leather, wood, floral, citrus, ocean, and so on. A basic understanding will give you the tools to start to decipher what works best for what occasion, as well as for your body chemistry and your mood. While your father may have used only one or two colognes, it is possible that you could end up with a couple you prefer, which you change according to how you feel, what you are wearing and where you are going.
There is so much more room for play when it comes to men's fragrances these days. As Laura, a leading Tom Ford retailer, explains: "Fresh and vibrant fragrances work well as a base, while the tobacco and wood scents work for going out. You could use a Neroli Portofino from Tom Ford's private blend as the base and layer it with Tuscan Leather."
In essence, you are creating your own unique scent, building it with two or three fragrances, each one bringing a different dimension. Laura adds: "Apply one fragrance over another to create your own unique one. These days, we strive to be unique and different. We don't want people to recognise our fragrance." More and more, we are shifting away from the mass and looking at fashion, grooming and accessories that are uniquely ours. Wood or tobacco may be good for going out, but if you are on holiday, you may not want anything heavy so you stay with something ocean or floral. Trust your instincts, to a certain extent, while drawing from the knowledge and experience of the people behind the counters.