The Gentleman's Guide

The gentleman's guide  |  Women  |  Style  |  Grooming  |  Decor  |  Culture


Several ladies will tell you that a man smells great immediately after stepping out of the shower, without needing to apply any scent at all. This is probably true, but it's impractical for us to be constantly jumping in and out of showers. The alternative is to enhance your natural manly odour with something a little more pleasant. The trick is knowing how to do this well.

  • What is a scent?
  • Perfumes for different occasions.
  • Choosing your fragrance.
  • Applying perfume.

For starters, let's not beat around the bush. We're talking perfume. You can hide behind phrases such as cologne or eau de toilette but ultimately it's just perfume. Admitting this doesn't emasculate you. If anything, it shows you're confident in your own masculinity. And before you ask, Lynx and Old Spice are not options. If it's named after a celebrity then steer clear too.

Now let's apply that confidence. Your scent should be like a signature drink. Sure, you can vary it depending on the occasion, but ultimately you should find two or maybe three you like and show some consistency. I'm not suggesting that you stick to the same one for the rest of your life. Fashions in perfume change and you should change with them. I'm simply saying that if you're applying a different scent every day you're over-doing it.

Personally, I wear Paco Rabanne Ultraviolet Man in summer or for more casual occasions and Armani Black Code when it's colder, or on more formal occasions. These perfumes work well for me but they may not work well for you. Why? It's all down to body chemistry. When you initially apply the fragrance you will be able to smell some of the solvent that the perfume is dissolved in as it evaporates, but the true character of the scent won't come through for at least twenty minutes.

It depends on where you spray it - pulse points on your wrist and neck are good as they're warmer and encourage the fragrance to be given off more readily. Away from these points it could take even longer to become clear whether the perfume suits you. How do you tell if it works well with your body chemistry? A good rule of thumb is to leave it for the twenty minutes or more and see if you can still smell it strongly without sticking your nose against your wrist and sniffing. If you're only getting an occasional pleasant whiff then you've found a perfume that works. For a more detailed explanation go to a department store such as House of Fraser, Debenhams or Harvey Nichols, find the perfume department, and ask one of the assistants, who will be more than happy to help and able to offer expert advice. Expect to pay at least around � for a 75ml-100ml bottle.

So you've found a scent that works well with your body chemistry. Question is, does it smell good? Department stores will allow you to try a spray before you buy. Spray some on your wrist then go get a coffee for a while to give the character of the fragrance to come through, as described. Now smell it. You should be looking for something that smells pleasant and, dare I say it, floral. If it smells like a cat has urinated nearby then don't buy it. Since you only have two wrists you can only try two perfumes at a time (don't try to prove me wrong - it won't work). For help choosing the best one why not ask a creature with a more sopisticated sense of smell than you? No, not a bloodhound, a woman. Yes, on average ladies have substantially more sensitive noses than men, as well as being much more expert on what smells good on a man. If you don't have a friend, girlfriend or sister to ask then don't be afraid to ask a stranger. Explain that you're trying to choose a fragrance and you could really use a female opinion, then ask her to pick which wrist smells best. As long as you're polite and follow my rules about introductions, most women will be happy to give up a minute to oblige (and it could even be a great way to start a conversation).

Finally, you've got the perfume and you're ready to apply it before going out. Do this before you put your shirt on. Try to find an unfragranced anti-perspirant so that you don't mask the expensive and delicate fragrance with something that cost �at a supermarket. A single spray at each pulse-point mentioned above, and perhaps one more on your chest is plenty. Your scent shouldn't arrive five minutes before you do. Don't be tempted to spray the perfume in the air and walk through it either; you're a man.

Finally, remember that perfume is not just for other people. If you don't occasionally get a pleasant whiff of the scent any more then try using one of your other options for a week or two until your nose is no longer used to the one you couldn't smell.

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Your perfumes are delicate mixtures that will eventually break down. You can slow this process by keeping them in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard or drawer. Under no circumstances should you store them on a windowsill in direct sunlight (you wouldn't do that with a bottle of wine that cost this much, would you?).