Thursday, 2 January 2014

Guest Writer Jean Lindsay, On Loyalty To The Signature Scent

A signature scent is something that we fume junkies may have had many years ago, before our addiction led us to a vast and confusing wardrobe. I sometimes wonder if my ever changing fragrance takes away my identity, in that I don't have a recognisable smell that 'is me'. If others truly identify us by smell as much as the more tangible senses such a sight, I may be perceived as someone with a multiple personality disorder!

For this reason, as the new year dawns, I resolve to buy less perfumes and maintain some regular smells rather than spending my days in 'eau de decant' and 'extrait de sample'.

Someone without this problem is guest writer, Jean Lindsay. Here she speaks of what the 'signature scent' means to her:

My Perfumed Identity

We will attack the Boxing Day sales – my daughter, and I. Do we battle through the traffic into the city centre? Not a bit of it. We drive through quiet roads and park in an almost empty car park. A sign of these frugal times no doubt.

            I live in one of the smallest cities in the country and perfume departments are a bit thin on the ground, so our store of choice is Boots. The lovely gift sets that should have sold before Christmas but didn’t, have been drastically reduced and today is obviously the day to pick up a massive bargain.

            Now, I can count on the fingers of one hand the perfumes I’ve worn over my lifetime. I do that and it amounts to five, the first being Chanel no. 5, bought as a present when my ex husband enjoyed a business trip to Paris perhaps a little too much, so it doesn’t really count as it wasn’t my choice and most of the bottle was tipped over my toddler daughter’s head as she sat at my dressing table - not by me I hasten to add.

So that leaves four, over a period of maybe forty five years:
Estee Lauder, Estee
Estee Lauder, Youth Dew
Yves Saint Laurent, Opium
Clinique Aromatics Elixir

So as you can see, I don’t change my perfumes that often, and when I am wearing the now perfume, I wear no other. I am completely faithful and buy bottle after bottle of it for years. My bedroom smells of it. My wardrobe smells of it and my clothes, scarves, coat collars and even the cat smell of it. I become that perfume and it becomes me and I don’t look for any other. I went to a function a little while ago and a man I hadn’t seen for twenty years turned around – he’d had his back to me, and said,

‘Hello, I knew it was you I recognised your perfume.’

That perfume was Aromatics Elixir.

However. The Estee Lauder counter is displaying reduced gift sets and my daughter points out to me a set containing a large bottle of Youth Dew and a lovely white ceramic bottle of body cream. Unbelievable! The whole lot for under £25. I have a spray from the trial bottle and the memories come flooding back – some good and some not so good. It must be nigh on thirty years since I wore Youth Dew. Well! A bargain like this is not to be sniffed at- excuse the pun, and so I buy it.

It’s almost a week later I’m having a real battle persuading myself to use it as I’m still loving Aromatics. I’m trying my very best to make friends with the amber contents of the waisted bottle and so I wear it to the supermarket this morning, but it doesn’t smell like me at all. Perhaps I’ll wear the complete works on New Year’s Eve – body lotion on the arms and legs and clouds of perfume elsewhere, and maybe I’ll create some new good memories.

Jean Lindsay 2013


  1. Even thinking about having just one perfume scares me. But if I were to go for just one, I think I wouldn't want to choose something too ubiquitous and recognizable: my signature scent should be just mine (well, at least in my surroundings) and not mine and another several million (?) of those who go for the perfume that Marilyn wore to bed. "I smell Undina's perfume - she was here" - probably cute. "Oh, somebody is wearing Angel" - not so much.

  2. Hi Undina, It is scary thought indeed. I completely understand your thinking, originality of scent would be an important factor in the choice of a signature scent for me too. With that in mind, I'd maybe plump for Caron - Eau De Reglisse. Trouble is, I'm not sure that this usurps Mitsouko in the long term (how could anything?) so I'd most certainly blend banally into the huge crowd of Mitsouko clad perfumistas!

  3. I was going to say that I find this lady's unswerving loyalty to a handful of (mostly?) sequential scents most bemusing... ;) I would, however, like to know what has prompted her to switch from one to another in the past - not always a bargain boxed set, presumably. I got the impression that she would repeat buy for a spell, but something must have triggered a shift for her even to have worn five scents over all those years!