Common Scents: How To Find The Right Cologne

If you haven’t given your cologne game a good hard look recently, it’s high time you do. You’re better than that drugstore-bought bottle of Old Spice or that 4-year-old bottle of Aqua di Gio you still have leftover from college.

To help with that, we’ve gathered the most useful info from the four corners of our offices and put together a foolproof guide that will turn you into the man you deserve to smell like.

Think Seasonally
Just like your wardrobe, you want to approach your scents with a nod towards the seasons. You’re not wearing that peacoat in the dead of summer so it would stand to reason that a dark, woodsy scent isn’t the ideal choice for a summer evening. What guys fail to realize when choosing the right scent for them is that temperature affects what a scent smells like, as well as how much of it others around you smell. That’s why it’s always a good practice to stick with lighter, less spicy scents (think: vanilla, sandalwood, and citrus) during the hotter months. The outside heat with raise your own temp, releasing more of the scent molecules, in a wider radius, at an increased intensity. Conversely, the colder months and evenings are a perfect time to break out the heftier, more adventurous ingredients, like bergamot, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Colder, heavier air dampens the effects of cologne, thus keeping the smell closer to your body.

Date Around
Just like finding a solid S.O. trial and error is key.  So don't be afraid to try lots of different scents.  Every scent will interact with your body chemistry differently so try it on and let it wear on your skin for a bit. Don't be shy, ask for samples at the department stores.  You can also try sample subscriptions from companies like Scentbird or buy small samples from Commodity, one of our favorite brands.

Find Your Signature Scent
Once you find a scent or two you like, stick with it. The point is to experiment within your comfort zone, so to speak. Play around with a few samples until you lock down a scent (or two) that serves as an extension of your personality. Don’t be afraid to mix it up on your path to discovering what is your olfactory ideal. Nail down on the general ideas of the scents you like (woodsy, citrusy, etc) then focus in on specific brands and offerings.

Invest Well
Much like a quality watch, or a custom suit, the fragrance you wear should also be looked at as an investment, namely because you’ll more than likely wear it every day, so it becomes a part of you. A decent bottle of the good stuff will set you back about $55+, for a 4 to 5 oz. bottle, and with regular use, could last anywhere from four to six months. If you find something you really love, don’t hesitate to invest in it. The more you love it, the more you’ll wear it.

Not to leave you completely empty-handed, here are a few key recommendations:

Light But Complex - Dior Sauvage
A modern classic, this scent is bold and complex (citrus and spice notes) but light enough to wear during the daytime.

Dark and Brooding: Tom Ford - Noir
A rich, patchouli-based fragrance from the man who’s the foremost expert on luxurious style.

Bold But Balanced: John Varvatos - Vintage
A bold, woodsy mix with a hint of tobacco but not too overpowering.

Bright and Clean: Issey Miyake - L’Eau d’Issey
A combination of citrus and assorted spices makes this a great scent for the daytime or warmer months.

Unique and Mysterious: Yves Saint Laurent - ‘La Nuit de l'Homme
A mix of woodsy, spicy scents plays with notes of cardamom and cedar. Perfect for a night out on the town.

Need a few more tips? Check out our cologne 101 video from our youtube series Well Groomed.

See? There’s not much too it. No $4,000 crystal atomizers. No outlandish colognes made with real bits of panther (so you know it's good). Instead, it’s just a lot of common scents (pun intended!), and a little dab or two in the right places, that will set you well on your way to becoming the best-smelling man around.

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