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Here’s How To Start A Perfume Collection

Just like shoes, purses, and a rainbow assortment of lipsticks, perfume deserve a collection of their own, too. Never heard of a fragrance wardrobe? You might already have one: It’s simply “a thoughtful assortment” of perfumes that “truly fit you” and your lifestyle (via Vogue). But the idea of a scent collection isn’t just about clearing out old, musty fragrances and buying new ones — it’s also about finding perfumes that can be layered with each other (via Byrdie).

Your first step in creating a fragrance wardrobe is clearing out the old to bring in all the deliciously smelling new. As per Vogue, this is “a chance to bring order to the potential chaos of bottles that might be crowding your vanity” and is a truly satisfying activity when you’re in a spring-cleaning mood. It can also be cathartic: Scent is tied to emotion through the brain’s “olfactory bulb” (via Discovery), meaning you’ll also be cleaning out old memories that no longer serve you. Even if your perfumes aren’t tied to negative feelings, making meaningful choices about the fragrances you use can signify a clean slate. Refresh your perfume wardrobe when moving to a new city, landing your next job, or even just with the change of seasons. Embrace these moments of change with scents that make you feel joy — it truly is the Marie Kondo-ing of fragrance.

Here’s everything you need to know about building a luxe, convenient perfume collection you’ll love reaching for every day.

Building your perfume arsenal

As per Vogue, when analyzing the perfumes you own, ask yourself if they make you feel “good, happy, relaxed, or special.” Next, check if they still smell the same on you. Hormonal shifts and skin’s changing pH can mean that the bubblegum-sweet perfume you’ve had since college might smell very different now. Plus, your nose might not even respond to your go-to signature fragrance from extended wear, meaning it should be nixed. 

Once your vanity is at least partially cleared out, it’s time to get started. Byrdie advises thinking about what formulas you want to buy. Eau de toilettes are light and refreshing for daytime, eau de parfums are more concentrated and long-lasting for day-to-night, and “face mists … scented hair and body oils” are other must-have formulations for your collection.

Next up, figure out what perfumes you respond to and what scents spark joy. As Elle explains,”Your perfume wardrobe should comprise the smells you find pleasing,” so know what categories you like. Are you green-inclined, loving “fresh and verdant”? Or you might love anything citrus, “warm and spicy” oriental scents, woodsy chypres, or sweet florals. Test out the categories in person, smelling them on the blotters after the alcohol has evaporated, as well as on your skin. As per Byrdie, also learn about fragrance notes, the first scent (or “top” layer), middle notes, and the final whiff of more depth. Once you know how you’ll experience notes, even shopping for perfumes online will become much easier.

A fragrance wardrobe for layering

Once you know the fragrance family that makes your heart happy and you can read into scent notes, it’s time to get into “fragrance personalities” (via Byrdie). Even if you’ve never thought about the idea before, think about how you might already love spritzing an energizing citrus for work and opting for a musky floral for date night. For your perfume wardrobe, also think about a scent’s power to change your mood. You might want an empowering scent for when you need a confidence boost or a blooming garden fragrance when you need something uplifting. Fragrance is “an invisible and indispensable piece of wardrobe” that can truly change up your whole look. As British perfumer Lyn Harris told Vogue: “Fragrance is very much an accessory like jeans and loafers.” So it’s time to have something that fits every mood and occasion. 

Finally, think about all the possibilities for layering fragrances. Even if you’ve never thought about it before, scents can be layered on top of each other like makeup, making a good thing even better (via Byrdie). Mix and match your scents to find out what combinations you love, keeping in mind that “citruses and chypres work really well together, while the combination of green and oriental notes tend to smell good” (via Elle). According to Vogue, you should switch out perfumes every three to six months, so keep your scent wardrobe small — and full of fragrances that will give you a lift every day.

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