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The A-Z of fragrance etiquette

Yes, there are rules for wearing colognes and perfumes as well. But they’re simple and quite easy to follow.

Deepti Khanna Bose | Print Edition: July 15, 2007

If you wear perfume, you walk the fine line all the time — between overdoing it and underdoing it. The goal is to wear enough fragrance to feel good and make the right impression. But how do you prevent yourself from smelling like you just bought the fragrance floor of a department store? Experts say it’s a combination of using common sense, knowing your body chemistry and adhering to the rules in fragrance-free zones. Here's what they say:

Don’t use too much

Remember, when it comes to perfumes, less is more. Apply one spray per pulse point—at the nape of your neck, behind your wrist, in the crook of your elbow and behind your ears. Where else you wear your perfume or cologne is up to you—but don’t use so little fragrance that it’s not detectable.

In a nutshell

  • Try out the scent. It’s your chemistry that is going to determine how the fragrance is going to smell. How a fragrance smells on a scrap of heavy paper is no indication of how it will smell on you.
  • Did you know that what you eat can affect the intensity of your fragrance? Foods high in fat and spice can make the scent more heavily bodied. That might not be something you counted on.
  • If your skin is dry, apply perfumes and colognes more often. If it is oily, do the reverse.
  • Are you planning a ski trip or a holiday in the hills? If so, you might want to take your fragrance with you. High altitudes will deaden the intensity of your fragrance in a very short time.
  • Go easy on your fragrance if you are planning on dinner at your favourite restaurant. While you might not notice your scent, the diners at the next table just might. Not a big deal, you might think. But try eating dinner when all you can smell is cologne. Do everyone a favour and use your scent sparingly.
  • Some situations call for complete fragrance-restraint. Wearing perfumes and colognes on visits to the hospital, to see a new-born or an ailing family elder, wine-tasting events and yoga classes are complete no-no's.

Choose the right fragrance

During the day, lighten your scent. Often, more glamorous fragrances that are appropriate for evenings are just too heavy for cubicle quarters and train rides. Look for light floral, green or citrus notes for the office.

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