Finding a fragrance



Ugh… stupid WordPress.

I had a fabulous post about the importance of perfume and my recent hunt to find the best scent, but for some reason, it wasn’t posted and WordPress deleted the draft. So annoying.

Annnnyway, let’s just start back at the beginning. A few weeks ago, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Jezebel, and came across a post about the writer’s favorite perfume. She talked about how despite the fact that it had developed something of a cult following recently, she still loved it’s woodsy, masculine scent sandalwood scent. I read the post and instantly knew I wanted to try a samples. After a quick shopping spree on, I had a few samples of some craft perfumes. I was determined to find a signature scent.

Fragrance is such a personal thing, ya know? I don’t know about you, but I instantly connect some of my biggest life moments to certain perfumes. Anytime I smell a spritz of Ralph Lauren’s (now discontinued) Cool, I’m instantly transported back to high school and think of my best friend, Becky. And when someone wearing Marc Jacob’s Daisy walks by, I’m drawn back to my senior year of high school. Spray some Taylor Swift Wonderstruck and I immediately go back to junior year of college, where I lived in London for a few months and got compliments on the sugary-sweet scent literally everywhere I went.

For the past few years, I’ve worn Narciso Rodriguez For Her. I have a lot of fond memories attached to it. In fact, the reason I started wearing it at all was because it was my freshman roommate’s favorite. I remember sitting in the dorm as she got ready for a night out, spraying a few spritzes of the musky, floral scent. It was intoxicating and always filled the room. I loved it, and a few years after those initial encounters with the fragrance (and after the roommate and I weren’t living together… I didn’t want to poach her signature scent!), I bought a bottle. And I still love it. In fact, it’s the perfume Tom has bought me the past few Christmases, another reason I’ll probably always have it nearby.

But, I’m almost 25 and ready for something that feels more me. I love For Her, but when I wear it, I always briefly think of Tallia. That’s not a bad thing, but I feel like I’ve been coming into my own recently, and wanted my perfume to evolve with me too.

So, I started off trying out the one so highly recommended on Jezebel, while also purchasing a sampler box from Sephora with some additional options, to narrow down the selection. I’ve tried roughly a dozen so far, and have already picked a few favorites. Here are my top 4:

Le Labo: Santal 33

This is the one that kicked off the search. The unique, woodsy fragrance has been featured in numerous publications as the scent of the moment. It’s incredibly long lasting, and definitely unique. Maybe even a little too unique? When I first put it on, I swear it smelled like dill pickles. Tom hated it too. In the car one day, he asked if we were passing by a landfill before realizing that what he was smelling was my perfume. Personally, I’ve come to love it more and more each time I wear it, but at $175 a bottle, it’s hard to justify it when it’s so hated by those around me.

Le Labo: Rose 31

Another “craft” perfume, this one has the same things I love about Santal 33 — unisex, masculine, longevity — but again has a few of the same issues. I get a distinct Rose smell from it, but some reviews online say it smells like BO. Tom wasn’t a fan, though my sister, a self-proclaimed rose fanatic, loved it. But again, at $175, I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger.

The winner(s): Elizabeth and James: Nirvana White and Nirvana Black

The Sephora box I received came with more than 10 small perfume vials, as well as a certificate for a “free” 1 oz. bottle after I chose my favorite one in the box. Since I had already purchased the sample box for $60, I knew that the one I chose would come from that collection. In it were some of my old favorites — including my classic Narciso Rodriguez For Her, Tom Ford Velvet Orchid and Marc Jacobs Daisy — but I was immediately drawn to the 2 Nirvana options.

Elizabeth and James is the Olsen twins’ brand, though it’s a far cry from the Mary-Kate and Ashley Wal-Mart body spray I used to wear. They created Nirvana Black first, focusing on a more masculine scent that heavily features sandalwood and vanilla. Eventually, they decided to add Nirvana White as an complimentary pairing. It’s more floral and features peony, but still musky. You can wear them separately or mix them together.


I had the hardest time choosing between the two. I loved the Black’s deep scent, but surprisingly also loved the feminine and bright White option. In the end, I decided to include both in my collection: I used the certificate for a small bottle of the black perfume, and also purchased a travel-sized version of the white as dry shampoo. That way, I can wear both simultaneously without muddling the scents by wearing them on top of one another. I’m incredibly happy with the purchases and eventually plan to upgrade to big bottles of each the white and the black.

Do you have a signature scent? Share your top fragrance finds in the comments!


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