Picking a signature scent


I recently went shopping for my favorite perfume and ended back at a familiar location that I wrote about some 8 years ago.  I re-read the article that first appeared on www.Toromagazine.com and decided to share it here as initially published since neither the rules, nor what was written has changed.

TORO decided to immerse itself in the topic and felt it only natural to sit with Cavallo, the store manager at the only CREED Boutique in the Americas, nestled in the heart of New York City on Madison Avenue. CREED is a sixth-generation, family-owned business (passed from father to son) that has operated since 1760, and it’s the only privately owned luxury perfume manufacturer in existence. Cavallo has 10 years* of fragrance experience under his nose, and not only brings his knowledge of traditional scents, he maintains a firm grasp on the current trends.

“The first thing one must know when selecting a scent is the purpose of the scent,” he says. “Is it for work, play, to reminisce, follow a trend, seduce, make someone jealous?” Without hesitation he lets it be known “the point is to find a fragrance that speaks your DNA without saying a word.” When asked to match notes with individuals, he offered the following:


  • Bankers tend to be more conservative, low-key yet aggressive. The notes that are usually associated with them are tobacco, wood and clean citrus, or even grassy notes.
  • The Wall Street types tend to lean towards tobacco and wood notes. These elements compliment the power suit and tie.
  • The dentist types or people who tend to be in close proximity (within a foot) of other people usually favour something with citrus or close to nature.
  • The person who goes for the crisp white pressed shirt and ultra-clean vibe usually works well with marine and aquatic notes.

The nightlife person and ladies’ man works well with something heavier and more seductive; something with notes that are inviting and seductive. Here the notes are more aphrodisiac in nature such as vanilla, cinnamon and santal.

Without missing a beat Cavallo adds that his job is to find out who the person buying the fragrance is and what the fragrance is for. He points out that what you do is not necessarily who you are and that the best bet is to have two scents. One for what you do, and the other for whom you are. He also points out that an individual who has a stressful job and is under pressure during the day should make it a point not to wear their fragrance when they are not working. “Your brain associates the smell with a stressful mode – wear a different fragrance. Wear a fragrance that smells how you want to feel.”

For those who have searched for a signature scent, finding the right one isn’t an easy task. It’s often about trial and error, but more importantly it’s about finally finding a scent that reflects who you are.

The steps to selecting the right scent:


  1. Decide what the scent is for (work, romance, leisure, etc.).
  2. Decide what feel you’re going for (mysterious, ultra clean, sexy, etc.).
  3. Spray it on the test paper. This will give you an idea before applying it.
  4. Apply it on the skin. You can try up to four scents without worry. Use both wrists and the backs of your hands.
  5. Allow between five to 10 minutes to get past the top notes.
  6. After the base notes kick in, decide if the scent compliments you.

The three categories of fragrances:

  1. Eau de cologne is a low-concentration scent with a ratio of oil to alcohol of five per cent to seven per cent.
  2. Eau de toilette has an oil-to-alcohol ratio of seven to 10 per cent (sometimes up to 12 per cent).
  3. Eau de parfum has an oil-to-alcohol ratio in the mid-teens. If what you want is a lasting scent, eau de parfum is what you should look for when selecting a scent.

Simple reminders:

  • Don’t buy a scent simply based on how it smelled on someone else. Everyone’s pH balance (body composition) is different and a scent will never smell identical on two different people.
  • Don’t buy a cheap imitation or fake. Although you may think they smell the same, some companies can put up to 200 ingredients into a perfume. And keep in mind that 70 per cent of a perfume will go into your blood stream.
  • Don’t rub in the scent when you apply it. Citrus molecules are very volatile and oxidize quickly; therefore, they don’t last long on the skin. If you rub, the friction creates heat that accelerates the oxidation process and some of the scent’s beauty is lost.
  • Don’t buy something that’s trendy if it doesn’t fit who you are. Your scent is an accessory; worn correctly or not, it always speaks volumes.
  • Don’t be obnoxious. If someone can smell you from two feet away, know that you’ve put on too much.


* Cavallo still at Creed has over 15 years experience in the industry.





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