Why is it so difficult to choose a perfume for someone else? And why does your boyfriend always get it wrong (unless you’ve told him what to get you)?
For me, the last straw was the Jil Sander perfume. Unnamed Ex-Boyfriend and I had been growing apart for quite some time and it was becoming increasingly clearer that not only had the relationship run its course, but that we were wholly incompatible to begin with. So when he presented me with a bottle of Jil Sander Jil (the original violet-woody-citrus one, not the recent vanilla-y reboot) as some sort of olive branch, it was just one more glaring example of How He Didn’t Get Me. I’d never wear a that kind of scent! What made him think Jil in any way reflected who I was?
Well, not so fast: While UEB and I were clearly not meant to be, his off-the-mark perfume selection may not have been entirely his fault. According to a recent study done by scientists at Prague’s Charles University, the reason gifting fragrances often fails is because people prefer wearing perfume that smells more like themselves, and that we are more attracted to fragrances we choose for ourselves, rather than ones chosen for us by someone else. Another interesting tidbit from the study: while people have historically used fragrance to cover up all sorts of bad smells, the researchers found that people are drawn to perfumes that “complement their own odor” rather than mask or hide how they naturally smell.
Upon reading all this, I instantly flashed back to, oh, pretty much every interview Sarah Jessica Parker did when promoting her first fragrance, Lovely, in 2005. She talked about wanting her perfume to have a ‘sweaty’ smell, and that Lovely was influenced by Bonne Bell’s classic Skin Musk, which, if memory serves, smelled salty-sweet and plenty musky. Chandler Burr, who wrote an entire book about Parker’s perfume-making experience, The Perfect Scent, said that Lovely approximated ‘the shoulders of a clean, warm human body’.
Written by Anne-Marie Guarnieri, this article originally appeared in Allure