Signature Scent

Some people have a signature scent – that one smell that defines them. Marilyn Monroe was said to have worn Chanel no 5. Chanel no 5 is a signature scent for many. I have never had a signature scent per se. I have scents that remind me of certain life events.

As a child growing up in the 1980s, many of the scents of my childhood come from Avon.  In addition to Avon, I remember scents such as Revlon’s Fire & Ice, Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth, and Exclamation. I specifically remember my grandmother wearing Avon’s Far Away perfume.  I wore it to my grandfather’s funeral.

When I started college in the mid-1990s, I remember receiving a box of promotional toiletry items. They were trying to market directly to college students. In the box was a tiny, tiny bottle of Tommy Girl perfume. The sample size of the perfume was maybe .03 oz. Tommy Girl was my “going out” perfume. I only wore it when we went dancing at the club or out to a party. 

Tommy Girl was a perfume that was way out of my price range, so I cherished that small sample as long as it lasted. Scents that were more in my price range, although still expensive splurges was the Victoria’s Secret line of fragrances. Victoria’s Secret Angel perfume was my race weekend perfume. It reminds me of Philly and of other big cities. I wore it whenever I went out in the cities. After Angel, the scent was Bombshell. Bombshell felt a little more risqué than Angel. Most recently, my scent was Aqua Kiss. Aqua Kiss was the perfume I would wear to church on Sundays. It is a crisp, clean scent that felt perfect for church on a respectable, clean Sunday. 

While all of these scents remind me of certain events, I did not get much use out of them. Many of the places I have worked over the years have scent-free policies due to people’s allergies. As someone with multiple food, medication and vaccine allergies myself, I am more than happy to comply with requirements that reduce people’s exposures to their allergens. With that, perfume is something that has always been worn for a special occasion. Not to mention, perfume is expensive. I simply did not have the funds to wear perfume every day and to buy it continuously.

Flash forward to a global pandemic. I still had all three Victoria’s Secret perfumes – Angel, Bombshell and Aqua Kiss. They were all smelling pretty putrid at this point due to age. Yes, perfumes do expire and get to a point when they no longer smell pleasant. Due to the global pandemic, I no longer travel or go out. What is the point in having a marathon perfume if I cannot travel to a large city to run a marathon?

Many people with COVID experience loss of smell and/or taste. I know someone who has lost their sense of smell due to COVID. This person was lamenting the fact that they can no longer smell their favorite perfume. 

That got me to thinking about signature scents. While I have a rather long list of perfumes that evoke memories of places, people and times, I do not have one signature scent that defines my life. In addition, perfume has always been a luxury item for me. Even with the Victoria’s Secret scents, I have never had the actual perfume. I have always had the spritzers that are a watered down version of the actual perfume that often go on sale such as two for $20 or something like that.

Life is short. Life is even shorter when you are living in a global pandemic. I decided if I did get COVID and survive, I would not want to be like the person lamenting their loss of smell that they could no longer smell their perfume. I want to have a signature scent that defines me. I want to be able to smell that scent now before I either die or lose my sense of smell.

Last fall when I ran my two half marathons, I decided to do something I have never done before. I purchased perfume. I’m talking actual perfume, not a spritzer and not some designer imposters knock off. I researched scents to see which one I thought I wanted to smell like. 

I ordered one. I have never paid so much for perfume in my life. I will admit that the price was completely ridiculous. However, I decided I want the experience of a signature perfume once before I die. Gone are the old Victoria’s Secret spritzers that now smell putrid due to old age. I am not going to have 3 or 4 spritzers lying around.

The signature scent I chose is Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. I bought the smallest size bottle of the actual perfume. I love it. I wear it everyday. I’m still in medical isolation, so no one else smells me. That’s okay. I smell it. I enjoy it. I can now say I have a signature scent. I have one bottle of perfume. That is my scent. 

When I was little, I remember sitting in front of my grandmother’s dresser in her trailer and it was littered with perfume bottles. She often had 3-4 different scents from Avon. Every time a new scent came out from Avon, she had to have it. As she got older, I tend to think of Far Away as her signature scent, as that was the one she used most often. However, I do not want to be like my grandmother and have a dresser littered with perfume bottles that may evoke a memory here and there, but essentially mean nothing. Truly, they were just clutter in pretty bottles. 

I want to have one scent that I remember and that people remember me by. Yes, I paid a fortune for a tiny bottle. When you think about it, buying 3-4 knock off spritzers probably equal the price I paid for one small bottle of genuine perfume. Technically, the perfume I chose is marketed to women much younger than me. I don’t care. I enjoy the scent. So even though I may be too old for Coco Mademoiselle, that is the scent I have chosen to be mine.

Do you have a signature scent? Do you prefer to have an array of scents from which to choose? I chose to have one signature scent from now until when I die. I no longer want to have 3-4 spritzers floating around as clutter that have no meaning. I will use this one perfume until the bottle is empty, and then I will buy another bottle. I am not going to just buy another or a different perfume due to whimsy. I have one perfume I am going to use until it is gone. 

Using a perfume until it is gone is a novel idea as well. I have always had to throw perfume spritzers away because they went putrid from old age. I have never had a perfume where I used the entire thing until it was gone. The only exception is that tiny .03 oz sample of Tommy Girl perfume sample. 

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle is my scent now and I love it. I can now say I have the experience of having a signature scent. I may still be working class, but I smell like something more. It was my one big splurge last fall. 

2 thoughts on “Signature Scent

  1. Loved your thoughts on a signature scent! I collect and write about fragrance, so I have a lot of perfume clutter, lol. It makes me happy — and in these pandemic days, when so many other pleasures have been curtailed or denied, fragrance is an available pleasure and source of happiness. I’m so glad you’ve found one you like enough to make it your signature!


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