Our sense of smell is powerful. It can conjure up memories from decades past, and even the briefest of whiffs can remind us of specific people or places. So it pays to invest in a good signature scent — if only to make a good first, fragrant impression.
But which to spritz? There are plenty of options out there — with many brands bringing out new, fresh and idiosyncratic aftershaves and eau de toilettes every year. But we wouldn’t recommend going for one of these fleeting fad fragrances. Instead, for your signature scent at least, we’d suggest keeping it classic. Here are ten of the most timeless fragrances for men…
For the gentleman about town, Floris No. 89
With notes of: Sandalwood, Cedar, Oakmoss and Ylang-Ylang
Why choose it: Introduced in 1951, Floris’ signature notes of bergamot, lavender and neroli have been a hit with gentlemen of many generations. Even Ian Fleming, the man who brought James Bond to life, was a fan. If you’re a traditionalist, there are few fragrances that can stand up to this — formulated by a family who have been in the perfume business since 1730.
Floris No. 89
For modern sophistication, Czech & Speake No. 88
With notes of: Geranium, Rose Otto, Cassie and exotic Frangipani
Why choose it: They may be more modern than Floris above, but small, London-based Czech & Speake has caused ripples around the world with its slick, suave grooming products. No. 88 was sniffed out as an instant classic upon its launch, with notes of sandalwood and geranium offering a bold — and unisex — scent.
Czech & Speake No. 88
For instant confidence, Creed Aventus
With notes of: Calville Blanc Apple, Blackcurrant, Pineapple and Italian Bergamot
Why choose it: Another fragrance house to stay in the hands (and noses) of one family for hundreds of years, Creed was first founded in 1760. This best-selling scent, Aventus, bears the hallmarks of steady, seasoned hands — and affords the wearer instant confidence upon the first elegant spritz.
For an continental feel, Acqua di Parma Colonia
With notes of: Lemon, Sweet Orange, Calabrian Bergamot
Why choose it: Crafted from the zestiest of citric Italian ingredients, this offering from Acqua di Parma is the essence of Sicily in a bottle. Just a couple of sprays will whisk you away to the coastal orange groves of southern Italy — and give you the sprezzatura and sophistication of a quintessentially Italian gent.
Acqua di Parma Colonia
For a deep masculine scent, Tom Ford Oud Wood
With notes of: Rare Oud Wood, Sandalwood, Chinese Pepper
Why choose it: Rare. Exotic. Distinctive. That’s how Tom Ford describes his intense, incense-inspired perfume. It smells like you’ve just stepped into a Bhutanese monastery — and is just as zen. There’s also a hint of mystery to this one; an elusive, elegant aftershave perfect for accentuating your masculinity.
Tom Ford Oud Wood
For a royally-approved aftershave, Clive Christian No. 1
With notes of: Indian Sandalwood, Powdery Musk and Vetiver
Why choose it: If you didn’t already know, Clive Christian was the perfumer who Queen Victoria allowed to use a likeness of her crown. The royally-approved alchemist then gathered the rarest and most expensive ingredients in the world, and combined them to create one of the world’s most iconic scents. This is that scent.
Clive Christian No. 1
For a classic British scent, Penhaligon’s Blenheim
With notes of: Lemon, Black Pepper and Pine
Why choose it: Originally created for the Duke of Marlborough, this bottling smells like bowler hats and stiff upper lips concentrated into an eau de toilette. Quintessentially British, it’s almost like a dry London gin; crisp, sharp and the perfect partner for a man of sparkling wit.
For effortless elegance, Bleu de Chanel
With notes of: Pink Pepper, Grapefruit, Dry Cedar, Labdanum
Why choose it: While Penhaligon’s offering above may have captured Britain, this iconic Chanel fragrance has bottled the essence of France. Intensely woody, immensely fashionable and formulated for those who know exactly what they want, this is the aftershave equivalent of a confident, insouciant shrug.
Bleu de Chanel
For refined simplicity, Issey Miyake L’eau Majeure D’Issey
With notes of: Wood, Citrus, Bergamot, Grapefruit
Why choose it: Taking inspiration from the power and motion of water, this is a scent that positively overflows with freshness. Produced by the Miyake Design Studio — and created with the same simplistic principals that Issey Miyake puts into its clothing range — it is fresh, honest and with a spray that seems straight off the ocean.
Issey Miyake L’eau Majeure D’Issey
For an enigmatic essence, Dior Sauvage
With notes of: Reggio di Calabria Bergamot, Ambergris, Wood
Why choose it: Because it is so much more than Johnny Depp’s scent of choice. Powerful, rich and mysterious, there’s a touch of smokey wood lingering in this aftershave. It was inspired by the ‘magic hour’ in the desert — when the hot air of the day potently mixes with the cool of the night.
Looking for something more specific to the season? These are the best autumn fragrances for men…
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