I made the decision a few years ago that I am definitely not a woman with a signature style. It’s just not in my nature. I’m in awe of those who have one; who stick to a clear clothing or house deco vibe within precise boundaries. They have the will power to walk through a department store and think ‘no, that’s not me.’ I, on the other hand, run through a department store screaming ‘ooooh pretty!’ like I’m a giant toddler in Hamley’s.
I live in a house that’s part Alpine ski chalet, part Moroccan souk, scattered with curiosities ranging from framed Pucci scarves to strange bronze animals climbing the walls and a pair of enormous googly eyes on my front door. Yet, I loathe clutter and need clear surfaces at all times. My wardrobe is just as confused, with 70% minimalist black basics, 30% rainbow sequins. There is no consistency anywhere in my life, it is unhinged and jumbled. But instead of feeling ashamed and inadequate, like I once did, I actually think it’s all so incredibly liberating. I can be whomever I want on any given day, and there are no perimeters to be penned into.
That decision mirrors my approach to perfume. I used to think I should have one signature scent. This is what chic women do, right? I should have one forever-fragrance that, in the imaginary biopic of my life, my family wistfully associates with me. Well, I am not that woman. There is too much deliciousness out there, and too many moods in my emotional spectrum that each require their own scent to feed into. If this resonates, I 100% encourage the joyous act of fragrance wardrobing.
By owning a collection of various perfumes you can speak to each and every one of your eclectic, purist, maximalist, minimalist, optimistic or melancholy personalities. So many of us own all of these traits, so instead of fighting against them and penning yourself in, why not flow with whichever one rises to the surface that day via a mutual fragrance? Here is how to build up your own bespoke wardrobe in the easiest, most enjoyable way.
Identify Your Default ‘Everything’ Perfume
Imagine you’re leaving the house in a fluster and you have three seconds to spray something. What do you reach for? Let’s use that as your dominant, core perfume in your wardrobe. Everyone should have a trusty school-uniform fragrance for those days when you’re riddled with responsibility and life admin, and you need one decision taken off your plate. Mine is the iconic Acqua di Parma Colonia Eau de Cologne with its splashy citrus and sunny herb-border warmth. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. Wardrobing is all about having lots of favourites!
Make A List Of Regular Life Scenarios
These are moments when you are very likely to wear perfume and have a bit more time to think about it. For instance: to brunch with friends. To dinner in a restaurant. To a gallery or cultural event. When you’re mildly hungover on a Sunday morning but still need take your 5yo to gymnastic camp. You may have more, or fewer, and for each one think about which fragrance might match that mood. Let’s do three examples…
Scenario 1: The Brunch With Pals
You want something bright and positive, not too punchy or overwhelming as there will be food involved, but just enough to be noticed when you sweep down into your chair. Try Diptyque Philosykos Eau de Toilette, which is all bitter green stalks with fleshy, creamy fig pulp and it really clings onto skin. (The richer, woodier Eau de Parfum version is perfect for dinner parties when you don’t want to annoy guests but you want to spray something with gusto while you’re sipping your getting-ready champs before leaving the house).
Scenario 2: The Gallery Visit
Chances are you might be alone, with your partner or a really good friend, so it’s time to unleash the inspired scent of not-giving-a-damn. You are surrounded by craftsmanship, heritage and culture channelled into unique art displays, so take the lead from these true influencers and wear something unapologetically YOU. Go big with a flavour that’s a bit taboo, a bit out-there or a bit naughty.
I’d be drenching myself in Sol de Janeiro SOL Cheirosa ’62 Eau de Parfum – a sticky, sultry, suntan-lotion smothering of vanilla, salted caramel, pistachio and jasmine. It sounds so wrong but trust me it’s addictive, bordering on lickable, it musters up fierce confidence; plus it always attracts compliments from strangers.
Scenario 3: The Sunday Morning Struggle
Whether you’re indeed mildly hungover or facing the epic task of cooking Sunday lunch for family, you need the energising fragrance equivalent of a triple espresso. Go literal with the caffeine-laced Maison Margiela Replica Coffee Break Eau de Toilette, which has a creamy base to ease tension away. The Lazy Sunday Morning scent is equally creamy, but takes a lighter floral approach.
Or go lateral with a zesty zap of vibrant freshly-squeezed juice; the luminous Jo Loves Pomelo A Fragrance blows all the cobwebs away (this became my lifeline during miserable weeks of pregnancy morning sickness, for anyone suffering right now).
… And Always Keep A Space For A Secret Spirit Animal
I remember once getting all dressed up for a formal black-tie winter wedding – all immaculate hair and makeup and heels – which isn’t really ‘me’ so I obsessively looked for a perfume that was the complete opposite. I wanted to balance the look with a dark, moody-rudey, devilish scent of sexy filth, because if I sprayed something flirty and floral I’d have felt awkwardly girly. Tom Ford Ombre Leather Eau de Parfum did the trick, anchoring my real self to this othered exterior. So next time you come across something you love but would maybe wear once in a blue moon, don’t ignore that gut instinct: it might well become your secret self-expression cologne.
If In Doubt, These Are Six Excellent Staples:
To feed into most moods, this is list will help structure your wardrobe: a cotton-clean laundry-fresh cologne (for punchy days when you have all your ducks in a row); a blousey happy floral (for enhancing a confident swagger); an enveloping cashmere blanket musk-bomb (when you need a supportive hug); a greenhouse botanical splash (for focusing on big work pressures); an indulgent edible oriental (for naughty and mischievous nights); a whimsy washed-out watercolour of pastel petals and leaves (for those solemn reflection days).