Smell’s Like Spring/Summer: The ins and outs of seasonal cologne…

The Splash

More than just clothes summer, or the changing of any season for that matter, affords one the ability to also change the way they smell. Your perfume, or cologne, for those sensitive types who feel emasculated by the calling it perfume, is a scent unto yourself.

You’re not supposed to smell cologne several feet away; in fact if a someone with their eyes closed can tell you’ve walked into a small room because of the smell of your cologne you’re wearing to much.

How much is enough (and this goes for the ladies too, a lot of women out there wear waaaay to much of the stuff…)?

The idea is that only when someone gets close to you, snuggle-kiss-close then only then can tell your cologne. So that it is an integral part of you, an integral part of your presence, not an entirely different being that announces itself by its smell. No she (or he) is supposed to smell your cologne as a symbiosis between the perfumer’s art and your own chemistry.

Moreover perfume is like a watch, or shoes, or belts; there are particular ones for different seasons, times of the year, moods, etc. Like the kind of shirt you wear on any particular instance you need to ask yourself; am I wearing this to be comfy? Am I on the prowl? Am I going to a nice dinner? The beach? The Café? Walk the dog? A wine tasting, in which case don’t wear one!

Believe it or not these are all considerations to take- but my fellow one-thing-at-a-time-can’t-chew-gum-and-walk-at-the-same-time kinsmen; don’t fret; we may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let’s stick with the four seasons at the very least; while it may not be necessary to rotate through four different scents a year (unless you REALLY want to, as most regular guys can get away with two) let’s at least, for shits and giggles, discuss the parameters of what “seasonal colognes” may look like:

Spring

You’re just coming our of week of brutal cold (maybe) and all that comes with it; so whatever the scent is it has to make that transition. Here is where “manly florals” come in as well as soft musks. Nothing overly flowery and nothing too dark and spicy; while at the same time leaving the full-blown citrus smells for the summer. Think mild spices (peppercorn, absinthe, juniper, cinnamon), flowers (hyacinth, violets, vetiver, patchouli), and ( I know I’m loosing you…) soft fruits; bergamot, etc.

The Prototype: Polo Black

Ok- enough; let’s keep the rest simple;

Summer

‘Aquatic’ smells; citrus, juniper, mints, think, if smells were colors; green, yellow, and light blue.

The Prototype: Cool Water, Aqua di Gio

Fall

This is where it gets interesting because there is a certain amount of overlap here and with the spring scents, without the floral and powdery notes, only this can afford to be a little headier, a little rounder, more mysterious with brown/baking spices, musk, but still a smattering of flowers and orchard and stone fruits, vetiver et al.

The Prototype: Chanel Pour Homme

Winter

Here we get into deep territory because winter can afford the gentleman a wide array of very cool and exotic scents- (wikipedia these guys) with things like oudh, ambergris, amber, musks, tobacco etc. You want this to smell like you with a bit of mystery, a bit of anticipation…

The Prototype: Tom Ford

From Theory to Actual Practicality:

Is this all necessary—yes and no, read my previous post  here on “ritual”- Ritual makes every day mundane things into elements of pleasure. Trust me. I travel nearly 250 days-a-year and definitely do not carry a treasure chest of perfumes with me, but I do carry one or two choice specimens on me at all times.

Scent Obsessed?

TGG ASKS/ Q: Do you really have to buy four perfumes for the whole year?

A: No. As for myself I actually juggle more like six or five; and not necessarily by season. For most of last summer I wore what has become one of my favorite perfumes of all time; Annick Goutal’s “Mandrigore” (buy here). The website says it’s supposed to be a composition of mandrake and other stuff but what it really reminds me of is a spicy mojito. In the fall I retired the scent, but if I had to go for a week-long trip inot the hot and humid climes of South-East Asia Mandragore was one of my first things to pack and I relished every second of it in a warm respite before returning back to the cold (and to a headier cologne). Another summertime favorite, especially by the beach was “Incontro” by Feragammo, a great little citrus-fresh perfume.

For the cold I have a usual ‘go-to’ which is what I wear the most often and that’s Creed’s Tabarome (buy here); if my girl misses me, this is what she sprays on the pillow. It’s good to have a scent like this, a scent that’s yours and is immediately identifiable with you- a scent, like a lucky shirt or your lucky underwear, that although you might do and try a bunch of other things, you still go back to.

In Delhi for late night partying, clubbing and mixing (or anywhere else for that matter-) my “ay papi” scent became Chanel’s “Pour Monsieur”; a haunting perfume that drives most women crazy, or my partner’s “1211” by Frappin (perfumes are universally unisex; the rest is marketing).

In cool spring and in summer nights, and the one little bottle I travel with quite a bit is Bulgari’s “Pour Homme Soir” which smells of bergamot, candied ginger, metal-aldehydes (sort of like an icy, metallic floweriness), and ends with a touch of leather and amber- very masculine, very cool.

But again, these all stay at home and a may bring one or two with me when I travel, especially if I know I’m going out and I have my “day” cologne and then my “evening cologne”

But, if you’re a one-smell-fits all kind of guy then so be it; I’m not, and subsequently all my toiletries deodorants, shaving cream and aftershave are scentless. But that’s just me, ultimately it adds a bit of fun to your life.

The stuff...

For this Spring/ Summer (accent on summer) TGG brings you a linne-up of some perfect pairings for summer and some of my personal favorites, one smell-inspired post at  time:

The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: MADRAS

MADRAS, or madras cloth, is a set of colorful plaid patches sown together into one garment made of lightweight cotton. You know the stuff… it’s everywhere these days and with spring and summer around the corner it’s a perfect no brainer for your summer lineup.

I have to be honest. I didn’t always get madras, I thought it was tacky, stupid, and just plain retarded (that comment is not directed towards Sarah Palin). I have dim memories of my grandfather taking me to the park wearing ankle-high white socks with madras shorts—and for a long time this has been my take on it: stuff old people wear.

But this is 2010, and stuff old people wear (or wore) is hot, trendy, and all the rage. Clothiers are offering such oddities (they would have been impossible to find a mere four years ago) such as sock garters, collar stays and braces (suspenders) of all colors and persuasions.

So why not madras?

The move to make madras cool in the mainstream and in main-street started in earnest some four to five years ago when the New England-preppy look filtered down from somewhere around the Kennedy compound in Cape Cod to the shops of New York City and Miami via Gap, Abrercrombie & Fitch and J.Crew. At that time most madras items limited themselves to shorts and the occasional trousers but not too long after that Ralph Lauren had a lauded madras attack on the runway and madras became cool, very cool. But better yet, madras is cool to wear, and by this I mean comfortable.

A lightweight pair of madras shorts, or pants for that matter, are rarely lined thus making wearing a pair no unlike going ‘mando. Honestly, they’re very comfortable. But, in truth, why wear madras? Why not? You wear madras for the very same reason you paint your face in preparation for your football team’s big game, or for the same reason you bedazzle the outside of your house (or your window pane) in colorful small lights around December, or why you choose to get really drunk and light up fireworks at New Year’s: because you can.

And it is because you can there are myriad of silly thing that we can wear in the summer that make it fun (yes, more fun than the beach). In this realm there exists things like linen, brightly colored pants, seersucker, gingham shorts, and white (lots of it without looking like a gigolo). That’s the whole point, “cuz you can.”

The Key to Madras: Confidence

Like so many things in “fashion” (or like so many things in life) half of being able to pull it off is confidence. So if you’re new to madras start slow—do not make your first attempt a madras suit, or you will look like a clown, come to think of it no one should ever, ever, wear a full madras suit. Start with a pair of shorts. This is easy—wear with a white shirt or polo shirt. Madras has enough color, so I would advice the following: always wear a madras piece in contrast with solids, i.e. a madras jacket with white pants and a light colored polo. Play off the smaller colors of the madras, the yellows, blues etc. If you’re the squeamish type no worries, a madras tie can look good with as conservative as a look as white pants and navy blazer. Experiment, and do it and if anyone asks you why you’re wearing madras tell him or her “…because I can…”

Primer:

The Mistake: Way too much madras!

Madras pieces and Looks for the Beginner…

  • Ties

  • Pants & Jackets

The Leap: Trousers with Seersucker (notice a plain white shirt)

Leap Two: The madras Jacket (note the confidence...)

  • The Look…