Spring/ summer scents are easy, but fall/ winter is when things get interesting. Where warm weather concoctions tend to rely on citruses, greens, and aquatics, cool weather smells tend to be a little boozier, cozier, and more comforting. Think: smoky woods, warm leathers, and interesting spices. If you’ve ever been interested in exploring the world of fragrances, fall is one of the best times of the year to jump in.
The danger with cool weather scents is that they can sometimes be a little too bold. And, at least for me, I find fragrances are best when they’re subtle. That’s not just about going light on the number of sprays, but also choosing the right bottle. If you’re in need of some suggestions, here are nine that I particularly like (and personally wear):
- Bandit by Robert Piguet: Leather is a popular category this time of year, but sometimes I find it a bit too smoky. Knize Ten, for example, is a classic, but it smells like the bottom of an ashtray. For a leather scent that’s easier to wear, try Robert Piguet’s Bandit. It’s kinder, softer, and has a hint of jasmine.
- Cuir de Russie by Chanel: Another easy leather. Chanel discontinued their EDT version and now only has the EDP (which I think is better anyway). It starts off a bit woodsy at first, but nicely breaks down into a musky, slightly dirty leather. Think of a fresh pair of lambskin leather gloves or leather car seats. Less floral than Bandit, but also not too smoky.
- Ambra by Acqua di Parma: AdP is mostly known for their Colonia line, which is nice for spring/ summer, but their Ingredients collection is really better suited to colder weather. I like Ambra, which has an amber and sandalwood base, mixed with a healthy dose of vanilla. It’s dark and warm, but friendly at the same time. Like AdP’s Colonia Assoluta, this feels especially good with casual suits and sport coats.
- Patchouli 24 by Le Labo: Despite the name, Le Labo’s Patchouli 24 has very little patchouli in it. Or at least it’s masked by the overwhelming scent of peaty Scotch mixed with lapsang souchong tea. Frankly not that easy to wear, but I find it comforting. For something a little easier on the nose, you can try Santal 33, which smells like pine needles blended with sandalwood.
- Wonderwood by Comme de Garcon: Better than Le Labo’s Santal, in my opinion, is CdG’s Wonderwood. Opens with a burst of pepper and incense, but then settles into something that smells like pencil shavings. Like CdG’s other scents, this feels fun, unique, and unpretentious. Best during the day with a causal jacket and sweater.
- Azzaro pour Homme by Azzaro: One of the best fougeres of all time. Fougere being an earthy, fern-like group of scents that’ll remind you of the classic 20th-century barbershop. Azzaro pour Homme feels like the sort of thing a guy who’s not into fragrances would wear. A bit too “manly man” for me sometimes, but also feels cozy on the right day.
- Vetiver by Guerlain: An aromatic, woody vetiver with soft, soapy notes and a hint of tonka bean. For an alternative, you can also try Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver. It’s similar, but has more of a citrus opening, which makes it a better crowd pleaser (even if I think Guerlain’s version is more interesting).
- Derby by Guerlain: One of my favorites, despite the fact that it comes in an ugly bottle. Derby has so much going on: an oakmoss base with smoky woods and a hint of leather, which eventually evolve into something that smells like fresh soap. Although it’s not technically a fougere, it has that classic barbershop feel. Luca Turin once called it one of the top ten best male fragrances of all time.
- Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene: Good fragrances don’t have to be expensive. Gray Flannel is a classic, having been around since 1975, and was a precursor to some of the woody, citrus accords that are popular today (e.g. Green Irish Tweed and Coolwater). Like those, this has a sweet herbaceous scent, but only costs $14. It doesn’t evolve much on the skin, but it also doesn’t break the bank. Plus, it’s called grey flannel.
As usual, if you want to try any of this stuff, stop by The Perfumed Court or Surrender to Chance and pick up a small spray vial. It’s a good way to sample a scent before committing to a whole bottle.