The idea that there are separate men's and women's fragrances is quite simply ridiculous. Sure, there are notes that have been traditionally associated with scents designed with men (or women) in mind, but this "rule book" was created in a bid to fit us all into neat little pigeonholes. And I don't think I even need to tell you that it just doesn't work like that.
Gender is socially constructed, after all, and personal taste adds even more nuance into the mix. We've found that our perfume preferences cannot fit neatly into the gender boxes set out for us by marketeers and beauty brands, so it's worth throwing out these preconceptions and figuring out which notes actually make you happy.
It just might be the difference between living a life nonplussed by perfume and one anchored by the companionship of a scent that cradles you in your weaker moments and expresses exactly the sort of image you want to put out into the world. So as you can see, there's a lot at stake here.
No one does such a good job of summing up how I feel on the matter than perfumer Roja Dove: "A rose has neither a penis nor a vagina," he told The New York Post earlier this year. "And stereotyping an ingredient to a particular gender is so Victorian. If you find a scent you love, that makes you feel sexy and walk a little taller — wear it." I couldn't have put it better myself.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that anyone can like any fragrance, whether it creates a cloud of pink, fluffy roses or builds a stark landscape of cold grey notes. I, for one, increasingly find myself attracted to perfumes with the words "for men" emblazoned on the bottle whether they're meant for me or not. And if you haven't already detoured into the traditionally "male" perfume realm, you're undoubtedly missing out.
Below, I've rounded up the best "men's fragrances" we Byrdie editors can't stop wearing.
As the name would suggest, this is as green as fragrances go, but a base of white musk and gunpowder accord along with coriander seeds and the slightly violet-y scent of orris roots give it backbone. It's the kind of stuff our editorial director, Amy, dreams of.
Y is a fairly hefty fragrance built on a base of church-y incense and musky ambergris. But white aldehydes and geranium absolute bleach out a little of that weight, making this fragrance a whole lot more inviting. It makes the perfect accompaniment to a crisp white shirt.
Imagine the scent of warm ocean water crashing into the rock face. Tom Ford has bottled just that with this salty, stony scent topped with smoky notes—it's like the smell of an open-fire barbecue on the beach.
Monsieur has all the punch of that first sip on a strong cocktail: sugary rum, bright mandarin and a trace of vanilla. As the cedar, suede and frankincense come into play, you're completely transported to a dark hotel bar.
This fragrance offers up all the comforting cosiness of wrapping up in a cashmere jumper on a chilly autumn afternoon, thanks to notes of nose-tickling cinnamon, rich patchouli and warm, fiery amber.
Imagine scooping the smoke that bellows from an open fire and funneling it into a bottle along with pink pepper, leather and cedarwood. This scent is cosy and comforting, and sits well on heavier fabrics like cord and suede. Best of all, the founder revels in the fact each of the brand's fragrances can be enjoyed by everyone.
In this reimagining of Obsession, that iconic '80s scent, sweet vanilla comes muddled with warm wood notes. It's like catnip on bare collarbones.
Up next, even more perfume inspiration for you, in the form of seven unusual fragrance brands you probably won't have heard of yet.