The Monday Mail ~ help Amara find a new fragrance

Post box

Today's subject: Amara. Amara is looking for a perfume for daily wear that "is not an assault on the senses, but is markedly different". Amara describes herself as "fairly new" to perfume. She does not have great access to fragrance stores, but she's willing to order samples online. She'd like to keep the cost to $100 or less.

Here is what we know about Amara:

She's in her early 20s, and "just getting her feet wet as a professional". She works in the insurance industry, in a fairly conservative office.

She lives in a rural area on the east coast of the United States.

Amara describes her style as "mostly business casual", but possibly a "little indie" — she likes to be different.

Here are some of the perfumes Amara loves: Guerlain Apres L'Ondee (would be perfect if it lasted longer), Chanel Cristalle Eau de Toilette (only for use in the blazing summer heat), Lancome Tresor (gorgeous, but not quite her style and she wouldn't wear it every day), Parfums de Nicolai Balkis (her favorite, but not quite for daily wear as it can get cloying), Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse (too powerful for daily wear), CB I Hate Perfume Just Breathe & Black March ("feeling" scents, and too unusual and specialized for daily wear), John Varvatos for Women (a little cloying for daily use), Guerlain Chamade Extrait (lovely for fall).

And some perfumes she has tried and enjoyed, but not loved: Betsey Johnson (good if she's bored but can get too fruity sweet), Bvlgari Omnia Amethyste ("so invisible..."), Christian Dior Miss Dior ("powerful and tough for me to pull off, but I admire it"), Christian Dior J'adore (peachy and sweet, maybe too perfume-y), Paloma Picasso (good for evening), Agent Provocateur Maitresse (she likes the opening, but turns powdery and difficult on dry down), Armani Code Pour La Femme Sheer ("nice for a flanker"), Lancome Magie Noire (good for evening), Clinique Happy Heart ("pleasant").

Perfumes Amara does not like: Agent Provocateur (soapy patchouli), Mariah Carey M ("all I got was marshmallow"), Hilary Duff With Love ("smells off"), Gendarme 7 Deadly Sins Excess (Angel clone), Gendarme 7 Deadly Sins Lust (bad men's cologne), Armani Code Pour La Femme (harsh and sweet, and too heavy for the office), Guerlain Shalimar ("just can't get into it").

What say you?

Note: image is Post Box: Old post box in San Gimignano (Italy) [cropped] by Luca Zappa at flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. mals86 says:

    Hi, Amara – what a pretty name, by the way.

    Since you enjoy Chamade, I suggest another Parfums de Nicolai, Le Temps d’une Fete. (I know, everybody else is rolling their eyes at me because I keep mentioning my newest love.) It’s also a green floral, but less powdery and more floral than Chamade. Sillage is relatively mild, but it’s not what I’d call a skin scent. LTdF would be appropriate at the office, at church, at a weekend brunch or a graduation. It’s not a strongly romantic scent, but one that just makes me happy, happy, happy. It can be found at luckyscent or beautyhabit – the big 100ml bottle runs about $130, but it’s also offered in a 30ml bottle for $42 at luckyscent – I just bought my small bottle. (Squee! I can’t wait – my sample is gone already!)

    I’d also suggest that you perhaps try the current version of Chanel No. 19 in edt. I like the vintage, with its slightly-leathery drydown, but the current formulation is nice as well, and perhaps a bit less dated. Again, perfectly adaptable to work or social occasions, but not what I think of as a particularly romantic scent. I see bottles of edt for sale on evilbay all the time for around $70. Note: if you get a sample from TPC, it’s probably the vintage. Good luck!

    (As a side note, I may be the only person in the world for whom Apres l’Ondee lasts a long time. I have the edt version – I put some on at 9 am yesterday morning. I still had some sillage at lunchtime, and could still smell the heliotrope at 5 pm. That’s unusual for me, because my dry skin usually eats scent.)

    • Daisy says:

      LOL mals, I’ll just sit here and snicker….congrats on your PdN purchase…in the comment box on your order did you write: “…and make it snappy! ” ?? I bet you did.

      However, Amara (that is a pretty name!) I second Mals’s suggestions. All good choices.

      • mals86 says:

        I managed not to append a desperate “hurry it up!” note to my luckyscent order, but you had better bet I’m thinking it. (SQUEE!!!)

        • Daisy says:

          additional SQUEEE! (perfume buying is just exciting!)

    • AnnS says:

      I also second the reformulated (currently available) version of Chanel No 19 which is light and refreshing. I think it smells, in the most general terms, of summer.

  2. Penny Anne Armstrong says:

    Hi Amara- Perhaps you would like Gucci by Gucci , it’s not overpowering for day time wear but has something illusive and je ne sais quoi – ish that wafts about throughout the day .

  3. Bee says:

    my “conservative” office staple is kelly calèche, I guess I’ve been saying this before. In my pre-perfumista phase I also wore Trésor, but then switched over to Cerruti 1881 pour femme, which I still find great, but a co-worker wears it, so I stopped. it’s not too expensive, mainstream but not too much, so it might fill your requirements

    • mals86 says:

      Yes, I find Cerruti 1881 very pleasant and refreshing as well. I think of it as a citrusy floral. Jardin sur le Nil is another favorite; it seems to be far more green-floral and less woody on my skin than I expected it to be.

  4. dea says:

    Bee- I was just typing what you entered!

    I would also recommend Kelly Caleche.. or maybe one of the Hermes Jardins.. Sur Le Nil or Mediteranee.

    good luck!

  5. lilydale aka Natalie says:

    I feel like I recommend this every Monday, but I think CdG 2 Woman would be a terrific daytime/office scent. It’s different and unique — it’s got an inky note that reminds me of ditto paper (although if you’re in your early 20s, you’ve probably never smelled that) — but it also makes me feel smart and competent, qualities that every businesswoman needs!

  6. Katich says:

    I would think Chanel no. 5 Eau Premiere or L’Artisan Mimosa pour Moi. Both are classy yet not too common, and I think you would find something to like about both (the classic soft floral of the Eau Premiere, the heliotrope/mimosa of the Mimosa pour Moi).

  7. marko says:

    Amara –
    All of the suggestions so far have been really good – particularly the Hermes fragrances. Another House you may want to look into is Lalique – they have some great fragrances that not too many people wear on a daily basis……Eau de Lalique is particularly nice in the warmer months and I can’t say enough about the fab Encre Noire.
    Good Luck!

  8. jekkah says:

    I second the Chanel No. 19 rec, and I’d recommend yet another Nicolai scent: Odalisque. It’s one of my faves; I think of it as an intelligent pretty floral. Plus Luca Turin describes it in the Guide as somewhere between Apres l’Ondee and Cristalle. Lasting power on me is pretty good.
    Happy hunting!

  9. memechose says:

    From Kenzo- (a softer divine balkis like scent called ) L’eau Indigo
    From Hermes: Kelly Caleche edp
    From Parfumerie de Generale L’ousieu de nuit
    From 06310- Lys
    From L’artisan Parfumeur-Le haie Fleurie(Jean Caude Ellena composed this )
    From Sattelite Paris Corrida

  10. Blimunda says:

    Hmmm – for some reason, when I hear ‘office day scent’ Ormonde Jayne immediately comes to mind! There is something elegant and mature about her scents, and very tasteful. I’m not sure which would make the best office scent – perhaps Champaca? It is quite subtle, creamy magnolia. Probably worth you getting a sample set and testing them all out I’d say!

    I’ve just been trying out some Frederic Malle samplers, and I found En Passant and Angelique’s Sous Le Pluie to be very nice daytime scents. They’re florals with interesting twists.

    Guerlain’s Jicky in EdT might be a good one to try too – this is very wearable during the daytime, the EdT being lighter and sweeter, less animalic.

  11. polly says:

    You could try Serge Lutens Bois de Violette. It’s definitely got more staying power than Apres L’Ondee, and a strong violet note, though radically different than Apres L’Ondee. It’s violet against woods. And I don’t remember it being too obtrusive for the office.

  12. Dzingnut says:

    Hi Amara: For less than $100 online:
    Hiris by Hermes – iris with a lovely, clean, very slightly powdery drydown (I’m not crazy about powder, but a little is very nice)
    Givenchy III – wonderful floral chypre, very elegant
    Eau de Givenchy – a floral green
    Ditto on all Les Jardins from Hermes!
    For a bit more than $100, but worth every penny:
    Dzing by L’Artisan (can ya tell I loves it??) – smells different to everybody, but it makes me think of pink patent leather
    The Unicorn Spell by LesNez – a cool, frosty violet with no powder
    I wear all of these to work, and I work in a hospital where strong scents are verboten … all are pretty long lasting, and chances are nobody else is wearing them!
    Good luck with your search!!

    • AnnS says:

      I’ll second Givenchy III – just lovely, soft, sophisticated, and very wearable.

  13. SmokeyToes says:

    Hi everyone,
    Perhaps Hermes new scent, Pamplemouse Rose? It’s a fresh, sparkling citrus, the rose note is a lively green one, not heavy at all. It was very classy, discreet (low to medium sillage), and lasted 8-9 hours on me. It was 125 for 100 ml.

  14. sacre bleu says:

    I second Dzingnut’s rec of Eau de Givenchy – used sparingly it’s lovely, and inoffensive w/ something a bit saucy in the drydown.
    Also check out Paco Rabanne Calandre; it’s complex, dry, and original.

  15. divinemama says:

    I recommend trying Sonoma Scent Studio’s Lieu de Reves, a beautiful violet scent that would be great for a young woman. It has wonderful sillage and longevity, as all SSS scents that I have tried do. She lovely scents and a few variations on the violet note. Perhaps get samples of them all and see which one works best for you. Here is a link to a wonderful review of LdR by Helg at Perfume Shrine…

    …she mentions the other violet scents offer by Laurie Erickson in the article. Another SSS scent that gets a lot of love here on NST is Champagne de Bois. Also worth a sample. If you enjoy woods, I heartily recommend also trying Winter Woods.

    Here is the link to the Sonoma Scent Studio website…


  16. Kess says:

    I suggest Love by Kilian — I definitely get “Apres l’Ondee” vibes off it, but with a bit more edge. It’s long lasting and requires a light application. While the bottle is terribly expensive, you can buy a travel refill set (4 X 7.5 ml) for $70 or so. Amara can get a sample at

  17. tjoppie says:

    office day scent, but unusual, evokes professionalism and power….for me try Comme des Garcons’ Stephen Jones

  18. AnnS says:

    Hi Amara:
    There are a few on your list of likes that I also really like too – hello Chamade!!! Anyway – here is what I recomment for day/office wear that I really enjoy too: Givenchy Les Mythiques L’Interdit – a nice light aldehyde amber floral. YSL Cinema – always makes me smile from beginning to end and is very easy to wear and crowd friendly — a nice vanilla floral oriental. No 5 eau Premier – again really easy to wear in the day, classy and lasts forever. Annick Goutal Mandragore – fresh tea-citrus cologne with nice citrus and floral notes that are soft, easy to wear and again, crowd friendly. Also, the Sonoma Scent Studio Lieu de Reves (as mentioned above) very soft, much like Apres L’Ondee. And the SSS Femme Jolie which is a nice light orange blossom and spices fragrance that you would most likely enjoy given your like of Magie Noir, etc.

    Good luck!

  19. Tama says:

    Well, every time I thought of something, it was in the next comment! So, I have nothing to add, but will second (or third, or whatever) the CdG2, Chanel 5 Eau Premier (waves to Ann), all the Sonoma Scent Studio recs, and Kelly Caleche.

    Also, maybe Tauer Reverie au Jardin – it is a lightweight lavendery/herbal-but-still-warmish scent that is hard to describe, and MUCH different from his powerhouse stuff.

    I totally adore Balkis, too, and would love to find an “office” version! lol

  20. Jill says:

    I have to add yet another Kelly Caleche recommendation — I’ve found it to be quite easy to wear in an office-type environment and it’s lovely. Also Burberry The Beat and Burberry Summer are nice for everyday wear — I really enjoy both.

    • boojum says:

      I need to revisit both the Burberrys. I liked them too, but not enough to buy on the spot. My sister just bought Summer, though, so I can probably “lift” a small decant.

      • Jill says:

        I had low hopes for Summer, since the notes sounded like yet another generic fruity floral. But, while it’s not terribly original, it’s really lovely and *is* perfect for summer.

  21. msfortunate says:

    Hi Everyone!

    I’m Amara. Thanks so much for all of the wonderful suggestions. I was hitting a bit of a roadblock, but figured it was probably just me and once I enlisted the help of some knowledgeable people I would be fine!

    Your assistance is very much appreciated and I will have to let you all know what I come up with…now I think it’s time to order some samples………


  22. AnnS says:

    I just though of another that I think will be fun for summer office wear – Gucci Envy – nice refreshing green floral.

  23. flittersniffer says:

    Gucci Envy is lovely, also J’Adore L’Eau which is much lighter and more citrussy than J’Adore (you would barely know they were related). I like Omnia Crystalline which has quite good lasting power, and the new Green Jade is also pleasant for spring. Jasper Conran Woman is an uplifting citrus with a bit of attitude like Cristalle, though little known in the US as far as I can tell. I second Memechose’s rec of 01630 Un Lys! For a more sheer and modern take on fruity florals, I like Vera Wang Look! as well.

  24. Dixie says:

    There are so many good suggestions here! The L’Artisian line is definitely worth exploring. I love Passage D’Enfer. Prada d”Iris is lovely and light for the office. Everyone else mentioned my faves-all by Jean Claude Ellena. Caleche might be worth a try too. Good luck!

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