The Monday Mail ~ help Elsa find a new perfume


Today we're helping Elsa, who is looking for the perfect fragrance for the dark fall and winter months, one that will make her "feel a bit better sitting on the cold bus every morning". The fragrance should be casual, but should also make "a warm, sensual statement". Elsa is willing to pay up to $150, but bear in mind that that's a big splurge for her, and she'd prefer something less expensive. She's willing to shop online, and the only stores close to her are Macy’s, Dillards, and Sephora. Here is what we know about Elsa:

She's in her mid-20s and in her second year of law school, where she spends "long hours in the law library, which is beautiful with its gothic windows and dark woods and dusty legal tomes".

She isn't sure about her decision to attend law school, and misses her days as an English Literature major.

Her style is feminine and old-fashioned; she loves tweeds and plaids and newsboy caps. If she could live anywhere, it would be Scotland or Slovenia. She does not like romantic comedies.

Elsa likes musks, woods, incense, tuberose, labdanum, bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine. She also likes rose but is "wary of smelling like her grandmother's handkerchief drawer". She tried Robert Piguet Fracas, and she adored it but it's too much to wear to school. Other scents she likes include The Body Shop White Musk, Laura Mercier Minuit Enchanté, Estée Lauder Knowing and Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

Elsa doesn't like fruity scents (especially melon), citrus, cinnamon, chocolate, clean/soapy musks, tobacco, or anything that smells like candy or cake.

Here is what Elsa has tried in her search so far:

Cartier Delices de Cartier: A no, and she especially disliked the cherry.

Robert Piguet Bandit: Medicine + chemicals.

Guerlain Shalimar: Incredible on some women but on Elsa it was taxicab + cigarette smoke.

Estée Lauder Amber Ylang Ylang: She liked it, but overall it too sweet and good-natured — she would like something a little bit more interesting.

L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons: Beautiful but only lasted a few moments.

Tauer Perfumes Reverie au Jardin: Beautiful scent but the lavender was too medicinal.

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc: She likes it, but wants to find something a bit less clean and innocent.

Profoumum Olibanum: It made her want to experiment with incense, but this particular one made her think of "darkness and cold stone and creatures in Russian fairy tales" — she wants something more warm and comforting.

Bulgari Omnia Green Jade: Nice but too 'fresh and clean' and she didn't care for the citrus.

What say you?

Note: image is 6:45 pm by Jam Adams on flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. marko says:

    Elsa –
    You might enjoy Michael Storer’s Winter Star – it’s warm, musky, and woodsy with a touch of caramel (don’t worry, it’s NOT anything like candy/cake…..just “comforting”). There is also a touch of Civettone raunch amongst the lavender and labdanum, which keeps the fragrance interesting. It smells like it should be a “skin scent” but this puppy has great projection and, on me, lasts 8 – 10 hours. You can find Michael Storer online and he does samples if you want to try it out first.
    Good Luck,

  2. RusticDove says:

    Hi Elsa – I would suggest trying Bvlgari Jasmine Noir. IMO, it definitely makes the ‘warm, sensual’ statement you’re looking for. Sephora carries the 1 oz. size [love those smaller sizes] for $68, so it’s easy to come by and affordable to boot.

    • Andrea D says:

      Yes, I would agree with that choice 100%. My first instict is always to recommend that wonderful Jo Malone (dark ginger lily or something), and then I remember that it was limited, and thus discontinued and hard to get; Jasmine Noir is my second-best when it comes to warm, floral-but-spicy scents. It’s really beautiful.

      • boojum says:

        Oh, but they brought back the Jo Malone…is it really hard to get again? It’s worth a look, anyway.

        • Prudietwoshoes says:

          I love the Bvlgari Jasmin Noir as well. Sephora also has it in a 10 mL travel spray now for $25 if you decide to invest in a few scents (who isn’t guilty of that?)

  3. Suzanne941 says:

    I’d recommend Estee Lauder Sensuous…it’s well-done, warm, woody and not expensive. On the ‘spendy’ side, might try a sample of Bond #9 Chinatown for that dark incensy but not gloomy effect. Good luck! Keep us posted.

  4. mals86 says:

    Sonoma Scent Studio’s lovely, warm Sienna Musk might be up your alley, Elsa. It’s all spices and woods and warm skin, and very reasonably priced (about $60 for 1 oz.).

    Loved your description of Olibanum. If you get bored with law, you could write us the next legal-thriller bestseller…

    • Daisy says:

      I second the Sienna Musk suggestion….very nice stuff, not too overwhelming, reasonably priced.

      • norjunma1 says:

        Even the name sounds nice. Must try.

      • lilydale aka Natalie says:

        I’m going to add a teeny tiny caveat that Sienna Musk is really, really overpowering on me, and lasts seemingly for days — I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it THAT much!

    • Julia says:

      Full disclosure – I’ve been cyber “stalking” your posts for months, and I love your taste in perfumes. Dear Daisy is my other perfume guru. Both of you have inspired me to try things (often FB unsniffed) because I like your taste so much! I’m dying to try the Sonoma Scents. I saw your comments over there and am taking them into consideration in selecting a fragrance. :) What a great deal those are, too!

      • mals86 says:

        They are a fabulous deal. The only one I’ve found unwearable (not that I’ve tried them all… YET!) was Vintage Rose, which had something sweet in it that resembled the Estee Lauder base which makes me nauseous. Other people can certainly wear Lauders well (I have two aunts who do – one who wears Beautiful and one who wears Knowing, and they smell great), but I don’t, unfortunately.

        Very easy to obtain samples from SSS, as well.

      • Daisy says:

        welllll, if you’re up for trying some SSS fragrances; you simply MUST try Champagne de Bois, Egyptian musk, Sienna Musk, and Tabac Aurea…all good ones. I have to agree with Mals about Vintage Rose, lots of people love it but on me it just gets sweeter and sweeter and sweeter until I run screaming to the soap and water. That’s just my skin chemistry though.

    • Elsa Marie says:

      Mals86, Sienna Musk sounds beautiful. Really all the suggestions here are exciting. Thank you so much! I confess I do fantasize about writing the next big legal thriller. So often law school feels like a series of somewhat sterilized logical puzzles. We move from one to the next, treating them like math problems. It’s tempting to stick with one for a while and tease it into a fully-developed story. Daydreams.

  5. Absolute Scentualist says:

    For a deeper musk without any cinnamon or really animalic notes but that’s more hard-hitting than TBS’s White Musk, Narciso Rodriguez’s Musk EDP is nice. It’s somewhat floral, but still quite definitely a musk. And a large bottle can be had for under $100, which always helps. If you shop around, you may even be able to find it in a gift set with lotion for a similar price point, which helps a fragrance last throughout the day. It certainly makes me feel cozy and even a bit sensual on these chilly Michigan mornings.

  6. norjunma1 says:

    Hi Elsa,
    Hypnotic Poison is another Sephora regular that is just stunning in winter. It’s warm, spicy and luscious, and in the $60 range. Coco might run a little more but if you decide you like it (or rather, if it decides to like you) you couldn’t ask for a more lovely, sophisticated rich winter scent. Ditto No. 22. And finally, if you’re game for online purchases, on the higher end of the register, Montale White Auod: woody, light, poofy and gawgeous!

  7. Julia says:

    The first two that come to mind are Tocade by Rochas which is a very nice rose-vanilla, and Sacrebleu! by Parfums de Nicolai which is a woodsy floral. They are both very reasonably priced (cheap thrills!). I’m currently wearing Black Cashmere by Donna Karan and I think this spicy warm carnation/rose fragrance would be great in a cool, dark library with dusty old books and Gothic windows.
    Guerlain’s Apres L’Ondee is always a good choice, and maybe L’Heure Bleue as well. They are totally different from Shalimar, but maybe the “Guerlainade” is the problem. I would definitely get samples of anything by Guerlain before jumping in. I’ve seen a lot of Tocade at Marshalls/TJ Maxx recently and I think it is worth grabbing unsniffed, especially since you can usually find it for about $20.
    There is also the apt Ex Libris by Tokyo Milk, another cheap thrill if you want a pleasant little figgy thing, and the literal In The Library by CB I Hate Perfumes. It is a woodsy-leather with “worn cloth” according to the website.
    My favourite woodsy fragrance is probably Feminite du Bios. It does list fruits in the notes, but I don’t find it fruity at all. Since Serge Lutens re-launched it the original Shiseido has gone up drastically in price (I saw a bottle on amazon for $90), but it is still less that the new one. I think the old one is stronger as well. I have both and did a wrist to wrist comparison – still very nice but it seems lighter to me, which could be a plus or a minus depending on what you want.

    • norjunma1 says:

      Great Picks Julia! I have to second the Feminite du Bois. It is fantastic, and I’ve seen the Sheseido bottle for as low as $70 on some sites.

      • esselle says:

        I’ve had luck getting the original Feminite du Bois on ebay. Full size for $50!

        Side note: looong time reader, first time poster!

      • Julia says:

        Yes! In fact, there is a 100ml. bottle on eBay right now for about $70. I bought my 50ml. bottle just before it came out under the Lutens name and it was about $30. Most of the 50ml I see on eBay right now are around $56. They just recommended it to me today and listed about a dozen bottles, but most of them seem to be from the same seller.

    • Elsa Marie says:

      I have been wanting to try Guerlain’s Apres L’Ondee, and will find as sample as soon as I can. It sounds beautiful and I also really like the name.

      • Julia says:

        Please do! It is sooo beautiful. It shares many of the same notes with L’Heure Bleue which was released six years later. L’HB is stronger and more anisic, and the AL’O is a little softer and really shows the heliotrope and mimose to me. You can get a great Guerlain starter pack from the Perfumed Court which has samples of Jicky, Apres L’Ondee, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar, and Vol de Nuit, all in extrait form (and you can send the Shalimar to me ;) ). Guerlain is no longer making Apres L’Ondee in extrait form, according to their website, but the 100ml. EdT is available in the bee bottle for around $100. The Perfumed Court and other sample sellers and swappers are your friends. I started my perfumista journey with the French Legends sampler pack from P.C. and I really like their themed packs that are sorted by note, level of experience (whatever that means), houses, decades, Fifi awards, MUA top picks, etc. I’m sad that you didn’t love my beloved Shalimar, my Holy Grail fragrance that was sitting in front of me all these years, but I will say that it smells dramatically different in various strengths and the vintage extrait is particularly moving. I happen to be rich in Shalimar parfum right now, both vintage and modern, and would love to send you a sample if you would like to try it again. I sound like a Shalimar evangelist. My street is named Shalimar and I always wanted to like it and have a bottle of it just for the novelty of it, but found it off-putting with it’s “powdery old lady” smell. Turns out the problem was that I was only smelling the bottle of the lowest concentration available (the EdC that you can get at a drugstore which is not without it’s charms and makes an excellent room spray for pillows and curtains) and never tried it on my skin. It took me a long time to even try the extrait sample. When I did I discovered that it is, to me, the ultimate vanilla scent made sexy and complex with bergamot, cedar, iris, rose, jasmine, leather, sandalwood, incense, musc, and civet (plus other things that mere mortals will probably never know) – and I’ve learned that I love “old lady” perfumes. Many of my favourites were released before 1950, and when someone dismisses a fragrance as dated or old lady-ish, I usually run for a sample and go vintage if possible.

    • miss kitty v. says:

      I was also thinking Sacrebleu. It smells–just vaguely–similar to Minuit Enchante to me. Also, since Tauer was mentioned as one Elsa tried, maybe L’Air du Desert Marocain? I get a sort of incense-y feel from it, but not so much a literal representation of incense. (Hopefully I’m making sense–my brain is frazzled. I’ve got someone sawing away at a wall in my bathroom, one of the neighbors has been using a chainsaw on something for almost the entire day, and another neighbor refuses to take no for an answer and continues to try to start a dead car engine, resulting in that delightful dying-cat screech.)

  8. klarca123 says:

    Hi, Elsa. If Fracas was a little bit too much for you, then maybe you should try Frederic Malle Carnal Flower (also based on the fact that you liked La Chasse aux Papillons but found it not longlasting).
    Also, try Ormonde Jayne Woman and Ta’if. They are both gorgeous!
    Maybe you would also like the Parfumerie Generale Aomassai (although for me that licorice note is kind of off-putting).
    Also, Prada Ambre could be interesting for you to try.
    I’m sure you’ll really enjoy sampling all the perfumes.
    Btw, you want to live in Slovenia? I’ve never heard anyone said that, most of the people don’t even know where Slovenia is (and yes, I live in Slovenia, if you were wondering :)

    • Julia says:

      I love Fracas, and I also love Carnal Flower. Fracas is very buttery on me, and the Carnal Flower is very clean and more green in the top notes. I have about 8-10mls of CF in various sample vials and I’m rationing it very carefully. I do have two bottle from the Editions de Parfum series (Musc Ravageur in oil and liquid spray), but they were gifts and I didn’t personally shell out the $250 or whatever the 100ml bottles cost. I also have the travel sized L’Eau D’Hiver and Noir Epices. L’Eau D’Hiver may be something Elsa would like, too. There is an eBay seller I really like and trust, French Maison, who splits the travel sets of the 10ml bottles so you only have to purchase one and usually has many carded samples of the FM frags (2.5ml) that ship for free.

    • Elsa Marie says:

      Klarca123, I have been meaning to try Carnal Flower. I think I have been scared away by someone mentioning that it has a melon aspect to it, but I definitely will try a sample of it when I can. I’m also excited to try Ormonde Jayne Woman and Ta’if. Thank you! I have only visited Slovenia once, but I was enchanted and if I could go anywhere right now I would go back there.

      • klarca123 says:

        Very interesting, I do not get the melon in the Carnal Flower. Of course you do have to try it on your skin to see how it blends in.
        Oh, and I thought of another amber: Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe. A drunk amber, the opposite of the Estee Lauder Amber Ylang-Ylang.
        Also, the Histoire des Parfums Amber is lovely. And while you’re at it, perhaps try the Kenzo Amour Parfum (gold bottle) – very longlasting on me and just a wonderful cozy spicy winter scent.
        It seems like we have a somewhat similar taste in perfumes, so I will definitely try some of the other recomendations.
        And yes, Slovenia is indeed beautiful. Hope you visit it again!

      • Julia says:

        Yeah, melon is one of the listed notes and I think Robin’s review of it mentions that somebody said “Juicy Fruit gum” in the creative process. I don’t get any melon or fruitiness from it at all. The name scared me as well, but as I came to love tuberose it became much less frightening. It is very nice.

  9. sucrose says:

    Donna Karan Chaos would be my pick for a warm and comforting scent with a bit of incense. For something more interesting than Amber Ylang Ylang I’d recommend Parfumerie Generale L’Oiseau de Nuit.

    • abirae says:

      Seconding Chaos. It’s a weird bird (which I happen to adore). To my nose it’s a vortex of cammomile, spices, ginger, incense and woods. Samples turn up on ebay and the Perfumed Court.

    • Haunani says:

      Hi Elsa! I love your name. I second Parfumerie Generale’s L’Oiseau de Nuit. It’s a labdanum lover’s dream. Beautiful, different, and very cozy.

      Also agree with those who recommend that you try Ormonde Jayne’s Woman and Ta’if.

  10. Karin says:

    How about Tauer’s Incense Rose or Rose Chypre? Or L’Artisan Dzing!

  11. Katich says:

    I second the Sensuous and the Hypnotic Poison. If you’re interested in rose, you could also try the Midnight Poison- I really enjoy the rose-berry-patchouli drydown. If you liked the Bulgari Omnia Green Jade at all you should definitely try the original Bulgari Omnia- it’s one of my go to fall/winter scents with a comforting but not too sweet combination of saffron, clove, cinnamon, and musk, but without being too overwhelming. (I don’t think you would be too put off by the cinnamon- it’s all well blended). Bulgari Black might be worth a shot as well.

    L’Artisan Tea for Two is another one you might want to try, but it is a little on the sweet side. I also second Chinatown as well!

    Great recs so far!

    • Katich says:

      Oooh Dzing too! I forgot Dzing! Recently fell in love with it after being on the fence…what a wonderful musk.

  12. Dawnkana says:


    Lots of great recs already!

    I’ll just add Citizen Queen by Juliette Has a Gun and Daphne by Commes des Garcons. You can order samples of these from LuckyScent.

    Have fun!


  13. esselle says:

    It hasn’t been quite cold enough to break it out yet, but my other “sensual” fall fave is Ambre Narguile by Hermes. It’s a warm, smoky gourmand that seems to please even non-foody lovers (myself and Mr. esselle included). I continue to buy sample vials online, so I have no idea how much the real deal is.

  14. Cheering up on a cold bus? Like woody/musky? Get thee to a discount site and search for Fendi Theorema edp. (Don’t be confused by the “esprit” and other versions. You’re looking for the sort of purse-shaped bottle with the little gold clasp at the top.) Yeah, OK, it opens with a bright orange note, but it never comes close to candy, and yeah, OK it’s discontinued, but for right now you can get a big bottle for under $100 and it’s fabulous stuff. Minis are available at Rei Rien (not affiliated) for low-risk sampling.

    • AnnS says:

      Hi Elsa — i’ll second Theorema which is quite warm & sensuous but can also be worn for day in judicious doses….

      And since you are such a romantic sort, I’ll rec Bal a Versailles which is tremendously rich & romantic jasmine and spices. Again, this can be worn in small doses for day — esp. the edt — and lasts for a long time. It’s been a winter standby for me for many years.

      Also along with the recs for Andy Tauer above, I would include Le Maroc pour Elle which is warm and sulty rose, jasmine and patchouli. Again, in small doses… just gorgeous. And that exotic smell will keep them guessing about your future career goals while you’re in that beautiful library…

      And a few more: you should try Lancome’s Magie Noire which is about as warm and romantic as you can get, even the current formulation is still good.

      And… Paestum Rose by Eau d’Italie which is just rich and spicy rose…

      And …. the following Sonoma Scent Studio fragrances: Sienna Musk (as mentioned above for musk), Winter Woods, and Rose Musc.

      • Elsa Marie says:

        Oh my goodness these all sound wonderful. I am especially excited about Theorema. Thank you!

    • Daisy says:

      mmmmm…Theorema…check out and they have a coupon right now I believe…

      • ScentRed says:

        Psst…Daisy – Following your recommendation I ordered some Theorema from beautyencounter and it arrived last week. I LUV IT. Like a bottle of woody, spiced sunshine, it warms me on these cool fall days. And the packaging is a real treat too. *sighs*

        Thank you :-)

        • Daisy says:

          I’m so glad you love it! You know, I have a “secret stash” of Theorema (3 spares) but I keep eyeballing Beautyencounter and thinking maybe one more would be wise…..but then I keep splitting Chanels and running out of money!! (that whole piggy bank on life support problem again) ;-)

    • Julia says:

      I almost recommended this, but hesitated because of the orange. It is a Daisy favourite so I dutifully purchased it. ;) I found a 100ml tester of EdP on eBay for less than $60.

      • I admit I hesitated because of the orange, too. But then I took a good look at the fruity perfumes Julia has tried and the citrus in this is nothing like those. You know we all have notes we think we hate until we smell it done right, and I’m not a huge fan of a realistic orange note–too much like slurpees! But here it is just….sunshine made wearable.

        • Oops! Make that perfumes ELSA has tried! Who knows what you’ve tried, Julia!

          • Julia says:

            Sometimes it feels like I have tried everything. My Perfumed Court bills certainly suggest that. I really like the orange in Theorema, it adds warmth and an almost Christmasy feel to me – like those oranges studded with cloves we used to make. The orange is a top note and fadesrather quickly on me and seems to add body to the delicious spices of the drydown. I’ I don’t like big fruities in the Badgley Mishka style (over-ripe fruitchoulis) or the cursed Guerlain My Insolence. They should be ashamed of themselves and I’m especially angry that they had the nerve to put it in the L’Heure Bleu/Mitsouko bottle for a while. The only Guerlain that I’ve seen masses of at Marshalls for $40. Ick.

          • Elsa Marie says:

            I don’t mind the idea of orange at all in this context. As Julia wrote, it sounds warm and reminiscent of Christmas. I had forgotten how much I love the smell of oranges and clementines in a Christmas context. Now I want it to be cold instead of 74 degrees in November!

          • AnnS says:

            Elsa – its so nice to comment along with you! Since you enjoy the smells of Christmas so much, you really need to especially try the Andy Tauer Incense Rose as rec’d above. It truly smells to me like the lovely orange and clove pomander balls that are common at the holidays….along with other good perfume ingredients, like rose, incense (very light) etc. (I have troubles with incense too.)

            This is also a rec that falls outside of your above listed parameters, but hey, we are all here to expand our horizons. You also need to try the Caron Nuit de Noel, which is a lovely, soft, romantic ylang-ylang floral/comfort fragrance in a very traditional aldehyde floral composition. There is a very nice review of it on Perfume Smellin Things.


            Also, some very nice fragrances that have very light use of incense are Caron Parfum Sacre (inexpensie) and Amouage Lyric Woman (very expensive! but you can always get a split.)

          • Daisy says:

            ahhh yes, Incense Rose….from which I get ZERO rose….just lots of piney incense . Good stuff, and lots of christmasy feel.

  15. Rappleyea says:

    My immediate reaction reading this was L’Heure Bleue. Not so much from reading the notes Elsa likes, but the description of her personally.

    My all time favorite winter comfort scent is Guerlain’s Spiriteuse Double Vanille – a full bottle will be too expensive, but decants can be had for less.

    Also, highly recommend Sonoma Scent Studio’s Champagne de Bois for a fabulous woody with just a touch of jasmine scent.

    Good luck!

  16. boojum says:

    For warm and cheap, if it doesn’t turn sweet on you (only a recent problem for me), the discontinued but still readily available online RL Safari. Other thoughts: Diptyque’s Tam Dao, the new Prada l’Eau Ambree or the Prada Id’I (which reads warm incense to me), or for warm boozy spicy goodness, Lubin Idole.

    • AnnS says:

      You know, I was thinking Safari too, which is just so beautiful and distinctive…and not very expensive these days!

    • Chanterais says:

      Safari would be an gorgeous choice – I’ve always thought it smells so much more expensive than it actually is, and it’s got that wonderful sleek warmth to it. Definitely gets my vote.

    • Daisy says:

      and I believe there is a split of Lubin Idole available on right now! ;-)

  17. SmokeyToes says:

    I second the EL Sensuous and Bvlgari’s Jasmine Noir. I’d also add by Le Labo: Rose 31 or Iris 39.

    Le Labo’s Rose 31 has rose, cumin, pepper, clove, nutmeg, olibanum, cedar, amber, gaiac wood, oud, cistus, vetiver and animalic notes. Lovely warm, woodsy/sensual, the rose is not over the top.

    Le Labo’s Iris 39, warm woody and elegant. Notes are iris, lime, patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, musk, violet, ginger, cardamom, and civet

  18. 2scents says:

    Didn’t catch if anyone recommended Terre d’Hermes yet. It is a cold, drizzly day here in the PNW and it has a dry cedar vibe that warms me right up. It’s inexpensive online and widely available. It would go great with that newsboy cap, too.

  19. flittersniffer says:

    Would like to second Sensuous, Jasmin Noir, Carnal Flower and Ta’if.

    Others that spring to mind are Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain, , Kenzo Flower Oriental, Agent Provocateur Strip (if you don’t mind the opening geranium note), Bvlgari Black, PG L’Ombre Fauve and PG Brulure de Rose for a sensual woody and/or incense vibe, and SSS Opal and DSQUARED She Wood for musk.

    These are all cold bus frags imo!

  20. Robin R. says:

    Lots of excellent suggestions so far, Elsa!

    I’m going to limit myself to just one recommendation, zeroing in as closely as I can on those notes you like best.

    It’s the original Michael by Michael Kors. It’s mostly tuberose and incense, with woods, musks and Haitian vetiver. Our blog-mistress Robin has written about it most compellingly:

    “I can’t remember when I first smelled Michael, but I know I didn’t love it. It was too strong, too sweet, and too floral for my taste, and my feelings about Michael did not change radically after I became more interested in fragrance and my tastes expanded to include the headier white florals.

    But I can’t even count the number of times over the past 7 years when I’ve asked someone what they were wearing because they smelled so nice, and the answer was: Michael. It happened again only last week, and I came home and sprayed some on, and then sat, puzzled yet again: I don’t like Michael. On me, anyway, and up close. But apparently I like it on most anyone else, and I have to say that several times while wearing it I was struck by that sense you get when you forget that you’re even wearing perfume and just notice, for an instant, that something nearby smells good.”

    I know. Pretty convincing, huh? And you can find it online for a good price. A little goes a very long way (so much the better from a cost-per-wearing perspective)! ;-)

    • Elsa Marie says:

      This is extremely convincing. Beautifully described and I will most certainly try it. Thank you!

      • Robin R. says:

        Thank the “other” Robin, Elsa! Good luck on your search for the perfect fall and winter scent.

        (Oh, and there are many things you can do with your law degree besides getting involved in that highly adversarial world of lawsuits and courtroom drama, so hope you’ll explore those options before you think of throwing in the towel. ;-) )

  21. datura5750 says:

    Nuits Enchantees by Laura Mercier Perhaps? One of my new favorites,
    And its very concentrated, should be a dabber not a sprayer!

    • datura5750 says:

      Duh, just read that she tried that, Midnight Oud
      by Juliette Has a Gun?

      • Tamarind says:

        I am sampling this (Midnight Oud) and quite like it. So smell-your-own-wrist all the time lovely.

        To me, it is also very similar to the first Agent Provocateur which I have and love. Although AP seems a bit more high maintenance.

  22. bergere says:

    Hi, Elsa! You’ve got a lot of great suggestions already, but here’s a few more. On the tuberose or ylang-ylang side, you could try LouLou (Cacharel), Debut and Amoureuse by DelRae, Lierre rose, Attrape-Coeur (a comfortable floral), Black Cashmere is a warm, comforting scent; Mauboussin (very interesting), Sun by Jil Sander; Barbara Bui by Barbara Bui is a nice, warm floral with an incense note, and can be had for a song. On the more incense -y or spicy side, Aqaba by Aqaba (spicy but no cinnamon), and Cathedral and Fire Opal by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.
    Have fun! Remember, too, that if you’re into literature, you are very good at reading thoroughly–a wonderful talent to have in law, and one which you can make the center of a career in law.

    • miss kitty v. says:

      Elsa if you (or anyone else) want to try Lou Lou, let me know. (Had to squelch the urge to write “let me know know.”) I am happy to send a sample. I’m under the same name on MUA.

      • Elsa Marie says:

        I would love to try a sample of Lou Lou. Let me know what to do to make that happen! Thank you also for mentioning L’Air du Desert Marocain. I had been meaning to try that but had forgotten the name until I read it again in your post. I hope the sawing and chainsaw noises and dying-cat screeches have calmed down by now. That sounds awful.

        • miss kitty v. says:

          Yes, thankfully! Just send me a message at MUA (under the same name there, just all one word) and we can get you set up. :)

  23. jirish says:

    Has anyone mentioned CdG’s Incense Series? They’re all worth checking out, but if she’s interested in a warm incense I think the warmest of the series is Jaisalmer.

  24. Gilty says:

    Will third (or fourth…?) the rec for the gprgeous Lubin Idole and add another one by Olivia Giacobetti, Costes, which is all warm incense and peppery-woody. I l love it! Another Ormonde Jayne to try would be Tolu, which is warm and resinous/herbal. For some less expensive warm/woody/incensey scents try Gres Cabaret, Caron Parfum Sacre, and YSL Nu (all easy to find at the on-line discounters).

    • miss kitty v. says:

      Seconding Parfum Sacre. (And along with Lou Lou, as stated above, one I would be happy to send a sample of.)

  25. Jill says:

    I’ll add another vote for Chinatown and Sensuous; you might also try L’Artisan Timbuktu and LesNez Let Me Play the Lion which are very different scents but both have lovely incense notes.

    • boojum says:

      Love the LesNez! To my nose, it’s a slightly juicier version of l’Air… and since my only complaint about l’Air was its dryness, I really need to add some to my collection.

  26. Antje says:

    For affordable choices try also Max Mara (the original) and Lucky Brand Lucky No 6. The Max Mara might be a bit to clean for you, but both have not too floral top notes and dry down beautifully to a woodsy musk.

  27. Cold bus, warm, sensual statement? Serge Lutens Daim Blond. Apricots and warm, soft white suede. When you’re in the cold it shields and wraps you, and when you’re in the warm again, it becomes part of you, and _you’re_ the, yes, sensual, creature with the wonderful-smelling skin.

    Yeah, I’m rhapsodizing. I’ll get a grip. But, Daim Blond.

    There’s also Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere. Also warm and cuddly, but more foody and more innocent. It makes me feel more like a warm, fed, satisfied grey cat. The cat just wants to nap and be petted; the Daim Blond woman may have other interests. But the other interests aren’t so blatant that you couldn’t wear it to work.

    On tuberose, another possibility is Tubereuse Couture. Less thick and buttery, and wafty, so the full-on tuberose only hits you occasionally, long enough to enjoy it but not so long that you’re ready for it to go away.

    Oh! And Sutra Ylang. Wood and very gentle winter spices and… I have a lot of trouble describing Sutra Ylang. It’s a quiet, shy, pretty, sweet fragrance without any of the annoying aspects of any of those descriptions. Not girly-fluttery-pretty, not sugar-sweet, not eyes-batting shy, not so quiet that it doesn’t wrap you in a nice blanket of scent. I’m not as fond of the top notes; it becomes itself for me after about twenty minutes.

    • Dixie says:

      I second the Sutra Ylang by Bois 1920.

    • Elsa Marie says:

      These all sound like scents that could make a cold dark bus feel like the perfect place for a daydream or a bit of pleasure reading on the way to class. I love the idea of Daim Blond. The rhapsodizing is awesome =). I also love the image of a contented gray cat. Sutra Ylang sounds beautiful also. You describe exactly the scent and feeling that I am hoping to find. Thank you!

  28. Dolly says:

    I would suggest Estee Lauder’s Pleasures. This is a very feminine scent, not overpowering, but it can vary from woman to woman. The musk in it is a little metallic, but it’s smooth.

  29. Dolly says:

    She may also like Tresor by Lancome. It’s dry down is woody, musky and smooth.

    • miss kitty v. says:

      Oh, Tresor! That’s a good one. Would wear it myself if I didn’t associate it with the idiot I almost married when I was 18, since that’s what I wore then.

      • Dolly says:

        Look at it this way, you saved yourself from one more misery and had the rest of your life to sample ALL those other fragrances out there. RAH!

  30. I would second the Bvlgari Omnia (absolutely my favorite for fall/winter) and EL Sensous. The honey in Sensous sometimes gets too sweet for me, but if it’s close for you, you might also try the new Leslie Blodgett Bare Skin. It has a similar feel to it without the sweetness (notes are black pepper, freesia, anise, iris, vanilla orchid, plumeria, patchouli, labdanum, musk).

    I would also try Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon for a warm amber musk with florals.

  31. Safran says:

    I would suggest Corso Como 10, it’s soft, woody, warm, it has rose, it has a tiny bit of incense, it’s fabulous for autumn and winter and with all it’s softness it is not flat or boring at all.

  32. Safran says:

    PS: And it’s quite affordable…..

    • Dolly says:

      Safran- Where do I get a sample of Corso Como 10? I love those woody, earthy scents.

      • boojum says:

        I just got one myself, from Luckyscent…and I’m fairly sure Aedes carries it as well.

  33. lilydale aka Natalie says:

    Zillionthing a few of the suggestions above — Theorema, Tauer’s L’Air and Incense Rose, Parfum Sacre — and adding a few of my own…

    Given that you like Profumum Olibanum (me too!) but find it a bit freaky, you should definitely try L’Artisan’s Passage d’Enfer, which has a similar incense + floral vibe; it turns too soapy on me, but not on everyone. You should also try their La Chasse Extreme if you haven’t already, since it may last longer than the original on you. As for lavender, I find the lavender in Reverie too medicinal as well; I highly recommend Gris Clair, which is the only lavender I’ve found that I like (it’s slightly honeyed too, which normally spells disaster on my skin, but this one is just right), and absolutely divine in winter.

    Good luck, and have fun!

    • boojum says:

      The wonders of skin chemistry again…I have just the opposite reaction to those two lavendars. The SL is all shaving cream on me, and the Tauer is lovely.

  34. Julia says:

    I missed out on wanting something that is a bit less clean and innocent than Clair de Musc. I love muscs and mentioned Musc Ravageur as a favourite of mine. I think you might really like this. It is my favourite musc/skin scent – spicy, warm, and sort of animalic but not too dirty. It is not a soapy clean musc, but it is not as animalic as something like Muscs Koublai Khan by Serge Lutens. I ordered a musc sampler pack which mistakenly included two MKKs and it is so beastly animalic it has taken the better part of a year for me to come to it and I LOVE muscs.

  35. alotofscents says:

    I am dying tho try the La Chase Extreme since I feel the way the way you do about it – love it, doesn’t last. I also feel the same way you do about Fracas, so I mix it with Florence by Tocca. It warms up the Florence which is a slightly pale tuberose, almost warm…but not quite. I like E.L. Amber Ylang Ylang too but it isn’t distinguished. I’m kinda in the same boat as you. I love the *perfume* version of Micheal Kors. It is Tuberose incense. The EDT isn’t spicy enough.

  36. Dixie says:

    There are some fantastic recommendations here! Musc Ravageur is a must to try. Passage d’Enfer is a great Incense scent. Check out EL Youth Dew-especially in the bath oil layered with the parfum or EDT is especially longlasting.
    I have to second the recomendation of Feminite du Bois. That or try another Lutens in the Bois series. Bois de Violette is extraordinary, but is in the non-export line.
    I must encourage you to try Mitsouko, Sous le Vent, and Jicky if you haven’t already. Good Luck and happy writing!

  37. alotofscents says:

    Oh, I forget. DSH perfumes on has on called
    Giardini Giardini, it’s an oriental floral with lots of white notes in the heart and rose. And DSH Arome D’ Egype is an oriental with rose and laudanum and lots of wood notes. There are a lot more you might be interested in.

  38. laken says:

    Might be worth trying YSL Opium. I found it got me through the heart of winter that we’ve just had.

  39. abirae says:

    A few tuberoses I have known and loved:

    FM Carnal Flower (as suggested before) – Narcotic with a buttery coconut which you may like as a Fracas lover. My husband who generally prefers the smell of my own musk to fragrances actually really likes this one. Samples are available and the small spray vials turn up on ebay.

    Thierry Mugler A Traverse the Miroir – freaky ice cold tuberose with absinthe and possibly wintergreen? Bizarre and wonderful. My husband liked this one and called it “subtle” – so I think that means it’s okay for school.

    Jacques Garcia Tuberose (silver) room spray: Technically it’s a home fragrance but it comes in an awesome bottle and since it’s a home product it may turn up on clearance some where. (I once found it in the Clearance bin at Bergdorffs.) Fabulous ice cold tuberose.

    • boojum says:

      Where does one find that Mugler? Being an Alice fanatic, I feel compelled to try it, even though tuberose has not been kind to me previously (except in a minor role)…there has to be a first for everything, right?

      • abirae says:

        Howdy Boojum!

        I lucked out on a bottle on ebay after falling in love at Saks 5th Ave. I think they still have it at Saks, and I know it’s still available on the Mugler website. Minis turn up on ebay pretty regularly so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled.

        And for what it’s worth, I’m not always a friend of tuberose – Fracas and I don’t see eye to eye. Mugler brings out the cold wintergreen that made the JAR tuberose scent (Lightning bolt maybe?) so strange and exciting for me. As an Alice fan, it might be a nice experiment in inverting your usual olfactory sensibilities. ;)

        • boojum says:

          LOL! I love it. Thanks, I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

  40. emmab says:

    On a different note Elsa, don’t throw in law school with out a good lot of thought, it is something that can get you a long way even if you don’t practice. I am an environmental scientist with a law degree something which I don’t use on a day to day basis but it means that you can specialise in your choosen career and makes you a hell of a lot more employable, so think hard.

    • boojum says:

      I’ll second that, from a different perspective: I never went to law school, though so many people told me I should (no interest, I majored in English lit too). I wound up working at a law firm, at the state legislature, and then in public finance, where I read/review/negotiate legal documents all day long…. but don’t pull in the salary I could have commanded with that law degree, even though I’m doing a good bit of the same work.

  41. Elsa Marie says:

    I just wanted to thank everyone for the recommendations. They are so fun to read and I can’t wait to start exploring these scents. They all sound beautiful and I’m overwhelmed in a good way. Thanks also for the supportive messages about law school. I’m going to keep pushing and see where it goes. These comments and suggestions are going to help lend the bus rides, library hours, and late study sessions a certain unexpected secret magic (or not-so-secret, depending on the scent I guess =). Thank you!

  42. Belle says:

    Great suggestions so far everyone!
    My 2 cents:
    Sushi Imperiale by Bois 1920-warm ginger and other spices
    Guerlain Samsara- creamy sandalwood; longlasting
    Creed Tuberose- woody floral
    FM Noir Epices-so warm it’s hot imo!!
    L’artisan Poivre Piquant- white pepper and milk, very comforting

    Good luck on your search Elsa!

  43. gemini says:

    Since you mentioned several scents being too clean and innocent, how about Bal a Versaille? It can often be found at TJ Maxx /Marshalls very cheaply.

  44. perfumelaydee says:

    For a casual fragrance, I would second the Le Labo Iris 39 and also, the Kenzo Amour. FM Noir Epices is also a beautiful fragrance that will give you the warmth that you are looking for. Much success on your fragrance find, Elsa.

  45. jwa says:

    Maybe a bit of a splurge but how about Serge Lutens’ 5 O’Clock au Gingembre? For me it’s perfect for winter. Or Dans tes Bras from the Editions de Parfums…it’s definitely unusual but a real grower and just right for this time of year.

  46. Blimunda says:

    I’ve been on a bit of an incense kick lately, trying to find one that I adore. I recommend L’Artisan’s “Passage D’Enfer”, Etro’s “Shaal Nur”, and both Andy Tauer’s incense frags. They’re all casual scents, appropriate for daytime, and all very uplifting for a cold winter’s day.

    I’d also recommend Serge Lutens’ “Ambre Sultan” as it is resinous, musky, sensual and very, very warming and winter-appropriate.

  47. lemonprint says:

    Late to the party… Your description just makes me think of one of my favorites, Montale’s Vanilla Extasy. I suspect the thing that most people don’t forgive it for – not enough vanilla – is what might save it for you. It’s really not a sweet cake fragrance, and it would go beautifully with your library. It’s a gentle but warm surround of apricot and flowers and vanilla and it always just makes me smile; I couldn’t help but think it fit your milieu and would be great for your bus rides. :-)

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