The Go-To Perfume

Maybe you’ve had a week like mine: steady work at one job and three deadlines for two freelance clients keeping you at the computer until at least ten o’clock each night. The roses you cut a week ago that were so fresh and full of life now drop shriveled petals on the hearth. Emails from friends — the emails you really do want to respond to — pile up until they pass above the screen's window and into the island of lost correspondence. Mornings are so rushed you pick up something from the bedroom floor to toss on and hope cute shoes will make it all right as you dash out the door.

But of course you must wear perfume. What will it be? Your “go-to” perfume, of course.

A go-to perfume is a fragrance that you can grab and spritz on without thinking. It won’t interfere with your day, won’t offend, and goes with everything. It might even be a perfume you like all right but don’t particularly love. The main thing is, like a grilled cheese sandwich or a plain-cut white blouse, it satisfies without requiring a lot of thought.

For me, go-to perfumes are seasonal. When it’s warm, I tend to reach for Bill Blass Nude (pear, jasmine, and aldehydes), Parfum d’Empire Eau Suave (crisp rose chypre), or Annick Goutal Folavril (tomato leaf and greens). I’d add Rochas Eau de Rochas to the list, but it comes in a splash bottle, and when I’m harried it’s too much trouble to deal with. When the season turns, I like Bois 1920 Sutra Ylang (wood and orange), Chanel Bois des Iles (gingerbread sandalwood elegance), and L’Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille (skin vanilla). I cherish all of these fragrances and can’t imagine not having them around. But, I don’t really love any of them wildly.

One of the reasons they’re my go-to perfumes is that they’re easy to wear. They’re crowd pleasers. I don’t have to think about how well they’ll sync with what I wear, because I know they’ll work. I don’t have to worry about what friends or coworkers will think, because I know they’ll please.

You’d think if I’m that distracted I’d select a perfume that helps me focus (Serge Lutens Bois de Violette is good for that, for some reason, or Chanel No. 19), but no. When things are crazy, even that’s too much work. I don’t even have the energy to seek a comfort perfume. Molinard Habanita, normally the exotic tobacco-vetiver custard that tranquilizes? Too much attitude. I just need something foolproof, something I can spritz in my general direction and leave on the dresser. The go-to perfume.

The fragrances I truly love tend to be more demanding. Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman insists on a stack of thick Bakelite bracelets and matte lipstick. Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower needs me to be ready to lock eyes with a man whose gaze is ready to linger just a second longer. XerJoff Irisss demands I order a glass of Champagne instead of the happy hour deal on house white. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to live up to the perfume I love.

A good perfume collection, like a good wardrobe, requires more than masterpieces. It needs workhorses — perfumes that smell easy and versatile and don't butt in. Go-to perfume.

What are your go-to perfumes?

Note: image is FROM HERE TO... by Neal at flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. Emily says:

    Mine tend to change every couple of years. Used to be Narciso Rodriguez for Her EDT and AA Laurier Reglisse; now I go for Eau des Merveilles, Cabaret, and DSH Jitterbug (though Youth Dew is creeping into the rotation).

    • Angela says:

      Oh yes, my go-to perfumes tend to shift, too, depending on what has moved into my collection. You picked some great ones, though! I can especially see Eau des Merveilles being good for just about any occasion or season.

      • Emily says:

        Totally — I wore EdM to run errands and to the opera in the same week.

        • Angela says:

          I bet it would be a great travel perfume, too.

          • hongkongmom says:

            Thanks for reminding me about E de M…I will put it in my rotation.

    • dee says:

      Winter 2009 saw EdM as my “go-to” scent; I need to revisit it, since it’s probably even better in the warm weather! :)

      • Angela says:

        Oh yes, there’s a bit of the beachy feel in it!

        • hongkongmom says:

          “scrambles off to pull it from the back of the cabinet!”

          • Angela says:

            Isn’t it amazing how many perfumes a person loves can ending up hiding at the back of the cabinet?

          • hongkongmom says:


  2. pyramus says:

    I love a lot of the Serge Lutens line but my go-to is Santal Blanc, which is dry, austere, and soft-spoken.

    When I want something with a little more presence, I turn to the sadly underrated L’Instant Pour Homme by Guerlain. It’s never wrong.

    When I want something with a lot more presence, and I just can’t decide what to wear, it usually turns out to be Casual Friday by Escada, unaccountably discontinued and really excellent.

    • Bear says:

      Casual Friday is great!
      I picked up 3 bottles about five years ago when Marshalls had it for
      I would look around the store thinking why don’t these people know what a bargain these are!

      • Angela says:

        Two recommendations for Casual Friday!

    • Angela says:

      You are so right about L’Instant pour l’homme! I like it much better than the feminine version.

      I haven’t ever tried Casual Friday. Haven’t even heard of it. But knowing you like it I’ll keep an eye out for it.

      • AnnieA says:

        Yes, the feminine version seems quite generic rich-lady-scent, but I love the masculine version

        • Angela says:

          The Intense version is pretty good, too, if I remember right.

    • moore says:

      You totally right about L’Instant. It’s so classy and so underrated! But it’s also a good finding. Earns each searcher… ;)

      • Angela says:

        That’s true!

        • moore says:

          I miss a review about it. Angela, when you have time, you could bring us a review. With Kevin we have no conversation! He’s always “not in the mood for”…

          • Angela says:

            Maybe Kevin and I can do a review together, if NST hasn’t reviewed it yet. That might be fun–especially if it turns out we have different views of it!

          • moore says:

            It would be fun and we would be fun!!!! Thanks!

    • Dixie says:

      L’instant Pour Homme is so underappreciated. I think it’s one of the sexiest male fragrances out there!

  3. Anne from Makeupwoot says:

    Christian Audigier for Women (Red bottle with Crown Lid)
    Jeanne Lanvin by Jeanne Lanvin
    Queen by Queen Latifah

    • Angela says:

      You picked three I’ve only seen but not smelled. On my “to try” list they go….

      • Anne from Makeupwoot says:

        Christian Audigier for Women is unique and unisex (I actually love it when I can get the boyfriend to wear it) even though it’s aimed as being women only.

        Jeanne is pretty and light and totally unoffensive.

        Queen is a gourmande that doesn’t seem to annoy anyone in my office.

        • Angela says:

          A selection for every mood, it sounds like.

  4. Bear says:

    Hello Angela,
    Habit Rouge fits your definition of go-to, pleasant crowd-pleaser that I don’t love nor hate, but I always receive compliments and no “odd glances”.
    Something I like more is Versailles homme, Desprez’s Bal a Versailles male counterpart – pimento, sandalwood and CIVET!
    I wear BaV also and can smell the skank/wood of it in Vh, but Vh is a whisper to BaV’s lusty scream! ;)

    • Angela says:

      I didn’t even know BaV had a masculine version! I feel like I’m learning more new perfumes today than I have in a while.

  5. tulp says:

    Hi Angela, great article, as always :-D My go-to scents are Havana Vanille L’Artisan, Kenzo Amour, Joop Le Bain, J’Adore for cooler weather, when it is warm Bulgari Eau Thé Blanc and (very tiny voice ……..) Cool Water Woman Davidoff. I would also like to have the Mugler Cologne, but that is a big no no at home. Except the Havana Vanille, they are all mainstrain perfumes. But because of this blog, I try more and more samples of niche scents :-D

    • Angela says:

      All such good ones. (No need to lower your voice on the Cool Water–you’re among friends!) I can see Amour and J’Adore being super versatile.

    • rosarita says:

      Bulgari Au The Blanc is my year round go to. It has enough presence to hold up in cold weather as well as hot. Another favorite hot weather go to is Bulgari Omnia Crystalline (and original Omnia for the rest of the year.)

      • tulp says:

        I heard such good things of the Omnias, but unfortunately I cannot smell them. The only one I can smell a tiny bit is green jade.

        • Angela says:

          I’ve heard a lot of people say that!

      • Angela says:

        The Bulgaris are nice–plus, I love the bottles. Thé Vert is such a standby.

  6. Dilana says:

    I think of this as my “gym bag” scent, with the added requirement that the bottle should fit easily within the bag.

    And this should be a scent one loves.
    Right now, I have a Caruthisa IO- lovely, clean with a bit of green.

    I also have, mostly because of the small bottle size, a vintage Red Door. Its vintage becauseI have no idea when or how I acquired it, but it must be at least two jobs and a decade ago and I suspect it was closer to two decades ago, but I really have no idea, )

    On days when I am not going to the gym, I tend to rotate.

    I keep searching for a “board room” scent, one appropriate, not just for work, but for those big meetings, not too femmine, not to masculine, not too powerful, but will make me feel powerful and sophisticated and elegent.

    • Angela says:

      The Carthusia doesn’t do that? Maybe Cristalle EdT? (I’m thinking of something along the fresh lines of the Carthusia, but with that classic Chanel kick.)

      “Gym bag scent” is a great way to classify it!

      • Dilana says:

        It comes darn close, which is why it is in my gym bag. Maybe that is why I want something special for those big meeting days.

    • Sara A. says:

      Have you tried Estee Lauder Alliage? It’s cool and green with a lemony top note, galbanum and jasmine in the middle, and some sweet woods at the bottom. It’s quite nice and well done, I just like my perfumes to be a bit louder. I think of it as a business suit scent and fits in the wardrobe between Cristalle and No 19.

      • Angela says:

        It’s reasonably priced, too.

      • Dixie says:

        What a great fragrance!

  7. maggiecat says:

    I’m seasonal with these as well and know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I just don’t want to think all that much…. This summer, go-to scents are Chanel’s Eau de Cologne (perfect for scorching hot days like we get here in Dallas!), Jennifer Aniston’s (I know, I know celebrity scents, etc. but it’s really very nice and works well on me) and Jo Malone’s Honeysuckle and Jasmine. In cooler months, NR’s For Her Musc Intense and Rochas Absolu, as well as Chanel’s Bois des iles.

    • Angela says:

      I need one of those jumbo bottles of Chanel’s cologne about now. That sounds so good. And the Jo Malone Honeysuckle! That sounds really nice in this heat, too.

  8. Abyss says:

    Diorella would be my go-to perfume if only I owned it. I keep meaning to buy a bottle but something else always gets in the way. But, yeah, I love it and it always manages to hit the spot somehow. Works year round too.

    Out of the things that I do own, I’d say that Hermes Hiris and, funnily enough, SL Bois de Violette come the closest to my To Go perfumes. Hiris is just very easy and discreet and, yes, one that I “like all right but don’t particularly love”. Bois De Violette just works in most settings and weathers for me. I find it beautifully refined without being attention-seeking which makes it quite easy to spray-and-go.

    • Angela says:

      You must be more naturally elegant than I am! Your fragrance choices tell all. Bois de Violette is so gorgeous that she isn’t happy with my messy hair and insists I go slum with something else.

  9. Karin says:

    What a great topic, Angela!

    Since I work from home, I usually wear whatever I want. But for those times I have to go into the office, my fall/winter go-to scents are usually Ralph Lauren Notorious or Dzing! (believe it or not ;-) ). Summer is often Juicy Couture.

    If I have a doc appt or an appt where overpowering scent isn’t really welcome, I’ll wear the subdued Honore des Pres Sexy Angelic or a cologne, such as Trefle Pur or Cologne a la Francaise.

    • Karin says:

      Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere is also a great go-to scent!

    • Dilana says:

      Trefe Pur is a great scent but somehow I only reach for it in summer.

      • Angela says:

        It seems summery to me, too.

    • Angela says:

      I once made the mistake of wearing a few drops of Amoureuse to a doctor’s appt. What was I thinking? Your choices make more sense.

      • Karin says:

        I was horrified one time when I had forgotten I had an eye appt, and spritzed Angel with abandon. Oh, that poor opthamologist!!!

      • Haunani says:

        Amoureuse or Angel to a doc appointment?! Yikes! :-)

        • Angela says:

          Yep. That about sums it up.

    • Sara A. says:

      Dzing is my winter go to! I love that animalic smell. It just makes me feel warmer. During Summer I tend to use Azuree, it’s the only thing that stands up to the heat and humidity. The downside is that nothing smells bitter, bad tempered, or dirty enough to me. I just love scents that make me smell like I’ve not bathed recently.

      Most of the time I find florals too demanding for me mentally. I feel like my brain is constantly looking the flower. So I tend to wear citrus and musk a lot. On my list of things to buy when I’m rich is a bottle of Dyptique’s Eau de Hesperides. I love that melancholy orange smell and the faint smell of dirt. I’m the person who’s favorite part of Serge Lutens’ soliflores is the last two hours when I’m riding the waves of that skanky garbage musk. When I put on Majeste, I just want the skank that comes 4 hours later. I think it smells bad, but I just want to keep smelling it. I’ve got a problem

      • Angela says:

        You need to get a bottle of MKK!

  10. kizzers says:

    Through Spring it was 28 La Pausa and Diorissimo. For what we jokingly call Summer, Hiris fits the bill (and Mugler Cologne). Autumn go to is Vetiver Tonka, and Winter is either Coco, Bulgari Black, or a little Kenzo UFO.

    But to be honest, I can wear Hypnotic Poison or Addict anytime, just for a little ‘me time’ comfort.

    • Angela says:

      You know, I could live very happily with your perfume collection!

  11. AnnS says:

    “Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to live up to the perfume I love.” I couldn’t have said it better, so I’m glad you said it so well.

    My go to fragrances when I can barely keep it together (today no less!) are: No 5 parfum or Eau Premier, Laura Mercier Ambre Passion/AP Velvet, Lancome Mille et Une Roses, and AG Mandragore or Mandragore Pourpre. They all have a beautiful simplicity which creates some space and “fragrance silence” in my head.

    • Angela says:

      And I love “fragrance silence”–nicely put!

      • AnnS says:

        I couldn’t think of a better way to say: curl up and fall asleep. Everything is very cluttery right now – space and silence are what I need!!! And a maid. And a babysitter. And a PA. And a masseuse. And a hammock under a lovely tree … :-)

        • Angela says:

          Second it all, especially the hammock. Yes, definitely the hammock…

    • Timbit says:

      I can really relate to “fragrance silence”, and also to the idea of not having the energy to live up to a beloved perfume! i love your descriptions of that concept, Ann and Angela!

      This past spring my go-to’s were Etro Etra and Esprit d’Oscar. Vega could be a go-to for me, but I want to wear it when I can pay at least some attention to it.

      This summer I’m at home recuperating after a hip replacement (3 weeks ago tomorrow) so I’m definitely turning to quiet, non-challenging scents. I’ve worn a lot of Sel de Vetiver – but I think I’m just coming to the point that I can start adding some (slightly) more challenging scents into the mix.

      • Branch and Vine says:

        I’ve know 3 people who’ve had hip replacements in the last 6 months! I’m so happy to hear that you’re coming into a better place w/everything! Happing sniffing! (Since you’ve been limiting your fragrance experiance I bet you’ll be able to smell everything in a completely different way now.It so often happens that way when you take a break.)

      • Angela says:

        Get better soon! I can definitely see how gentle fragrances would feel best now.

        Esprit d’Oscar is a great call for a go-to scent. I adore Vega wildly but agree that it’s so expensive it’s nice to be able to focus on it a little.

      • AnnS says:

        Timbit – I wore Esprit d’Oscar a lot when it was cooler, especially when I had work meetings. It is soft, elegant, and still cuddly. I *almost* put it on my list above, but I’ve not worn it for a few weeks now.

        I hope you are up on your feet soon!

        • dee says:

          Chiming in with Esprit d’Oscar love! I’ve been testing several newish things lately so haven’t worn it as much as I’d like, but it really delivers nicely for an easy, effortless sophistication! :)

          • Angela says:

            For a mainstream release, it’s pretty darned nice, I think.

    • Emily says:

      There aren’t a lot of “silent” fragrances in my collection, but I’m working on bolstering that area — I think that’s why I wear Eau des Merveilles so much. Today I’m wearing Tibetan Mountain Temple, and I find it’s having a similar effect (at least, once my fiance stopped rhapsodizing about how great I smelled).

      • Angela says:

        Oh, it sounds like that one definitely needs a regular spot in your rotation!

        • Emily says:

          I just got my bottle last week, but I think things are heading in that direction.

    • Dilana says:

      Whenever I look for a sheer fragrance, I always end up back to The Vert by BVLGARI, (another old bottle, but I at least I remember when I purchased it).

      • Angela says:

        I like that one especially because it’s hard to overdo it.

    • sarahbeth says:

      These would be my choices… ditto! Particularly Mandragore/Mandragore Pourpre.

      • Angela says:

        It sounds like you’ve found a scent twin.

  12. FragrantWitch says:

    Great article! My go- to fragrances do change throughout the year but lately it’s been Eau de Merveilles, as I have a mini in my handbag makeup bag and it’s just been those kind of weeks, and my grandmothers’ vintage No.5 body spray. Chaos also always fits the bill and last winter my Coromandel decant had heavy rotation. And, always, my lovely Shalimar.

    • Angela says:

      Such great choices! I’m getting a hankering for Shalimar now, although I wouldn’t want it too close to the Attrape Coeur singing so beautifully on one arm now.

  13. Aparatchick says:

    This summer my go-to has been Estee Lauder Pure White Linen Light Breeze (hereinafter referred to as: PWLLB). PWLLB is pretty, undemanding, and cool for our very hot summer.

    Earlier in the year, I’d grab either Ralph Lauren Safari or Ava Luxe No. 23. Both are lovely but not attention-grabbers.

    • Angela says:

      I haven’t tried the PWLLB! It’s so hard to keep up with the flankers that it’s great to have a recommendation on one to try in particular.

  14. RuthW says:

    My go to perfumes for this spring/summer have been YSL Yvresse, Hillary Duff With Love (year round actually), Guerlain Anisia Bella, AG Eau de Camille, Miss Dior Cherie and BBW Sparkling Peach.
    The last Fall/Winter I was reaching for Bvlgari Black, Shalimar, Emeraude, Dior Hypnotic Poision, Arpege and Tabu.

    • Emily says:

      Anisia Bella would definitely be a go-to for me if I could smell it beyond half an hour (I do love to wear it while I’m cooking, though). And I have a feeling that my Yvresse will achieve go-to status before the year is out.

      • Angela says:

        Yvresse is so elegant but interesting.

    • Angela says:

      Wow–such femme fatale fragrances! Very nice.

      • RuthW says:

        I am not a subtle woman, at least with perfume : )
        Besides, I may not look like a femme fatale shlepping my grocery cart through the aisles with my kids but I can damn well smell like one!

    • Ari says:

      I can’t imagine anyone objecting to With Love. Wish they still sold it in my neck of Maryland- it really was one of the better celebrity fragrances.

      • RuthW says:

        I see With Love all the time as discounters like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Check online, you can get it for under $20 a lot of places!

      • Angela says:

        It’s such a good one in cooler weather.

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Ooh, I forgot Emeraude! * slaps wrist*
      Bulgari Black gets a lot of love as well!

      • Angela says:

        I can’t believe how much love Emeraude gets these days! It’s so nice to see.

  15. Bee says:

    I’ve had a very busy schedule lately too, never knowing if I have meetings or whatever, I’ve been using a light spray of beyond love )quite frequently (but yes, I am looking sideways to my nice new bottles of OJ woman and absolue pour le soir)

    • Branch and Vine says:

      OJ woman is a staple for me starting in the fall. Such a beauty!

      • Angela says:

        One of my absolute favorites.

    • Angela says:

      Oh, I bet the OJ Woman and Absolue are having some pretty racy, smart conversation on their own while you’re taking your break from them.

      • Bee says:

        You bet! Angela, you actually would have the talent for writing some interesting fan fiction type of dialogue for those two :-)

        • Angela says:

          Thanks! I’m afraid the audience would be pretty darned tiny.

  16. aliciaanne says:

    Parfums de Nicolai’s New York layered with Vanille-Tonka. Yup, it’s twice the work, but for whatever reason when my brain isn’t otherwise functioning this is exactly what it goes for.

    • Angela says:

      Nice! I guess could put an extra squirt of whichever one your mood was leaning toward that day, too, for some customization.

      • aliciaanne says:

        Exactly! I switch which one goes on first, or do a 1 spritz of one / 2 of the other to customize for my mood :)

    • AnnS says:

      Ooh – I really like Vanille Tonka – it’s on my must buy list, and just last week I wished I had some. It is very mellow indeed.

      • aliciaanne says:

        I love it too…it’s so creamy and comfortable smelling :)

    • Aparatchick says:

      Oooh! That sounds interesting – I’ll have to give it a try.

  17. Ladyslipper says:

    I have 2 like that..Eau Premiere and eau de shalimar.

    • Angela says:

      Nice choices and would cover just about any circumstance.

  18. Eva S says:

    I always feel comfortable in Mitsouko(which I love), otherwise my to-go scents are Kelly Caleche, Guerlain Idylle, gucci EDP II, Voyage d’Hermès and I think my recently bought Chanel No 5 Eau Première will be one of those. Pretty mainstream (pun intended!). I love my Andy Tauer perfumes for example but they’re not to-go scents, they demand more concentration.

    • Angela says:

      I know what you mean about the Tauers. They’re beautiful and contemplative rather than just squirt-it-on-and-get-on-with-it.

    • eswift83 says:

      Great topic as usual, Angela! Eva, Kelly Caleche is one of my go-to scents as well! I can handle it in summer even. Another mainstream one that’s completely hassle free is Stella McCartney. I know I won’t offend anyone with this one. :)

      • Angela says:

        I second the Stella. I ended up using my bottle on my sheets because it was so pretty but easy.

  19. sayitisntso says:

    I have a few. When I don’t want a scent that’s too ‘challenging’ but don’t want to leave the house ‘naked’, I usually reach for one of these – and I keep them all refrigerated:
    1) Chanel’s Eau de Cologne
    2) Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien – pre-formulation version
    3) Guerlain’s Vetiver – again, pre-formulation. The new version is thinner and much drier – like it’s been painted in watercolor.
    4) Gendarme – a little jasmine, verbena, thyme, leather and musk…it’s reads more like a ‘soapy clean smell’ and less like an actual perfume, if that makes sense.

    • Angela says:

      Those all sound relatively fresh, but still interesting.

  20. Branch and Vine says:

    I’m loving this topic too!! Yep~I’m a seasonal girl as well. This year my go~to’s for summer seem to be Bellissima, Lostmarc’h Ael~Mat layered w/Aod,(sometimes, sometimes alone) Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine, Atelier Flou Sloane Rose. It may sound like a lot but it doesn’t feel like it and they are all at the ready~so to speak.
    This fall it’ll be Cara, NR for Her Iridescent, Lea, and I’m sure a coupla others that I haven’t met yet. I have to say though~I do love my go to’s. Bellissima I’m not sure why as it’s anything but glaringly original but I crave that stuff!! Go figure…….

    • Branch and Vine says:

      Oh~ Hermes Iris Ukiyoe seems to be getting a lot of attention this season too!

      • Eva S says:

        Yes I agree with that one!

      • Angela says:

        I smelled a bank of iris against south-facing wall a few weeks ago, and the scent was transcendent. I feel like Iris Ukiyoe really nails it.

    • Angela says:

      Atelier is working out great for you! Three cheers for glaringly original, too.

  21. Eva S says:

    Forgot, I don’t own it myself but I think the new Esprit d*Oscar would be a good to-go scent,from what I’ve smelled when I’ve tried it in the store.

    • Angela says:

      I think you are totally right. It’s easy and pretty but still interesting–a perfect go-to scent.

  22. egabbert says:

    DK Gold is my year-round go-to. Since it’s equally floral and amber I think it works in both warm and cool weather, and though it’s one of my all-time favorites, it’s not so dramatic and demanding that I save it for any kind of special occasion. Calice Becker is my girl!

    • Angela says:

      It almost sounds like your signature scent!

      • egabbert says:

        Yep, if I had to name one, it probably would be, even though I probably only wear it once every three weeks!

  23. monkeytoe says:

    I have some of these, too. My go-to for the week, season, or month is out on the bathroom counter (with the eaux de cologne), while everything else is in the cabinet. My current go to is Lalique Encre Noir (it replaced CB:IHP Russian Caravan Tea). I never know how long they will linger on the cabinet before being replaced with the next go-to, but I consider anything over a week a serious term of office. Some of my other recent go-tos are Kenzo Air and Eau de Fleur de Tea and Etro Shaal Nur.

    • Timbit says:

      Shaal Nur was one of my go-to’s last summer! Now that you’ve reminded me, I’m going to move it up into my rotation again – thanks!

    • Angela says:

      Oh, I love Encre Noir. The bottle is fabulous, too.

  24. Mertevenk says:

    This is a really good topic which everyone seems to be familiar with, but never mentioned. I usually need a little bit more time to get dressed and ready than most people do, so go-to fragrances are of great importance to me.
    I generally like and relate to opulent, plush orientals, however, as you beautifully put, sometimes I cannot do the perfume enough justice. Those times I mostly reach for Féminité du Bois, Bal à Versailles or Vanilia. There is especially a soothing but radiant quality to FdB, it feels silky sheer and delightingly interesting at the same time.

    • Angela says:

      FdB is one of my fall favorites. Everything about it is alluring–the shape of the bottle, the cedary note, the fruit. Besides some of the Serge Lutens, I’ve never smelled anything quite like it.

      • hongkongmom says:

        thanks, another one you have reminded me to go and pull out into rotation, thnx!

  25. austenfan says:

    I don’t know that I have real go to scents but a few of my fragrances that always ” feel” right are: Dior Homme, Prescriptives Calyx, PdN New York, VCA First and last but not least, Clinique Aromatics Elixir. I put that one on when I need to focus. It may sound extraordinary but I find it a very restful scent.

    • Angela says:

      That’s pretty good variety–a scent for every mood.

  26. I test so many things that I really have no opportunity for go-to… But, if I owned a full bottle it would be L’Heure Fougueuse, I think. There’s something non-gendered and well-balanced about it that seems absolutely obvious when I wear it.
    Le Parfum de Thérèse is one I easily turn to. It’s utter perfection.
    But when I’m not testing something, and need to grab a bottle in a hurry, I’ll just turn to one of the things I love that I’ve been neglecting: it’s like running into one of your favourite people unexpectedly.

    • Angela says:

      Whenever I think of L’Heure Fougeuse, I think of you (which is a very nice association of both woman and perfume). I hope you’re well!

  27. KRL says:

    What a great post! I love this idea…for me, in cooler months, it’s PG’s Cadjmere – I cannot get enough of it. But for warmer months, I don’t have a “go to.” Perhaps this is because I don’t like the heat and feel uncomfortable in it — therefore I’m always seeking something that will make me feel better when of course nothing can (except air conditioning). I do, however, love to spray Gypsey Water during the summer just before bed…

    • KRL says:

      Opps…just went to the mailbox and got VCA Gardenia Petale — it’s so cooling. Maybe this will be my summer go. We’ll see :)

      • Angela says:

        I do love gardenia. It’s one of nature’s most gorgeous scent, in my opinion.

    • Angela says:

      When I’m at my wit’s end in the heat, I grab my refrigerated bottle of Jean Naté. Once the plastic smell wears off, it’s really nice.

      • KRL says:

        I’ve read others write the very same thing…I should try that sometime.

  28. Ann says:

    Hi Angela! Thanks for a great topic. As it’s so oppressively hot and humid where I live, my go-to scents have been of the refreshing, cooling variety, mainly Calyx (thanks to swap buddy AnnS!) and Dior Escale a Portofino (thanks, Karin!). And of course, the ever-popular Chanel Eau de Cologne (although my decant is dwindling at an alarming rate!).

    • Angela says:

      That Chanel is worth getting in the big bottle, I think. (I say that even though I don’t have one, but it seems so perfect!)

  29. Daisy says:

    It’s a little scary that I really had to think (and think and think and think) about my “go-to” “easy-pick, no-think” scents….it’s a complete mystery how I ever get out the door on time!

    Imagining that I had to grab, spritz and run…. I realized that there are a few “trusted” bottles. They are not necessarily “easy” or “mild-mannered” or “room-pleasers” but they are fragrances that never fail to please ME, they make ME feel good and confident. They are (in no particular order) Amouage Dia, Solange Cosmic, FM Carnal Flower, and I’m almost ready to add Balenciaga Paris to the list….and Hermessence Ambre Narguile in the cold months.

    • Daisy says:

      whew! that was stressful!

      • KRL says:

        Spritz yourself to relieve your stress :)

        • Daisy says:

          Genius, I tell you ; pure genius!

    • Angela says:

      Hmmm, the hurried Daisy sure smells good!

      • Daisy says:

        Gotta smell good, because if I’m late that means the rest of me probably looks a mess!

        “Egad! Just look at that hair!!….but she sure smells nice….”

        uh-huh, it’s like that.

    • Daisy says:

      Good Lord! I forgot OJ Woman! ….yeah, just pretend I listed OJ Woman in my previous comment…..

      • OperaFan says:

        We’ll also pretend that you listed 31 Rue Cambon… ;-)

      • hongkongmom says:

        Scrambling to put this one into rotation too!

  30. hardlyworking says:

    This summer my go to’s have been Joe Malone’s Earl Grey & Cucumber and the Assam & Grapefruit (separately) because they’re light and refreshing and I can’t imagine who they’d possibly offend. In fall/winter my go to would be Bvlgari Black but not because I don’t love it — quite the opposite so I’m not sure it really qualifies. Burberry The Beat is another go-to. It’s nice but I won’t spray the backs of my hands with it so I can discreetly get a whiff throughout the day — the way I will with many of my favorites.

    • hardlyworking says:

      Spraying the back of my hands with perfume was a nice little trick that I picked up from a discussion right here on NST. There are so many clever people here!

      • Angela says:

        I’ve learned amazing things from NST readers and have had referrals to the best books and movies, too.

    • Angela says:

      You’ve reminded me how much I like Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint for a summer refresher!

      • hongkongmom says:

        I think this may be the first jasmine I could wear more than once!….I tried the Armani Prive yesterday and liked the top notes which seemed fresh with a strong jamsine note, but after that it became to girly, blurry, and the jasmine semmed to disapper in the cloud!

        • Angela says:

          The mint really seems to make a difference. It becomes so refreshing.

  31. Blimunda says:

    This is a very very cool article and topic! It’s got me thinking about my perfume wardrobe in an entirely new way!

    Go To Scents of the moment……..VETIVER EXTRAORDINNAIRE,
    These are my Go To Summer scents!!!

    Other Go To scents, for a more autumn/winter season……BOIS FARINE, DZING!, MUSC RAVAGEUR.

    I am on a major L’Artisan jag at the moment!!!!!!!

    • dee says:

      Ah… Bois Farine! Lovely choice. It would be one of my favorite go-to scents, if the husband didn’t object to it :(
      He objects to so little, I haven’t the heart to wear it anyway! But I will enjoy it vicariously through you! :)

    • Angela says:

      Sometimes I think if I had to choose just one perfume line to wear from, L’Artisan would be it. There are so many good ones.

      • nozknoz says:

        That’s a very good point, Angela. L’AP is also a very diverse line – everything from the weird Duchaufours like Timbuktu to the sublime special harvest scents like Iris Pallida, with fab scents like Dzing! in between. I don’t think I could ever voluntarily give up Guerlain, but I’m sure if I ever happened to be stranded on a desert island with a collection of L’AP, my nose would be happy.

        • Angela says:

          As you say, the variety makes it work well. On the other hand, a shelf of vintage Diors would be nice, too….

      • Haunani says:

        I’ve had this thought, often. It’s my favorite line for appeal, consistency of quality, and variety.

    • Dilana says:

      I nearly bought Musc Ravageur, the other day, because it certainly made me feel elegant and powerful, but I was afraid the scent itself would be too powerful for work situations and seem merely like a too heavy perfume to others. (I do not work in a fashion friendly industry). Have you had any feedback on it as a daytime fragrance?

      • Angela says:

        Musc Ravageur is a big fragrance. To me, it’s cuddly and comfortable, but it’s definitely insistent. It might be hard to pull off more than a dab at work, but it’s a nice one to have in cabinet anyway!

  32. annemarie says:

    For me, the most important thing about a go-to fragrance is how well you know it. If you know a fragrance intimately – all its shades and moods – and how it behaves in any given situation, you can grab it with confidence whenever you like. Thus, for me, even a slightly challenging fragrance like Chanel No 19 can be a go-to because I’ve been wearing it on and off for 25 years, almost.

    What is also critical is that you know for certain how much to apply! You don’t want to be dashing out the door worried that you have applied too little or two much. At this time of the year (winter for me), I apply two spritzes of No 19 EDP, one covered by a layer of clothes, and one distributed between my wrists.

    • hardlyworking says:

      Those are great points, Annemarie. I’m almost always running late in the morning and if I would have known Dzonga better, it would have helped me avoid feeling really, really self conscious during a meeting a few weeks back. I made a newbie mistake and got way too excited about a new sample and flew out the door…

      • Angela says:

        Wow, a lot of Dzongka could be a little freaky in a meeting.

      • annemarie says:

        Was it overwheliming? I have ahd a hard iome getting Dzonkha to speak to me at all. (Also have a lot of trouble spelling it. Hoep I got ot right.)

    • dee says:

      AM, I was thinking about this question, and no. 19 popped into my head first; though I haven’t been wearing it much the past few weeks (Opus IV has been dominating the rotation).

      Since I got my bottle of EDP, I have been able to rely on it as a consistently good choice; it never feels wrong, or off, or contrasting with my mood; sometimes a well-structured shift can be easier than jeans and a tee-shirt, because it speaks for itself! ;)

      • Angela says:

        I’d take the shift over the jeans and tee shirt any day!

      • annemarie says:

        Yes, and No 19 will never bore you either, which can be an issue with go-to fragrances.

        • Angela says:

          I’m really curious about the new No. 19 Poudre.

    • Angela says:

      Such a good point about application! I think that’s why so many of my go-tos are relatively lightweight.

  33. WordsmithSLC says:

    My go-to scents are Chanel Pour Monsieur, Tom Ford Grey Vetiver, Thierry Mugler Cologne, and Marc Jacobs Bang.

    • Angela says:

      I’d sit next to you any time.

  34. Jalee says:

    Hi Angie! (It’s Jenny from Portland) Great topic. For me, it’s Eau and Parfum des Merveilles, Passage d’Enfer, Andree Putnam. Parfum des Merveilles is what goes with me around the world–it works year round for all occasions and is the only scent that really does that for me. (Jicky parfum perhaps, but that’s too precious!) For fall and winter these last couple of years in New England it was 5 O’Clock au Gingembre. Summer it’s often Premier Figuier, and Eau Premiere can also do the trick year-round. It’s funny how some of the ones I love the most are sometimes the ones I wear the least! I almost feel like they move me too much.

    Hope you’ll be less swamped soon with more free time!

    • Angela says:

      Hi Jenny! Are you still in town? As of last night at about 11 pm, my schedule eased up a lot. Let’s get together. Hopefully you’ll be wearing Parfum des Merveilles.

      • Jalee says:

        Yes, I am! I’ll be in touch soon. L’Eau de Jatamansi today–head-clearing a bit. Funniest of all, it’s an all-natural L’Artisan but has better staying power on me than much of their regular line.

        • Angela says:

          A nice one for a nice day. See you soon, I hope!

  35. hollyc says:

    My go to’s change with the season except for Montale Oud Queen Roses, anytime, anywhere, anything, I always love, love, love it. Oh, and Amouage Gold, year round. Aside from that, cold sees me bringing out my Cuir de Russie, Eau d’Hermes, Lonestar Memories, Ubar and Hiris. I also really like Pheromone by Marilyn Miglin in extrait. Warm and I’m picking up Amazone, Amouage Ciel and Reflection (must……..get………Dia!) and Un Jardin Sur le Nil. And if I had it, Osmanthe Yunnan would get pretty steady use too!

    • dee says:

      Yay, another AQR lover! I wore it twice this past week, in above 80F weather, and it was so wonderful! I just love the way it blooms in the heat :)

      • hollyc says:

        Good for you Dee!!! I would never, ever, ever let sweltering heat come between me and my AQR. I’m always surprised that it gets so little mention, glad I’m not alone!

    • Angela says:

      I smell pure class on you!

  36. dee says:

    Favorite Go-To Scents:

    Chanel no. 19 (EDP)
    L’Artisan Safran Troublant
    Ormonde Jayne Discovery Kit (randomly selected vials, it’s fun!)
    Amouage Opus IV

    Since I got my samples of the Opus collection a few weeks ago, I’ve been having a hard time NOT wearing IV; it is addictive! It remains to be seen whether it stands the test of time, but right now it’s perfect.

    • Angela says:

      You’re so lucky to have Opus IV–wear it with abandon!

      • dee says:

        Two spray samples made their way to my house; I haven’t bought a bottle (yet)!

        • Angela says:

          It sounds like it’s calling to you….

    • OperaFan says:

      I like your goto method with the OJ set – almost like I select my gotos these days from the full collection….

      • Angela says:

        It really is an amazing collection of fragrances.

    • Helle says:

      The OJ sample set is one of my go-tos as well! I’ve had it for many months and I’m still “discovering” these scents. They are all quite versatile. The one that will probably end up being a full bottle go-to for me is Orris Noir, and the full bottle worthy LOVE is Tolu.

      • Angela says:

        Sounds good to me. I have a FB of OJ Woman, but I’d add Tolu, Franpigane, and Champaca in a heartbeat if my budget gave me permission.

  37. debbie says:

    My all year GT perfume is Burberry Brit Gold but this winter I have alternated between Chanel Allure Sensuelle, Mauboussin and C de G Red Carnation-possible favouring the Chanel!

    • Angela says:

      Mmm. All warm and sensual fragrances.

  38. Addicted2Pretty says:

    Utterly great topic. My go to fragrances change year to year and season to season. Like the wands in Harry Potter, I dont pick them as my “go tos” they pick me. This year and this summer my go to scents have been:

    -Atelier Bois Blonds = Fresh light, easy to wear but has an effortless elegance to it. Fits in at a nice dinner, work, running errands or on vacation.
    -Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise = Loved this during the in-between time of Spring/Summer. I dont have to live up to this scent, just spray and go. Plenty of compliments always come when I wear it.
    -SL Bois de Violette = Been reaching for this more and more the past few weeks and it never, ever disappoints. Love the mix of ripe greens, soft powder and cedar.

    Can’t wait to see what my “go to” scents for Fall will be :-)

    • Angela says:

      Now I’m imagining a shelf of perfume bottles quivering until one flies out at you and into your hand!

      • Addicted2Pretty says:

        Haha – that’s pretty much how it happens :-)

    • Haunani says:

      Addicted2Pretty, you don’t hear JM Vanilla & Anise mentioned much. I like it a lot, especially for its very good frangipani note. You’ve reminded me to put it on my FB wish list. Thanks. :-)

      • Addicted2Pretty says:


        I hedged my bets and started with a 30 ml bottle and have gone thru it quite quickly. It is a perfect no thought required scent!

  39. sneaky pie says:

    Thank you for the article! I can completely understand your statement that when stress is high, it is difficult to think about perfumes. If I am going through a truly stressful time, perfume just doesn’t tempt me.

    My go-to scents seem to be Chanel Chance, Chanel 5 Eau Premiere, and Hermessence Rose Ikebana. I like, but I don’t love the first two. However, I love RI. It is fresh and uplifting. I’ve recently discovered MDCI La Belle Helene, and I believe it could become a go-to scent in the summer for me.

    • Angela says:

      They all sound fresh, like a morning garden. I haven’t smelled Belle Helene yet, but I bet it’s pretty.

  40. aleta says:

    I keep a Fracas rollerball in my purse and a No. 5 mini on my desk at work for this very reason. One less thing to worry about when I’m stumbling toward the door!

    It’s funny, I always feel utterly comfortable in Fracas, it makes my clothes feel perfectly tailored, even if it’s jeans and a t-shirt they hug all the right places. Fracas never feels like it’s wearing me. Sometimes I wonder if I’m anosmic and missing something. Then again I’m not sure I would trade its magic for the bits I might not smell.

    • elodiegrace says:

      Funny you should say “Fracas never feels like it’s wearing me”, Aleta. I was about to say something similar about Nasomatto’s Black Afgano, though BA does come with the ‘cool weather only’ fineprint…

      My no-brainer perfumes would have to include L’eau de L’Artisan for sure, as at home in the cereal aisle as it is sipping chilled white wine on a blanket under a tree, and Miller et Berteaux’s Close your eyes and… (Or, depending on who you ask, Ref. 015 813 *eye roll*). While not exactly a show stopper, it seems to make even a daggy t-shirt feel like a cashmere jumper. Plus it contains the magic almond-heliotrope combination that makes boys flirt outrageously with you.

      Bonus in my books :)

    • Angela says:

      Fabulous! I’m jealous of someone who is right at home in Fracas. You go rock it some more.

      • Julia says:

        Me, too. I love Fracas but I find it so incredibly sexy that I blush when I wear it in public.
        On the flip side, I have a friend who loves Fracas and it doesn’t smell very good on her (and she wears a lot of it). It’s funny because she has magical skin and something that smells like sweaty armpit curry on me smells like a luscious, spicy gourmand on her. And, at 45 she wears Pink Sugar (not that there is an age limit on it) and I never recognize it because it smells like a special confection Jean-Paul Guerlain cooked up just for her – one time I even guessed L’Heure Bleue.

        • Angela says:

          It’s just amazing what skin can do to a perfume. It sounds like you two have very different body chemistries. Pink Sugar as L’Heure Bleue! She DOES have magical skin!

    • annemarie says:

      Ha! I like that – ‘I keep Fracas on a rollerball’. Even beter would be Germaine Cellier on speed dial. Alas, not possible.

    • Emily says:

      I feel that way about Fracas, too! I wore it EVERYWHERE and with everything after I got my first bottle (and I also bought the rollerball). But after I started reading more about it on perfume blogs, I was afraid I’d made some kind of huge olfactory faux pas and started saving it for more conventionally Fracas-worthy occasions. The hell with that; I’m wearing it to work tomorrow, with whatever happens to fall out of the closet at 7:15 a.m.

      • aleta says:

        It sounds like today you and I are kindred spirits!

        This morning what literally fell out of the closet was skinny jeans and one of my boyfriend’s slim-cut plaid western shirts that kind of works as a tunic. So that’s what I’m wearing. With Fracas.

        • Emily says:

          And I’m sure you look as good as you smell. (My default outfits generally involve denim and my red cowboy boots … can’t wait to bring on the Fracas!)

  41. guerlainguy says:

    When the dogs are barking in the hot humid dog days of summer Hermes Eau de Merveilles ALWAYS works as a daytime scent, and at night I can hardly keep my hands off of Hypnotic Poison. When I haven’t a clue as to what to wear or what my mood is I reach for the bottle of Bandit………..and it’s always front and center in the collection.

    • Angela says:

      Nice nice nice. Bandit is my summer leather, too.

    • debbie says:

      I wish I could find a bottle of Bandit big enough to be my go to fragrance- Ive only managed to obtain small samples and so its my Special Occasion fragrance & Im nearly out of it!

      • annemarie says:

        Bandit does not seem to be as cheap as it once was. I’ve seen reviews from five years ago, or thereabouts, which note how easy it once was to pick some up. Not so much any more. Also, the Piguet website is not selling at the moment, or last tome I looked a few weeks ago. The Piguet brand and business seem to wobble a bit.

        • Angela says:

          Uh oh. I was hopeful since they seem to still be putting out new releases from time to time.

      • Angela says:

        If you love it, it’s worth seeking out! I’m sure perfume shops still have it here and there.

  42. Manna says:

    I felt what you’re describing when I had a job starting at 8 am (I’m the late night late morning kind of person and I’m definitely better at staying till 6 am than getting at). I wore YSL Y almost every day. I won’t hide it: I was greatly inspired by your review of it. I still haven’t found the dress that fits every occasion… Y is my “serious job” fragrance but it’s definitely not the thing I’d put when I’m with friends. I lasted 3 months on this job and haven’t used Y since. I’m a freelancer now…
    Great, but not perfect go-goers in my wardrobe are Cabaret by Gres, Kelly Caleche, Fidji and Habit Rouge. I keep them in stock all the time. Presently a new addition to them is L’Artisan Piment Brulant. At first glance, one wouldn’t count it towards the easy fragrances, but I find it perfectly non-offensive and nice. It has moderate lasting power but very little sillage, which, I believe, is essential for the easy fragrance.

    But the fragrance that fits everything in my life is Bandit. Not just “everyday life”, but truly everything. I wore it on my birthday and I felt so special. I wore it to the cemetery and it was part of my gloomy mood, even part of the deep green shadows. I wore it on a wedding with pumps, stockings and a 50-s dress. Smashing. But it fits also torn jeans. It’s perfect for dim pubs and rock concerts, but also for a fine French restaurant. It’s fresh, but deep. It’s got class, but not pretensions. Sometimes it’s carnal to extremes, others it’s serious and even cold. It makes me feel not just more confident, but more myself. Maybe it is even a part of my personality…

    • Angela says:

      It’s funny you mention Bandit–Bandit almost seems like Y’s more daring, edgy cousin. But there’s a relationship there. Such a great fragrance.

    • annemarie says:

      Hi Manna, what formulation of Bandit do you favour? I’m new to Bandit, and am trying to navigate my way through its rather complex history …

      • Milena says:

        You should try the pure perfume. I am another fan of Bandit, but it is not my go-to scent.

  43. Jill says:

    Hi Angela, fun article as usual! My summer go-to’s are JM White Jasmine & Mint (I can spray it liberally and it offends no one!) and AG Mandragore. Cooler weather go-to’s are Burberry The Beat, Kelly Caleche, and, more recently, YSL Parisienne.

    • Angela says:

      Oh yes, Mandragore. Another good one!

  44. nozknoz says:

    Great topic! Hmmm…I tend to reach for light and/or crisp scents when I’m busy, like TDC Osmanthus, Vetiver (Guerlain or Annick Goutal) Dzing!, OJ Champaca and CdG Rhubarb, with Vol de Nuit as a go-to for winter.

    On the other hand, sometimes when things are intense (if it’s not too hot and I don’t have meetings) I just think, WTH!!, and spritz on a favorite chypre (Chaldee, Fleeting Moment, La Myrrhe, etc.) or a comfort scent like SSS Tabac Aurea to fortify the spirit. :-)

    • Haunani says:

      TDC Osmanthus is a good one for any time of year!

    • Angela says:

      Vol de Nuit is a perfect go-to scent–the EdT for summer and the parfum for winter. I like all your choices!

  45. misschips says:

    What a fun topic! I like that you always make me think about the smells around me.
    I’m pretty new to this, so my go-tos are usually scents that don’t feel too olfactorily challenging. No jarring transitions, no tricky notes like petrol or smoke or barnyard, and not too complex. Having said that, familiarity has a lot to do with it as well. Histoires de Parfums 1969 seems to suit most of my moods and has been wonderful through autumn and winter (here in Australia), CdG Stephen Jones is its alternative. Ananas Fizz is great when things are slightly warmer. Less selfishly, I like to wear Anais Anais (1 squirt) to restaurants, it’s clean soapiness never interferes with the food or wine – and no dirty looks from the sommelier!

    • Angela says:

      I’ve been wearing Ananas Fizz almost nonstop lately! Stephen Jones is such a good one, too. I forgot about that one.

  46. OperaFan says:

    Goto fragrances were so much easier to determine before the collection started to self-clone and multiply like rabbits.
    These days, It’s hard to say. I’d wear a fragrance for a day or two, then it’s off to another bottle. I think the last fragrance that can really claim a “goto” status for me would have to be Jicky (edt). It was cool in the summer, and warm in the winter, perfect for spring and – well, maybe I had a different goto in the fall…. Jicky just seemed so perfect for any occassion, and it’s just different enough to stand out in a crowd.

    • Angela says:

      Jicky is the ultimate in chic, really.

  47. Haunani says:

    Super article, Angela, and as you can see we all “get” the concept! :-) For hot weather, my go-to buddies seem to be TDC Bergamote and Hermes Eau des Merveilles (and I see I’m not alone in EdM love). For fall and spring, I choose TDC Bois d’Iris and Etro Shaal Nur. In the cold weather, there is nothing like your choice of L’Artisan Havana Vanille (I find it a little addictive, too). If I had to choose just ONE from this list, it would be Shaal Nur. I actually call it my “Swiss Army Knife fragrance”, and I love it dearly.

    • misschips says:

      “Swiss Army Knife fragrance” – love it.

    • Angela says:

      Now I am totally craving a bottle of Shaal Nur!

  48. moore says:

    Good post Angela!! I like too much discussions like this!! My go-to perfume is Happy for Men from Clinique. It’s so easy to wear, very light and fits good on every situation.

    • Angela says:

      Sounds like the perfect solution for the go-to fragrance.

  49. Tama says:

    Nice post and subject! I know what you mean about sometimes not being able to live up to your perfume. That could be me every day, but I have to muscle through it.

    I do love Eau Premiere, With Love Hilary Duff, Roger and Gallet Bois d’Orange, Mugler Cologne, Crazy Libellule l’Olfactive 129, and some others I can’t think of right now for easy wear. I do tend to wear something different almost every day, so scents rarely re-appear in the course of a week. I do know which ones are easy to love with, though and will reach for them if I am stressed or just can’t think.

    • Angela says:

      You have natural glamour–you don’t have to worry about living up to your perfume! Nice list, though.

      • Tama says:

        Aww, so sweet of you to say!! You’re fairly loaded up with it, too, you know.

  50. boojum says:

    Every day seems to be that kind of day, lately. Buried at work, single parenting, and a ridiculous commute leave me little time for anything (even reading NST, sniff sniff!). Chanel is my go-to line; which particular scent is driven by the weather. Otherwise, it’s simple colognes, or something light/pretty like AG Chevrefeuille (though some days even that can be wrong). I bought NR for Her to serve this purpose, but either my nose changed or it turned on me; it doesn’t work so well anymore. I’ll have to come back and read through the comments this weekend for new ideas.

    • Angela says:

      There are definitely some good ideas here. I hope your schedule lets up soon!

  51. 50_Roses says:

    Oh Angela, I don’t know what I would do if my perfumes started demanding that I dress a certain way or order certain beverages! I made sure from the very beginning that my perfumes understood that they are here to serve me, not vice versa. All of them have to accept that they will most often be worn with my standard daily “uniform” of black jeans and a solid-colored V-neck T-shirt. The only regular variation is short sleeves for summer (mid-April to mid-October) and long sleeves for notsummer (mid-October to mid-April).

    I guess for me, floral aldehydes (I have no. 5, Arpege, and Liu) seem like go-to scents–classy and classic, familiar, appropriate for every occasion and every time of year, never overpowering, with no weird or “difficult” notes. Maybe it is because no. 5 and Arpege are among my earliest perfume memories (from my mother’s dressing table), so I tend to regard them as sort of reference standards for feminine perfumes.

    • Angela says:

      Maybe I should send my perfume to training school! Show them who the pack leader is! “Back,” I’ll tell Carnal Flower, “I’ll wear you when I’m taking out the trash if I want to.” Really, though, I’m their slave.

  52. PinoiPerfumista says:

    i am not sure if my choice has been mentioned above but i have always been a Lady Stetson fan, my “go to” scent. it was given as a gift way, way back and since then, i am hooked. so now, everytime a friend would visit the US, this is the only favor i ask her to buy me of.

    • Angela says:

      Lady Stetson (and the masculine version, too, in my opinion) is greatly underrated. I’m glad you love it!

  53. pandalucy says:

    Mine is definitely Ralph Lauren’s Romance…. Always smells clean, feminine, and easy. Thanks for all the good suggestions!

    • Angela says:

      And relatively easy to find, too, which is a real plus!

  54. raluca says:

    Many times I was in a hurry and wanted to grab a “declared on the spot go-to” perfume, but then all day I was feeling unconfortable. It did’t matter if the scent was light, even Gucci Envy or Chanel no. 19 can spoil my day. There is no such thing for me as a panaceum perfume, I have to choose carefully the scent of the day. That’s why I’m late, usualy.
    I have to mention, though a scent that I’ll never abandon, as I did with all my other perfume loves: Chanel Coco!

    • Angela says:

      Well, it sounds like all the care you take is rewarding, at least. And I’m with you–hang on to that Coco! I just rediscovered last year (or the year before?) and am sorry I ever forgot about it.

  55. zara says:

    Chloe’s Love has recently become such go-to perfume for me – it’s not ‘the love of my life’ but it is perfect for every occasion. Sometimes when I’m standing in front of my perfume closet in the morning and deciding what to wear I wish I only had a few perfumes, choosing would be so easy! :)

    • Angela says:

      So true that there’s something freeing about limitations sometimes….

  56. Seqmet says:

    It seems the ‘go to’ perfume is recognised by all of us! I am so not a morning person and unless I have a meeting at work (or am going out after work) I can now wake up, shower, feed the cat, dress and dash out the door in under 25 mins. On mornings like that I tend to grab Noa, unless it’s a really hot day and then it’s Eau de Cartier. I like them both well enough, they still make me smile when I catch a glimpse of them during the day, but they don’t transport me anywhere.

    I have just bought my first bottle of Chergui (excited squeeeeeeeak), to help me through the warm summer, but I keep that for days when I can channel Rachel Weisz in the Mummy (once she ditches the Librarian look). You were absolutely right Angela, some perfumes need to be lived up to!

    Tut and now Shaal Nur is edging its way to the top of my *MUST SNIFF* list…

    • Angela says:

      Chergui is wonderful in the cold, too! Eau de Cartier really can’t fail, any time.

      • moore says:

        I’m with you about Eau de Cartier. It has no mistake in any situation!

      • Haunani says:

        Another vote for Eau de Cartier. That wonderful bottle is just a *teensy* bit of extra trouble to deal with, but it’s so worth it!

        • moore says:

          I think you’d also like Voyage D’Hermès. Have you tried it yet? Top notes remembered me so much.

  57. stonechiper says:

    This has been a very interesting topic! For me, my fragrances have a “color” so I need it to match the color of my clothes. In the summer I tend to wear mostly light greens and blues. Green clothes mean a grassy or minty fragrance, and I tend to go to standbys like Aroma M’s Geisha Haruka (green tea) Demeter’s Grass, or Arcana’s Vampire Garden (tomato vine). Blue is usually going to default to 4711, but an ozone-y aquatic will fit the bill as well which has me reaching into my BPAL collection for Chutulu (murky grapefruit) or KIYOHIME (sea kelp) . On the rare occasion of a pink ensemble Lavanilla’s Vanilla Grapefruit, purple is Lush’s Black Pearl (lavender) or Lolita Lempika (violet). If all else fails I can always turn to the only fragrance I think of as “white” Fresh’s Sake

    • Angela says:

      I love that approach! So intriguing, too. Now I’m going to try to think of my fragrances as a color and not cheat by associating them with the box.

  58. Suzy Q says:

    Finally I got to read all the comments!–internet problems yesterday.

    Based on your definition of “go to” fragrances, Angela, mine is Philosykos. It’s not demanding, it’s inoffensive and of course, it smells good. It’s the only perfume I own that is wearable in all four seasons.

    • Angela says:

      It smells so good, too! You can even get a solid perfume for your purse (I think).

  59. donix says:

    Lady Caron, Ecale a Portofino, No 5 EDT, Cristalle and Diorella;-)

  60. elodiegrace says:

    Oh my goodness… I’ve just come home and swept a quick glance across my quietly breeding collection, attempting to pretend I’m in a rush, already late, handbag on the shoulder and I’m automatically reaching for…

    Magnolia Romana.

    Sorry, Ref. by Miller et berteaux, you’re just not efficient-smelling enough for me when I need to Get Things Done. (Having said that, you’d be hard pressed to find a snappier frag than Green, Green, Green and Green…)

    • elodiegrace says:

      ED: bertaux.
      tsk tsk.

    • Angela says:

      I must smell that one (I imagine she’s doing bows in your cabinet right now while Green etc is turning even more green with envy).

  61. Julia says:

    *me channeling Bruce Springsteen*
    “Do I have to say the name?! Do I even have to SAY the NAME?!!”

    It’s Shalimar of course.

    • Angela says:

      You don’t! I knew you were going to say that.

  62. cressetma says:

    The Vert is so easy, especially in summer. One of the very few perfumes to get second and third purchases. But not the Extreme.. too shouty.

    • Angela says:

      Thé Vert is hard to beat as a go-to perfume, especially when it’s warm.

      • I totally agree that Thé Vert is a perfect go to scent. I do love it year round! Others for me would be Eau d’ Givenchy, Prada Infusion d’Iris and Chanel’s Eau Premiere and 31 Rue Cambon.

        Great article and lots of fantastic responses that are reminding me I still have a lot of sampling to do!

        • Angela says:

          I have plenty of sampling to do, too. Honestly, it’s impossible to keep up, even with the popular ones.

  63. Zazie says:

    Well, I have to admit that in general my go-to scents happen to be the perfumes I love the most (and that happen to be out of their boxes and strategically placed!!!)
    Anyway, Mitsouko and Shalimar edt are my second skin,
    the classic Chanels are no brainers, and my Shaal nuur sample lies close to the door for those particularly hurried mornings…

    In summer I add to that list Fracas (yes, Fracas is the pretty undemanding tuberose, for me) and Beyond Love;
    while in winter attrape coeur and egoiste are often out of their boxes!

    • Angela says:

      All such beautiful fragrances!

  64. fleurdelys says:

    I couldn’t consider a perfume I didn’t love as a go-to perfume. These all fall in the “my-skin-but-better” category: Shalimar, Rochas Femme, Farnesiana, Montaigne, Mariella Burani, and White Linen.

    • Angela says:

      I’m liking the smell of your skin, that’s for sure.

  65. Dilana says:

    It certainly seems that there are a lot of different personalities and life styles here. Some people seem to have very assertive (and to my mind, very sexy) choices as their everyday “go to” scent. Others are going for as low key scents as possible. Some want scents to match their moods; others want moods that live up to their scents.

    Oh wouldn’t it be wonderful, if we could all be as mysterious and rich as Cuir de Russie, as sexy as Carnal Flower (or Fracas), as hip as -almost anything CDG, as as elegant and fresh as an Ataliee Colgne and as witty as L’Heurre Bleu everyday?

    • Rappleyea says:

      Great observation! :-)

    • Angela says:

      The world would be better than the most fascinating novel with those sort of people around!

  66. daniela says:

    What a terrific topic! I hadn’t realized that – that the most trustworthy perfumes we own are not necessarily the ones we like best. They’re more like a character actor from Hollywood’s golden years – you just know they’ll do some good, solid work, even if we tend to ask them to step back when the time comes for the star to shine.

    I would say, first and foremost PdN New York (which reminds me, my bottlle is empty, must restock). Chanel 19 always feels just perfect (it’s my go-to perfume when traveling), Encens et Lavande, Caron Pour un Homme, Messe de minuit, Arden’s Spiced Green Tea (strangely enough; there must be some Kurkdjian magic to it), Roger et Gallet’s Bouquet Imperial and Grey Flannel. Also loving Lancaster’s Aquasun these past few days – loved it on paper, bought it on sale, didn’t like it much on skin but then… something happened the other day, I guess we just clicked. Parfum Sacré extrait would fit this list very nicely, but I get a guilty conscience each time I reach for that tiny bottle, which I won’t be able to replace.

    Oh, and add me to the Shaal Nur fan / envisaging purchase club.

    • Angela says:

      I love your comparison of a go-to perfume as a character actor! Genius.

  67. dora says:

    Saffran Troublant always makes me smile. The old Leger that Nordstrom sold is my husbands favorite. For something new I have been wearing Oyedo this summer, but when it is really hot even that seems too heavy. At that point maybe Lisa Hoffman’s Tunisian Neroli-yes, I just put some on and it is giving me the usual lift.

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like when you’re hurried you really like a perfume you can count on to make you happy.

  68. Filomena says:

    When I am in a quandry and have no time to think it out, I reach for Hermes Hiris. It never lets me down.

    • Angela says:

      Hiris smells like heaven on so many, and like dirty hair on me. Big sigh.

  69. Racine says:

    I use Agua de Loewe during summer and Infusion d’homme Prada in winter. Like them both , they are easy to wear and office friendly.

    • Angela says:

      Good dependable fragrances, and nice, too.

  70. Rappleyea says:

    What a great post on what should be an obvious topic, but I can’t remember seeing it discussed before. Thanks, Angela!

    Lately my GT scent has been SSS Champagne de Bois, followed closely by Samsara (pre-LVMH).

    Last winter, I found that Attrape Coeur had edged out L’Heure Bleue and Double Vanille as my cold weather GT scent.

    • Angela says:

      I think Champagne de Bois might be my next unsniffed purchase. Too many people whose taste I admire love it!

      • Rappleyea says:

        According to the card with your name on it (lol! no spreadsheet), I sent you a sample of CdB. Check your stash. If you can’t find it, I’ll send more!

    • hongkongmom says:

      omg raps,both of those are go to scents for me too!

  71. poodle says:

    I would have to say my go-to scents change with the seasons or my mood. I find that the scents that don’t really thrill me are the ones I wear to the office. I never wear my favorites to work because I’d hate to have them associated with my job. My latest go-to not at work scent is Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. Smells like a vacation in a bottle to me.

    • Angela says:

      Bronze Goddess smells like a vacation to me, too, even though I almost never go to the beach! I guess that makes it more of a dream fragrance then.

  72. Antje says:

    For summer I love Bel Respiro and 28 La Pausa and the often forgotten Clinique Wrappings. I have no idea why they only sell it during the holiday season when it is so nice in the warmer months?
    Anytime grab and go favorites are Laurence Dumont Musc Blanc (did I mention its only $35?) Prada L’eau Ambree.
    They don’t offend and I would not feel weird wearing them riding the subway in July. I have worn Parfum Sacre once in that situation, never again.

    • Angela says:

      I haven’t tried the Dumont Musc Blanc, but with a price like that it’s hard to resist. I sure do love 28 La Pausa, though.

  73. Owen says:

    I’ve got Havana Vanille, Daisy sent me a sample of it. I do like it, but I find it a bit screechy for everday use. it’s better in hot weather.

    my go-to scent is Giorgio Armani Acua di Gioia, it’s light and sweet and minty fresh. it makes me feel like I’m in a rain-forest it’s so watery.
    I bought acqua di gioia in the Boots xmas sale and didn’t plan on wearing it after I’d bought it. but what I do really use it for is I just keep it in my bag incase I forget to put perfume on so it’s there handy when I need it.

    I also use Givenchy v.irresistible fresh attitude as a go-to scent.

    and ofcourse I wear my signature most days – flowerbomb. it’s also my going out scent.

    • Angela says:

      What a great idea to have a back-up fragrance handy in your bag just in case! Especially one that’s so fresh and easy to wear.

      • Owen says:

        I know right :) I’m suprised half the people on NST don’t do it, or do they? and seen as most of of you guys live on samples they’re even easier to carry round.

        acqua di gioia always makes me feel fresh and ready for the day.

  74. Stephanie says:

    Mine is Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDT, all year long, day or night. I’ve just run out of it, so I need to either order another bottle stat.

    • Angela says:

      Yes, it sounds like you do! Must have the go-to perfume on hand at all times.

  75. Robin says:

    My go to perfume is Paris by YSL. It is a happy perfume and is now also very affordable. I wear Tommy Girl or White Linen in heat waves, Lou Lou when it is freezing. Flowerbombe is my party perfume, Tea Rose (Perfumers Workshop for Hospital or traumatic
    appointments ( it seems very pure and zen) and my favourite for
    intimate occasions is Balenciaga Paris – with its classy, quiet ambience (not very long lasting but just beautiful.

    • Angela says:

      I love it that you have a fragrance for traumatic appointments, and I sure hope you don’t have to wear it often!

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