I did a year of incense and a year of iris,1 and now as promised, I'm starting in on a year of vetiver.2 Today, five great vetiver choices for summer. Two of my own favorite vetivers for hot weather — Kenzo Air and Paul Smith Story — have been discontinued long enough now that they're rather hard to find, but if you happen across bottles of either and you're a vetiver fan, do snap them up! (And then if you don't like them, send them to me.) And as always, do add your own favorites in the comments.
Guerlain Vetiver: Probably still the gold standard for vetiver fragrances, and really, there's no particular reason to include it on the summer list any more than fall, winter, or spring. The balance between the fresh notes and the earthy vetiver is perfectly calibrated: it just works, no matter the weather. It's arguably not quite as good as it used to be (it wouldn't hurt to find a vintage bottle), but it's still darned good. Women have been borrowing it for years; the feminine version, Vetiver Pour Elle, is discontinued at the moment (but they've brought it back before, and may do so again, eventually).
Comme des Garçons Vettiveru: A bit inky, a bit earthy and a bit spicy, but light as air — Vettiveru is part of the brand's Series 4: Cologne, and it has the bright opening and generally clean and refreshing feel that you'd expect from a cologne. It's a great scent at a reasonable price ($62 for 125 ml, so basically free if you do your perfumista math) and I'm surprised at how rarely I see it (or the others in Series 4) mentioned.
Prada Infusion de Vetiver: Truth be told, I don't have much use for Prada's take on vetiver. I don't dislike it, but it's too mild-mannered to compete with my favorites. I'm including it here because if you like the idea of vetiver but find most vetiver fragrances to be just too much, especially on a hot day, it might be just what you're looking for. It's about as light and clean as you can get with vetiver. Another option, tilting a bit towards the masculine side, would be Eau de Cartier Vétiver Bleu.
Diptyque Vetyverio: a pale, summery unisex that isn't really as tightly focused on the vetiver as you might expect from the name, but like the Prada, might qualify as an entry-level vetiver, or a vetiver a woman could wear even if she found most vetivers too masculine, or a vetiver you could wear when it's nearly too hot for any fragrance at all.
Armani Privé Vétiver Babylone: to crib from Kevin, this one is "simple, but satisfying". It has a spicy-peppery base, but enough sparkle and light to make it refreshing even in the heat. A fantastic vetiver, but expensive ($165 for 100 ml) and all that sparkle and light can't hang around forever (you'll have to reapply).
2. If you don't know vetiver at all, find yourself some plain old vetiver oil (you can probably find a tester at Whole Foods or a local natural foods / health store), or get yourself a sample of Escentric Molecules Molecule 03, which is vetiveryle acetate diluted in alcohol.