By definition, I should think, the true perfumista wants to try everything, or at least, very nearly everything. If you’re lucky (much luckier than I) you can afford to just buy all the latest perfumes unsniffed, but the rest of us have to make do with samples. Here are a few tips for getting your hands on samples of the latest fragrances:
Beg at brick ‘n mortar stores
For many fragrances, especially new mainstream releases, about the only way to get a sample is to go to a store in-person and ask for one. Nordstrom and Sephora top my list of the absolute best foraging grounds: both stores will happily give you a carded sample (i.e., a sample from the manufacturer, usually attached to a card or folded enclosure) if they have one; if they don’t, they will happily decant a sample for you. Nordstrom uses little glass vials; Sephora uses plastic atomizers. Being given a sample on demand makes me inordinately happy; if I was the sort of person willing to pay full price for a bottle of fragrance, I would do all my perfume-buying at Nordstrom and Sephora. As I am most emphatically not the sort of person willing to pay full price for perfume when I don’t have to, I try to buy all my other makeup and beauty things at those stores.
Unfortunately, the “free samples on demand” policy is pretty much limited to those two stores; nobody else comes even close to that level of customer service…