The Art of Smelling Sweet: How to Choose Perfume

The right perfume is the perfect accessory. Just as choosing the right outfit can help project an aspect of your personality, knowing how to choose the best perfume will help you add the perfect touch to your image.

Know the categories

Trying to categorize all the perfumes in the world would be incredibly daunting. New scent profiles, new combinations and new crosses that push boundaries appear all the time. But in general, there are four main groups into which scents tend to fall: floral, spicy, fruity and earthy. Knowing the category to which you're most drawn can help you narrow the choices before you start testing. Find out what you like by visiting a department store or scent store to sample a few selections from each category. That way, when you're in the market for a new scent, you'll have a head start.

Read before you sniff

Once you know the category that attracts you most, you can start there during your shopping trip. But don't just start spraying bottle after bottle. The ideal number of perfumes to test in a shopping trip is just one. After you sniff that first one, it will be more difficult to get a reading on the others. So instead of spraying away, take some time to read the perfume packaging. Most packages list the blend of scents used in the perfume's creation, along with a description of the final scent profile, such as tangy, exotic or warm. After you've read a little bit, you can test the one that sounds most interesting to you.

Try before you buy

One thing that makes a scent unique is that all perfumes react differently to individual body chemistry. Some scents will naturally seem to "go" with you better, while others might clash. It's hard to tell what will be a good fit by spraying a piece of test paper or sniffing right out of the bottle. It's also impossible to tell how something will smell hours later without actually wearing it for a few hours.

If you're seriously considering buying a scent, try it on in the same way you would wear it if it were your very own. Then, after a few hours, find an objective friend or relative to give you some honest feedback. Does it smell nice? Can he or she still smell it? If not, the perfume probably isn't right for you. If someone compliments you on the scent before you even ask, you might have found your signature fragrance.

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