Monday, January 7, 2008

Perfume for the Occasion : Perfume at the Office

Happy New Year, lovelies! The holidays have come to an end, and how appropriate it should be that TMH of “For the Love of Perfume” and I start this new year with a post about perfume at the workplace, and more specifically at the office, just as everyone is returning (most likely unwillingly) behind their desk?

Wearing perfume at the office is a delicate affair: the key word, I believe should be respect. Respect for the fact that space is usually limited, the hours are long, air-circulation can be poor and tempers tend to be frail when the stress mounts. What does this have to do with perfume? An overpowering scent, or heavy-handed application can and in many cases will bother those working close to us. Thus, not only sympathy for our coworkers, but good manners as well, demand that we be neighborly and limit application to a few discrete squirts, so as not to overwhelm. Solid perfumes, splash colognes and light eaux de toilettes will allow more liberal application, in my opinion however, as long as we are considerate, we do not need to take things as far as resorting to solids! Another thing that will certainly help if you do not trust yourself to not-overapply, is to rotate a variety of favorites: this will ensure your nose will not get too used to a certain scent to the point that you do not smell it yourself – something that can at times result to dousing ourselves with our favorite because we can no longer detect it. Still uncertain? Another good idea is to assess the perfume habits of your coworkers. Offices function in many ways like small communities and as such, many develop their own unspoken rules and codes of conduct. Conforming to the office’s model will not only score extra points, but will also save the trouble of being confronted with friction or discontent later on. I do not consider myself a conformist, but as a reluctant perhaps realist, I see more potential for advancement for someone who does not unduly stir the waters or draws too much unwanted attention. No, perfume is not a trivial issue to us perfume addicts, and part of me wants to rebel against my own thoughts. (Why should I be deprived of my favorite perfume? I put in my hours! etc..) But certainly, if not for the sake of advancement alone, then for the sake of a balanced mental state at going-home time, we must consider laying off the sillage monsters in favor of something less controversial. Seeing the same colleague that decided to declare perfume war upon you every day is, nine times out of ten, simply not worth it. Lastly, in my humble opinion, choosing fragrances that smell of pure seduction is extremely counterproductive. The aim, surely, is to be taken seriously.

Having said all this, however, does not mean we now have license to become predictable and bland! Fabulousness must be maintained! What you are looking for here is something that sets you apart, while still following all the rules above. Feeling beautiful, capable and fresh in the sometimes stifling, air-conditioned environment of the workplace will do wonders for your confidence, something that will undoubtedly reflect on your work and the way you are perceived by your colleagues.

Here are a few of my own recommendations for great office scents:

· Eau de Campagne by Sisley : Wonderfully fresh, butter-wouldn’t-melt cool, improbably superior, reeking of good taste and money, this green beauty that does the tomato-vine note better than any other is a choice that simply can’t go wrong.
· Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana : People either seem to love or hate this one, but the tremendous appeal it has as evidenced by its sales and the fact that it is going as strong today as it did when it first came out makes me inclined to think those that love it far outnumber those that hate it. I most certainly belong to the former group. Light Blue is strangely appealing: It is undoubtedly seductive, but in an innocent, unthreatening way. It can be your ray of sunshine and happiness under the misery of the dreadful artificial lighting.
· Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan : Soft, clean, expertly blurring the lines between warm, clean skin and fragrance, this will offend noone. As a plus, its comforting scent will hopefully balance you throughout the day.
· Perles de Lalique : Wonderfully, beautifully sophisticated, the dry, peppery edge of this modern chypre makes it a fantastic choice for cool weather. The only word to describe it is chic.
· Lumiere by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz : If you must wear a gourmand fragrance at the office, then it has to be this one! For cool weather only, this beautiful scent is warm enough to engulf you in a gourmand bubble filled with goodness, yet soft and unobtrusive enough to keep the dirty looks from your colleagues at bay. Despite its gourmand nature, Lumiere manages to be only as sweet as it needs to be – it is never saccharine or cloying. The first time I smelled it, I was not only instantly hooked but also completely taken by surprise! It smells exactly like the “Hot Masala” chocolate by Dolfin! (a brand of Belgian chocolates) Seeing the ingredients, my nose felt vindicated! They both feature cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg. The similarity is astounding – smelling Lumiere, I can almost taste Hot Masala chocolate in my mouth. I have not tried the spray, only the pulse roller and when it comes to the office, this is all the sillage you need.
· Allure by Chanel (Edp) : If you are certain you need to amp the fabulousness appeal, if you are sure you need a little more oomph and if you know you can control your application....then you need some Allure. It is not a favorite of mine, that’s one thing that is certain -Allure is slightly controversial to my nose for some reason- but it certainly fits the bill: It is sophisticated, it is warm, yet at the same time exudes an air of coolness, it is sexy, yet it does not cross any of those invisible lines. Sexy yes, but not approachable without the wearer’s consent. And despite my professions that it is not a fragrance I really like, I often long for it. It has an addictive appeal and it most certainly sets the wearer apart. I recommend the Eau de Parfum and I most definitely suggest dabbing, not spraying.

So, what do you think about wearing perfume at the office? What are your own choices and do you try to keep to lighter, more subdued fragrances or do you just follow your mood? I’d love to hear what you think!

Images:,, originally uploaded by jamiefreaky and


TMH256 said...

Lovely Divina,

You make such a great point about rotating scents to keep the nose sharp. I also love your fabulousness emphasis! Great choices, Divina. I adore Allure ... from afar. I have some history with it and therefore it prevents me from wearing it too much. A small spray sample is enough for me to keep in my collection. But when I do wear it, I love it. I can imagine if a co-worker sprayed very lightly I would adore it on her, too.

Great piece! And welcome back! We've missed you!!


Linda said...

Dear Divina,
Marvellous to read a new article, on such a good topic! I sniffed all the Sisley fragrances recently and thought that Eau de Campagne was by far the loveliest! Also, I'm going to find my tiny Light Blue and try that again: it is certainly bad taste to inflict an "evening" fragrance on work colleagues, and I know I am sometimes gulity of becoming so immune to my favourites that I overdo my spraying, so I'll heed your advice and think more about the reactions of other people, starting tomorrow! Have a splendid week,
Linda x

greeneyes said...

Welcome back Divina! I hope your holiday was lovely. I do wear perfume to the obvious, and because I sample so frequently, I am very careful about application. I never know how something new might develop, so I usually apply it to wrists only. If I really like it, I will wear it a second day and apply a bit more. I think anything can work at the office, just as long as its subtly applied, but if I'm in a mood to spray and spray, good choices are L'Artisan Dzing! and Annick Goutal Le Chevrefuille. Both of those are light enough to bathe in and not offend a soul!

Divina said...

It makes coming back very sweet, reading that I've been missed! Thank you so much dearest T! I, just like you am happy to only keep a tiny-tiny decant of Allure. I do crave it from time to time like I wrote, and then a little drop is good enough for me... (I seriously smell that little drop all day too!)

Divina said...

Hi Linda! I am so glad you liked it - I have to admit it was a lot of fun writing it! :) I am curious, did you like the other 2 Sisley perfumes as well? I think all three are exceptional - I wouldn't object to have all three of them. The prices however have so far somehow stopped me from completing the trio, even though I consider it every time I stand before them at a shop.

Divina said...

Oh, these are SUCH fabulous choices Greeneyes!! I wish I'd thought of Dzing! myself - it's perfect! I sample much the same way - but have you noticed? Even with such careful application, if you try a REAL monster it refuses to go away no matter how tiny the dab or spray! LOL! Do tell me if you find a good scrubbing method :P The last thing I discovered that works for me is scrubbing with a cotton soaked in Johnsson's Aloe Vera baby oil... Need to test it more to know for sure though.

italian girl said...

Hi Everybody--D. Welcome Back --
of the scents you mentioned that I know, I love them all. DK cashmere mist and D& G Light Blue are my personal favorites..
As long as someone is not wearing Poison or ANYTHING by Escada.. I don't get offended by many scents. It seems here in Chicago in the building I work in, I may be the only Perfumista on my floor.. Perhaps it is the profession I am in.. Banking??? No clue, but I think I may be the only woman who even wears perfume.....
D. have you or any readers tried either of the Juliet has a Gun perfumes????? I would love to hear someone's opinion of them..

perfumeshrine said...

Isn't the office terror team daunting?
I think if one is bent on finding fault, they are bound to find it anyone despite our best efforts.
But lovely choices, anyway.

tmp00 said...

I agree with Tamara- great idea to rotate so you don't get used to it.

I find that sometimes it's better to wear a monster scent simply because one (at least I do) err on the side of discretion, where I can sometimes get that one spritz too many with a lighter scent.

I also have a coworker I trust whom I ask if they can smell what I am wearing. If she answers that she can and I am standing two feet from her, then I know to duck into the men's room and wash some off.

Of course I think the rules are stricter for a man than for a woman. A little sillage from a woman is expected (not a cloud though); there's nothing worse than a guy throwing off major fumes of some "manly" scent..

Divina said...

Italin Girl: I tried the Juliet has a Gun perfumes while I was in Paris this summer. I really liked Lady Vengeance, which is a rose with a bite. Spicy, dark-ish and wintry was my impression of it. I really liked it, as I said, but I could not shake the feeling that I had "smelled it before", which is to say, it reminded me strongly of something else. Perhaps Aromatics Elixir? I can't quite remember, it's been many months since I smelled it. So, my impression was very favorable, but I moved on since I did not find it unique enough. As for Miss Charming...UGH! I smelled Lady Vengeance first and then smelling Miss Charming I could hardly believe they are part of the same line! Miss Charming was a floral-fruity mess, ultra-generic and not very pleasant. It strengthened my resolve to move away from the area where they were being presented very, very quickly.

Divina said...

Helg: I don't know... there are people that view the company/office they work for as a small family of sorts and enjoy spending a lot of time with their colleagues. This leads me to think that different offices harbor different attitudes. Perhaps the smaller the company/office, the better the interpersonal situation? I don't know, but I don't think it is that black and white.

Divina said...

Tom, I agree with you. When carefully applied, even the strongest scent can become almost a skin scent, with minimum sillage. Very pleasant. My personal tip for such instances is to apply only on the wrists. That keeps my nose from becoming used to the scent I've applied and I keep smelling even the minimum amount applied on the wrists throughout the day :)

perfumeshrine said...

I think you got a little confused: I was merely pointing out that the "office terror team" is the one that is opposing our perfume habit. Not that the office environment per se is daunting: of course they are lots of agreeable people in one's work entourage!

Divina said...

Really? When you wrote "Isn't the office terror team daunting?" it did sound like you meant that every office has its very own terror team. It was with that that I disagree with. Did I misunderstand?

perfumeshrine said...

I don't know. Are you working at an office?

Anyway, usually there is someone in any group of people who does have a nay to something that is dear to someone else, so...

But it is not such an important matter to dwel on it further.

Take care and hugs! :-)