Monday Question – Which Perfumes Do You Wear To Work?

By Tara

Are there certain perfumes you think are appropriate for work?

Have co-workers ever commented on your perfume?

Which perfumes make you feel more professional and businesslike?

Are you happy wearing any one of your perfumes to work and don’t think in terms of “work perfumes”?

Are you unlucky enough to work in an environment where perfume is prohibited?

If you don’t work, are their certain fragrances that help you to focus when you need to?

My Answer:

My work perfumes are not of the subdued “office appropriate” kind. Since being promoted last September I seem to rely on my perfume a lot more for extra confidence. Therefore my perfume choices for work actually tend to be quite strong perfumes with an authority all of their own. Through the autumn and into winter these have mostly been bold roses and leathers.  My favourites include Frederic Malle’s Une Rose and Portrait of a Lady, Chanel’s Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles, Cuir by Lancome and Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne.

What about you?

So do tell us about your “workhorse” perfumes.

Editor’s Note: This issue is a hot one apparently, take a look at The Candy Perfume Boy’s excellent post about perfume at the workplace and the resulting discussion.

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72 Responses to Monday Question – Which Perfumes Do You Wear To Work?

  1. Sally- Anne says:

    I wear whatever the h*** I want to wear. Only once I was informed by a co-worker that the perfume Iwas wearing was ‘revolting’…..Tabu. I’ve worn it since and often .I know the days we work together,so I choose other fragrances. And my choices usually are heavy strong Sillage Bombs..i never go ‘easy ‘ie 10 spritzs are not unusual.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Sally-Anne!

      I’m glad you could work out a compromise by wearing Tabu on the days your colleague wasn’t in. I think that’s the best kind of approach when it comes to issues with perfume and work.

    • malsnano86 says:

      Oh dear… you know I’m for wearing perfume to work, but 10 spritzes of a sillage bomb on a coworker would probably kill ME.

  2. Belated congratulations on your promotion!

    I pretty much wear any perfume, regardless of style or volume. Your point about extra confidence resonates with me, I too opt for an authoritative perfume on those days when I need to common some sort of authority.

    This does seem to be quite a hot top indeed, and thank you for the link!

  3. lady jane grey says:

    There are some I wouldn’t wear for work (for instance Cartier’s Le Baiser du Dragon, or Caron’s Farnesiana …). I feel especially confident with Lutens’s Clair de Musc, or Gris Clair – or Ormonde Jayne’s Tolu.
    But I noticed that my colleagues are the happiest when I wear Guerlain’s Double Vanille, or Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille…

    • Tara says:

      I have definitely noticed that people in general react most positively to vanilla perfumes so I’m not surprised when your co-workers like it when you wear SDV and Tobacco Vanille.

      I haven’t tried Le Baiser du Dragon or Farnesiana, are they particularly powerful or not to most people’s taste? I can well imagine Gris Clair and Clair de Musc are the better SLs for office wear!

      • lady jane grey says:

        Dragon is definitely an evening thing for me (it was a present, I would have never bought it myself – it’s a larger than life scent).
        I have the extrait version of the Farnesiana – has to be applied with care, otherwise it can knock off your socks and those of your colleagues as well…

        • Tara says:

          Thanks for that. I rarely wear Shalimar to work because it has evening associations with me, so makes sense about the Dragon. Farnesiana extrait sounds quite something!

  4. Alexandra says:

    I am lucky enough to be able to wear pretty much anything I like to work, although I haven’t attempted Musc Koublai Khan yet! In fact I am more concerned about my fellow tube passengers in the morning as we are all crammed in together and I have just put on my perfume. But as yet I have never had a comment. I’m not sure if I just don’t wear enough perfume, but I don’t appear to ‘waft’ at all! Even when I try to…

    I too have perfumes for certain moods at work, when I need something supportive I wear Parfum Sacre and when I need to give off ‘I’m in charge’ vibes I wear Bois de Iles. I have quite a quiet day today so I am taking the opportunity to road test Montale’s Aoud Queen Roses and nobody has run screaming yet!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Alexandra,
      Totally agree. My perfume has never been an issue at work but since the New Year I started taking the tube (plus a bus) to get work and it’s definitely made me aware of what perfume I’m wearing and how much. Being in close proximity to others in a confined space is definitely more of a concern!

      Parfum Sacre and Bois des Iles are great work perfume choices. I’d be interested to know how you get on with Aoud Queen Roses if you have a moment to report back!

      • Alexandra says:

        I haven’t made up my mind about it yet, but I am incredibly fussy when it comes to rose in perfumes. It is a very deep dark rose, but not in that 80’s powerhouse way and is then overlaid by the dusky dry oud. It is beautifully balanced but I am not sure it is at its best in the harsh light of a Monday morning!

        I have yet to find my perfect rose (and being an oriental girl I guess it will have that twist), Ta’if is so almost there, and Lyric was heartbreakingly and disappointingly not it (although I am still hoping for an epiphany).

  5. Olfactoria says:

    I don’t leave home for work these days, so I’m free to indulge my fancy every day.
    I’m glad not to work at the hospital anymore, now that my perfume addiction is full-blown, as it is not really an appropriate environment to wear noticeable perfume.

    Upon seeing Lady Jane Grey’s comment, my SotD for today was chosen – Caron Farnesiana, a wonderful mimosa/heliotrope perfume. I cherish my last drops as it is really amazing and I am very thankful that I can wear it right now. (Thank you so much for the sample, Lady Jane, my review will be up soon!)

    • Tara says:

      Ah, one of the many joys of working from home – freedom to wear whatever you like and at whatever volume! A hospital environment is definitely one of those where obtrusive scent is not appropriate.

      Enjoy Farnesiana today!

    • lady jane grey says:

      You’re very welcome, dear. There might be some more of it for you in that bottle … :-)
      And I can’t await your review !
      Can you imagine, it was one of my very first teasers into niche-parfumery ?! (Thanks to Marina)

  6. rosarita313 says:

    I was a cook, so the scent of perfume was lost as soon as I got to work. There were ten of us working close together and one coworker suffers from frequent migraines, so I would apply perfume to my chest, where I could smell it. That said, I would wear whatever I wanted. As others have said, vanilla perfumes would sometimes be detected and complimented, Dior Addict being a standout for compliments. Now I’m unemployed and wear whatever, whenever. I was interested to see Gris Clair mentioned as a work perfume. On me, it changes all day and is distracting. I have likened it to a long Pink Floyd album playing in the background. I love both Gris Clair and Pink Floyd, but not everyday. :)

    • lady jane grey says:

      My two beloved things mentioned within one sentence : Pink Floyd and Gris Clair. I think I could listen to pink Floyd daily (a different LP every day) – but I couldn’t work when listening to Pink Floyd…

    • Tara says:

      OK I’m now fascinated by the changeling nature of Gris Clair, so I’ll have to try that now.

      I can well imagine most perfume not lasting long in the extreme heat of a professtional kitchen. I can also see that vanilla perfumes would appeal to cooks!

      I hope you find work soon. It’s tough out there right now.

  7. I really love my work perfumes they put me in the right frame of mind and keep me focussed. Come on down Prada Infusion D’Iris EDP, Eau Ambree, Chanel Eau Premiere and Cristalle EDT, JM Lotus Blossom and Water Lily, Guerlain Vetiver, Tauer Cologne du Maghreb. The Tauer is a lemony jolt for a tired brain. They are all quiet perfumes, in different styles, but not boring at all.

    For a job interview I’d pick a small spritz of either Infusion D’Iris, Eau Premiere or Cristalle EDT.

    • Tara says:

      I heard about a study that found the scent of lemons makes us work the most efficiently, so you’re onto something with Cologne du Maghreb! The Prada Infusions and JMs are just made for officewear aren’t they?

      Love your pretty but professional job interview choices. Just perfect.

  8. Rosanna says:

    Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

  9. Vanessa says:

    I mostly work from home, but have bursts of being on the road, visiting a different workplace every day, so I do consider this question on and off throughout the year. My picks are very similar to Scentandshinythings, especially L’Eau Ambree (a workhorse decant!), Eau Premiere and Cristalle – I wore Cristalle in particular to a difficult meeting once and like CPB with his Honour Woman, it really hit the spot!

    In the summer I reach for pretty but inoffensive florals like Kenzo Eau de Fleur de Magnolia, Vanille Galante or La Chasse aux Papillons – or EL PC Tuberose Gardenia applied very sparingly. : – ) The list is much longer for either season (I have travel bags dedicated to each where the vials in question more or less live permanently), but the general vibe is soft and nuzzly for winter and feminine and girly for summer!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Vanessa!
      Soft and nuzzly for winter and feminine and girly for summer sounds great. I can’t wait for summer to wear the generous decant of Osmanthus Interdite you gave me (if I can wait that long). I think it will be perfect for underground/office wear.

      Eau Ambree, Eau Premiere and Cristalle are spot-on for efficient yet stylish picks, aren’t they? So we can add Cristalle to Honour Woman for surviving difficult meetings!

  10. arline says:

    I just had a look at the Candy Perfume Boy’s discussion, and commented, so I wont go into detail here, but I will say, that I am lucky to not work in a place!!!!! I am an artist and a yoga teacher, of I don’t have to consider an office environment. I do have to be respectful however, and I don’t wear anything offensive. I don’t think I do anyway. Usually, I get compliments on my smell, which is nice.

    I love scent. Perfume and essential oils are part of me and how I express. I have to be me!!!!

    • Tara says:

      arline, I also feel like perfume and essential oils are a part of who I am and how I express myself so I’d feel awful if I couldn’t wear them to work because I’m there for such a large part of the week. It must be nice for you not to work in an office environment but I guess you have to choose carefully/limit silage for yoga as with other exercise classes or the gym. I’m glad you usually get compliments!

  11. andrea says:

    I am lucky enough to be able to wear what I want without restriction so I choose perfume every day to suit my mood, sometimes I deliberate over what fragrance to wear longer than what clothes to wear, Libran and too many choices. I get the odd comment from the Boss / BF (cat wee and seedy nightclub, sweet redemption and Carnal Flower, being 2 of his gems), never ever from a co-worker, probably as they are all big hairy men and would be hard pushed to smell my perfume over their particular odours. (need I say more)

    • Tara says:

      Sounds to me like you are improving the fragrance of your work environment no end! I think being able to pick your perfume every day according to your mood without any restrictions must be a joy.

      I bet a lot of us take more time over our scent than our clothes!

  12. dee says:

    Anything and everything! I got in the habit of wearing whatever I wanted when I was the boss, and it’s carried over into my current job. It hasn’t caused any problems; in fact, it’s helped new friendships to blossom! There are five (5!) people that I work with who I’ve been actively discussing perfume, including sharing samples, recommendations, and the odd at-work spritz-and-discuss. I’m loving the way that perfume has been fostering new relationships, since I’m still fairly new to this city (and the job).

    Certainly, though, I’d refrain from wearing anything that I’d gotten a direct complaint about. :)

    • Tara says:

      dee, how wonderful that perfume is helping you to forge new connections in your new city! It’s nice to hear about the benefits after reading such negative viewpoints lately. Of course, I’m sure the vast majority of us ‘fume fans wouldn’t wear a perfume to work again that someone complained about. I think arline was right when she said you have to be respectful.

      As for an at work spritz-and-discuss, that sounds great! How nice to have fragrant discussions with 5 of your co-workers. I wonder how many of them will be following you down the rabbit-hole :)

    • Ari says:

      This is so lovely to hear! Anything that can help one find friends in a new town feels like a miracle. Honestly, I’ve never gotten any negative comments on my interest in perfume, and a lot of people seem interested!

      • Tara says:

        Ari, it is lovely isn’t it? I’m wary about people’s reaction to my great love of perfume but it’s always been positive too.

        Perfume bringing people closer together, aaah!

  13. malsnano86 says:

    I’m working from home myself too, but when I was working in an office I was always careful not to wear anything very loud. (That is, I DID wear L’Arte di Gucci, but in tiny amounts.) I did enjoy quiet wallpaper scents like Infusion d’Iris, MJ Daisy, and Cacharel Noa to work. I think Chanel 19 would be fine on challenging days, particularly if worn in small amounts.

    • Tara says:

      I think you make a good point about factoring in the amount. Even a strong perfume can be OK at work if you apply just a tiny bit. Obviously with quieter perfumes you can spray more. It’s really a combination of the strength of the perfume AND the amount of it you are wearing. I don’t think you can say all powerful perfumes are always inappropriate at work or a large number of sprays is always wrong. You have to consider the two together.

  14. Emma says:

    Am aghast at the idea of a workplace banning scent! My colleagues know I’m a sniffaholic and indulge my varied tastes. But if I’m going to meetings I like Chanel no. 19, Balenciaga Paris and Dioressence. Feminine but chic.

    • Tara says:

      I know, it’s like a perfumista’s nightmare!

      It’s nice that you can share your love of perfume with your colleagues. Chanel No. 19 always makes me think of a no-nonsense business-woman! Balenciaga Paris has a refined, intellectual air about it and Dioressence is a great choice and not one I would have thought of.

      • Emma says:

        That makes me think – iris-prominent scents are often described as serious or intellectual. Maybe that’s why the Chanels ( which tend to have noticeable iris in the base) like 31 Rue Cambon (which I adore) are seen as work-appropriate? Dior’s Bois D’Argent, too…

        • Tara says:

          Yes, I think you’re onto something there. Though I never associated iris with work in that way it makes perfect sense. Maybe it’s that “cool” quality it has.

          Thanks for that Emma, interesting point!

  15. susan says:

    I also wear whatever I like, including some massive sillage monsters, but if someone comments about a particular perfume bothering them, I wouldn’t wear that one again. Someone has only complained once, and not even about a big oriental or anything – the perfume was Gucci Flora.

    As others have mentioned, I do like to wear big, sexy, confidence-building perfume to work – which can be a variety of things. Chanel Cristalle EDP I think I view as my go-to steely, gettin’-it-done badass woman perfume. But I also wear big sexy over the top things like Tauer Une Rose Vermeille… need a bottle of that one so badly!

    • Tara says:

      Hi susan! That’s the thing, it’s not that easy to know what might offend others. I would have thought you’d be quite safe with Flora, but there you go.

      It’s good if can you wear what you want and trust your co-workers to tell you if a perfume is really bothering them.

      I love that Cristalle EDP is your badass perfume! We all need one of those from time to time…

  16. Julie says:

    For me, work is pretty much the only place I can wear scent! My husband gets migraines and scent can be a trigger for him. Thank goodness I don’t have a workplace that bans fragrances! So I wear whatever I want there, but in general, I don’t like heavy hitters and I am also a light spritzer anyway so don’t think I’m bothering anyone. The guy in the cube next to me will occasionally ask me what I’m wearing, but that’s about it. Because of my husband, I am much more sensitive to this issue – I don’t think we need bans, but when people are in very close proximity to others, whether it’s work, buses, airplanes, theaters, one must be considerate as people can’t get away from it. We had a lovely dinner ruined recently as the woman at a table right next to ours had one a very strong perfume, which led to a migraine. Remember that there are people out there who actually have medical issues, not just the folks who enjoying complaining about things!

    • Tara says:

      Yes, I’ve suffered migraines to the point of vomiting, so I know how serious and horrific they are. It’s testament to your level-headedness that you still love perfume and don’t want to see it banned.

      It sounds like that guy in the next cube is actually quite interested in your perfume. As for the woman in the restaurant, I think we can add that to the list of places where it’s just not fair on others to wear lots of strong perfume.

  17. I can wear what I like to work, but I find that whenever I have a big day ahead of me–clients visiting, meetings, gallery openings–I tend to wear my most masculine scents. Le Labo Patchouli 24 and Malle’s Musc Ravageur are the ones I gravitate towards. They boost my confidence, and say to the world, “This is one gutsy dame.”

  18. Bee says:

    well anything is possible, depending on the dosage, but if I have tricky stuff coming up a major spritz of 31 r Cambon is my booster, or optionally Bottega Veneta, that’s the newcomer. Would that mean modern chypre-types are my best option? I’ll have to look into it!

  19. Natalie says:

    I am similar to you, Tara, in that I often use fragrances for a confidence boost. I work in male-oriented industries on the whole, and while I refuse to give up being a bit girly, I don’t want my perfume to send an overly girly message. For days where I have a lot of meetings or an important meeting, I tend to opt for things like No. 19, Ormonde Woman, and Vetiver Tonka. They are the current workhorses in my collection.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Natalie!
      I know what you mean. I don’t want to come across as too girly at my male dominated Board Meetings. I guess there’s a concern we wouldn’t be taken as seriously. Our perfume definitely does send a signal to the outside world about us and the right perfume choice can help us with the image we want to portray.

      I love that you have Ormonde Woman and Vetiver Tonka among your workhorses. Unusual and classy picks!

  20. Anita T. Monroe says:

    My working days are behind me, but when I was in a classroom day after day, Shalimar was the absolute favorite of all young students. When I wore a different fragrance, they complained. It was really funny because it was so completely unanimous. One day I wore Nu, and there was practically a revolt. Had to go and scrub. I did notice what my co-workers wore, and one of them used Estee Lauder’s Knowing. It was nice on her, not so much so on me.
    I am saving my money to buy one of the Amouage line. Please give me a hint about which one you would pick as your “first”. Sweet regards.

    • Olfactoria says:

      How lovely that young children were so fond of Shalimar, they also received a scent education from you! Thank you! Hopefully your dormer students are not only finding the latest Britney Spears or Justin Bieber perfume great.

      My first Amouage was Epic, which is why it will always have a special place in my heart. While I have heard good and bad things about many Amouages, I can’t recall ever having read a negative word about Epic…

    • Tatiana says:

      I have distinct memories of my 4th grade teacher way back in 1969 wearing perfume. I want to say it was Estee Lauder Youth Dew. I just remember wanting to do well, because praise was often accompanied by a hug and it was wonderful to be able to enjoy her scent. So it doesn’t surprise me that your students would have a favorite fragrance.

  21. Undina says:

    Since Monday was a holiday, I’m getting to the Monday question only on Tuesday.

    I look at perfumes from a different side: I have several perfumes that are “special occasion only” – I wear them when I dress up, for parties, celebrations, etc. Everything else in my collection is “work appropriate” in proper quantities. I had to stop wearing Sweet Milk and Jeux de Peau to the office since a co-worker who sits close to me mentioned that he didn’t like them (yeah, I know – not the most obvious offenders). But other than that I can wear whatever I want.

    • Tara says:

      That is weird about Sweet Milk but I suppose most SLs are pretty powerful. I’m very lucky at work (and so is everyone else) that no one sits close by :)

  22. Persolaise says:

    I keep waiting for the day when someone at my workplace complains about my perfume. Luckily, that’s never happened, even though I never hold back when choosing my ‘day wear’ scents. Leather Oud, Lonestar Memories, Absolue Pour Le Soir, Gold Man… they’ve all been inflicted upon my colleagues.

    I think that, now, everyone just expects me to be a sillage beast… but sometimes I like to surprise people with something discreet ;-)

    • Tara says:

      Wow, Persolaise I feel much better about my work choices now I’ve read yours!

      It’s nice that your colleagues know you so well and your love of perfume. I’m pleased they’ve never coplained but really they should make use of your extensive knowledge on the subject. Don’t they know what a valuable resource they have? :)

  23. Philipp says:

    I know I am late to this post, but I’d like to share my opinions nonetheless. Terre d’Hermes is my choice when I know I will have a stressful or important day at work. On my skin the scent is very bitter and metallic, so it reminds me of a suit of armour.

    • Tara says:

      Philipp, it’s always good to have a fragrance which is like a suit of armour for work. I know a lot of people are fans of Terre d’Hermes so I really need to get to know it better.

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