Monday Question – What Do You Wish You Had Known At The Beginning Of Your Perfume Hobby?

Remember when you where all new and excited about discovering this new world? A world full of perfume and full of people just as obsessed as yourself?

When you look back, what do you wish you had known from the start?

What advice do you wish someone had given you then?

Would you have proceeded differently?

Are there any regrets?

Of do you think you would have fallen headlong down the rabbit hole in any case, no matter what you knew?

If you could give a newbie one tip, what would it be?

My Answer:

I wish someone would have told me that my taste is not set in stone. That just when I liked something on one occasion, that wouldn’t mean that I still liked it the next day. That there was no such thing as a favorite anything, or a note you would hate forever. Nothing is off limits, and nothing is impossible.

I wish someone would have made it very clear (using considerable force, otherwise it would not have worked) that it was not necessary to buy a bottle of everything that strikes my fancy after spending only one day with it. I wish I would have been denied impulse buys, since they are very rarely successful in the long run.

I wish someone would have told me that there will always be more out there to love, that there was no need to grab that last bottle of this or that before it was gone forever. A new love is just around the corner. For sure.

Would I have listened?

Hell, no. And it is a good thing too, because I had the time of my life.

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62 Responses to Monday Question – What Do You Wish You Had Known At The Beginning Of Your Perfume Hobby?

  1. I wish someone had told me about the Scentbloggosphere andSsample/Decant stores. It would have saved me years of doing it alone and doing FB instead of a 3ml decant. No regrets though.
    Portia xx

  2. Sandra says:

    I do not regret a thing! I would not change a thing that I did. I have a ball with this hobby.

  3. Jenson says:

    I wish someone told me to that I needed to brace myself for the start of a very expensive obsession. Knowing that, I think I would have still plunged down the rabbit hole, which I’m still happily enjoying today.

  4. Lady Jane Grey says:

    No way I wouldn’t have listened to anybody, so no point in telling anything … But anyway, I don’t regret anything.

  5. Ellia says:

    That’s exactly my thoughts: everything you just said in the second paragraph of your answer – all that about buying full bottles of “something” you’ve worn one day or tested only once :) I can’t say I regret it, but I wish to know better then… Anyways, anything that happens – happens for the reason and a negative experience is also an experience – it made us who we are today… so no bad feelings about anything that had happened in the early days of adventureous trip into the land of perfumerie :)

  6. Dubaiscents says:

    I still feel like I am so new to all of this but, you sum up my thoughts perfectly! Especially, how I wish I had known that my tastes (smells?) would change quite dramatically in such a short time. I guess you could say they have matured. It wasn’t so long ago that I thought oakmoss was gross and leather not something I could ever wear myself. No regrets, I still love a great BWF (my first love) and I feel like most of my FB purchases have a time and place to be worn (oakmoss or no). :-)

  7. Neville says:

    A less expensive smell-alike to a favourite will smell different after you’ve bought it. Tom Ford Tuscan Leather v Clive Christian C Men

  8. annemariec says:

    Beware those $50 or under bargains at the discounters! They have been my undoing. ’100mls of Sarah Jessica Parker Covet at $29! It has a great following among perfumistas. I should get some! And $29 is practically free!’

    Yeah, right. ‘Are you going to wear 100 mls of Covet, Anne-Marie?’, asks that sensible voice. ‘No of course you aren’t. So if you REALLY want it, pick up 5 or 8 mls from one of the decant services: you will spend even less, not waste precious storage space, and save your money for something else.’

    I’m pretty good these days. Sensible Anne-Marie wins nearly every time. Sigh.

  9. Tara says:

    Oh how I love the last line of your answer! So true.

    The best tip I got was to test everything on 3 separate occasions before coming to a final decision and that has served me well. Luckily I am so ridiculously cautious I didn’t buy many full bottles I had my eye on for a long time and then in many cases, changed my mind .

    I probably never would have believed someone if they’d told me how much my tastes would change. It’s a wonderful thing though. It keeps the journey interesting and ever-evolving.

    • annemariec says:

      Some people have a rule that they must empty x sample vials before they are allowed to by a FB. I have never been that disciplined. If I get to the end of one 3 ml sample, I’m allowed to go ahead and buy more, but ‘more’ usually just means a larger decant. It’s amazing how far 8 or 10 mls will go, though!

      • Tara says:

        annemarie I must say I usually get 3 wearings out of a single sample vial, as opposed to going through 3 samples. I’m not that disciplined either! I admire you for going for a larger decant from there. I have a bad habit of going straight to full bottle :)

    • Olfactoria says:

      The three separate wearings tip, is really good. I try to stick to it as well.

      It’s an incredible journey, isn’t it? :)

  10. poodle says:

    I don’t regret my full bottles. I don’t regret my blind buys that weren’t quite fabulous. I just think that if I have something someone really wants to try or really likes then I have plenty to share and can send some their way. I do regret letting my mom throw out some bottles way back when before I really got the perfume bug. I also wish I had found all of you sooner even though it’s cost me some money. And I probably wouldn’t have listened to anyone. I was and still am having too much fun.

  11. Dionne says:

    I fell down the rabbit-hole in slow motion, partly because I ran across several posts like this when I first stumbled upon this hobby; being the thoughtful type, I actually did heed when everyone said and it’s been a great help. So thanks to my fellow perfumistas for that. Looking back, the only thing I’d do differently now is to de-lurk on the blogs far sooner. I’m not sure why I was so hesitant to be part of the conversation, especially since everyone’s been so welcoming.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Same here. I thought for a long time, that I could not contribute in any way, but it turns out finally writing about perfume was something I couls do after all, and it has been so rewarding.

      I admire your thoughtfulness and restraint very much, Dionne!

  12. Alexandra says:

    I just have to echo everything you wrote, it is incredible how much my taste has changed in only 18 months. So my recommendations would be to try not to buy too many bottles at the beginning (almost impossible) and to hang on to the samples you pick up at the beginning that you don’t like because you will want to revisit them. I have a wish list of five perfumes and I am only allowed to buy a bottle if it has been on the list for more than a month and this has helped, plus having a perfume budget has been useful, because I KNOW I am going to get my perfume fix.
    This doesn’t mean I stick to my rules mind, I am blind & impulse buying a bottle of the new Shalimar flanker as soon as I track one down – list be d*mned!

  13. Annina (nina) says:

    My obsession started long ago. My biggest regret is passing on bottles I thought I was tired of, or did so out of guilt from buying more and amassing a huge collection – one in, one given away. I still mourn the 3/4 bottle of DK Chaos (original) hastily passed on as I thought my taste changed; and the bottle of Versace Blonde, thinking it wasn’t me. Wrong on both accounts. There are others I mourn too, enough so that I hope I’ve learned my lesson. I also know to wear something at least 4-5 times before considering a fb. And more recently, I’ve learned to perhaps buy a larger decant of something I love, rather than commit to the fb. If I use that up, I allow myself the fb.

  14. Vanessa says:

    I totally agree that impulse buys are a mistake you live to regret at leisure. Back then, I was fixated on getting things cheaply – as long as it was a designer name I had heard of, and I quite liked what I sniffed, I was onto it. That’s like marrying the first boy you dance with at the school disco – or several of them indeed. All Mr Not Quite Right in varying degrees – all divorced down the line….well, I am still trying to shed the last stragglers!

  15. Suzanne says:

    No regrets, but I have made some changes over the years. I used to spring for the occasional unsniffed bottle based on reviews, and for awhile that was fun and mostly worked for me (Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentree was purchased that way, and I love that perfume). But my goal is to keep my collection on the relatively small side, so I usually spend a lot of time with a perfume now before I commit to buying it (especially if it’s as pricey as an Amouage), and I try to wait until I’ve used up something else before I allow myself a new purchase. The exception to both of these rules is if I’m perfume shopping in a major city. I think it’s important to have fun and also to spend some money in the boutiques one visits, so I do purchase without a lot of deliberation on these trips (which are few and far between,).

  16. Andrea says:

    I’m just a beginner, but, writing my thesis on perfume, I speeded up a bit the discovery process talking to people, reading books, smelling, getting samples, sending emails, checking out the blogsphere, meeting perfumers, going to Fragranze. It had been an amazing experience and I love the way I just dived into it, all by myself. What I would suggest is to talk to shop assistants and be curious. Take time before buying and try them on the skin. Sometimes I wish there was a little perfumistas tour to discover, together with other passionate people, some different perfumes. And I wish someone told me: Be aware, most of the people around you won’t understand your passion.

    • Olfactoria says:

      How interesting, Andrea!
      What exactly are you writing about? The business side of perfume or the artistic aspects?

      Your last remark hits home, as with many hobbies/obsessions, the environment often cannot comprehend it and tends to react with anything from mild amusement to open ridicule.

      • Andrea says:

        I’m graduating in Design and I would like to create some ”tools” to better experience perfume. If people are introduced to perfume in a different way they might be more open to understand what’s behind it.
        I always loved perfume bottles and last year I start discovering the wonderful world of fragrances: I decided to mix what I have been studying for 5 years and a passion and it is really pleasant to work on it!

  17. bloodyfrida says:

    I also second (third?) that I wish I knew about decants much earlier. And yeah, I have that bottle of Covet too…sigh.

  18. No real regrets because anything I’ve acquired and fallen out of love/like/lust with has eventually gone to a good home or will at some point. BUT I wish I’d realized early on that most perfumes are not unique. For a while there I’d occasionally end up with 4 or 5 perfumes, either full bottles or decants, that were basically small variations on one another. Now that I’ve smelled a lot more stuff, I have less overlap, because I can say “This is really nice but if I’m going to wear a [loud tuberose]/[sweet leather]/[spicy oriental]/[etc] I already have [fill in the blank] and I like it just as much.”

  19. Civava says:

    I regret some blind buys. But that is not very big regret. I can still find somtehin good in these perfumes. I think I wouldn’t change anything. I knew something more about perfume than an average buyer, but never digged deep enough to figure it all out. My finances limited this passion a lot. Now it is too much of everything. There are days when I say to myself, why did you have to start with this pefume obssesion again. Fortunately these days are rare. I’m so tired of so many launches, so I sometimes tend to set my interest only in vintages. This is even harder. Dazed and confused.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I understand you so well, I have such days too, when I only roll my eyes at the next great launch and only want my peace. But then something interesting comes along and the circle starts anew… :)

  20. fleurdelys says:

    I would advise a newbie to test outside their comfort zone, for what you think you like may not actually be what you like. For example, don’t assume you only like soliflores, or acquatics, or citrus. Get out there and test leathers, orientals, chypres, animalics. That’s what I wish someone would have advised me in the beginning. In addition, if you think you’ve found a new love, test, test, test! Live with it for a little while, because although you like a fragrance at first sniff, you may find you don’t want to smell like that all the time. I’ve always been pretty cautious about my full-bottle purchases, so je ne regrette rien! My only regret may be that it won’t be possible to finish all that perfume in one lifetime!

  21. Joe says:

    The only advice I would to someone starting out in this hobby would be don’t listen to anybodies advice because if I did I might have missed out on walking the streets of Paris leaving a trail of Derby behind me after a perfect meal, or walking in the woods with my wife and smelling her vintage Mitsouko. But I suppose I might have also avoided staining the bathroom sink bright orange with Aurantiol (Eventually dealt with by an Isopropanol rinse).

  22. There are some fascinating answers here. Good question B!

    I’d have liked someone to tell me to open my horizons right from the beginning. When I first started out there was just so much out there to try (it must be worse for newbies now!) that I focused all of my attention on CREED for the first year or so due to the rave reviews on Basenotes, thinking that they were the best of everything niche.

    This is something that I regret now because I overlooked so many brands for a long while. Brands like Frederic Malle, Amouage and so many more.

    So, if I were to give advice to a newbie now it would be open your horizons and try everything!

  23. Elaine says:

    I agree with the no-impulse-buying-of-FBs rule! Also, because I bought so many FBs of perfumes that I ended up wearing very little, my family members have taken to using them as room sprays. Which, if I think about it, is rather sensible – I just try not to think about how much it costs everytime somebody feels the need to ‘freshen up’ the house.

  24. Undina says:

    No serious regrets here as well. I wish I stopped buying niche samples indiscriminately much earlier and spent the same amount of money on more carefully chosen samples. Though… this way I could have ended up with more full bottles (with better testing success rate, I mean). So maybe it wasn’t all that bad :)

    • Undina says:

      As to the advice – I have one: perfume hobby should bring joy, it shouldn’t be a hard work. Do some system if it helps you. Don’t do it if you’re fine “as is”. Test something that you want to test right now – even if there are 20 untested samples in a queue. Don’t test something that you do not want to – even if everybody else has tested it already. Have fun.

      • Olfactoria says:

        I wholeheartedly agree. I have stopped testing for testing’s (and subsequently blogging’s) sake. Now I wear what I crave, what interests me and I don’t have to try everything that is new, just because it is new.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Maybe it wasn’t… :) I wish I had a problem of having not enough FB’s. :)

  25. Ines says:

    I agree with everything you said.
    I can only add that I wish someone told there was no need to hoard so many samples and decants too quickly because once they start piling up, you can no longer keep smelling them and getting to know them properly.
    It takes time to find your way in the perfume world, the road is not fast even if you’d like it to be so why not take your time and enjoy it without stress?

  26. unseencenser says:

    It’s so funny that you post this now, Birgit, as I was just discussing with the husband yesterday that looking at what I’ve spent on perfume in the last four years, I feel quite overwhelmed by the investment I’ve made and owning all these bottles! But it’s also true that accounting for inflation, in decades past I’ve spent as much on other hobbies that brought me much food for my brain, much fun, and lifelong friends. So I can’t be too hard on myself for spending so much on this one. Je regrette quelque choses, but I can’t regret enjoying myself.
    Also, I need to start thinning out some of the bottles. There must be SOME I can look at and admit, as you say, that impulse purchases don’t turn out. But when they’re in my hands they call to me!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I understand you so well, they do call us, and once they are home with us, we can’t bear to let them go again. ;)

      It is a beautiful hobby, even if it gets out if hand now and again. We could do worse things…

  27. What a great Monday question! I would say that I wish someone had told me to start writing down my thoughts in a little notebook or something. Portia Turbo posted a review recently of Tea for Two, which I smelled years ago before it got discontinued. I don’t remember anything about it and wish I had some notes!

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