Monday Question – What Stage Are You At In Your Perfume Journey?

By Tara

Are you a newbie, full of excitement at this brand new fragrant world you’ve discovered?

Have you set up camp at Perfume Central, busy trying as many fragrances as possible and rapidly building up your collection?

Are you further down the track and becoming more discerning and knowledgeable about what you sample and purchase, now the mania has passed?

Do you feel like slowing down and admiring the view by enjoying what you have rather than acquiring more?

Are you becoming jaded and somewhat cynical, rarely getting excited about new releases?

My Answer:

For several years I got a real thrill from testing a new perfume practically every day. I’d feel bereft if I didn’t have anything new to test because I really got a kick out of it. Just over a year ago something changed and I’m not sure why. I no longer felt the need to devour new fragrances at such a rate (and it did feel like a need!). I stopped buying samples on a regular basis and gave a lot of mine away.

As a result I actually started wearing the full bottles I had collected over those years but had rarely worn. Now I wear my full bottles at least 5 times a week and this makes me very happy. I also feel less guilty about my collection as result which is a bonus. Luckily though, I retained my enthusiasm for fragrance and I still regularly get excited about new releases and go through obsessive fragrant phases. Overall I feel like I’ve reached a pleasant perfume plateau.

So where are you on your journey through Perfumeland?


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68 Responses to Monday Question – What Stage Are You At In Your Perfume Journey?

  1. smellythoughts says:

    Wierdly I’m still quite new to the whole scene – I’ve just explored my way through it very rapidly. Like you, I’ve sold a lot of samples (but always end up with more somehow!).
    I wear my own collection everday, but I also trimmed it down recently until there is under 20 bottles. I’m now working my way building it back up to a substantial size as there are many things I want – and many things I want that I haven’t even tried yet… if you get me.
    Still excited, still obsessive over certain things – go through many different favourites and my taste keeps surprising me – all in all, still going strong 😀

  2. hedonist222 says:

    I am at a similar stage to you.
    I amassed around 150 large size full bottles in 23 months. Being in Dubai, I will eventually (sooner than most countries) smell it. Usually a few weeks after the initial launch. I smelled everything that was supposed to be smelled and beyond.
    I never stopped wearing my FBs though. Full bottles are used during the day when I go to work and in the evenings I have am out for socizlizing.
    I’d test at night when I was home and cant spray too much to begin with because of my son’s infant asthma.

    • Tara says:

      That sounds like an impressive collection you have there. It’s great that you still manage to wear your full bottles while testing so much. Dubai must be a perfume paradise. Night time is good for testing, I do that too.

    • Dubaiscents says:

      Hedonist222, Great to find a fellow Dubai perfume lover! Is there a support group I can join, I am a little worried that I am well on track to your 150 FB…. 🙂 But seriously, are there any perfume meet ups here? Can we start one?

      • Hedonist222 says:


        We should definite start one. Fortunately, a dear friend and huge perfumista (owns no less an 400 FBs) is moving to the UAE from Qatar. Look me up on forum. I go by hedonist222.

  3. Tara says:

    Wow, it seems like you’ve worked your way through a few stages in a very short amount time but the great thing is that you still have that initial excitement. I’m impressed you still wear fragrances from your collection every day as I didn’t do that for a long time while obsessed with trying new samples. It is amazing how tastes change and you do have to keep changing your collection to keep up. I think I should buy more decants to deal with that, but I just love those bottles…

    • smellythoughts says:

      Yup! I think when you have a decent sized collection, picking up a fragrance that you haven’t worn for a long time is like picking up a brand new sample – you forget how great it can be.
      I’m the same – I never buy decants, it has to be a bottle 😛 I’m fussy like that.

      • Tara says:

        I knowexactly what you mean, it can be great to re-discover something at the back of your collection that you haven’t worn in ages. Although it can work the other way around. My tolerance for sweetness has gone right down so occastionally I now find a perfume I used to love, too cloying.

  4. Lady Jane Grey says:

    I started back in 2007 – and in the meantime I know my style, or which direction I should follow. I still test new scents, but I not neccessarily need to have a sample from every new release anymore. I often get cynical about the huge load of new parfumes emerging every day and I feel one have to select – otherwise I would get overwhelmed and my interest for parfum would simply fade away. I enjoy my collection and will continue make it grow: but every new bottle needs to be considered carefully, and if I’m not sure then a decant will be enough as well.

    • Tara says:

      I would say it’s pretty much impossible to keep up with all the new releases. The nice thing about knowing your own style is that you can tell which ones to get samples of and which to let pass. I think it would be sad to have no interest in any new releases. That would feel like the end of the road. It sounds like you have found a good balance.

  5. masha7 says:

    After nearly 7 years, I’m actually a Post-Perfumista! It’s not bad at all. I love my collection, occasionally add something to it. I’m crazy for olfactory botany and add to my “smelly library” every chance I get. I make my own things, now, for family and friends. I’m having alot of fun, but almost never sample anything anymore unless it’s from a particularly interesting indie house, or my favorite nose, Calice Becker! I have almost no access to new commercial perfumes, and don’t mind a bit.

    • taratamarisk says:

      A Post=Perfumista! You do make it sound like a good place to be. You enjoy your collection and still buy the odd thing but don’t have any of the angst of feeling you’re missing ou the new stuff.

      It’s great your love of fragrance has branched out the way it has. That’s how I came into it in the first place. I still make my own facial toner from rosewater, distilled water and essential oils but should do more. Your friends and family are very lucky to benefit from your smelly offerings”

  6. Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok says:

    I started around May this year. I loved fruity florals for the longest time (approx 7 years) and tried to wear the most non-offensive ones because of how I was raised (to basically be Miss Perfect and try to mould myself to everyone’s standards – yeah…). When I suddenly realised this, I started exploring. I started with louder fruity florals, then woody scents, then Amouages (!), then SLs, and now I’m in a complete gourmand/incense/wood/rum (aka heavy stuff) phase. I’ve also got to the stage where almost nothing can be a “scrubber”; it’s just “not me”. I’m quite proud of this, as it has helped with the lessons I’ve learned in the past few months – to accept and appreciate everything/everyone around me with their flaws, and still see the reasoning/beauty behind them.

    I have hundreds of samples from when I started, and haven’t smelled most of them. I’m not ordering many samples anymore as I’m tried of going to my sample drawer and feeling flustered at only being able to pick one (sometimes I suspect my brain thinks every day is my last day on Earth, but never mind). I also realised that there is a close-to-infinite amount of scents out there, and so my rush to “smell everything” is less, well, rushed!

    As for buying, I did a lot of blind buys at first. I recently read a book called “Clear your clutter with Feng shui”, and it changed my life – I now only buy what I adore and love, and will not be able to live without. Anything that is just a like, or even a “like very much”, is just not for me. It’s a very freeing concept, and I hope my post will cause some people to read the book. It’s changed my life as well as the close friends and family I’ve lent the book to. (And don’t worry, it’s not got a lot of fluff or woo-woo “out there” stuff that puts a lot of people off Feng Shui. In fact a lot of it is just common sense, and is one of those pieces of knowledge that once seen, suddenly seems so obvious)

    • arline says:

      I love this response!!!!

    • Tara says:

      I love your comment too! It sounds like your perfume journey has really been life-changing. I think this is true for many of us to a greater or lesser extent. I’m so glad it’s enabled you to get to know yourself better and to please yourself rather than others all the time. Acceptance of others for all their faults is also a great bonus. Perfume can be such a powerful tool for self-discovery, I wish that all those who think it is frivolous or superficial could read your comment.

  7. Alexandra says:

    I believe I am finally moving out of Perfume Central and have become more discerning, which is something of a relief. This is only complicated by sudden urges for notes I had previously completely written off! I am really looking forward to slowing down, especially if it is married to the perfect capsule perfume wardrobe!

    • Tara says:

      Aaah, marriage to the perfect perfume capsule wardrobe. I dream of that too but I’m not sure that will ever happen or if I’d actually be that happy if it did! There’s so much joy in finding new things to love and it’s great that your taste is still evolving. I love that too.

      As exciting as the mania is, it is also nice to slow down and become discerning.

  8. Suzanne says:

    I’ve been reading the perfume blogs for 7 years and writing about perfumes for around 5 years, and there are many days when I feel it’s now time for me to move on. I certainly don’t need to collect any more perfume because I have way too much already. What makes me “stay,” so to speak, is that I love the perfume blogging friendships and the conversations we get into about perfumes — and there is so much good reading around the perfume blogosphere. When I read someone’s beautifully written post, it makes me want to write. When I smell the latest perfume from a favorite house like Amouage or a favorite Indie perfumer like Vero Kern, I still find myself in a swoon thinking that perfume is the most glorious stuff on Earth. I’m not sure where this puts me … but your line about being on a “pleasant perfume plateau” seems fitting.

    • Tara says:

      I’m so glad you still get inspired Suzanne, please don’t move on! That’s what’s great about the perfume blogosphere and our relationships – they keep us interested and connected. Long may it continue!

  9. I think I’m sort of in between Perfume Central and Admiring the View. I definitely alternate between being really excited about new releases to being quite jaded. It’s difficult because there is just so much out there to try.

    What I do think has really changed though is that I’ve become a Social Perfumista over the last year or so, spending time in real life with other fumeheads and attending events. This has been my FAVOURITE stage of the perfume journey so far!

    Great question!

    • Tara says:

      Yes, I do think enthusiasm for new releases comes and goes. Probably just as well as because my rate of trying new perfumes in the early years was ridiculous – fun though!

      Being a Social Perfumista is the best! Meeting you and so many others this past year has taken it to another level again.

  10. Dubaiscents says:

    Great question! I am really new the whole niche perfume thing (only a few months) and have amassed quite a collection of full bottles in a short amount of time (I am embarrassed to count) so I guess I am in the rapid build up phase. Although, I am trying to be discerning and reading all these great blogs helps so much. I am loving every minute of it – it is a great new hobby that is perfect to do where I live.
    As Hedonist222 mentions, being in Dubai means we are just too spoiled for choice. I think it is impossible to avoid perfumes here and the fact that we can smell so much without needing to order samples makes it even harder to avoid buying FBs. The only thing holding me back sometimes is that I know I can get the same thing for cheaper in the US and I wait until I go back to buy certain things.
    I keep telling myself that I just need one or two more and then I will stop and enjoy what I have and then I read about the next new thing I should try….oh well 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Oh just enjoy it! A lot of us would like to re-live that exciting early stage again and it doesn’t last forever. Living in Dubai though must make it hard to resist buying so many full bottles. Buying too much early on is not usually such a good idea but you can always sell on ones you change your mind about later on. At least you’re not spending loads of money on samples.

      Enjoy the ride!

      • Dubaiscents says:

        That is exactly what I tell myself when I buy another bottle – hey, I at least I didn’t have to pay for a sample 🙂 Thanks for helping me justify my addiction!

  11. Philipp says:

    I’ve started sampling fragrances two years ago and managed to smell roughly 400 scents. Of these 400 samples I have kept only ca. 50 and my full bottle collection consists of less than 20 scents. I now no longer feel the need to sample everything and I am happy with what I have.

    • Tara says:

      It sounds like you’ve really successfully pared down your collection. I don’t know if I’ll ever get down to under 20 full botles but it’s a nice manageable amount that you can get a lot of wear out of. To not feel the need to sample everything and be happy with what you’ve got sounds ideal.

      • Philipp says:

        To be honest large collections scare me. Full perfume bottles are not only expensive, prone to spoiling (light, heat, oxygen), but they are also impractical. I shudder to think about having to box and transport 150 precious bottles during a move or to find the space for so much glass.

        • Tara says:

          No doubt it is expensive and impractical to have a large collection of full bottles. Unfortunately for us a lot us, perfume is not about practicality!

  12. fleurdelys says:

    I’m at Stage 3 (“further down the track”). I’ve learned what I like, what works on my skin, and what doesn’t. I’ve cut way back on sample and FB purchases. Although there are a few things I’d like to add to my collection, I’m enjoying the perfumes I have, and working at using them up.

    • Tara says:

      I look forward to using up one of my bottles one day. It hasn’t happened yet! I keep thinking I won’t need to buy anything new for a while but I’ve still bought a new bottle every month this year. In a way the more I know about what I like, the more confident I feel about making purchases. I’m glad you are enjoying your collection and have learnt what works for you. That saves a lot of costly trial and error.

  13. Eva S says:

    I guess I’m somewhere between stage two and three! I still sample quite a lot but Ilike to think I’ve become more discerning, especially when it comes to buying FB, now that I know better what I like.
    Someday I might slow down to admire the view but I hope I never become so jaded or cynical that I lose my curiosity or sense of wonder- and that goes for many other things in life as well!

    • Tara says:

      It’s good if you can sample a lot but still be discerning. It is particularly important to be cautious about full bottle purchases, if possible. You seem to be succeeding well!

      It’s very true to say that it’s sad to lose your curiosity about any aspect of life, including perfume. I hope our enthusiam lasts!

  14. Vanessa says:

    Another Social Perfumista here, admiring the view from her pleasant perfume plateau. Actually, I have been so massively distracted by house related setbacks that I have been wearing the same few perfumes I have ready access to over and over since I moved, namely Lys Soleia, Fig Tree and Juniper Sling. Oh, and Sweet Redemption from your stash, thank you very much… : – )

    I wouldn’t say I was jaded and cynical yet, but I am finding I get just as much excitement from a well turned leg on an antique chair these days.

    • Tara says:

      Ha ha! Another source of joy other than perfume can only be a good thing!

      I would say you are the original Social Perfumista, you’ve made so much effort over the years to meet up with people across the globe. I’m glad the three perfumes you have easy access to are such good ones. Juniper Sling was going to be your new start, new perfume, right? Pleased to hear you are enjoying Sweet Redemption too. I think you’ll like it even more as the weather cools.

      Vanessa, you know you are the one person I could never imagine becoming jaded or cynical!

    • annemariec says:

      You obviously like Juniper Sling then Vanessa? I’ve read mixed reviews, but am thinking of giving it a go when the weather warms up here.

  15. Undina says:

    I’m not sure where I am…

    I want to add to my collection more bottles than I’m buying but I’m trying to control it – just because I realize that I do not need that many FBs. Probably it’s a good thing that companies fail to release 10-15 ml bottles: I would have spent much more money on those.

    I was always good to my collection: other than for the first 6 month (the onset of my niche perfume hobby) I always wore my favorite perfumes often and now I never sacrifice them to testing new stuff.

    Speaking of testing, I buy less samples but only because “the rate of return” isn’t too good: I like one out of, probably five random perfumes tested and will love even less. But if I had free access to more new releases I would have at least sniffed much more – I still have that desire to try the newest things released.

    • Tara says:

      I know from your stats that you are very good at wearing your favourite full bottles. I think it really an important thing to do once the initial mania abaits because you feel much better about your collection and you’re not just accummulating bottles for the sake of it.

      I totally agree about the rate of return on testing new samples. I am ridiculously fussy so my rate is probably one in twenty. I try not to buy them anymore but I get tempted. I really want a sample of Le Temps d’Une Fete right now, for example.

      I think it’s nice to still get excited about new releases, while not getting frustrated if you can’t get to everything straight away.

      • Undina says:

        If you can’t try it at the store don’t buy: I have an extra sample (it’s a dab sample but will be enough to decide if you want to go for a bottle), I’ll send it to you soon (I have some other samples I want you to try so it won’t be lonely).

  16. I feel like I’m still at day 1 Tara. Still jumping up and down in excitement with almost no knowledge to back my mania up. I’m enjoying it immensely.
    Portia xx

    • Tara says:

      Let’s jump up and down together! The early excitement is so much fun. You don’t need knowledge to enjoy yourself (though judging from your blog I think you have plenty).

  17. joolz says:

    I am at stage 2 – I’m having a lot of fun sampling at the moment!
    I am beginning to discern, but just a little because there are still too many I am curious about! I have always had a collection of about 4 or 5 scents and the scents have varied over the years. Now, after discovering the perfume blogs, I feel like I’ve discovered a new world!
    I am discovering new loves – scents that make me feel good and comfort me.

    By the way, I am new to your blog and I love it!

    • Tara says:

      Joolz, Olfactoria will be so pleased you love the blog! Do comment again.

      You really have discovered a whole new world – welcome to Perfumeland! I’m glad you found your way down the rabbit-hole. Have fun finding lots of new loves.

  18. jamesdennard says:

    I have been a fragrance hobbyist for long enough to know what kinds of fragrances work for me. I guess that puts me in the discerning/knowledgeable category. I know what kinds of fragrances I like and have a smallish collection of bottles that I love and wear often. But I keep a lot of samples around to try and see if they are worthy of a full bottle. I am open to finding new loves but I wouldn’t say that I really get excited about it. The classics are what I know best and like most, so my tastes lean toward the conservative side.

    • Tara says:

      James, it sounds like you have found your style and have created a much loved and well used collection. A lot of us could learn from you! It’s great that even though you don’t get as excited about new releases, you are still open to new things.

      • jamesdennard says:

        Thanks for the compliment, Tara 🙂 I think your description of my collection is a good one. I don’t buy as many bottles of a new-to-me fragrance as I used to. But I enjoy reading blogs like this one to see what I might have missed. And when I talk about my small collection, I am of course referring to small in terms of fragrance hobbyists like us. I have about 20-25 full bottles. 🙂

        • Tara says:

          Ha! Yes, 20 -25 is a small collection to the likes of us. How people cope with any less I don’t know 🙂

          I too rely on blogs to point out the good stuff. Olfactoria puts in all the hard work so we don’t have to!

  19. Melis says:

    I am at the beginning of my journey. Though I try to keep an open mind, I am mostly a fan of floriental, amber and musk based scents. I don’t have many FB’s yet. I think I share the mindset of jamesdennard…..I want my collection to be comprised of things that I absolutely love. So I am heading into a heavy sampling faze in an attempt to get there.

    • Tara says:

      Melis, that is a fantastic approach to take in the beginning. Try lots and hang on to your samples as you’ll be amazed how your tastes change. It is very wise to hold off buying full bottles at this stage. It’s something a lot of us fail to do and have to heavily edit our collections later on (invariably at a financial loss). I’m sure you’ll end up with a collection to be proud of.

  20. Olfactoria says:

    Wonderful question, Tara! I loved reading everybody’s answers.
    I’m going through the phases rather quickly again and again. Mostly I like to see myself admiring the view, but I’ve been known to go from rabid obsession to jaded distance in a day. 😉
    Perfume is inspiring – inspiring me to write, to feel beautiful – and that, along with the friendships I’ve forged through the shared passion, is what is most important to me about it.

    • Tara says:

      Everyone’s answers have been great, haven’t they? I know what you mean about going through phases. I hardly bought any full bottles last year but this year I’ve bought 9 so far. It’s fun that it keeps changing though.

      I’m so pleased perfume continues to inspire you.

  21. jamesdennard says:

    I hope you both keep writing 🙂 I agree, wonderful question. And I am struck again by the warmth of this blog and everyone who reads it. I love it.

  22. jamesdennard says:

    You’re welcome 🙂 And I should have also applauded the wonderful writing always produced by this blog. Well done!

  23. jamesdennard says:

    I know. The first copy is mine!

  24. Dionne says:

    I’d put myself somewhere in the middle of the continuum, but it’s a bit difficult to find my spot because I’m the perfumista that travelled the frugal road less-travelled…. I thoroughly enjoy my collection, but I still have a grand time exploring new notes and lines. Doing this in slow-motion makes for a grand time. 🙂 However, I’ll have to echo others that finally joining the conversation has quickly turned into one of my favorite parts of this hobby.

    • Tara says:

      Dionne, I love that you practice Slow Perfume. That is so rare in the early years but definitely the best route. Plus you’re really savouring the experience and saving money too.

      I agree that everything changed for me when I finally joined the conversation, after a good few years of lurking. I love your posts for Beauty On The Outside.

  25. Natalie says:

    I think I’m in a very similar place as you, Tara. Happy with my perfumes, excited about the perfumes I like and also about new launches (or new-to-me fragrances), but not quite as rabid as I was in the beginning. 🙂 It feels nice and balanced, and I like that.

    • Tara says:

      Exactly Natalie! Sometimes I think back to the excitement of those heady newbie days but it’s great to now have a sense of contentment (more or less!) about my collection and use those bottles every day. It’s great that we still share the joy of new discoveries too.

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