Thomas, the Candy Perfume Boy suggested the theme for this blogging project: Fashion and Perfume. What an interesting theme, I thought then, but soon realized that I knew way too little about fashion to attempt matching a particular style to a perfume for example.
So what do I know? Myself.
Hmmm. Now I think of myself as a person who is interested in looking nice and put together, but I can hardly boast with knowledge, or frankly, even interest in fashion.
I want to wear things I don’t have to think about. Comfort and a sense of being appropriately attired for the diverse occasions of my daily life take precedence over being trendy or fashion-forward. I want to be chic, I want to be a little bit elegant and I want to be comfortable without resorting to sweat pants at any point.
So what do I actually wear?
I like to think of my clothes as uniform. Years of working in a hospital and other medical settings, have ingrained in me the practice and practicability of wearing a uniform and I am very aware of the advantages it brings. No time is wasted on putting together outfits (I get up at 5.30am, what do you want from me?), no unexpected development during the day makes me feel under-or overdressed, I feel I can confidently deal with whatever comes along while still looking presentable and timelessly stylish (at least that is the idea).
On any given day I usually wear skinny jeans in a dark blue wash, a black top or a white or light blue button-up shirt, ballerina flats/moccasins/boots and a fitted jacket/trenchcoat/woolcoat depending on the weather. I get colour and variation from my accessories: scarfs, bags and jewellery, although I wear only very little of the latter.
And thinking about the whole issue, I realized that I get variation from yet another accessory: perfume.
I choose my scent of the day according to my mood and I find it subtly transforms my daily uniform. My usual jeans and blazer combo looks a lot more serious and together when I wear it with Chanel N°19 or Puredistance Antonia. The same outfit becomes warm and postively cosy when I pair it with Guerlain Tonka Impériale or Nabucco Amytis.
Doesn’t that white shirt look a lot whiter and brighter with Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine?
My coat looks expensive today: is it new or is it Roja Dove’s Unspoken that gives it new luster?
Am I looking very somber in that all black outfit or is Voyage d’Hermès, Comme de Garcons Kyoto or Avignon lending it some gravity?
Perfume has the power to transform, we know that, we love that, that is why we adore perfume. This is nothing new. But not only our inner world is transformed. For me, perfume performs a function of dressing in a much broader sense than I thought.
Perfume is my fashion modifier, it subtly alters the image I project and lets me adapt my persona as I want to without resorting to drastic (and very likely expensive) changes.
Perfume is a part of my daily experience with fashion. My daily uniform gains personality, variety and luster from my choice of perfume.
Maybe I know more about being fashionable than I thought…
What about your relationship with fashion? Are you fashion-conscious and what do you think is the role of perfume in the fashion world?
Take a look at what my colleagues have to say about the topic today at The Candy Perfume Boy, Persolaise, Eyeliner on a Cat and Fragrant Moments.
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You are my hero: if I had to get up at 5:30 I would have been wearing sweat pants and no perfume at all.
One gets used to everything eventually… 🙂
This is a very interesting take on the fashion theme, Birgit. Perfume is the ultimate fashion accessory as they say, but I think it’s so much more and the way that you describe it as transformative is very apt. Perfume is a wearable attitude!
Thank you, T.
Wearable attitude – very well said.
Why do you always look so fresh despite sleep deprivation? What’s your secret? Pls tell us!
Well, you are not sleep deprived if you go to bed at 9pm almost every day. I couldn’t exist otherwise. 🙂
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Fragrance is really an amazing tool not only to express your personal style, but also to complete/enhance your outfit of the day. It can potentially make or break the outfit/the image you wish to project.
I cannot estimate how many minutes I have spent every day in front of my wardrobe thinking about which fragrance suits my mood that particular day and if my choice matches my outfit as well. Not that I am particularly vain or self-obsessed, but I’d like to feel comfortable and “complete” in my skin and my clothes.
I completely understand, perfume completes an outfit and makes a statement. It’s so essential for feeling content.
I enjoyed this group effort. Thank you for that. Just the other day I was wearing something that could have easily looked a bit too “Doris Day in a twin set” and decided that the outfit needed a perfume with some edge to it. Dries van Noten was soft enough not to clash completely and certainly modern enough to give me the attitude enhancer I needed.
Thank you, Sabine!
That is exactly what I mean, even though it is invisible, perfume has the power to modify perception, ours and others.
Oh me same. Simple pieces, blocks of colour that can be easily cross-matched and accessorised, or not, as I please with perfume, jewellery and scarves. I’m not good at clever layering so I don’t try.
What amuses me so much in fashion magazines is that the couture outfits are often unwearable and the prices astronomical, but the perfume coverage is always utterly unadventurous. Am I supposed to get excited by the latest Chloe flanker, or that heart shaped thing by Elizabeth Arden, when I could be in vintage Dioressence, or Le Temps d’Une Fete, or Vanille Insensee? And I say that as one who wears a lot of mainstream fragrances (I’m in Avon’s Imari at this moment).
Of course the reason for this apparent conundrum is that perfume content in fashion magazines is never more than advertorial, and the niche perfume houses usually cannot afford it. Thank goodness for the fantastic blogs like this yours!
That is such a good point, Annemarie!
For financial reasons perfume is almost completely left out of magazine coverage as part of “real” fashion. Haute Couture, Avant-Garde, anything and everything provocative is only present in the niche market.
There is so much to do until the sense of smell is taken as seriously as the visual sense.
That is actually a very valid point. I often find myself puzzled by £3000 outfits and £2000 handbags in contrast to an article praising completely bog standard perfume.
Exactly, you put it much better than me. Love the phrase ‘bog standard’. I’m in Australia and its not a phrase used much in Australian English.
Ah, Birgit, you are so lovely and chic! My location and lifestyle outside of part time work requires no fashion; jeans and sweaters or t shirts depending on the weather. Lots of silver rings and bracelets are my trademark (I chose ringthing as a screen name for a reason) but perfume defines my inner fashion statement. In my head, I’m Jane Russell, all wisecracks and diamonds, or a spy on the Orient Express or whatever other identity of the day, but outwardly I look like anyone’s mother (or grandmother); I generally just look “nice”.
Ah, I was wondering about your screen name, thanks for the explanation. 🙂
I love your uniform, it sounds so classy and well-appointed! My look is all over the place! I usually prefer a bit of funkiness – lots of vintage clothes and accessories – mixed in with classics. Skinny jeans and a vintage top is my usual. I accessorize with unusual jewelry, often from art fairs. I also wear a lot of self-tailored concert tee shirts with funky skirts or pants.
My perfume choices are also all over the place. I do also consider what I’m wearing or what I’m doing for the day. Mood also plays a big part! When I’m on call (as a doula), I will only spritz my wrists so that if I have to go to a birth I will be almost scentless (v hard!).
That must be hard indeed, especially as you never know when a birth will start…
Thanks for a fun read 🙂
The main thing I know about fashion is that no outfit is complete until it’s finished off with a scent.
Thank you, P.
I agree, perfume is a must to feel well dressed.
I love the way you use the perfume to vary the mood of a simple (but I am sure elegant) style. I have a similar jacket/trousers formula, which I apply not just to work but for casual, evening etc – I just vary the colour/texture/style. I love warm bright colours and unusual details and fabric, but sometimes need to keep things more restrained for formal meetings. A formula makes things so simple: I don’t do dresses, high heels, jewellery etc, not ever. I also get up around 5.30, and have absolutely no time to even begin worrying about such things, any time available I use to select a few atomisers into slip into my bag for that final touch, hopefully transforming an outfit from formal to party if needed (or so I like to imagine, not sure if others notice but it at least changes my mood!)
We are very similar then in that respect, Alice! 🙂
I love the personalization. It never occurred to me to take that route. And you’re so right, perfume does have the ability to transform. Great post B.
Thank you very much, Barney.
I always manage to make it about me, it’s called Narcissism. 😉
Great post, B. One of the many wonderful benefits of perfume, the way it can transform an outft (or our perception of it) so that you never get bored of your basic “uniform”. It’s as effective as your beautiful scarves.
One of the reasons I like dresses so much is because I’d be pretty hopeless at matching tops with skirts or trousers. You throw one on with some opaque tights and you’re done! Except for that final spritz of perfume of course.
Fashion trends can be fun, but a lot of the time they just feel like a contrivance to part us with our hard earned cash on a regular basis by making us feel we must be in with the in-crowd. Of course fragrance has its fads but it never makes you feel like you don’t fit in.
A very good point, Tara. Fashion can be very dictatorial, whereas perfume is all about individualism (as fashion can and should be as well, but only rarely really is).
What a fascinating concept: fragrance, the fashion modulator.
I must agree it works that way for me sometimes to, that a scent will bend the accent of an outfit.
Though I must confess the opposite has also happened and I’ve donned the clothes I felt went best with a perfume I simply had to wear that day.
As ever, thank you for awakening the grey cells.
The Perfumed Dandy
Thank you for this kind comment, dear Dandy.
It does work the other way around as well for me too: sometimes the perfume inspires the outfit. 🙂
Perfume is the only way I can wear Chanel. I think that pretty much sums up my take on fashion. I love clothes that are uncomplicated–long lines, good drape. And I would prefer to be “fashionable” with my accessories; handbags, scarves, jewelry and yes, perfume.
Well said, Heather. I agree completely.
I think both a uniform and a scent are a disguise by nature: the uniform underlines your function and conceals who you really are; a scent lets you smell like someone you’re not. the world’s a stage 🙂
Yes, I agree and we all do it. 🙂
Great post Birgit! It’s always more interesting to read about the fashion habits of people we know and like. 🙂
Thank you, Carrie! 🙂
I’m with Undina,
It’s 1.20pm and I’m still bumming around the house drinking coffee in my sweats and T Shirt. It is nice to catch up on all my reading though.
Well, maybe you are in sweatpants now, but we all know how fabulous you look at other times. 🙂
I’m with you on the uniform, Birgit, and mine is remarkably similar to yours (save for the Hermes scarves, unfortunately, but I make do with others, and with my beloved pearls). Where my personality comes through, showing my moods, my need for security or a desire to take the world by storm, is my choice of perfume. I may be wearing a simple turtleneck sweater (cashmere, at least), black trousers, and loafers, I could be wearing a sultry oriental, a thoughtful chypre, or a deep woods extrait!
We are very similar in our approach to clothes and perfumes. 🙂
I’m with Undina too. I have had a killer week this week, which has involved starts as early as 7am each day(!) in order to catch teachers arriving into school before lessons. As a result, my perfume wearing has also been a bit haphazard. But I do agree with your take on fragrance as transformative. And my wardrobe is quite varied, but if I am working from home I often pull on the first thing I can think of – typically what I stumble over on my way to the bathroom – rather than give my look much thought.
That must be a hard week for you! I hope you catch all those teachers soon. 🙂
I love the thought of perfume as a fashion modifier..I guess I (and perhaps we all) do that to different extents but I like how you articulate it and the whole process..I think I’m going to send this post to my sister who loves fashion more in terms of clothes/attire than perfume (alas!)..:P
Thank you, Lavanya.
Maybe one day your sister comes around to our dark side. 😉
I enjoyed this discussion interplay between fashion and fragrance. I typically match scents based on my mood, season, and/or work appropriateness, however I like the idea of scent purposed to enhance an outfit!
Thank you, Dovey, I’m glad you enjoyed the post.