Monday Question – Do You Ever Use Perfume As A Means Of Disguise?

Do you use perfume to be someone you are not?

Do you take advantage of perfume’s transformative powers to enhance or downplay some of your personality traits?

Do you ever play olfactory dress up?


My Answer:

What a strange question today, you might say. I just brought my younger son to his day care group where they are having a fancy dress party for carnival today. He went dressed as a clown, despite (or maybe because?) he is extremely afraid of clowns. He insisted on being one himself today to feel powerful, I believe. Also, he is extremely cute in his outfit, but today that is beside the point.

photo (51)

Niki, the clown and his day care teacher, Sister Johanna dressed as a veterinarian.

Perfume, just like fancy costumes, can be helpful to be someone else for the day. It can enhance feelings and it can diminish others. When I wear a leather scent my mindset is definitely different from when I wear a wispy floral. So yes, I do play dress up with perfume. Today I am (or have to be) very capable and together and just do stuff without waffling around, although I feel anything but, since I am still recovering form a bout of flu. So what is my scent of disguise? Hermès Vetiver Tonka, it gets stuff done.

How about you? Who are you today?


About Olfactoria

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56 Responses to Monday Question – Do You Ever Use Perfume As A Means Of Disguise?

  1. Dubaiscents says:

    Firstly, your son is absolutely adorable in his clown costume! I am so impressed that he chose to be one despite his fear of clowns – how brave of him! We should all take risks like that.

    In response to the question, I definitely use perfume as a disguise – whenever I feel like I need to be more assertive and powerful I chose something more masculine leaning and strong. If I want to “blend in with locals” I chose something oudh-y or arabic style and if I want to be more coy and sweet (to get my way, of course) I pick something more gourmand or floral. So, even if my mood doesn’t match what I need to be doing, I feel that perfume can help get me into the right frame of mind.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, Dubaiscents! I was astounded at his choice… it is interesting indeed.

      Glad the idea of olfactorily dressing up as somebody else is something you know well too!

  2. Sandra says:

    Niki is just adorable in his costume! The times where I need to be stronger call for different perfumes. As a disguise I love loud big perfumes when I want to feel like a queen.

  3. fruwinther says:

    That’s the cutest clown I’ve ever seen 🙂 I definitely sometimes play olfactory dress up. Leathery scents when I need to feel strong and confident- Onda, Mona di Orio Cuir and ELdO Rien are my “yes I’m tougher than thou”-scents. Onda in particular makes me feel strong and confindent, Something gourmand when I need to feel cuddled, and like today, when I really, really feel that it’s spring, PG Drama Nuui to boost that feeling. Happy monday y’all!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, I will relay the compliment. 🙂

      I can so relate to your tougher than thou perfumes, Onda is excellent in that regard.
      Happy Monday to you too!

  4. Jordan River says:

    Scent as a disguise: No, but this is a fantastic idea which I will think through. But a perfume to get stuff done? Great idea and a choice choice. Clowns; never liked them at that age or now.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I don’t like clowns very much either, except my small one. 😉

      I’d be interested to hear what you come up with once you’ve thought the perfumed disguise thing through.

  5. cookie queen says:

    Fragrance free and hoping Zelda will arrive in the post. Perfume is the most powerful tool I own!! xxx

  6. AWWWWWWW! Cutest clown ever.
    Scent as a disguise? Like when I wear CHANEL 19 to feel focused and empowered? Blonde to feel, um, blonde?
    Yes, but my whole life is a happy game of dress ups so I’m not sure it counts.
    Portia xx

  7. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Niki is supercute – as always!
    No, I don’t disguise – I might have done so when I was younger, but nowadays if I take a “masculine” parfum (I don’t really belive in those categories) I do so, because I feel masculine that very day. That’s exactly what my choice for the parfume of the day depends on : how I woke up that very morning, how I feel – the varioius aspects of good old LJG.

  8. Lynley says:

    Niki is adorable 🙂 good to see a happy clown, I usually find them quite creepy.
    Scent not so much as a disguise but more of a projection. Bandit when I’m in a f*** off mood and don’t want to feel approachable, vetivers for quiet and serene, wispy florals for easy-going, bwf’s for diva, and more difficult and unusual scents for feeling quirky and wanting to express individuality.

  9. florence raab says:

    Too cute this clown, I’ve always been a bit scared by clowns but this one is mmmmmmm!

  10. Jennie says:

    I don’t know about an actual disguise, but, a mood enhancer, Yes! I love wearing certain fragrances to set my mood for the day Fragrance is a powerful tool, it can make you feel strong, and beautiful!

  11. Figuier says:

    Yes, I definitely do this. Sometimes, as you say, ‘to get things done’, to appear more focused, approachable or whatever. But also for the sheer fun of wearing something that is not ‘me’ at all: Mitsouko, or Angel, or that new incense-y Tom Ford…so exactly like fancy-dress 🙂

  12. shellyw says:

    I have a bottle of vengeance extreme I bought in a very random mood. It is so strong that I wear it when I want to telegraph a big I DON”T CARE what you think attitude. I am very quiet and shy usually so it is a rare day. And the sillage is huge compared to my regulars like cuir de russie etc…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Yes, Vengence extreme rather screams “Patchouli!!” at the world, and that is sometimes just what we want, isn’t it? Also you gotta love the name!

  13. Suzanne says:

    I can sympathize with Niki’s fear of clowns, as that was one of my big fears when I was a kid. If only the clowns looked as cute and smiling as Niki!!! But they always had eerie smiles, it seemed to me.

    I don’t think of perfume as being a disguise for me, but I do like to feel like I’m arming myself with some its traits: a sense of joyous polish and beauty (Chanel No. 22) and a sense of tough beauty (Montale Black Aoud) when I need to feel more capable. Those are the two examples that most spring to mind. Great question, Birgit – hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Yes, the fake painted on smile of Clowns makes them unreadable and potentially eerie. Niki didn’t want his face concealed, not even a red nose, the costume was enough for him. 🙂

      I’m feeling indeed better, Vetiver Tonka really did its job beautifully.
      Arming yourself with a perfume’s traits – so well put, dear Suz!

  14. Darilyn says:

    Olfactory dress up…I love this, I guess I actually do it all the time!
    I work as a sales associate, and found that Flowerbomb always received compliments,
    so I feel it is friendly and approachable to most. I will wear Attrape Coeur or Mitsouko
    when around friends, because they most represent me. To feel cuddly, it is always vanillas,
    and to feel empowered and sensual, choices include Vol de Nuit, and newly acquired Dita Von Teese Erotique. This week, I have been out of state to babysit my granddaughter, and have
    only used California Baby Calming shampoo and body wash…it is fun that we smell the same!

  15. Lol, I always feel like an impostor when I don some tidy floral or iris-based fragrance. Infusion d’Iris is the worst for me in that regard and I feel far more at home in big loud white flowers 🙂 I tend to go for leather-based frags for a more sober effect, but the tables are turning when spring draws nearer and I find myself enjoying the subtler perfumes in my collection 🙂

  16. Vanessa says:

    Super cute clown! Niki could overcome everyone’s fear of clowns, including his own. ;). I would echo what a number of commenters have said…I like to dress up too and toggle between my various selves, some real, others aspirational. Cristalle is my ‘big scary meeting’ / ‘kick ass’ business scent, not that I have much call for it these days. Gourmands are cosy and comforting, but I don’t wear them as a disguise as such. I have been know to wear Vera Wang ironically, mind, with it being a bridal scent and all. ;). Vetiver Tonka should give you the productive day you hope for – with strictly no faffing…

    PS Since when was a pocket monkey a standard item of veterinary equipment? Though I think it is a good move!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Lol – wearing Vera Wang ironically. 😉

      The monkey is surely a good move, it gives her credibility. M said if she is a vet what is she doing reading my child’s vitals? 😉

  17. Tara says:

    Wow, Niki will go far in life with that kind of thinking. I am in awe.

    Great question, B. I regularly use perfume as disguise. I am not Portrait of a Lady or Cuir de Russie but I assume a little of their persona (or kid myself that I do) when I wear them.

    Vetiver Tonka is a great “getting stuff done” scent. Vetivers feel very efficient some how 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thanks for your kind words about Niki. It sure often feels like he knows so well what he is doing, which leaves me amazed.

      Glad you can relate to the disguise issue too, T.

  18. rosestrang says:

    How funny, I was just reading through the comments and saw Tara’s comment above – me too in terms of Portrait of a Lady! – it makes me feel tougher than I am. But Cuir de Russie feels ‘me’, its a me I’ve taken time to come to terms with though – a bit independent, not many frills, not very maternal (though enough to notice that your little boy looks like he’s having a lot of fun!). But what can I do!? And anyway I love leather 🙂
    I wear Cristale and Eau des Merveilles to lend me a bourgeois veneer that isn’t really ‘me’, those perfumes feel like a smart suit, I do like them but I believe I’m a bit more hippy or bohemian than them
    This has been an interesting thread!

  19. Connie says:

    Hmm, interesting. I don’t think I use perfume to disguise myself- life’s too short to wear perfumes that don’t feel like ‘me’. But I will use perfume to strengthen parts of my character that I feel in need of. Cuir de Lancome is perfect for getting through my enormously long and draining Fridays, Gold Man’s powdery civet is perfect for late night dance parties, while Bois des Iles is just right for ballroom competitions.

  20. Yes, that is an interesting question. Since my life has had several wildly different segments and each has a fragrance attached to it, I use that fragrance for remembrance. Different scents for different moods also. If I’m doing business, it’s Vol de Nuit; reading, the favorite is Musc Kublai Khan; quiet times it’s Shalimar. When I’m doing actual physical work I play Bach Inventions and wear something that smells like lemon.

  21. Interesting how a couple here have said they wear Vol de Nuit for self empowerment or business as I always have thought of it as my interview scent.

  22. What an adorable clown Niki makes! So cute! And such a creative way to confront his fear!

    As for perfume, sometimes I’ll choose a powerful, leather, get-down-to-business scent if I feel like I need to feel confident and courageous, but I can’t say that I’ve used perfume as a disguise. Sometimes when I wear a scent that I associate strongly with someone, I feel like I am playing dress-up for a day. Does that count?

  23. Nemo says:

    You son is the cutest, happiest clown I have seen in some time! That picture pretty much made my day 🙂

    I often feel like perfume is my disguise. If not a disguise, at least my make-up (I don’t wear any actual make-up!). The more disguise-y perfumes are often very pretty and feminine (such as Kelly Caleche, Stella, or Bombay Bling), which contrasts with my pretty frumpy tom-boy-ish style 🙂 I had the hardest time picking a perfume for a networking luncheon last week, and finally decided to go with a dab of Osmanthe Yunnan but regretted it afterward. I think Bois Farine would have been a more strong, yet professional choice!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Bois Farine is great for projecting a no-nonsense, business attitude, but I’m sure you did great in OY too.
      Thanks for your kind words about Niki. 🙂

  24. Laurels says:

    I tend to think of perfumes as being “me” or “not me,” but it never occurred to me to deliberately wear one that isn’t me. I may have to try it, and see if it helps me pretend to be more authoritative, say, or nicer.


    That’s a wise decision of Mr. N. to be what scares him. I have never heard of anyone though who would LOVE clowns. Most people I know find them scary, maybe not the the extent of running away, but they give them the creeps!

    As for perfume as a disguise, I’m with you on that. It definitely helps channel your inner _______ (fill in the blank). I use it consciously, like you do, to enhance and to conceal or to play with unexpectedly.

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