Monday Question – What Is The Most Important (Or Most Interesting ) Thing Your Perfume Hobby Has Taught You?

Our perfume addiction infatuation hobby has us running after perfume itself, information about perfume or opinions about perfume a lot. It is impossible not to learn something on the way.

What have you learned that seems most important to you?

Which interesting facts about perfume or about yourself have you learned while pursuing your interest for all things fragrant?

What did your intense preoccupation with perfume teach you?


My Answer:

I think the most important thing I learned over the years is that nothing, really nothing is ever set in stone. My tastes fluctuate daily, sometimes even within hours and there is no such thing as “I like this” or “I hate that” that holds up over time.

In the beginning I tought I was a certain type of person who likes or dislikes certain things. Now I think taste expands with your horizons and you learn to love (or hate) things through exposure.

I think it is very interesting how perfume helps to express, deepen or counteract moods and feelings. I’ve learned that what I like in a perfume is as changeable and volatile as I am.

What about you?


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53 Responses to Monday Question – What Is The Most Important (Or Most Interesting ) Thing Your Perfume Hobby Has Taught You?

  1. What I have learned from reading the posts on this website and its links is that the language of fragrance is strangely weak in comparison to my internal reactions to fragrance.

    What does that mean? There is a gap between my emotional, even visceral response to fragrance–but when I or others try to write on that experience, the words fall very far short. My internal reactions are immediate, but getting them into words is a massive, convoluted effort and always much weaker than the experience. Does anyone else sense similar?

    • Olfactoria says:

      From my experience I have to disagree. Often writing about a perfume (or also reading about it) have brought a scent to life for me. Words are powerful and used well they can achieve so much. While externalizing an interal experience is not easy, I find it very gratifying and more often than not, clarifying.

    • Undina says:

      Probably your inner world is much richer than mine because my instinctive response to perfumes is something along the lines: “Love it!”, “What a beauty!” or “It’s awful; how can anybody think it’s something to put on your skin?!!” but when I try to share these feelings with others I’m looking for more words to describe how/why exactly I think about the perfume in question one way or the other.

      • I ‘kind of’ ignored applied body fragrances until I lived in the Arabian Peninsula. There decades ago, I discovered what everyone called oud, coming from the Aquilaria genus of trees, mostly found in SE Asia.
        I was and still am in over my head with this fragrance and its thick oil which is how it is sold there. Every store the oud is different. Different ouds in the same store. Different initial impacts and different long term impacts. It is like you said, I either like it or I don’t.

        The why question, after years in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE, just doesn’t function on that fragrance–and now oud has so much commercial attention–I just ignore it in the Western world.

        So I guess I have this huge package of memories from the souks(market places) and their entire range of perfume merchants that adds up–I am embarrassed to say–to be mysterious ball of Aladdin’s Lamp set of emotions set to Rimsky Korsikov’s Sheherezade–big time stereotype but…I can’t deny 20 years of experience with oud in the Arabian Peninsula perfume shops. It just is.

  2. annemariec says:

    REALLY interesting question!

    My response is related to yours: don’t hesitate to try things you *think* may not suit you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you learn about yourself. It’s important to evolve your personal style and stick to it, but real style involves an element of surprise as well.

  3. Vanessa says:

    Yes, ‘never say never’ is a good one, and language is a frail medium, I agree – or mine is. I have pretty much given up trying to describe how something smells. Also because my nose isn’t that hot either! And that’s okay as the effect is no less enjoyable, even if inchoate. (I let that word through, as it doesn’t get out much.) And I’m also continually astonished at the variety of people’s taste.

  4. Tina G says:

    Oh – such a simple question had nearly brought me to tears… My perfume ‘hobby’ started because I simply wanted to train my sense of smell to be as acute as possible, for intensely personal reasons. From that almost scientific aim, I’ve been taken down a kaleidoscope of paths I didn’t even know existed. And I absolutely wasn’t expecting to fall in love. My life has irrevocably been changed through these experiences, for which I’m so grateful.

    So, what has perfume taught me? That life is worth living, not just enduring.

    Tina xx

  5. poodle says:

    I’ve learned I don’t make nearly enough money to fully support my habit. Why is it the ones I love always cost so darn much money?
    I also find my tastes change with the weather, my mood, whatever. I never know what my next big love will be.

  6. Etomidac says:

    Perfumes have taught me quite a few things.
    I have learnt to give things a little more time rather than giving a judgement right off the bat. Also, I find that I appreciate small things more than I did before. Small happiness, seems to come easier. 🙂
    Through the various trial and errors, I have, even just a little, become more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.
    I know I still have a lot more to learn and discover but this is a journey I am very willing to travel!

  7. ringthing says:

    Very interesting topic! I have learned that I can appreciate a great perfume, the accords the perfumer creates, without wanting to wear it myself. I’ve used music to change my mood for years and perfume has that same quality. Finally I’ve learned that I don’t have to smell everything and my passion for “new” has definitely waned.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’m in a very similar place. Not everything is for everyone and it doesn’t have to be.
      Maybe there comes a point when new is no longer (or only very rarely) really new.

  8. LeSputnik says:

    I learnt to love such an ephemeral pleasure and respect other such pleasures!
    Also I learnt what families of perfume I prefer to wear, but I am still curious and hoping for radical changes as I can identify more scents!
    Ha and yes, that I didn’t have enough money on the whole to satisfy my curiosity, but I take as much pleasure in reading and dreaming about scents than in actually smelling them, so I guess it just makes me happy!

  9. shellyw says:

    The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession, The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell, and Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris all taught me a great deal about scent, as well as personalities that focus on aspects of it.

  10. I’ve learned that there is another dimension to memory making. I match my perfume to the weather, my outfit, my lipstick, and what kinds of memories I want that day. Kind of romantic but that’s what perfume is to me! 🙂

  11. rosestrang says:

    I agree, tastes fluctuate, with a few exceptions (the stalwarts of our collection we’ve had for many years).

    The most valuable thing I’ve learned from my obsessi..sorry, hobby! Is how susceptible to rapidly changing external and internal influences we are. For some reason perfume encourages me to analyse my reactions in quite an intense way. I went to art college and analysing the effects of art was absolutely a part of the education, but I don’t think I’ve analysed my emotional, personal reactions so closely as I do with perfume. It’s not just me, I see everyone doing this (i.e. when reading through Fragrantica forums etc)

    So maybe the most valuable thing I’ve learned is how important it is to deliberately alter my mood for the better, without resort to the usual drugs (nicotene, cafeine, sugar, alcohol or whatever!). I mean, I’ve always known I have a somewhat addictive personality, but a well-managed perfume hobby is really life enhancing. I reach for a perfume just for myself quite often when working from home. It’s just as important as choosing one to wear in public – I love the way I can affect my mood for the better. Kind of obvious I know, but true!

  12. Hey there Birgit,
    I’ve learned so much but trying to put it here in concrete terms is proving harder than I thought.
    With Vanessa I have learned that my nose is no great instrument. I’ve also learned that I can write, focus, time manage, produce for deadlines, and that perfumistas the world over are really great fun to hang with.
    It’s funny, I have discovered in this hobby that I am a taste-less creature. I love so many fragrances from the pointy end to the (so called) dross. There seems to be something to love in almost all of them, a bit like people.
    Portia xx

  13. Suzanne says:

    I think smelling and writing about perfumes made me realize who I am, and even though the answer I discovered is a bit embarrassing (overly sentimental and romantic), it is still a rich experience. Trying to describe the perfumes just in terms of smell is still quite difficult (the feelings part of it is much easier, of course), but I like the way that type of analysis has made me stretch my mind, even just a little. Most of all, though, I’ve learned that I really like “perfume people.” 🙂

  14. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Our (shared) addiction definitely makes me perceive the world differently – I’m walking around with my “nose open” (that’s not always positive though)
    And some things really never change : been waiting now for some 8 years for learning to like Tuberose, finally – and no, that’s really not going to happen…

  15. Undina says:

    Since my perfume “hobby” has been going on for decades – long before I knew about blogs, Perfumeland and niche perfumery – it’s impossible for me to attribute to it any epiphanies. I do not think there is anything really unique for this hobby, this group of people or their (our) perception of the subject. This realization doesn’t make it less enjoyable to me and I’m glad I found people who share my passion for perfumes but if it weren’t for perfume it would have been something else – books, make-up, music, etc.

  16. hajusuuri says:

    Feeding my perfume…hobby…opened doors of friendship, virtual and in-person!

  17. Certainly learned from the bloggers. And like you my tastes fluctuate. Currently in search of almost ethereal notes like Iris and lily whereas before Christmas it was boozy notes and before that tea ones. Reckon chocolate will raise its head approaching easter

  18. Ines says:

    I agree, I also learned nothing is set in stone (hey, I hated Shalimar). 😉
    But the thing that was the loveliest surprise of all is how incredibly nice the perfume people are.
    Also, I will never, ever, get to smell everything so I stopped stressing about getting every new and interesting thing. Way too exhausting…

    • Olfactoria says:

      So true! Relax! 🙂
      You hated Shalimar once upon a time? Huh. It is so interesting that mamy of the perfumes I love the most now I also started out hating.

      • Ines says:

        Oh yes. Well, hate is a bit strong word but the first time I smelled it, I basically turned my head away in abhorrence and incredulity how so many people thought it great. 🙂
        And look at me now. 😉

  19. Nemo says:

    My response also somewhat echoes yours. Before I had tried many perfumes, I had a relatively rigid idea of what perfumes I thought I would like or dislike based on how I perceived myself. As an introverted person, I figured I would also like introverted perfumes and I thought I would be happy with just one or two kinds. However, it turns out that my taste in perfumes is often a little on the “loud” and relatively “weird” side…and it turns out that there is a huge friendly community of open-minded perfume lovers who are happy to share their thoughts on all of these things. Also, who could settle on just one or two perfumes???

  20. to never underestimate the power of a scent! 😀 😉 🙂
    lots of xx, Annie

  21. Hold onto perfumes that you don’t think are right for you, because as you say tastes change. I’ve found that I’ve got wide ranging taste – which is just the same for my other hobby / obsession music , so in that sense I suppose it doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think I’ve got the most brilliant nose and once you’ve read Kafkaesque you realise this pretty quickly LOL! But what I think everyone who loves perfume has, is an emotional, physical or intellectual response to what they’re wearing which I believe is what makes us all fall in love with scent.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Very good advice, Megan, what leaves us cold today, could be desperately searched for and loved tomorrow. 🙂

      • I’ve just read through all the responses to your question and your responses. You have an amazing group of people sharing their experiences with perfumes. It is impossible to summarize but it is in my nature to do that. Perfumes are an essence of beauty that individuals can add to their daily life as they desire–having personal control over something beautiful, yet varied according to individual nature and daily moods–fantastic. One writer referred to music–taking music like perfumes. This all has been very insightful for me, obsessed with plants and gardens. Thank you for your inspirations, and your Olfactoria’s Travels followers.

  22. Pam says:

    I am very new to the perfume realm. For close to 30 years I have been wearing patchouli oil from Tenzing Momo in Seattle’s Pike Place Market mixed with something. For years it was Shalimar and patchouli, most recently Canabis Santal and patchouli. In middle school I wore Love’s Baby Soft and their lemon scent. In high school I wore YSL Rive Gauche and Halston. In college I had a very sophisticated friend from NY/Hong Kong and I wore Chloe, Cristalle, Eau Sauvage, and First. Then I met my best friend for life (a dead head) and it was patchouli. Just recently I bought a bottle of Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom as my sister was wearing it when she visited me in Montana last summer and it smelled so great on her, and wafting around the house after her, I decided to try the really “pretty” scent. Well, she also bought me a bottle for my birthday, so when I visited her in Seattle I went to Nordstrom to exchange it for another Jo Malone scent. They’re all so “pretty” and I’m not really a “pretty” scent girl. I found I was very into the Bergamot Oud, but the bottle was too expensive for me and I exchanged the FLB for a Lavender scent that I ended up giving to my son. I did get a sample of the BO, and that launched me on my new journey with perfume. I started reading about oud on all the different perfume blogs…WOW…a whole new language and world opened up. I found you can get samples of stuff…COOL. I have lots of oud samples and really like them all (Oud Nepal by Montale reminds me of my mom’s favorite scent-Eternity by CK). I read that Mona di Orio uses real oud in her Les Nombres d’ Or and I recently purchased her Discovery Box and am in heaven! My favorites are Cuir (much maligned here and elsewhere) which I layer with the Vanille, and Tubereuse. Now I have all kinds of samples I’m waiting for! Vintage Shalimar and Mitsouko, Le Labo Lys 41, Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire, Tom Ford Private Blend Patchouli Absolu (I’ll never forsake patchouli), and a couple of oud oil samples from Agar Aura as I’m still on my quest of the scent of true oud.
    This is a new fascinating journey and I’m just learning the language and trying to catch on to the notes. Sorry if this is too long and thanks for all of your collective knowledge.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Pam,
      thanks for sharing your perfume journey. It is such an exciting time when you find this whole world of scents and the online community to share your discoveries with. Enjoy the ride! And thank you for reading!

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