I'm wearing cologne right now, at 9:45 am on a Thursday morning. It seems weird to say that for some reason, but I'm not sure why. The fact is, unless I'm going to a wine tasting, I wear cologne pretty much every day of the year and, given that I've been around more than a few years, I've developed some insight into the world of perfuming oneself. The first is that even the most expensive cologne is a relatively good deal. I have a bottle of Creed that might wife gave me two years ago. That's about a $550 bottle of cologne, but it's also the nicest in the world and it not only smells amazing it's far more concentrated than most such that the bottle last infinitely longer than lesser brands. But if you're not in the $500 range, don't worry, I have the next best thing. This bottle from Chanel is $165 and is very close to the Creed in terms of depth and concentration and it's not like you're exactly slumming it with Chanel. —Neal McLennan, food editor
I was backstage at a comedy show a few months back with an effortlessly cool woman whose style I'm always trying to copy, with varying degrees of success (if you ran into me during my "summer of culottes" you only have her to blame). She looked as improv-chic as always, but she also smelled too good not to comment—a little spicy, a little woodsy. "What is that?!" I demanded, probably standing a little too close for comfort. Le Labo Santal 33, she told me, before confiding that half the girls at the high school she teaches at also wear it.
Being cool enough to know something's kind of basic but to trust your own taste and wear it anyways? That's the kind of woman I want to smell like. So I got ahold of a bottle myself and now when I spritz my wrist I feel like I'm infusing myself with confidence and taste (and sandalwood, I guess). $95 for 0.5fl oz. —Stacey McLachlan, executive editor
A colleague of mine runs a perfume-decants site, perfumeniche.com, and it's through her that I became obsessed with Serge Lutens' fragrances. (Hot tip: you can get 1mL decants on perfumeniche of hard-to-find scents, or just do a deep dive as a perfumehead and read about the many scents in the world you wish you had enough skin to wear.) Back to Serge: Tubereuse Criminelle was among the first decants I purchased on the site—a blast of tuberose with jasmine, hyacinth, cinnamon and more—and was about to dive into a full bottle of my very own when I discovered the more-affordable 50ml size is no longer available this side of the world. (I'll just have to get back to Paris, stat.) I'm just as pleased with La Fille de Berlin—classic rose rather than tuberose, but hardly the stuff of granny's drawer sachets. It's got a base of musk that grounds it, along with blackberries, pink and black pepper—it's complex and gorgeous. And pink, too—so it looks just as pretty on my dresser. —Anicka Quin, editorial director