My Perfume Loves & Hates

the style stories perfume

Perfume is such a tricky one, isn't it? It's such a subjective, personal thing, and one of the only things that I find can really either turn you off of a person or draw you to them.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but over the last few years I've become really quite sensitive to other people's fragrances; it's not unheard of for me to actually have to move away from somebody if their perfume is too strong, or leave a perfume hall because the clashing scents set off a banging headache. But it's funny to think that I've suddenly become so delicate about certain fragrances, when back in the day, my own choices were anything but subtle.

My tastes have certainly changed a lot over the years; I've always preferred floral and oriental fragrances over anything else, but now I would always choose lighter scents over the rich, deeply floral perfumes I used to go head-over-heels for. Although there's some fragrances in my collection now which I first started wearing when I was about sixteen, there are some that have been banished as I just couldn't handle even the merest whiff of them these days. In particular, I really used to adore the most heady, intoxicating, rich fragrances - I remember particularly loving Flowerbomb, which is one of the worst offenders for me now, even a hint of it kicks off the twinge of a headache. And I was thrilled one year when I received a bottle of DKNY Be Delicious Night, aka the strongest, most overwhelmingly dark and floral fragrance you could possibly hope to douse yourself in, cramming heady florals with a deep woody base. It was a knockout of a perfume, in every sense of the word.

All of the perfumes that I really don't like have something in common, which I guess makes it easy to rule out a whole fragrance family (you know, just in case you felt like maybe buying me a perfume in the future). I just don't like anything with patchouli in it, or anything with a woody base - I just find it overwhelming, too strong and just not really a very pleasant experience. In fact, the only woody perfume I remember enjoying was Lancome Hypnose back in the day, but I haven't sniffed this for years, so who knows what I'd feel about it now.

I don't often talk about things that I really don't like on here, but when it comes to perfume, I do think it's so personal that you can be frank about it - perfume isn't a trend, and what I do or don't like shouldn't change anybody else's opinion about it. One of the scents I'm about to mention actually got me the most compliments I've ever had on a perfume, so it just goes to show, we all like different things and that's fine. The perfume in question here is Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker. Now, I have to admit that I am a celebrity perfume snob, and I will go out of my way to avoid a celeb fragrance like the plague, even if they have good reviews - it just feels a bit 'ick' to me. So this particular perfume was a gift, and I knew that it wasn't for me after one sniff, so I relegated it to being my 'handbag perfume' - you know, for quick spritzes after work or being on the tube, emergencies only. But it got me compliments every time I wore it, even though I don't personally like it - it's packed with woody notes and patchouli.

Similarly, and perhaps slightly controversially, I also really don't like Chanel No.5. Powdery, too heavy and just really quite overwhelming - it feels like a perfume I would wear when I'm much older, combined with a chic little twinset. It's just not a fragrance for twenty-somethings, in my opinion. But my all-time must-be-avoided fragrance has to go to Angel, by Mugler, which sends me spinning at the merest whiff. It's sickly, too rich and too heavy - and the blend of patchouli, fruits and then lots of vanilla and caramel just sends me overboard.

But now we've got those out of the way, let's talk about the fragrances that really tick the boxes for me...

As I've mentioned, for me, it's all about the florals. And no perfume better encapsulates this for me than Gucci Bloom, which is a strong contender to be an all-time favourite, despite only being released six months ago. I wore this on the day we got engaged, and it's a likely choice for my wedding fragrance too, so it's got sentimental value to me too. It's funny how a sniff of a perfume can send you whizzing back to a moment in time, isn't it?

Gucci Bloom, if you haven't smelled it yet, is so incredibly floral but manages to be heady without being overwhelming. It blends tuberose and jasmine, which I just adore. Also using tuberose is POP by Stella McCartney, which joined my collection last year and is just the perfect daytime fragrance. It's fresh and floral and vibrant, noticeable without being sickly, and just feels like a modern scent. And speaking of Stella McCartney, Stella is my ultimate evening fragrance - it makes me happy every time I sniff it, the blend of rose, amber and peony is just divine. BOSS Orange is a perfect daytime scent, mixing crisp apple with white flowers, orange blossom, cinnamon and vanilla for a sophisticated but properly girlie scent.

Some of my fragrances, as I've mentioned, are ones that have been in my collection for years and years. Ghost Sweetheart has been a favourite for ten years now, with its beautiful mix of floral, fresh and warm notes to create a unique scent that always peps me up and puts me in a bright mood. Similarly, Nina Ricci's signature scent is a classic that will always have a place both in my heart and in my perfume collection. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what it smells like, but just in case - it's an incredibly sweet, floral perfume that blends citrus notes with vanilla and peony. It's youthful and zesty and just makes me happy, what more can you ask for?

Special mentions also have to go to Ghost Eclipse (I love everything except the bottle), YSL Baby Doll and Moschino Pink Fresh Couture (which, again, has a pretty offensive bottle!) - all very different but beguiling in their own ways.

As you might have gathered, I definitely think that more is more when it comes to fragrances - in terms of options, not amount you spray on. Which perfumes are your favourites?