Scent of a Woman

by JT Ellison


Quick. What’s that make you think of? Can you smell it?

Shalimar on cold fur, whispering against my mother’s skin as she came to tuck me in after an evening out at a fancy ball.

Shalimar means Temple of Love in Sanskrit. And really, isn’t that why we use perfume and cologne? To attract? To comfort. To leave behind a memory? I am fascinated by what people choose to dab themselves in. It’s so much more than smelling pretty, really, it’s more about who you are. Your scent says a lot about you. So don’t laugh when I say this is probably the most intimate post I’ve ever done on Murderati.

I don’t wear much perfume these days. Instead, I’m a dedicated fan of La Vanilla, which is a rollerball delivered essential oil of vanilla. It is yummy. Delicious. When I wear it my husband tells me I smell good. That’s good enough for me.

But I’ve tried my hand at a number of perfumes over the years.

I started out with the age-old classic, Love’s Baby Soft.

I remember how special I felt when I graduated to White Shoulders.

Then on to Charlie, which I always felt vaguely silly wearing.

Anäis Anäis, my first teenager girl perfume.

Tresor, my second teenage girl perfume.

Joy, which trumped all of the above and was without a doubt my signature scent from about fifteen to thirty.

Chanel no. 5, which they’ve sadly just changed the formula on.

Gio, which, to my utter horror, was discontinued and parades now as Aqua di Gio, a pale imitation of its scrumptious predecessor.

Arpege, which I still wear on occasion, but has a tendency to make drunk men corner me by the bathrooms and tell me I smell pretty.

Philosophy Amazing Grace, which I do still wear. Mostly in my hair, at the beach, for some reason.

Despite that list, I’m incredibly picky when it comes to scent. Patchouli makes me sneeze. Red Door gives me an immediate migraine. Obsession was just so, well, obsessive. Most perfumes seem too loud, too forward. And when it comes to men’s scents – forget about it.

My man wears this great subtle cologne that no one can smell but me, because you can’t smell it unless your nose is literally up against the skin. (He’s going to kill me for that. I foresee Randy being sniffed at close range at the next conference bar…)

But I’ve dated them all.

Polo – Sorry, boys, but GAG ME WITH A SPOON. Granted, Polo used with a modicum of discretion probably wouldn’t be bad, but for some reason, men loved to drown themselves in it. There was one guy in high school who you could literally smell coming from two halls away.

Royal Copenhagen – okay, that’s more like it. A subtle, powdery scent.

Davidoff Cool Water – I am so not going there… but I do still have the clear glass heart Christmas ornament he gave me. Shhh….

Drakkar Noir – It sounded so freaking cool – I wear Drakkar – but the guys who did were utter Guidos or on the wrestling team. I always wondered how that felt, being pinned to the mat by a guy wearing Drakkar. Well, how it felt for the guys. Ahem.

My Dad was an Aqua Velva Guy. I am immediately sent into his arms any time I smell it. Same with Old Spice and my grandfather.

But Shalimar… wow. A classic. We were watching MAD MEN the other night, the first season, and Joan’s roommate asks her is she’s wearing Shalimar, and I was thrust back in time, to the mirrored perfume tray on my dresser, chock full of lovely glass bottles. To the feeling of being a woman, fresh from the shower, dabbing perfume in my pressure spots – inside the wrist, inside the elbow, behind the knee, behind the ear, between the breasts. Seeing my olfactory palate change as I matured.

There’s something so indefinable, yet so concrete, about how a woman smells. And no matter what, those smells are attached to memories. Good memories, bad memories, indifferent memories. Memories that make us laugh, or cry, or feel vaguely ashamed.

Think of the pheromones we put off naturally, the undetectable aromas that attract a mate. Think of how we spent so many years disguising them, drowning out our natural scent in favor of smelling like a flower. To what end? Attracting bumblebees?

Well damn. That just makes me think about Spanish Fly.

I thought I’d drag you down memory lane with me. But there is a point to all of this. Tell me about your favorite scent, your favorite cologne, from now, or then. A scent that evokes a memory. Something that you love, or hate. That makes you tingle inside, or draw back in disgust.

And I’ll do a random drawing for a galley of my new book, SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH.*

Ready? Go!

Wine of the Week: Zen of Zin  Good wine depends on scent. It’s part of the experience. Your nose makes your taste buds work properly. This one is yummy – cherry and strawberry; spice vanilla and orange peel. And if I’m not mistaken, a little bit of earth overlaid with Pacific Ocean breeze. Those Sonoma Valley Zinfandels are unmistakable.  

 *I’ll announce the winners on my personal blog, Tao of JT, Sunday night, and leave a note here in the comments. If you’ve already entered over there, please don’t double dip. I’ll do two separate drawings so it’s fair to everyone.

59 thoughts on “Scent of a Woman

  1. PK the Bookeemonster

    Wow, flash back. I think I started with Sweet Honesty from Avon as a kid. In my early 20s I dabbled in Obsession but it is pretty strong. I had a job once where the wearing of scent was absolutely forbidden because the director was allergic. I also love the smell of vanilla and would use Vanilla Musk which smelled like vanilla and NOT Vanilla Fields which did not. Currently I have a perfume from Ireland called Inis which is a fresh clean scent. My husband has always said if they made a perfume from WD40, he'd be all over it, er, you know what I mean….but don't go there.

  2. Connie Keller

    My perfume is Eternity. Not overpowering. Not flowery. Just strong, clean, and attractive.

    I love the smell of sawdust. My grandfather was a contractor, and I spent a lot of him with him. He always smelled like sawdust.

  3. Toni Leland

    My mother used Coty face powder, the scented variety in the wonderful round orange container decorated with white powder puffs. She always carried the fragrance of that powder, not obtrusive, but subtle and comforting. When she passed away, I kept that container for the longest time, almost afraid if I discarded it, I'd not remember the scent. Not so! The fragrance still vividly reminds me of her after all these years.

  4. Chuck

    SHALIMAR! I actually thought of the funk band (shalAmar) from my pre-teen years, seen and heard here:

    Also, there was a hotel named Shalimar in Myrtle Beach, and after HS graduation, when we were there celebrating adulthood, a buddy of mine, who was surely inebriated, went on and on about how good it felt to say "Shalimar!" We were cracking up, no doubt aided by our ingestions and <gulp> inhalations. (At least I'm honest!)

    When I lived in Europe there was a cologne named Joop (pron. Yoop). It's still around, though not quite as popular. Like Drakkar, guys bathed in it, and even though I hated it, today when I smell anything similar it evokes memories of carefree days in my early twenties. Before mortgages. Before people depended on me for their livelihood. Before a real job. It was a time when all that mattered was having enough money to get through the night, standing at the bus stop, waiting to go downtown to the club district, owning a powerful thirst and the requisite insatiable libido of a young American male. We'd hit the club and–BAM–Joop everywhere.

    Those were the days!

    Thanks for starting my Friday with a welcome trip down memory lane. 🙂

  5. Chuck

    Sara…just saw your post. Amen! I understand completely. My dad's gone too and I think he used WD-40 for everything under the sun. Great thought.

  6. Debbie

    Wow JT, that gave me such a laugh. I had forgotton Love's Baby Soft and Charlie but wore them both. I think I started with Avon's Roses, Roses. Nearly all perfumes react on my skin, but for an evening, I can get away with Ralph Lauren. A friend gave me a bottle of Obsession when she couldn't handle the strength and I used to put it on my couches, or the carpet!

    While out for dinner with my husband, somebody sat down behind him and the scent drove me mad can it be in a good way if you're married and your husband's not the one wearing it? I mentioned it to my husband and he made me ask what cologne it was. Do you think I can remember the name? (Nope, only the embarrassment!)

  7. Michael Fisher

    There are two smells I find powerfully evocative.

    Background for the first. In between my first and second (abortive) college years I worked, yes, for a traveling carnival. They came through the college town during school and I thought it looked interesting, so after term I met them in some small town in Iowa. We made maybe one more stop in the states, then up around Lake Superior to Thunder Bay then on to Edmonton, Alberta. I was working the bumper car ride and they got me a South Dakota drivers license (at some point we went back to S.D. where they were based out of) so that I could drive a semi for them, there being at the time at least no separate license required for semi trucks in S.D.

    That was an interesting and yes, fun summer.

    And always linked with that summer is the smell from the portable diesel generators the carnival used to power its rides and attractions. Every time I smell a diesel it brings back that summer on the road with the carnival.

    The next smell is a few years later at my first tour of shore duty while serving in the Navy.

    Again, some back story.

    As an adolescent I was asthmatic AND living on a farm. I had to be careful of the hay or any dust for that matter, and was excused from PE classes. I can still remember being laid up for a couple of days at time from an attack, having to try and sleep sitting up do I could breath – a trip to the bathroom to pee sheer agony. A couple of trips to the emergency room for epinephrine shots – and ribs aching for days after a big attack. It got better as I got older, and courtesy of that summer with the carnival and the Canadian Health Service I discovered inhalers. Which is how I managed to get into the Navy in the first place, but that's another story.

    Before that tour of shore duty I had moved out into a studio apartment (a story in itself) and had to give up my stupid little car to afford it – so I was riding a Sears bicycle into work. One day on a recreational ride in downtown Charleston (S.C.) I got clobbered by a car. Which led to limited duty AND the need for another bike.

    This time I went to a real bike shop and bought a real bicycle, a Raleigh Competition Gran Sport.

    THAT led to me riding with the mechanics – racers – after they got off work.

    Now that was an eye opening experience the first time. It was a a couple of miles or so from the bike shop to the edge of town, we got to the open road — and the racers got serious and there I was watching them pedal away.

    I was hooked.

    The limited duty ended, the remainder of my sea tour was foreshortened (another story) and I found myself involved in trying to race.

    Yes, those inhalers were liberating.

    But the next three years involved literally thousands of miles of riding — and tuning and fixing my bicycles.

    And being able to actually DO something without fear of ending up laid low by an asthma attack. I was physically free for the first time in my life, enjoying what I was doing – and, as is the nature of cycling training – doing it a LOT.

    I started using a then new lubricant called TriFlow for my chains. It has a distinctive smell and that smell can immediately take me back to the open road with the wind in my face, drafting the rider in front of me, the races, all of it.

    I love the smell of TriFlow.

  8. Brenda Buchanan

    Hmmm. I'm not a big perfume wearer these days, but when I dab a little something on my skin, I'm a Halston girl. It's tried and true and evokes plenty of memories because I've worn it since college (a loonng time ago).

    I was buying a bunch of fresh basil at the market not long ago when the young woman at the checkout inhaled a deep lungful of basil scent and said "if my boyfriend wanted to drive me wild, all he'd need to do is smell like this."

    Brenda B. in Maine

  9. Shizuka

    My favorite non-perfume scent is bergamot.
    There's no memory attached; it just hits me in the right way.

    I dislike most perfumes and have to breathe through my mouth
    in cosmetics departments and at Sephora. But I like For Her by Narciso Rodriques, which is
    weird 'cause usually rose and musk bug me, le labo's bergamote 22,
    and Cowshed's coriander-grapefruit hand lotion that smells slightly masculine.

  10. billie

    Started with some kind of lemon-scented spray in high school.

    Then White Shoulders.


    And finally found my favorite, Alexandra (de Markoff). Most people had never heard of it and it seemed to mix well with my natural scent. Loved it.

    But then stopped wearing anything at all. Funny b/c after I stopped wearing perfume, people would ask, what is that perfume you're wearing – it's really nice – and it was… nothing!

  11. Terry Odell

    My first perfume was Revlon's "Intimate." Mom wore Shalimar, and I 'graduated' to that. When I was in college and dating my now-Hubster, I'd stop by his office at night to see if he was in, and I'd study there. If he wasn't, I went to the stacks. One night, he showed up there, and said he knew I'd been by because he smelled my perfume. I also did Emeraude, Anais Anais, and now my daily spritz is Amerige.

    Hubster wears what I buy him. We've run through a lot. But he doesn't use it unless we're going out.

    Terry Odell:
    Terry's Place:

  12. The Zoo Keeper

    Giorgio — my hands-down, longest-running fave. Loved it. Now I hate it. I would probably feel a sense of dread if I smelled it now. It reminds me of a time in my life when things were SOOO not okay, but I couldn't fully realise it consciously until years later when things had changed. I am not big on perfumes these days. I use a natural deodorant spray that smells just the tiniest bit antiseptic. Then I spray a little bit of a very light body spray to cover the antiseptic smell because I don't care for antiseptic smells. I think I am just not a very big fan of most smells. And unfortunately, like a wild animal, my sense of smell is the keenest of my senses. But I love your post. SOME smells are okay. The trick is knowing which ones make you feel good and then using them appropriately. I swear — smells can be like a drug. Like a hallucinogen, perhaps. Best used with caution and much thought, if at all. Just my very personalized opinion.

  13. Karen in Ohio

    Intriguing topic today, JT.

    I also started with that lemony spray (what the heck was it called?), and Muguet de Bois, then Halston and White Linen. Then a co-worker, who drenched herself in White Linen in lieu of showering, completely ruined that scent for me.

    Nowadays I wear Amarige by Givenchy, if I wear anything, but I also like Michael Kors, so light and pretty.

    My oldest daughter used to wear Angel by Thierry Mugler, which I first discovered in Paris, before it was available here, but neither of us wears it now. The star-shaped bottles are so pretty, though.

    My memories of my mother's purse are stronger than of her perfume: Juicy Fruit gum and lipstick. And a whiff of Chantilly brings my long departed and much beloved grandmother back to me in an instant.

    When I was in high school I loved Jade East so much, and kept a little bottle of it to sniff and remind me of one particular boy who wore it. It's funny now, because I cannot for the life of me remember which boy that was.

  14. KarinNH

    Theoretically, I am a big fan of perfume, but not so much in practice. The words subtle and perfume don't seem to coexist for many people. I'm asthmatic (as are both my sons) and we have had to leave many places because someone was wearing too much. I should have to lean in to figure out what you are wearing, not know it from 20 feet away!

    So most of the scents I love are natural or from cooking–the smell of rain, cold crisp winter air, fresh laundry, brownies or pumpkin muffins baking, vanilla, peppermint, rosemary, lemons, basil, the smell from haying or grass cutting. My son, who is a mechanical engineer, loves the smell of diesel–he always takes a deep breath when he smells it!

  15. debbie haupt

    Hi J T, I've also tried many scents and I don't like any of them. Me I prefer the scent of Dove bar soap, corney I know but that's how it is. So now I use Dove everything and I love their campaign for empowering young girls to be all they can be. So it's a win win.


  16. Sabrina Ogden

    I was being followed in the grocery store by this man that wasn't even trying to pretend that we kept accidently running into each other in every singe aisle. Finally, out of irritation, I turned to him and abruptly asked him why he kept following me around. His response…"uh- I wanted to ask what kind of perfume you're wearing."

    Of course, I was embarrassed for beiing so rude, and I'm sure I started to blush. But then I started to stutter when I realized I was wearing Very Sexy for Her 2 by Victoria Secret. I played stupid and told him it was some new scent my husband had picked for me and that I couldn't recall the name.

    There is also this great musky scent called Fire & Ice that you can pick up at WalMart and Target.. Possibly even K-Mart…I remember it from my college days and it drove the men crazy. I still remember the way my husband, when we were first dating, would always snuggle against my neck just to take in the smell. My bottle ran out years ago, but after this post…I'm gonna go find some!

    As for men and their cologne- My husband wears a simple smell that only I notice when I'm close. But there have been times when I've been in an elevator where a cologne has driven me crazy in a really, really good way. I've never been as brave as the man I encountered at the grocery store, though. I'd have to really know the person before I dare brave a question like that. Wouldn't want anyone to think I'm flirting or anything. 😉

  17. Zoë Sharp

    Hi JT

    Very interesting topic! Smell is hard-wired to memory in such a visceral way. I was reading a news item today about a woman who had a larynx transplant. For the first time in 11 years she was able not only to breathe unaided and speak, but she also regained her sense of taste and smell. That really hit me.

    My favourite perfume is Trésor. It's the only one I buy. I used to wear Chanel No19, and Anäis Anäis, but now it's just Trésor.

    Smells I hate? Lillies (smell like something rotten), solder (long story), and roadkill skunk. Trust me, once smelled, never forgotten.

    Smells I love? cut grass, sea air, grapefruit soap, lavender, freesias, honeysuckle, creosote and Castrol-R.

  18. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Wow, this is a great discussion – I can smell everything everyone's talking about!

    For the life of me I can't remember what perfume I wore in high school – I know it wasn't any of the obvious things like Charlie. The first I remember is White Linen, but it smelled so much better on my sister that that didn't last long. That was a good lesson that body chemistry has a lot more to do with what makes perfume enticing than the actual brand. I wore Cristalle for a long time. Now I alternate between Allure in the winter (people love that on me, but it's too heavy to wear in the summer) and Romance in the summer.

    On men – leather and cigarettes do it every time, unfortunately,

    Other scents I love – eucalyptus, bergamot, lavender, rosemary, citrus blossoms – they're dreamy, right now. Oh, yes, and the smell of gasoline, love it!

    One perfume that always just gags me is Poison.

  19. Kate

    I love Beautiful by Este Lauder. Even the name makes me feel beautiful. But I havent gotten a bottle in years. Hmmmm maybe for my birthday, which is in 6 days!

  20. Darla

    Chanel No. 5 … because Mom wore it when she was going 'out' with Dad or to church and it felt fake and smelled strong and just wasn't MOM… 🙂

  21. Kim C

    Obsession. My ex-fiancé wore that scent religiously and every time I smell it I'm swept back in time and place to 1991 Minneapolis.
    Joop. What a pungent scent. Always reminds me of a guy I knew in college.

    I'm with Alexandra, love the scent of leather and cigarettes on men, takes me back to my youth. However, I'd never actually go out with a smoker these days.

    The smell of tar will always remind me of my father. He was a roofer was I was a kid.

    I favor Shi by Alfred Sung. It's subtle and light and I always get compliments on it. Once in a while I go for Light Blue by D&G. Also subtle, when worn appropriately.

    Favorite scents ever: fresh lilacs, fresh cut grass, hyacinths, orange blossoms.

  22. Kaye Barley

    My favorite scent is one I can't wear 'cause it gives my husband a headache. (how sad is that?!) Issey Miyake's L'Eau d'Issey. My next favorite, Red Door, gives J.T. a migraine. big sigh. I'm thinking I need to rethink my scents. Although, playing around with Jo Malone's "fragrance combining" is a bunch of fun (wish I could afford to do more of it!).

    Favorite scent on men – Alex – I'm with you. Leather and cigarettes make my knees weak.

    Favorite "other" fragrance – baking smells. I'm going to have to try La Vanilla !

    Past fragrances – Love's Fresh Lemon, White Shoulders, Anais Anais and Chloe.

  23. Alafair Burke

    I intensely dislike most perfumes but did dabble as a teenager in your Anais Anais and another whose name I can't quite recall but which came in a blue and black spray can. Anyone remember?

    My husband smells like truffles which is my very favorite smell along with lillies.

  24. JT Ellison

    Oh my, we are going down memory lane today, aren't we? How fun! Keep going, keep going! I love hearing your stories!

    I feel I must add garlic to the good smells list. But that's a post for another day.

  25. Kaye Barley

    Love it!
    That is – when I'm cooking with it, or having dinner in an Italian restaurant.
    When someone who smells like garlic comes close to me I have to back away.

  26. PK the Bookeemonster

    I actually have a very bad sense of smell because I grew up in a smoking household. It has to be rather strong for me to sense it. It also affects my sense of taste.

    Best smells: popcorn, bacon, lilacs, vanilla, baking bread … hmm, lots of food here. 🙂

    While I was unemployed, a friend and I considered starting a business that included soy candles and we were sent samples from the vendor of our choice. She of course could sense the smells better than me but I remember good ones named "Money" and "Tobacco Shop."

  27. Ruth Harris

    I'm a perfume lover who has gotten to hate almost all perfumes — the formulas have changed (not for the better) over the years, even my once-favorite Patou's 1000; the celeb infestation has degraded the quality of scents even further.

    Here's what still makes the cut for me: (Please note nothing sweet or flowery here; no "man-trap" concotions either!)

    Passage d'Enfer from L'Artisan–incense and reminiscent of a library, perfect for a writer
    Préparation Parfumé by Andrée Putman–wood & water lily, she's the French interior designer, an intellectual's scent
    Lime, Basil, Mandarin by Jo Malone–bracing citric, no sweetness
    Timbuktu also from L'Artisan–dry spice, this is the perfume on which I constantly get comments

    All of the above applied lightly!

  28. Shelley

    While I very rarely wear perfume, I almost always wear baby powder! There is just something comforting about the clean soft smell of it.
    As for general smells, lilac is my all time favourite. It just reminds me of spring!

  29. toni mcgee causey

    I never could stand the smell of Chanel and never understood why it was so popular or such a big deal; I remember Charlie and White Shoulders, though, from high school. Then Oscar de la Renta (briefly) in my early 20s, which for some reason, smelled wildly different on me than on anyone else, and people would compliment it and then be surprised as to what it was. Then either the formula changed or my body chemistry changed, because it just didn't smell the same and I switched to Angel by Theirry Mugler. It's extremely subtle on me (and you have to have hugged me to be close enough to smell it), but I have gotten an enormous amount of compliments on that scent.

    There was a cologne (cheap) that a guy I dated in college wore that just was wonderful. Sadly, the guy was not nearly as wonderful as the cologne (and I am blanking on what it was, but it was something cheap and dumb sounding… like Cowboy or something. Damn, I can't remember.) I'm generally not a big fan of cologne on guys, and I love the way my husband smells when he wears nothing at all. 🙂

  30. Kellee

    wow… we must have grown up in the same era. Love's Baby Soft, White Shoulders, Anais Anais, Tresor, Chanel #5, and Gio have been my favorites too. But now it is Nina by Nina Ricci or J. Lo's Luxe. I'm not generally a 'girly girl' but perfume makes me feel feminine.
    But food smells, yum. The smell of warm baked bread can send me to nirvana.

  31. MJ

    Shalimar and Mitsouko, parfum versions, or Opium EDP or Cinnabar. Or sometimes Parfum Sacre (roses and INCENSE, in that order).

    And my coworkers will have to deal with it (I don't overapply and sit in an office).

    Or husband's Old Spice antiperspirant – I'll steal it some days just for the familiar spicy scent (which would go really well with Cinnabar or Opium, frankly).

  32. Murderati fan

    Faberge Tigress. I adored the dusting powder. I purchased it at Famous Barr, St. Louis, in 1960. Patting my body with the puff, I felt both sexy and sophisticated.

    I wish I knew the area code for heaven so I could ask my mother if she tired of the repeated Christmas gift. Evening in Paris, because as I 50's child I loved the blue bottle.

  33. Lyra

    JT, JT, fantastic.
    It just occurred to me that from a very young age, I've chosen perfume based on people I have wanted to be like…how odd to just see that now.
    Love's Babysoft, then Jasmine-older sister
    Love's Lemon, oh how I loved that…and found it on my own.
    Sweet Honesty-mom's best friend
    White Shoulders-best friend's cool aunt
    Tabu-7th grade science teacher
    Chanel 5-someone amazing, damned if I can remember.
    CK One-alternative friend who really was that cool.
    Beautiful- co-worker…have I no shame?
    It took until I was 30 until I found a scent that was me, not me dressed up as someone else. I've been wearing Cool Water Woman for years, and it makes me happy that my kids will know that years later when a stranger walks done the street. The same way I do.

  34. Alice

    I also have a difficult time with perfumes as I have had violent allergic reactions to people who have doused themselves. The worst offenders are always smokers. Luckily, I can smell them from several yards away so I know not to get too close. The worst is trying to help someone while at work when his/her perfume is simultaneously waging war on my mucous membranes.
    That being said, a subtle scent can be heavenly. I'm a fan of Old Spice. I wore Happy and Sung by Alfred Sung in college. Juicy is fun for when I'm feeling Flirty.

  35. Christine McCann

    Ha! I was really surprised to see in a drugstore recently that Love's Baby Soft is still out there! If I wear any perfume it's usually Estee Lauder's White Linen in cold weather, but Pure White Linen in warmer temps.

    What drives me nuts these days is that so many products for skin- and hair care have fragrance. Individually, they may smell nice, but it's just too much all together. I do my best to buy fragrance-free items.

    A couple of folks mentioned leather and cigarettes/tobacco. Yes! My father wears this leather flight jacket that just looks so sharp on him. The smell of leather also brings fond memories of horseback riding when I was a girl. As for the tobacco, I found a fabulous soy wax candle from Archipelago with a Bergamot Tobacco fragrance. I absolutely adore it, because it immediately puts me in mind of my late grandfather. All these memories of fishing with him or just sitting with him at his home in Indiana while he smoked his pipe. My favorite photo of him is a silhouette of him sitting in a recliner with his pipe.

    I really love the clean-baby smell of Johnson's Baby Wash/Shampoo and Baby Powder; especially if said clean baby curls up on your lap after their bath and falls asleep. That fragrance just makes me smile and gives me such a feeling of contentment.

  36. Pauline

    I have a very sensitive nose. Can't stand being close to a smoker. I know when hubby has been into the sardines, even though he tries to hide all evidence. I once had a former boss convinced that there must have been a skunk in the cellar of our building. We had a trap set and everything. We found out old perm solution (which had been tossed down the sink by the neighbouring hair salon) creates the same stink.
    I usually just squirt a little Tranquil Moments or Imari from Avon. Or some strawberry body butter from The Body Shop.
    I used to love the smell of fresh cut hay when we lived on the farm.
    Lilacs are my favourite scent, also hyacinths, and popcorn of course!

  37. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    We're talking about perfume today. Okay.
    I don't know, but my wife tells me she likes that I smell like sweat. So, I just try to take a shower every day, and make sure I sweat by 5:00 pm.
    I do love the scent of lavender. That and society garlic are my two favorite scents.
    I was one of those hopeless teenage boys who used Polo when I wanted to get real spruced-up. Ick.
    I also thought Asti Spumanti was a great champagne, and Swischer Sweets were a good cigar.
    I suppose there are advantages to getting older.

  38. Christine McCann

    Thinking of that photo of my grandfather sent me down memory lane which means I went straight to my photos after posting. On a memo board is a picture of one of my favorite women in the world, my great-aunt Pat. First thought was gardenias…she loved gardenias.

  39. Allison Brennan

    Fantastic blog JT! Very provocative.

    I'm not a big perfume gal, though I usually put a little teeny bit on if I'm going out. I totally remember Anais Anais as a teenager! Loved it. There was one scent at Victoria's Secret — I think it was called Heavenly, but I can't remember — that I liked for a couple years back in the early 80s. Right now I love 8 by Abercrombie & Fitch. Not usually what I would buy, but my daughter and I were shopping a couple years ago and she said she thought it would be perfect for me, I liked it and bought it. Expensive, but since I don't wear it a lot, it lasts 🙂

    As for men, I think every guy in my high school wore Polo :/ When I smell it now on grown men, I think, "Mid-life crisis, trying to be younger."

    And Old Spice will ALWAYS remind me of my grandpa.

  40. JD Rhoades

    Never worn cologne, never been that big a fan of perfume. Women smell just fine to me the way they are :-).

    I will say that there are far too many people of both genders who seem to think the way to apply scent is to dump the whole bottle over their heads.

  41. Reine

    One of Steve's coworkers asked him to ask me where he could get Shalimar for his wife. Steve's response, "You. Don't really know Reine, do you?"

    I belong to the garlic, man sweat through a white tee shirt, and my great-grandmother's clay pipe school of smelldom heaven.

  42. Chuck

    SJS said, "I also thought Asti Spumanti was a great champagne, and Swischer Sweets were a good cigar."

    Gulp…you mean they're not?

    You also left off some other teenage indulgences. I drank so much Milwaukee's Best (Beast) that I thought regular Budweiser or Michelob was truly upper crust.

  43. G. Logan

    The smell of Chicklets gum always reminds me of my beloved grandfather. When young, I used to stay with him and my step-grandmother every July. And every day that grandfather left work, he stopped at the gum machine outside the employees entrance, inserted a penny and brought home a double gum packet of Chicklets for me. Oh, how eagerly I waited for him to come home, eat my supper to the last crumb, and then receive my reward. Outside I rushed to share with my friend next door under the shade of our huge mulberry tree. The gum's flavor was always a citrus one, crisp and tangy that popped in our mouths of summer fruits as we chewed, and scenting the air around us with citrus, clean and refreshing, just as my days with my grandfather always were. Sadly, my grandfather passed away some time ago and Chicklets are now hard to find. But the memories are rarely far, even without Chicklets.

  44. PK the Bookeemonster

    JT – I never smoked but both my parents did – do — all my life. And growing up in a house full of smoke damaged my smell/taste sense. <shrug> you don't miss what you don't know.

  45. Alafair Burke

    I hope you're happy, JT. Because of this post, I'm going nuts trying to remember the name of that perfume I used to wear that came in a dark blue spray can (not bottle). Grrr….

  46. Louise Ure

    I swore that with my first million I'd create a perfume of lime and bitters. Those are the comfort smells for me.

  47. Alafair Burke

    Thanks, Ruth. Some of my Facebook pals helped me out. It was YSL's Rive Gauche. (Thanks, JT, for letting me highjack your thread a bit. That was driving me nuts!)

  48. jj dennis

    My scent is rose. Rose lotion, rose oil, whatever I go crazy. I grow rose & love the way the petals feel against my skin. But damn, every time I find a new rose scent it gets discontinued. Now clearence sale, just here one day gone the next. Jerks. So I go back to my first love, rose essential oil. At least I know that'll always be there for me.

  49. JT Ellison

    Oh my goodness. I need to do more posts on deadline. (Yes, I'm in revision-land.)

    Y'all are fabulous! What amazing memories – and smells!

    We had so many wonderful comments here today (Alafair, so glad we were able to find the name of your perfume!) – I'm going to give 2 galleys away. I wish there were more, but my box of galleys got lost in UPS hell. So I'm tossing in one of my own, because I can't not.

    Stop back by on Sunday evening to see who wins!

    I love you guys. Feel free to keep sharing!

  50. Chuck

    How about the smell of Espresso Roast at 5:10 AM in my kitchen? It means, "TIME TO WRITE!"

    Speaking of which, I just finished about 1,200 words and my brain is fried. I was in Singapore…interesting place. 🙂

  51. JT Ellison

    Because we had so many entries, I decided to pick 2 winners.

    The winners are Shizuka and Kaye Barley. Send me your snail mail addresses and I'll get them in the mail. And thanks!

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