The Dude Society

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How To Choose The Right Cologne

We all want to smell good, be it for ourselves or attracting others. Finding the right cologne is all about complimenting your style and existing cleanliness. Cologne is not meant to be overwhelming, to cover up your body odor, nor to smell like everyone else.

Where to go and how to start

There are many places to buy fragrances, from department stores to individual designer boutiques to fragrance depot type stores. I would avoid the latter like the plague. My suggestion is to go to a store like Sephora, where you have easy access to all the tester bottles you could want and nobody pressuring you to buy things you don’t want. As a first step, you should probably bypass the best seller shelf. The whole point of the exercise is to not smell like every other dude, instead you want to find something that works best for you.

It’s time to start sniffing

At a place like Sephora, where there is literally a wall of men’s fragrances (size varies by location), it can be a bit intimidating. You have two options, you could start at one end and work your way to the other, OR if you’re single you can try to solicit the help of a nice looking hottie nearby. An important note, you probably want to avoid the women who are also smelling colognes because unless they’re Father’s day shopping… they’re probably browsing for their boyfriends. However, the benefit of asking a stylish woman is they can probably size up your style and quite possibly point you in the right direction. There is also a third option, which is to tap into your network of female friends to hook you up with the perfect scent.

No matter which method you use, there are a couple tips for smelling the cologne samples.

  1. Use the paper strips that most stores provide, don’t spray is on or toward yourself. Spray the cologne on the strip, waive it around so it dries a little and give it a sniff.
  2. Reset your nose by sniffing the tin of coffee beans that will probably be sitting next to the sample strips.

When it comes to picking a scent suitable for yourself, it’s a personal choice so it’s tough for me to tell you exactly how to go. I will offer a bit of advice however. If you style is generally casual, meaning you wear casual clothes, etc. You are probably best picking a softer scent that is not super strong and crisp. Whereas if you are suiting up every day, maybe that stronger scent would be more suitable.

Scents for the occasion

Generally, you should pick a scent you like and stick with it, for a while at least. A smell can become part of your style, and changing it too frequently defeats the purpose. I confess, I have a shelf full of cologne bottles (three are pictured). This is more because I don’t wear much cologne, hence the bottles last a long time, and they have accumulated.

There are times that call for varying your smell. Seasonal changes are one of the biggest. I will give you an example. Burberry Touch (pictured left) is a pretty heavy, but really amazing scent. I associate it more with colder weather and darker times of year, so that is typically when I wear it. Whereas John Varvatos Artisan (pictured middle) is also great, but lighter and more citrusy. So if I am headed out on a spring day in shorts or light pants, I would be more likely to wear it, than if I was venturing out in a winter coat.

Very importantly, how much to use

Of any fragrance mistake you could make, this is most certainly the biggest. Wearing too much cologne is a big turn off. Women won’t want to be near you, and guys like me will think you’re a douche. Speaking for myself, I typically apply one or two short sprays to my neck area, and that’s it. Depending on your skin type, scent applied directly to skin will last a varying length of time, for me it’s pretty short and that is the only reason I would ever apply a little extra cologne. The only people who should be smelling your cologne are those who are physically close to you, I’m talking a few feet here. It should not be filling the room as your enter, or wafting behind you as you move!

Another application method is to spray the cologne twice in front of yourself, and walk through the mist. Yes, this is an easy way to get a light distributed application, and if you’re wearing clothes you’re tossing right into the laundry, then go for it. However, if you’re wearing a suit, a nice sweater, or something else that is not a wash after every wear piece… you may not want it smelling of a cologne.

A word about deodorant

Most cologne makers also make matching deodorants. I’ve never bothered buying them because I figured their focus was on the scent rather than stopping me from sweating. Point being, if you buy antiperspirant at the drug store like me, buy one wild a mild scent so it won’t clash with your cologne.

My favorites

Lastly, I’ll share my favorite scents with you. I’ve been keen on Burberry and John Varvatos for a few years now. I also have scents by Prada, Paul Smith, and Calvin Klein. The three scents pictured in the photo are Burberry Touch, John Varvatos Artisan, and Paul Smith Extreme. It is probably played out these days… but Calvin Klein Eternity has also been a long time favorite of mine – we are talking since high school

About the author

Jamie is the Founder of The Dude Society and a New York City based web designer & developer. He really likes telling people how to think, act, and dress.

All articles by Jamie »

3 responses to “How To Choose The Right Cologne”

  1. @dvrcdntbrkn says:

    A tip to picking a "Nearby Hottie" in assisting you with your scent. Select someone you could see yourself dating or at least being interested in. If you are a well dress day-trader and you ask the indie-earth girl with the nice legs to help you out, you are more likely to end up smelling of patchouli than Prada. A woman is likely to select fragrances that she likes on a man and not necessarily what you like. Find a woman that represents the type of woman you would like to be with and you should do well.
    Best of luck

  2. Jamie says:

    Yes, that's a good tip, Jack.

  3. HLBB says:

    It's also best to try it on your inner wrist. Unless it's an essential oil, every fragrance will smell different because of body chemistry. Also the top notes linger longer on paper and it may smell different on skin. Spray one you like, let it linger for an hour and then decide.
    (and never try cologne after eating anyting with a lot of onions or garlic – it'll smell completely different!)

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