As Britain swelters in a heatwave and is set to do so for another few weeks (if the weather forecasts are to be believed), I’d like to share my favourite hot weather summer scents with you.
1. In the green, citrus and herbal circle, we have:
- 4711 Eau de Cologne (which I happen to be wearing as I write this). It’s crisp, bitter, fresh, cooling and fleeting. Apply liberally except to sensitive areas (so no splashing it into your armpits). This scent can be divisive because it’s so old-fashoned but I think it’s as relevant today as when my grandmother used it. We seem to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance of colognes anyway so why not start with this.
- Eau de New York by Bond No9. I was given a bottle as a present and just as well, because I would not have been able to justify the price given that this mainly reminds me of a brand of Finnish bug spray. So why is it in my selection of summer favourites? Because I absolutely love that smell as it reminds me of being at our summer cottage. I don’t know what’s meant to be New York about it but to me this is a crisp, green citrus chypre with a citronella character.
- Eau Dynamissante. A “treatment fragrance” from Clarins – the smell of which is medicinal, herbal, hesperidic and calming and it’s easier on the skin and less bitter than 4711. It’s wonderful on a really hot day and should be splashed all over. Also an excellent, inoffensive scent to take with you when travelling.
- Citron Citron by Miller Harris is a very wearable, slightly bitter groomed and herbal citrus. Transparent and refreshing in hot weather. I wear it often if I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for and the weather is sticky.
- Terre de Bois by Miller Harris – it flip flops between warm birch leaves and a boiled herbal sweet. It’s quite masculine but wonderful for anyone who wants to smell green and natural without the bitter edge.
- Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford is my favourite neroli scent (so far); if I had so much money that I could throw it around without thinking about it, I would ensure there’d be a permanent supply of this all year round. Neroli scents are a perfect antidote to feeling exhausted or over-heated. Give this a try.
- Le Chevrefeuille by Annick Goutal is a a sad story – the green, slightly rosy flower stem scent is one of my absolute favourites but this perfume lasts about 30 minutes on skin, if that. Another one for if you’re feeling wealthy. Reapplying often will be necessary.
Moving into the overlapping area we have:
- Mandragore by Annick Goutal, which sits in the hesperidic and green area due to its top notes but moves to a sweet and warm blend of anise and ginger as it develops. This is one of my favourite scents of all time, full stop, not just for summer. I am on my millionth bottle.
- Dior’s Escales is a series of transparent scents ideal for hot summer days and nights; I own Escale a Portofino which starts out as a Neroli Portofino dressed in a satin nightie and moves into its own thing when a powdery gourmand almond note begins to appear. I recommend exploring this range.
2. In the sweet fruity and fruity-floral circle we have:
- Sugar by Fresh is a lemon scent but it’s a fermented lemon – to me it smells exactly like a Finnish May Day beverage called sima (a fermented summer drink made of lemons, brown sugar and raisins).
- Ralph by Ralph Lauren is quite a juvenile shampoo/alcopop-type scent but it’s one of the best ones in this style and incredibly refreshing if it’s one of those days when you need another shower after you’re done drying yourself. Avoid if mature and afraid of mutton-scented-as-lamb syndrome (I don’t worry about age and gender boundaries too much although I wouldn’t wear this to seduce or to a serious work meeting).
- Laguna by Salvador Dali is the first aquatic scent I not only tolerated but really liked; it has a spicy and a kind of dried-fruit undertone which balances the aquatic elements. I find it extremely wearable and the bottle is just fantastic.
- The Marc Jacobs giant splash cologne bottles are not only beautiful to look at but a great option if you’re not really after a perfume but a nice smell. They also come with a refillable travel bottle which is absolutely perfect. I’ve tried several and currently own the Pomegranate splash. All of them lend themselves to be worn when nothing too heavy or stifling will do.
- SJP NYC – the incredibly tacky (but kind of cute) plastic bottle with, uhh, animal prints and what looks like 70s wallpaper, contains a scent reminiscent of strawberry alcopop. It’s the perfume equivalent of blonde bimbo stereotypes but you know what? Some days when everything is sticky and the air seems to have developed a texture, this scent is really fresh and pretty and leaves your skin smelling like you’ve been eating strawberries.
3. In the floral, sweet and sexy category we have:
- Juicy Couture by Juicy Couture. Yes, really. This is a tuberose handled extremely well; the fruity characteristics have been emphasised, some of the green vegetable elements remain but all of the mushroom tones are gone – and the result is a kind of prom dress tuberose. Wearable, young, attractive. And surprisingly fantastic in hot weather.
- Eau de Shalimar may be an abomination to purists but I really enjoy the re-balancing of this scent for two reasons: the top half of Shalimar was always my favourite and my mother wore Shalimar so I am simultaneously drawn to it but don’t necessarily want to smell exactly like my mother used to either. This offers the perfect solution. And it smells sexy on a summer night.
- Datura Noir is a syrupy tuberose wine gum, dripping with booze and seduction. It’s the opposite of the Marc Jacobs splashes; where they are a water jug into which a watercolour brush has been lightly dipped, Datura Noir is a jar of tuberose jam. I love it and it can work in the summer heat surprisingly well.
- Fleurs d’ Oranger by Serge Lutens. It pretends to be chaste and soapy and a bit blousy and then whooshes you into candied musky orange peel and skanky orange blossom and the vegetable aspect of tuberose. It’s a honeyed, intense experience but wearing it during a hot day can make you irresistible if the scent happens to suit your skin. It can be divisive due to the skank emphasis but if it works for you, it’s absolutely marvellous.