Here in Virginia, the winter solstice greeted us with 70-degree temperatures, and while I usually dread the season, this just felt inappropriate.
My hatred for winter is deeply rooted in more personal experiences like nostalgia and seasonal affective disorder. The one redeeming thing about winter, for me, is the concept of "cozy." I loathe the dreary, I complain about damp shoes and numb fingers, and I cry a little bit on my dark, lonely drives home from work, but those moments of gray and bleak make the cozy moments so, so delicious in comparison.
There’s a push and pull, and the contrast deepens those warm, cocoa-on-the-couch sighs.
While recent warm days have been highly irritating, I have been testing new scents in anticipation of the return of the crisp and cool--scents that are soft, warm, close to the skin, sometimes sexy, sometimes yummy.
But just as cozy manifests in different incarnations, so does the sweater. If a woman has more than one sweater, does she not perfume them as such? I think Shakespeare said that.
The Smart Cardigan: Biblioteca de Babel by Fueguia 1833
Notes: cedar, cabreuva, cinnamon
As a lifelong tomboy, I have been involved in many a love affair with cardigans. A cardigan can transform a t-shirt and jeans into a sharp little outfit. A cardigan can keep a body warm while pulling all-nighters in the library.
My cardigan sweaters lean more old man than ladylike sweater set, so a signature scent for this garment would be woody and spicy.
Biblioteca de Babel by Fueguia 1833 captures the smell of ink, wooden shelves, leather chairs, and bookbindings. Notes of cedar, cabreuva (a creamy South American wood), and cinnamon combine into something rich and complex, and though the scent does not develop and change like other fragrances, the result is beautifully warm.
On my skin, it opens with a whiff of pipe tobacco and something sweet, like dates or cassis, which makes me think of varnished library tables. It mellows into the wood and vellum, which are heavy but not overpowering, and a hint of tuberose takes over for the initial tobacco.
The fragrance lasts for quite a long time, and while it might not suit everyone’s taste, it’s a must-try if you find the scent of ancient libraries comforting.
The Flannel Shirt: Bois D’Ascese by Naomi Goodsir
Notes: tobacco, whiskey, cinnamon, amber, cistus labdanum, oakmoss, Smoked cade wood, Somalian incense
I have assigned our next scent to the flannel shirt, but really it could go with any of your more rugged tops: cable knit, ragg wool, fleece. Essentially, this fragrance will immediately transport you to a roaring bonfire, so it pairs beautifully with your warmest outdoor gear. I’m a flannel girl myself, as I find wool to be a bit scratchy on my delicate baby skin.
I am in love with this fragrance. It smells just like the smoke from a bonfire: dry, pungent, tarry. However, it doesn’t stay there. The intense smoky opening blossoms into a soft, resin-y incense. Oakmoss and labdanum transform the smoke into something warmer and more seductive than your average campfire.
Upon learning that the name translates into "wood asceticism," I smell meditation around a flame, incense on an altar, comfort. It becomes a very personal scent, close to the skin. I think it would be delicious on a man or a woman.
It wore for a long time on my skin, and even though I could still smell the sweet amber-whisky, I applied another splash before heading out for my birthday celebration so I could experience the transition from smoke to smooth again.
The Borrowed-and-Snuggled-from-your-Significant-Other: 1826 by Histoires de Parfums
Notes: bergamot, tangerine, white flowers, violet, cinnamon, ginger, patchouli, amber, incense, blond woods, white musk, vanilla
The sweater you borrow from the person you love (or even tolerate) steps up the cozy quotient. It’s an intimate thing to wear another person’s garment, especially fresh from his or her back, the warmth still lingering.
I don’t hope to alienate those of you who are without someone with whom to share sweaters, so I will add that this fragrance is seductive and elegant enough for a first date, soft enough for a night at home with a good book.
The idea of the shared sweater came to me as I realized that this scent is more unisex than the listed notes would suggest, and the sillage is understated enough that your partner, no matter their sex, would have to get pretty close to enjoy it.
On my skin, a spicy bergamot gives way to an abundance of patchouli, but it is softened by a bit of cedar. It becomes creamy with vanilla, and a sharp pop of violet keeps it from going too dark. It is so well blended that, after the initial heavy spice, no one note seems to dominate. A smooth, supple, luxurious aura surrounds the skin, and it’s disappointing that the longevity isn’t better than average.
This almost-gourmand, fluffy, airy patchouli is worth trying, especially if you’re a fan of Prada or Tom Ford White Patchouli.
Your Softest, Fluffiest Cashmere: What We Do in Paris is Secret by a Lab on Fire
Notes: bergamot, honey, lychee, Turkish rose essence, tonka bean, vanilla, heliotrope, tolu, sandalwood, ambergris, musk
I am a big fan of cashmere. My cashmere is sensible and comes in everyday colors like navy and taupe. My girliest sweater is a turtleneck, but it is soft, soft, soft.
What We Do in Paris is Secret is a scent that surrounds and holds onto your skin like a plush, double-ply, heavenly soft pink cashmere set of pajamas--sexy pajamas. It’s the most feminine of my sweater scents, and decidedly unlike me because it is so sweet, but it is good, good, good.
The big secret in Paris must include eating marzipan and honey in bed. The fragrance opens with a golden honey and a bit of green from the bergamot and lychee. The honey lifts and sweetens with layers of almond-y heliotrope and vanilla.
It smells comfortable and familiar, not challenging. Just when I thought I couldn’t take the sweetness, the rose and sandalwood arrive to add a bit of sophistication. The sweetness is not a baby-cupcake-cheap-juvenile-sweetness, but something more mature, sexier, dirtier, like a sweetness worn on the back of your lover’s knee, rumpled overnight in the sheets.
The nose behind this perfume is Dominique Ropion, who is also responsible for Carnal Flower, Amirage, and Alien, so you know you’ve got something interesting, at the very least.
Apparently, I find warmth and comfort somewhere between a nice roaring fire, a glass of whiskey, honey, and old books. Also, sweater weather is much appreciated before it wears out its welcome--so like, for a good three weeks, maybe.
What scents are your go-to winter fragrances? Any good recommendations for cheap cashmere?