Americans spend $4.2 billion on fragrance each year. Much of that spending will be happening soon, with the holidays right around the corner. And while fragrance is a great gift idea (and stocking stuffer), it can be tricky when shopping for others. Think: with a every little spritz or dab, you are essentially defining your personality. We’re here to help. In this guide, we’ve outlined a few character types and matched them to the perfect unisex fragrance (plus one ultimate fragrance gift that anyone would love). Hopefully, you’ll find something for all of your giftees here.
These confident envelope-pushers aren’t shy. They like to stand out, but in a sharp, clean way. They’re influenced by ’80s music and its minimalist aesthetic. “Bold” celeb: Tilda Swinton
We recommend: Balenciaga Florabotanica Eau De Parfum. With floral notes of wild mint, rose, as well as deep, bold spices of amber and vanilla, this is a perfect scent for that wildcard on your list. If he or she is a little more understated, try Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum. It maintains those citrusy florals but lets the more woodsy amber and angelica root oils shine through.
Cerebral, civilized, these types are into film—indie releases, Woody Allen, anything starring Juliette Binoche. They like to finish dinner with an espresso and appreciate a well-made, fitted leather jacket. They love cooler weather, changing leaves, and have the uncanny ability to find the perfect song to match their (usually romantic) mood at any moment. They are also a bit old-fashioned; a “classy” type often still sends handwritten thank-you notes.
>> “Classy” celeb: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
We recommend: This old soul requires something more complex and spicy. Try Marc Jacobs Bang Eau De Toilette, a classic, woodsy–musky scent that works flawlessly on both men and women. If woodsy isn’t what you’re after, Acca Kappa White Moss Unisex Eau de Cologne is a more aromatic, fresh spice with a touch of lavender.
These easygoing individuals are up for anything—as long as they don’t already have plans. They’re charmers with great smiles and a let-things-roll attitude. Upbeat, transient music (think festivals like Coachella) is their thing, and they prefer a relaxed, good time. Their favorite season? Summer.
>> “Sweet” celeb: Drew Barrymore
We recommend: JOIE Folle de Joie Perfume with its front-running notes inspired by the California beaches and light citrus that levels out with rose, jasmine, and slight musk. Or, try Marc Jacobs Men Eau de Toilette (a personal fave!).
A more refined and poised individual who isn’t flashy, but still can turn up the energy for a night. The basics are just fine by them. They enjoy simpler pleasures: cooking at home, a good book, a classic concerto suite or two. Their informed and intelligent personalities carry them along, but could be enhanced with just a touch (not much) of a carefully selected, light fragrance.
>> “Subtle” celeb: Meryl Streep
We recommend: Thierry Mugler Alien Liqueur De Parfum, which has a muted yet fresh floral smell that ever-so-slightly peeks through. Also try Fresh Hesperides Grapefruit Eau De Parfum for just a pinch of understated yet refined citrus.
For Anyone and Everyone
This is the ultimate gift for any scent fanatic, or anyone who hasn’t quite been able to find their signature fragrance in a pre-packaged bottle: The Blend by Fred Segal. For $150, you get 10 small rollerballs, each in custom Italian glass and featuring a different base note.
You can wear them alone, or mix them together to create literally thousands of distinctive, custom scents. It’s worth noting that the package couldn’t be more beautiful—you get a travel case, a custom glass display stand, a guide to mixing scents, and step-by-step recipe cards. But you (or your lucky recipient) shouldn’t stick to those. The fun comes in experimenting, and the possibilities are endless!
And finally, if all else fails, get creative! Buy smaller fragrance bottles to mix and match on a custom combo for a personal signature scent—a few minis would make a great gift. We’re also huge fans of shops that let you create a customized, one-of-a-kind scent. You can gift your loved one a workshop at a local aromatherapy retailer and let them build their own scent based on different essential oil combinations. Their “scentologists,” as these fragrance-makers often call themselves, will keep individual, custom formulas on hand for whenever the bottle runs dry or a seasonal change is warranted. Another option we love: the Create Your Own Original Scent option from Original Scent (bonus: you can do it online!).
Which fragrances are you gifting this year?