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The Adventures of a Canadian Fragonaut

Fragrance limits at the new workplace

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The past month has been an interesting experience in terms of fragrances because I've changed to a new day-job with a completely different environment, feel, and in some sense, culture. For the past month, in addition to learning what I need to learn in order to do well with work-related matters, I've also had to try to figure out what the unstated limits are with regards to my choice of fragrances at work.

Things began on a worrisome note. On my first day, I saw on the pixelboard in the elevator lobby: "Are you for or against a fragrance-free workplace? Vote now." Sure enough, there was a survey on the intranet for people to have their say on this matter. It didn't help much that the place feels much more conservative and restrained than my last two offices. Part of this is probably the fact that I've gone from metropolitan downtown offices to an office in a much smaller city. It's a bigger office with more people, but the feel is very, very different.

I had been working in offices where I wore almost anything in my wardrobe - from a calm Guerlain Vetiver to a much louder Black Aoud, from a restrained Bulgari PH to a bolder Bandit EDT. In fact, on one of my last days in my previous position, my boss and I went to a meeting with people from outside our organization and on that day I wore Shalimar just a bit stronger than intended. It wasn't an issue at all. But with that announcement greeting me on the ground floor of the new office, I knew I had stepped into a very different environment.

A week later, the results on the survey showed that 51% of people voted Yes to a fragrance-free environment, and 49% voted No to such a restriction. Thankfully it wasn't a majority of folks saying "ban all fragrances!" Still, I didn't have a good read on the environment, the culture, and the boundaries yet. I've tended to go light and conservative this past month. Sometimes I do that anyways, but on days when I feel bolder and louder, I want to wear something bolder and louder. I felt hemmed in, confining myself to just the quiet section of my wardrobe.

Then just last week, at a senior-level meeting on a Thursday afternoon, there was definitely something in the air. Was it me? Did I overapply my fragrance that day? I had done that the week before with Caron's 3me Homme, but no, this time it wasn't me. This was something rich and a little spicy reminding me of Shalimar, and on this particular day I wasn't wearing anything like that. Or so I thought - the heat in the office has led to some of my fragrances pumping out stronger notes than I had been accustomed to. I just wasn't sure if it was me or not.

Now this week, at the same weekly meeting, I caught the same fragrance in the air. This time, I knew it wasn't me because I was wearing Monsieur Balmain. I don't care what kind of temperatures you find yourself in, Monsieur Balmain will not turn into the warm, rich and spicy scent that was very noticeable in that boardroom. What I didn't know was who was wearing that fragrance. Then the next day, I found out. One of the senior managers walked into my office to discuss something, and sure enough, there was the fragrance that I had smelled the day before. Mystery solved! Sort of. I don't know her well enough to ask her what the exact fragrance is, but curiosity will eventually lead me to ask.

More important than simply finding out who was noticeably wearing a fragrance at the office, it let me get a better sense of where the bounds of acceptability are drawn in the proverbial sand!

So what am I going to start wearing to work now? Maybe some of my fragrances are still a bit much for this workplace, but now I know I can step a bit further and be more me each morning when I make my choice.

I still don`t know what the limits are for fragrance at this new workplace, but I sure am glad it`s a little more expansive than it seemed during this first month!
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Fragrant Musings

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