Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Arden Men - Sandalwood by Elizabeth Arden

Total Reviews: 14
Elizabeth Arden was locked in a 3-way battle royale with Estée Lauder and Charles Revson (Revlon) throughout the mid 20th century, as all three American cosmetic companies vied for the same upper-midlevel market segment that shopped at places like Macy's, Dillard's, Filene's, Hecht's, Bon Marche, etc. throughout the 20th century department store boom. During all this infighting, it was decided that they should all enter the men's segment with toiletries and fragrance; an area traditionally left to barbershops, apothecaries and dedicated perfumers for well over a century, but proving more lucrative as evidenced by fashion design houses already setting foot in that market. Elizabeth Arden would be the first into the market with a slew of masculines between 1956-1957, under names like Citruswood, Eau de Cologne Traditionale (probably a nod to Farina and 4711), Sandalwood, Oakwood, and No. 450. Charles Revson would simply one-up all this effort a year later with a single fragrance called "That Man", named after Arden's derogatory designation for him, while Estée Lauder would bide her time even more, eventually launching a whole separate company division with the house of Aramis in 1965; I believe she ultimately got the last laugh. Arden's efforts here can be seen as probably the most hurried and least invested, as most of the selections in the original Arden for Men range supposedly build on single notes but don't often smell like the name on the bottle suggests, as is the case with this. Unsurprisingly, almost all the varieties in this initial line would survive only a short time, and the Elizabeth Arden company would never make another masculine fragrance under it's own line again, going the route of buying or licensing lines from other designers in need of Arden's impressive logistics.

Sandalwood seems to have survived as the strongest of this series, and it's for good reason; despite not really smelling much like the sandalwood promised on the bottle, it comes across as a floral and dry chypre with a creamy finish, an aromatic citrus scent with the warmth of sandalwood that holds it's own against the great examples made by French houses in this period. Revlon's competing "That Man" may have ultimately been the more focused and distinct of the two, but the earlier Arden for Men Sandalwood is definitely more complex, which is ironic due to the single-note construction it's name otherwise suggests. Sandalwood opens with the expected lemon and lavender, sage and bergamot; these top notes are almost taken for granted in a mid-century men's chypre, but while they have the expected urinous quality, they don't pierce the night quite like some others from this period. Instead, the heart of cedar, vetiver, patchouli, herbs, and geranium comes up fast to replace what is otherwise a subtly pissy opening with an airiness that eventually leads into the namesake sandalwood. True fans of sandalwood would undoubtedly give up long before the eponymous note comes out to play in this, so it's definitely more for an open mind interested in an interpretation of sandalwood via classic perfumery than a direct extrait of the stuff. The base also has your typical chypre name-dropping, with labdanum and moss, musk, amber, and special guests tonka and opopanax making the track listing. It's woodsy and very refined in the dry down, becoming a rather satisfying, smooth traditional gentlemen's scent, just only suggestive of it's primary accord rather than screaming it.

The scent continued to be made throughout the decades and sold right up until the mid 2000's where Arden finally gave it the axe, it was popular mostly in Europe where classic fragrance is still valued and competes more fairly with current releases, and it's last production runs can be found bearing "Made in Italy" on the bottles. The entire Arden for Men line seemed to be aimed at the less-knowledgeable working stiff of the 1950's who wouldn't think to fact-check if the scent in the bottle matched the name, which is expected from the age of Yoo-Hoo pseudo-chocolate and Kellogg's Apple Jacks which are apple in name alone. Contrary to the disingenuous marketing, it seems the nose behind this had half a mind to make the most of the situation and turn this into a decent "dapper gent scent" that stands tall alongside French greats like Monsieur Givenchy and Chanel Pour Monsieur. Yeah, it's not full of nearly as much distinctive character as those, and comes across a little remiss to folks seeing it's name and looking for a stronger sandalwood presence than something like Chanel's Égoïste (1990), but what you get is a pleasantly classy aromatic chypre surrounded by the typical dryness of the period and a unique woodsy glow that adds a tad of sweet warmth to an otherwise pale masculine. It's the ultimate sleeper cologne: dressed down on the outside, and dressed to the nines once sprayed on skin, just don't tell anyone it's supposed to smell like sandalwood.
25th December, 2017 (last edited: 21st February, 2018)
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States
Vintage Arden Men Sandalwood was an amazing fragrance--refined, masculine, old-school in the best way and really rather sexy. Given the numerous notes, this is clearly not a single note sandalwood fragrance. Sandalwood is there throughout, but it is sandalwood in the abstract. Sandalwood all dressed up in a fine man's cologne. It is so finely tuned, so balanced between exotic and expected, staid and sexy, traditional and progressive (for its time) that the only other scent I can compare it to is the excellent Dunhill for Men form 1934. They both smell of well dressed, well heeled, well appointed gentlemen and are timeless, despite both being so old school in their structure. I am told that the reformulation is a travesty and I cannot bring myself to smell it for fear of being devastated. Possibly the best thing from this house, along with the late, great woman's scent Bluegrass.
04th February, 2015
It's OK

I bought this looking to explore sandalwood as a single note. Unfortunately, this is as related to sandalwood as fettuccine alfredo is to Italy. What you get instead is a pretty standard fare, generic old school edc. It's light, barbershop opening, then a simple woods and spice combo that relies on your skin's natural musk to carry it along...which suggests it would be a hit on the right skin, just not mine

I use my bottle to add that certain old school flair to modern day frags that are too 'today' for their own good. Cool Water Deep plus this is a beauty I find hard to resist.

Pros: Defines old school, good reference scent
Cons: Where is the sandalwood?

30th June, 2013
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Swanky Show all reviews
United States
Old School to the bone - bone dry, that is. Denizens of the barbershop era of men's colognes: Brut, Aqua Velva, Jade East, et al will recognize the DNA of Arden's sharpish lavender-sandalwood accord. Apart from the hint of lemon, I don't get much more from this than those notes. No problem. It's 1957 and Frank's singing "I'm A Fool To Want You" on the turntable and the fire's roaring away in the fireplace. And Kim Novak's taking your tie off...
21st March, 2013
shamu1 Show all reviews
United States
I really like Arden's Sandalwood, and I love sandalwood, but I can't say this will appeal to your average sandalwood fan. That's because the sandalwood in this is not the warm, sweet, milky grade of sandalwood we're all used to. Instead, the sandalwood here is dry and soapy, and it's not until a couple of hours into your wearing this that the sandalwood loses its astringency and starts to develop a semi-creamy texture. The drydown is almost all sandalwood, and it is smooth, but it never becomes sweet. The sandalwood is austere, rather than soothing.

However, that's not a problem for me. I like this scent because it's a total throwback, old-school fragrance that is representative of its 1950s birth era. For the first hour or two, it has as much lavender as it does sandalwood, and together they create a scent that is at once soapy and powdery. Arden's sandalwood is the antithesis of hip.

Open minded sandalwood fans would do well to check this out, since it is an atypical presentation of sandalwood. Fans of old-school colognes like English Leather or Kanon, however, are sure to enjoy this.

09th April, 2012
The newer version opens with a stong cedary lavender, soon becomes a quiet mix of lavander and sandalwood, and then is very soft. However, the older stuff is distinctly sandalwood from begining to end, and without much lavender at all, and the creamy sandalwood is notable in the drydown.

The new version is OK, but the vintage is really better... at least for someone who appreciates the nuances of natural sandalwood.

30th October, 2010
this fragrance is aromatherapy more than perfume/cologne

i've kept three essential oils in my home pretty much all the time for the last 6 years
lavender, sandalwood, and tea tree

this smells like lavender, which i only use for acne and do not enjoy especially
this is not sandalwood so much

there's a hint of it in there, but it's heavy on lavender
luckily, it's not the piercing medicinal kind i would associate with a type A elderly nurse
but it's not sandalwood

still, it's grown on me and i'm glad i have it as it layers well with musk
it's simple enough to temper sickly sweet things and soft in its herbish ways and means

most people would find it pleasing, as do i
24th February, 2010
If you love sandalwood, and I do, Arden Men should be in your wardrobe. Pretty lenient, this eau do cologne scent has surprisingly strong sillage and longevity. If you want to smell as if you've just stepped out of the barbershop, all clean and lightly powdered, you can't go wrong with a genial classic like Arden Men. I ardently love it.
06th April, 2009
A wonderful sandalwood fragrance. It is ostensibly masculine and harsh upon first spraying, but its character is tempered by warm woody notes and a soft drydown that make it almost a unisex cologne. An appealing and genial aroma.
29th September, 2008
First of all let me say that this is a fantastic barbershop fragrance! One of the best I have encountered in a long time. Where Antico Caruso and Rive Gauche for men are great Italian and French barbershop smells, this is a great American barbershop scent. It is a stylish classic. Maybe it's a tad dated, but even in allowing that, I mean "dated" in a good way. It's the smell of a well-groomed gent. Yes, it's a little nostalgic, and it would probably appeal most to men over 40, like me. The name is a bit misleading, Sandalwood doesn't really play a leading role for most of the development of AMS. At first there is far more lavender than anything else. Then, a little later, lavender shares the stage with sandalwood, and they do a terrific duet. Then it becomes mostly sandalwood with lavender support, but at that point, 4 to 5 hours after application, the fragrance stays pretty close to the skin. It is by then soft, dry, mellow, straight-forward sandalwood, but it is subltle. It is clean, masculine, and gobs of lovely character. Where some others try, and sometimes suceed,in evoking a classic scent--this is the real McCoy; the iconic scent they are trying to emulate. The makers were out of their minds to discontinue this. All I can say in summation is: if you "get it", and if you can get it, go get it!
27th October, 2007
Don't tell me they're discontinuing this?!?! This is the PERFECT fragrance for a man from the 60s. It is almost purely sandalwood (a very popular scent for incense in the 60s). I LOVE this fragrance and am disappointed that they're discontinuing it. With all the woody fragrances around like Gucci PH and YSL's M7, as well as Creed's Tabarome Millesime or even Vintage Tabarome, this fits very nicely within that group. Yes, I'll say it, the sales execs at Elizabeth Arden are STUPID to discontinue this genuine one-of-a-kind fragrance. And the fact that it LASTS is good too. There are too many fragrances nowadays that don't last even 5 minutes. Instead of discontinuing this fragrance, they should try promoting it and re-launching, directing it at those aging baby boomers and older retirees who play golf all day. It is the perfect scent for them! In my opinion, it really smells like a wealthy man's fragrance. So, if anyone from Elizabeth Arden reads this review, PLEASE don't discontinue this quite yet. With the right promo, it could be a BIG seller.
25th May, 2007
This is a fragrance that I've always loved to smell on a guy. Interestingly, it always reminded me of a freshly-opened bar of Neutrogena soap . . . not in a 'soapy' way, but that clean, healthy aroma that always made me want to help them hurry up and get a little dirty! I've purchased a bottle recently, but, as with a couple of other discontinued fragrances I've bought, it had that 'off' smell. The nuances are not there. I do wish they'd bring it back. Sigh.
14th March, 2007
Potent stuff, and definitely NOT for those who eschew heavy doses of lavender. (The opening sprays are akin to cannon fire, not cologne.) But give it time to dry -- PLEASE. This is one scent that will either grow on you (as it has on me) or be put up for swap very soon. (As with A*men and other frags, there seems to be no middle ground on this one.)

The sandalwood used here is positively bone dry, but the opopanax helps give it more depth in the drydown. The cedar notes may bother some twenty or thirty minutes into the drydown, so be forewarned. (They don't bother me, but I know how many folks are with cedar.)

A good, solid, old school men's scent all around, but will have its definite detractors in the "Tommy Generation."

Still fairly available even though discontinued.
02nd November, 2006
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I first purchased this in the late sixties and had not seen it for many, many years. I recently found it on-line and bought a fairly large bottle. It's like meeting an old friend again. It is a smooth, heavy mixture of lavender and sandalwood and would be ideal - in my mind - for a guy in a tweed jacket. Although discontinued, it can still be obtained at a number of on-line merchants.
26th November, 2002