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  1. #1

    Default Your tender mercies . . .

    Dear Basenotes aficionados,

    I have always been sensitive to odors in the context of food and living space, but I have recently become very intrigued with scent as an aspect of personal esthetics and identity. I have been experimenting with essential oils and playing with various combinations for a variety of moods and purposes.

    In addition to becoming fascinated with the idea of personalized, personality-based scents, I am re-entering the dating scene at age 50 after a rather traumatic divorce and a longish period of recovery. I think a good scent or two would help my confidence in potentially romantic settings, which frankly could use a boost. My goal is to experiment with a number of scents and then settle down fairly quickly on a few signature scents. I have really enjoyed the intelligence, wit, and wisdom that I see in this community. I beg your tender mercies and the benefit of your advice as I venture out into these perilous waters, and ask for your best recommendation for scents that I should consider.

    Here is some information about me to form a basis for a recommendation.

    I am very tall and stocky and generally project a sort of rumpled academic persona, ranging from boyish enthusiasm to ponderous or even pedantic. I am a non-profit professional (law and economics), working on policies to combat global warming and on labor-environmental cooperation, and project myself as an activist and strategist as an essential and core part of my persona. I have a complex and non-traditional relationship history about which I am open, and can imagine being comfortable in scents that are traditionally masculine or fairly feminine. I need to overcome a shy nerdiness that can look like social incompetence in the early phases of getting to know someone, though I also have a reputation as a confidant and advisor among those who know me better. Women (and the rare man) that I date are virtually certain to be leftist intellectuals of some sort. I live in the San Francisco bay area.

    To work for me, a scent would have to have certain qualities:

    It should have a wide appeal among the demographic of leftist intellectuals.

    It should be appropriate for wear on a date. (And if it would be grossly inappropriate for office wear, I hope you will add a warning to that effect).

    It should be distinctive and memorable.

    It should support an image or a set of qualities that would helpful and appealing in a dating setting. I mean this in two senses: first, that it should evoke those qualities in the woman who smells it, and second, that it should be a tool to help me invoke those qualities in myself.

    It should not smell like over-ripe fruit or laundry detergent.

    I am willing to spend some money on something that works for me, but it should not be so outrageously expensive as to be unsuitable for daily wear by someone with the income of a nonprofit professional.

    Again, my thanks for whatever guidance you can provide.

    Beanxx, AKA Andrew

  2. #2

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    Welcome, Andrew. It is nice to meet you (sort of). I'm not sure if this counts as an appropriate term for two people to properly be introduced to one another.

    Anyway, I have the perfect scent for you. This is my opinion of the perfect scent so don't be worried if you are turned off by it. It is Tea for Two by L'Artisan Parfumeur. It is a unisex fragrance, but a little more on the masculine side, IMO (in my opinion). It is an amazing blend of smokey tea leaves that gives a light yet captivating hold on your nose. It is sweetened up and smoothed out by a lovely honey note. There is a little bit of a woody spice to give it a pleasent kick. It is not too strong though. It is a drifting fragrance that gives off a low and constant sillage that does not agrivate the nose nor make you feel sick when you smell it for hours. It is a very romantic scent.

    This fragrance is a little on the expensive side but worth what you pay for it. Retail is usually $75 for a 1.7oz and $110 for a 3.4oz. I've never seen it sold on Basenotes in full bottle form. I assume it is because everyone who owns it, loves it. It happens to be my favorite scent of all times. My girlfriends have loved it. It is my special dating scent. It's only appropriate for special moments with me. I don't want to waste it. It is appropriate for any situation though. It is very versatile.

    This is the single fragrance that I suggest to you. I hope you enjoy it.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    I think you need to play up the "gravitas" and also go unmistakably French. Perhaps a guerlain like habit rouge? Or possibly a vetiver (Guerlain, Creed 1948 or Vetiver extraordinaire by Malle) or tobacco (Creed tabarome, vintage or milisime).

    I don't know tea for two but I can see where envyous is coming from.

    Best advice is to pick a few and obtain decants/samples from people here on basenotes, try them out and enjoy the process of seeing what works for you.

    Good luck, please let us know what you decide.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder


  4. #4

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    Wow, thanks Russell!

    What I especially like about your description is the emotional atmosphere that the scent of tea evokes for me, one of relaxation or civilized conversation, bracing yet peaceful. Not, perhaps, the ideal mood for the latter part of date three, but perfect for date one.

    And i am not even sure of the "date three" qualification. I had a lover once with whom I was working on a project to develop a slide show and narrative about feminist art. I was living in a distant city and visiting, and we only had about two hours to spend together. We so desperately wanted both to talk about feminist esthetics, and so wanted to leap upon one another "like amorous birds of prey," that we ended up trying to do both at the same time. Not an entirely successful experiment, I would have to say, but one I still remember fondly.

    Tea for Two goes right to the top of my list of things to try.


  5. #5
    Basenotes Plus

    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    "Leftist" to what degree? L'Anarchiste?

  6. #6
    DustB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Washington, DC

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    I can't help but agree with the previous post here by Hirch. Follow that advice and you can't go wrong, but let me add a little on the process of finding a scent that inspires confidence.

    Scent selection is a personal thing. We're lead on the smell-wearing path by our very own noses. All members here can tell you a list of scents they think will fit you and the situations you describe, but each of those scents on each of those lists is one the member has found to fit to his or her personal taste and personal taxonomy of which scent belongs to what circumstance. We could list names until you're blue in the face, you could pick the most mentioned of them and buy it and wear it and be happy, same as if a friend bought you a scent as a present. But if that's what happens then it's like we are getting you a present but you're the one paying for it with your own money. That's no fun. If you want to pay for it yourself, you should have the fun of trying it out and picking it yourself so that you know it is you that has both picked it and paid for it. That's confidence building, and it makes the smell YOURS and not ours.

    There are thousands of scents out there though, and you need help beginning to find something you'll like. Fortunately you live in the SF area, and SF has some of the best scent shopping opportunities in the country. Awful as big stores are, the major department stores by Union Square have ranges of plenty of things you can smell and test without purchasing. That's a great resource and you should use it.

    I say start off with the offerings for men by the great scent houses that are easily available. Go somewhere and smell the men's scents from Guerlain: Vetiver, Habit Rouge, Heritage if it's available, and the new one, L'Instant pour Homme. Get to know what those are like. You can't go wrong wearing any of them and if you pick one of them you're showing great taste and wisdom. (Guerlain has made a few other men's scents that are older or harder to find, so I don't mean to give you an exhaustive list or one of preference--if you find other men's scents by Guerlain try them with the same weight as you do the one's I've listed.)

    Four scents to pick from is a nice range, and all from a high quality manufacturer. Next, pick another manufacturer. Pick Chanel's scents for men, for example. Chanel Pour Homme Concentrée, Egoiste, Egoiste Platinum, Antaeus, and even Allure pour Homme. See if any of those are the olfactory costume you can see yourself walking around in for days in the life. Could be, could not be. But which of these, or the Guerlains, is best for dates, and which for workdays, weekends, parties, shaking hands at functions where you're trying to win people over? Ack! Which will fit best? Help me decide! I don't know and don't want to shoot myself in the foot!

    Well, you'll be surprised how you do know the answers to these when-to-wear-what questions. Smell Guerlains, which will work in all of the above situations, smell the Chanels, most of which will also, and you'll see yourself in each smell costume in the situation you imagine. Same as you imagine what you'll be like in all those different situations, imagine yourself in a smell and you'll figure out which smell will fit best.

    After Guerlain and Chanel, smell the men's scents by Hermès. Bel Ami, Equipage, Rocabar, Eau d'Orange Verte (this one doesn't last long on the skin), and maybe Eau des Merveilles or the new one, Terre d'Hermes. You can't go wrong or be any sort of fool wearing any of these. You smell them, you pick the one you like best. You'll know which is for you when you smell it.

    After those houses seek out the harder to find but still widely available scents for men by Caron. L'Anarchiste is the most recent, Pour Un Homme, Yatagan, and The Third Man ("3e Homme") are spectacular in their individual ways.

    If you follow this program you'll be men's scent literate. You'll know scents better than 99.9% of the population. The above listed scents are of such quality and individuality that you'll probably remember each one long after you've given it a shot, and thus they probably won't run together in your mind. After you know and have picked the ones you like from this list of houses, and I'll be shocked if you find nothing in these houses that pleases you, branch into anything out there. Smell women's scents. Smell some of the new high-fashion small producer "niche" houses, smell some of the gamut of recent foody-smelling dessert scents, and smell the abundance of oceanic, ozonic, and citrusy scents out there. Anything that appeals to you, no boundaries.

    Rememer that when you're at a fragrance counter the sales person behind it, from whom you're going to ask to see the range of Guerlain scents for men, is going to try to get you to smell anything out there that he/she can sell you. Maybe he/she gets a greater commission on something the store is trying to promote that week, whatever. He/she is going to try to keep you smelling whatever "the latest" or whatever he/she says is going to surely appeal to you or fit your work/romantic needs. Bullshit. I strongly urge you to reject all those other smell tangents he/she trys to take you onto. Save those for once you've tried Guerlain, Chanel, Hermès, and Caron, or until after the Chanel class, I don't really care, but I strongly urge you to stick to the classics I've listed for now. Once you know them, and this is important, you'll know what a quality perfume product is and you'll be able to see how poorly any of the tangent scents out there measure up against the gold standards. Remember, only one in twenty, maybe one in fifty, scent sales people is any good. They're out for themselves, they aren't scent literate like you're going to be, and in contrast to them, here at Basenotes we gain nothing by the advice we give you. Well, we feel good about ourselves when we try hard and lead someone to a beautiful scent costume, sure, so we do gain something.

    Good luck, and think of all the nose candy you've got the pleasure of waiting to explore. How many times I wish I could discover Caron's products all over again, as if they had never passed my nose before.

    Very best,
    Last edited by DustB; 16th October 2006 at 11:16 PM.
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    Dear Hirch --
    Thanks for your exelent suggestions. I have really enjoyed reading the reviews. A woman-friend of mine who is helping me sharpen my wardrobe gave me essentially the same advice (thoug she used the term "dom vibe" rather than "gravitas." Well, it is the Bay)

    I particularly liked the description of Habit Rouge as "A favorite of diversified oddballs" (including Tony Blair!). It captures my current and intended social circle so precisely.

    Perhaps you can give me just a tad of reassurance with respect to the other items on your list. I purchased vials of vetiver essential oil and tobacco absolute and have been smelling them straight from the bottle, and they are pretty overwhelming. Pure vetiver doesn't just just smell like a root, it smells like you are under the tree. And I am puzzled by the "burnt" smell of my tobacco absolute, which smells like cigar ash, rather than what I expected, which was more like putting your nose in a pouch of pipe tobacco, a smell I have always adored. I assume that proper blending tames this intensity, yes? And that no one smelling tobacco-centered colognes would mistake me for a smoker? Or might they?

    Thanks again for your suggestions which I have added to my list. If I can figure out how to use the Basenotes Marketplace, I will try to order samples of as many as possible by the end of the week. I'm excited!

    Bright blessings,

  8. #8

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by stuigi
    "Leftist" to what degree? L'Anarchiste?
    -- writes Stuigi

    This is a difficult question to answer, in America where Left tendencies are so discredited and so widely misunderstood. I am a bit of a syncretist, I am afraid. I might call myself a democratic socialist, though the anarchisms have much to teach about the danger of state power. I find the various Euro-socialisms and the efforts to construct a "market" socialism interesting. I am also drawn to the critiques and some of the suggestions of those who think that we should design our economy to better supports the happiness and/or spiritual development of the average citizen.

    And we clearly need better and more effective management of the commons. I include in this category both things that should be collectively managed because they are natural public goods, and the common heritage we have received from the bounty of nature: the air, water, and land; biodiversity and the many genomes; the accumulated learning of the ages; access to the broadcast spectrum, outer space, the deep sea bed, and so forth.

    Perhaps more than anything else I am drawn to the "three-legged stool" of sustainability, which seeks policies that harmonize a strong economy, a healthy environment, and social justice, all in the context of a time-frame extending into the distant future. I am frankly uncertain what political and economic institutions best serve that goal.

    I fear this was more answer than you wanted. I find it dificult to speak tersely when I am so confused about things that so occupy my heart and mind.

    God/dess bless,

  9. #9
    DustB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Washington, DC

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    L'Anarchiste is a fragrance for men by Caron. Stuigi was likely playing on words and the joke that it would be if our scent's names truly matched our politics.
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by DustB
    L'Anarchiste is a fragrance for men by Caron. Stuigi was likely playing on words and the joke that it would be if our scent's names truly matched our politics.

    Well, i did say "ponderous or even pedantic." Now you know i aint foolin'
    <blushes, puts the toe of one foot on top of the other>

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Tacoma, WA

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    There are some good suggestions here, and I almost think DustB's post should be reprinted and given to everyone before they even start checking anywhere else. The classics are classic for a reason, and are a solid place to start, rather than the shifting sands of whatever is new and popular.

    Nonetheless, when I read your self-description and what you were looking for in a fragrance, Bond No. 9 New Haarlem came to mind. This is a unisex fragrance with many modern elements, yet warm and interesting as well. Notes include bergamot, cedarwood, coffee, vanilla, patchouli, and lavender. It's a feel-good fragrance, but also stimulating and could work as well in political discourse, as in more romantic settings.


  12. #12

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    I recommend the following:

    Eau Sauvage Extreme by Christian Dior
    Jicky by Guerlain
    Paco Rabanne XS by Paco Rabanne
    Scenteurs de Patchouli by Molinard

  13. #13

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    Welcome aboard Andrew!
    First of all congrats for the nice and open introduction of yourself, hoping it to be followed by many other nice posts here.
    Speaking about smellies, you'll learn and grow in experiencing as everybody did here, but for sure some important advices in chosing a good scent that suits yourself have been given here. Just be curious and let your nose be the judge.
    Said that, what I can advice you to try is Etro Palais Jamais: it seems to exude the qualities you look for. Starting green it gives a perfect appeal for all day wear, moreover projection is good but not overpowering. Then the heart is slightly floral with leather hints giving a not too macho impression and letting the door open to some romance and leisure (good even for the 3rd date... ). Then the base has a woody warmth with smoky hints that exude self confidence with a touch of mystery and sexyness. Moreover the whole allure this scent exudes is not a posh sophistication but more of an alternative "radical-chic" class. That's why here this juice has maybe not many but deeply afficionados among both men and women.

  14. #14
    Bakerloo Line's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Boston Metrowest

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    DustB -
    Your 16 October post (the long one) is just about the best thing I've read on this forum. It should be mandatory reading. Kudos!

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    New Jersey

    Default Re: Your tender mercies . . .

    Only "Posner Pour Homme" will work.

    In rotation: Greenbriar (new), Silver Mountain Water, Dunhill for Men (1934), Acqua di Parma Colonia, Habit Rouge EDC, Ho Hang, B*Men, Agua Brava

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