One's own nose.
As years passed, people have become more adventurous in their choice of perfumes. Some men are using fragrances targeted for women and vice-versa. The question in mind is, putting aside the swanky, luxurious bottle designs, how do someone determine whether or not a particular fragrance is masculine or feminine and to what extend? Are there certain notes in a fragrance that lean towards a certain gender and if so, what are they specifically?
For eg, Sycomore by Chanel is targeted towards women but based on brief personal experience and looking at reviews, posts and videos, I can see that men love to wear them more than women do.
If a stubbled faced man wearing a suit, suave and brim with confidence, was to wear Daisy from Marc Jacobs, would any of his male peers judge his masculinity?
What are your thoughts?
One's own nose.
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This can be subjective as what is masculine to one person is feminine to someone else. As a rule of thumb for me anything too flowery/floral is feminine and fragrances heavy on tobacco and patchouli etc are masculine. The problem now days is the rise of the unisex scents where they mixing traditional feminine/masculine notes together so the line is blurred. But as others have said let your nose be your guide.
"Yes, Nature’s road must ever be preferred;
Reason is here no guide, but still a guard [...]"
Alexander Pope, Essay on Man (II).
Really, to me it's silly to think of something like fragrance as being masculine or feminine. It's all man-made. There's nothing intrinsically more feminine about floral scents compared to woody ones. That said, if one sticks to the traditionally accepted categories of masculine and feminine, it's all up to the nose, really. If you feel comfortable wearing it, wear it.
First, it's pretty subjective, as others have said. Especially when something is classified as unisex, since it can really go both ways on how you (or people around you) take it.
Second, most sites that sell frags will be pretty good about labeling in a generic sense. If you screw that up, people looking for "masculine" or "feminine" stuff to browse will miss out on the product.
Third, for me, when I try something out, I decide for myself if it's something I could smell on a guy (including myself) or if I'd rather smell it on a lady. Sometimes smelling a scent immediately brings to mind a woman, which is pretty clearly a feminine scent, to me.
Lastly, I don't try out much women's perfumes, but I will say I tend to consider very many "men's" scents as pretty unisex.
There are certain notes that many people regard as closer to one gender; if you really want to know you could ask the people around you as they are the ones that will be smelling it along with you. If you like a scent that most people find more appropriate for the other gender but you don't, the only thing left is how confident you are to disregard their perception.
I guess your nose will do the judgement once you smell it
I tend to favor strong, "masculine" scents but I wear what I like, including several that are marketed as "women's" fragrances. The conventions are pretty fluid, especially these days. Pretty much everything that Coco Chanel did was inflected towards the masculine; it was part of what made her chic. Vetiver based fragrances like Sycomore are traditionally as masculine as pants but of course women wear those nowadays.
As was said recently on another thread, most people are so unsophisticated about fragrances that they don't know what is supposed to be masculine or feminine unless it is an extremely well known scent. I think they tend to associate feminine with "strong and sweet" which a lot of male-marketed fragrances are these days.
Fruits also, the more exotic (for a western consumer) the better; guava, kumquat, dragon fruit, lychee. Fruity gourmands for men will be the next big thing.
In general, masculines tend to have something sharp or "textural," as I like to think of certain notes (like dry, herbal ones), so wood and citrus are obvious, along with herbal ones. Leather can go either way. It can be hard, dry, textured, or it can be soft, plush, and velvety. Feminines tend to have soft and "rounded" qualities. Florals are generally good for this, though some, like lavender, can have that textured qualities and so are considered more masculine.
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The thing is, I like this more textured quality. And I don't like overtly floral scents (with a few exceptions). That's why I like lots of masculine scents. And some of my officially feminine scents lean towards the unisex side as well...
Touchstones for me related to this issue are the Aramis/Lauder lines. Based on wrist-to-wrist comparisons (except Aramis/Azuree, which I've only smelled separately) Aramis, Aramis 900, JHL, and Devin are ALMOST identical to Azuree, (Clinique) Aromatics Elixir, Cinnabar, and Aliage.
Yet Aramis, JHL and Devin (maybe not so much Aramis 900) are often described as hyper-masculine, even though they are almost identical to female-marketed fragrances. This example illustrates to me just how arbitrary and blurred the lines are, and just how much our perceptions are influenced by expectation.
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To me anything that is heavy on the flowers my brain starts screaming "this is feminine" therefore I would not wear it. My brain also screams "this is feminine" for any scent that reminds me of any of the women in my life, lucky for me none of them have ever worn anything like Sycomore.
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To me, a feminine perfume is a perfume I think would smell better on a lady.
For example, I have gone through 2 bottles of Black Orchid since I find it as masculine as it is feminine. But I find Carnal Flower to be more lady suited.
if something smells girly to you than its girly if it smells manly then its manly, its the same with cars, there are a lot of nice good looking cars that i just think look feminine, other cars are definitely masculine. and some are blured
Excellent post by Bigsly. Textures and tones are qualities that often get overlooked, overshadowed by notes per se. Florals for example may come across as feminine or masculine depending on how they are textured by the supporting players. Conventionally masculines often feel 'spiky' to me.
after a year and something i found my own scale........and this is the level of floral vs the lvl of smokey/bitter notes.....
by that categorisation Sycomore is just slightly smokey, too little to be real masculine to me (but its that smokey note i think men are attracted to and recognize it as masculine).....Cuir D Arabie as well does not posses any of smokeiness....i agree with someone who mentiones leather as unisex....
and this is what makes Samsara, feminine only and Knize 10 masculine only to me , or Or Black......or why i could not wear Nicolai pour Homme although sweet, floral , nice, it had too much of smokey note for me.....
Amouage Tribute is beautiful masculine, but apart from smokey there is more of oud notes and some florals that make it wearable for me...--
and Homage percieved as feminine by many men becasue it has no smokey notes and much more floral notes...
there are other things that can be put as floral vs smokey....in opposition....like
sweet vs green/citrus....but i think floral vs smokey are the core.