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  1. #1

    Exclamation Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I'm new to this subjective and smelly world. Still haven't bought a bottle cause I'm searching for my "smell". Lo and behold I found about 6 signature smells, and I believe it's going to increase. YIKES.

    I've been doing pretty well by not having to buy a bottle yet and not spending much money on samples due to hunting down a bunch of perfume houses in the area.

    I noticed I've been surviving on samples and decants, and I'm NOT that hungry to buy a bottle just yet. Buying one would consist of... $150+. I figured for that amount I'll keep sampling and buying decants of my faves.

    Does anyone do this? Did you guys start off this way and ended up in the deep end full bottles? What's it like being so far deep?

    My top picks so far:

    1. JXXV by Amouage
    2. Memoir Man by Amouage
    3. Cardinal by Heeley
    4. Cuir Pleine Fleur by Heeley
    5. Oud by MFK (Wish it lasted more than 3 hours)
    6. Black Afgano by Nasomatto (in a very VERY strange way)
    7. Black Orchid by Tom Ford

    Yet to try: M7; Frederic Malle's line; Le Labo Oud, Santal, Rose; Caron; Guerlain Jicky; Amouage Attars

    Peace.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    It really depends. I would say a good 30% of my collection has been purchased as splits from members here or have participated by purchasing some of my owns splits that I run.

    It is a good way to have some fragrances that are not widely available, are expensive to own a full bottle or much cheaper to have through the larger volume bottle purchase that is being offered by the splitter.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    teepeeasel, I really think you are going about it the right way. It is much more common for folks new to the hobby to jump in and buy what is OK, or cheap or the first thing they liked. And before you know it, you have a ton of bottles and your taste keeps changing eveyr month as your experience does.

    Personally, I love the feel and look of a bottle, so I could never go full decants and samples. But I wish I had slowed down on full bottles early on and only purchased a bottle here and there of a true love.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    If one is not a collector, IMO it's a smart move to have most of your scents in decants and samples.
    To me, splits = decants

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Quote Originally Posted by cello View Post
    teepeeasel, I really think you are going about it the right way. It is much more common for folks new to the hobby to jump in and buy what is OK, or cheap or the first thing they liked. And before you know it, you have a ton of bottles and your taste keeps changing eveyr month as your experience does.

    Personally, I love the feel and look of a bottle, so I could never go full decants and samples. But I wish I had slowed down on full bottles early on and only purchased a bottle here and there of a true love.
    I agree.
    I'm not OLD...I'm VINTAGE!

  6. #6
    Basenotes Member IainCD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Hi there - I am doing pretty much the same as you. I have bought a couple of bottles but I don't intend to buy any more for a few more months and I love my samples. I can experience a huge range of scents (many of which are well out of my full bottle price range) and compare and contrast within a group (currently gathering 'ambers') and slowly make a list of things I might like to own more of. From someone who bought approximately two bottles of scent per year, I've turned into a bit of a fragrance nut but I could only afford to do it with my samples and I'm really enjoying it!

    I'm at the slightly annoying stage of liking pretty much everything at the moment BUT favourites at the moment (of my current samples) might be;

    Amouage Jubilation XXV
    Chanel Coromandel
    Chanel Egoiste
    Tom Ford Cafe Rose
    Tom Ford Neroli Portofino (though lasts no time at all)

    But I've just received a nice pack of 4 Maison Francis Kurkdjian samples including the much liked 'Lumiere Noire Pour Homme' so I might be adding some of those on soon!!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I have three 5ml samples of some TF Private Blends (Tuscan Leather, Noir de Noir and Arabian Wood) and as much as I yearn, I doubt I'll be buying another full bottle of PB anytime soon, which is a shame because NdN is gorgeous and would definitely be my next bottle were it not for the price tag. Every other bottle I've got was bought after smelling in-store. I understand the attraction of having the bottles of fragrances you like, but prices often mean it's easier to live on samples and decants like you say.

  8. #8
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    No samples or decants in my collection.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I'm definitely easing in to this world. I'm usually one to dive straight into hobbies and buy it all--learned my lesson quite a few times.

    I remember when I was getting into bicycling, a friend told me to bike around with my normal clothes on first to see if I enjoy it before I buy the outfit.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    If you care just for the smell you should be ok just with decants and samples.
    If you do care about bottle and box, for collection purposes or another reason, its not enough.

    Im on the second group (while i have a lot of decants they are not the same experience as the full bottle)

  11. #11

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    No decants in my collection either - if I want a scent, I want the whole thing - the effort that's been put in to making a finale luxury product, for me it's not the same picking up a standard atomizer. I also like the thought have having a "full" supply of the fragrance, that isn't to say I haven't bought used fragrances... but you know what I mean
    This passion is obsessive, and soon the cost becomes little issue - the issue is saving for it.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    You're doing it right op. When you first get into this hobby you'll notice that your tastes will change rapidly. Keep sampling, once you define your taste then start purchasing bottles.

  13. #13
    Basenotes Junkie Curly11's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I also am wearing only samples at this time. Good perfume is costly. I am not a collector so the stuff for sale at Kohl's, WalMart, Sephora, etc. does not really grab me. I have to admit that collecting vintage bottles is appealing as there are some gorgeous vessels out there. What I have been doing is reading these forums, and other perfume blogs, and then purchasing samples from various online vendors. Nordstrom's is good about giving samples, too. The world of fragrance seems vast and I like to research as much as possible. Best wishes to you; it's a lot of fun to track down a great fragrance!

  14. #14

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    the jubilation is full bottle worthy in my opinion, but because of the price tag i always find something of a lesser amount that is full bottle worthy and i buy that. its hard to pull the trigger on a $250-300 purchase, but if you add up all the $100-150 purchases you make it doesn't seem that bad one day it will be in my collection.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Guys, an off topic question... How do I add a permanent quote under my posts? Like JiveHippo or forfreddie's posts.
    The butterfly
    perfuming its wings
    fans the orchid

    --Basho

  16. #16
    Basenotes Member jadelotus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Mostly decants and samples for me. The only time I buy a bottle is a) because the prospect of running out of my decant gives me heart palpitations or b) because it's a can't pass up deal and I know I will wear it frequently. I have one blind buy on the way, but it's a discontinued fragrance that I know I can resell on eBay or BN if I don't like it.

    My current fav is Tom Ford Black Violet, but I can't see spending $200 an ounce for it, so decant it is.

  17. #17
    Basenotes Institution 30 Roses's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Quote Originally Posted by teepeeasel View Post
    Guys, an off topic question... How do I add a permanent quote under my posts? Like JiveHippo or forfreddie's posts.
    You have a quote in your signature line...so did you figure it out? What's odd is that the siggy does not appear on your other posts.

    If you have not yet done this, go to Settings (see top of page) and then Edit Signature and then Save changes.


  18. #18

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    30 Roses, got it, thanks!
    The butterfly
    perfuming its wings
    fans the orchid

    --Basho

  19. #19
    CologneFan85
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I have quite a few samples. But I mainly buy 30ml bottle unless I really enjoy a scent.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    If this is about the actual fragrance, then you are doing a very smart thing by scoping out the terrain using decants and samples. You will find that you fall in and out of love quickly in the beginning, and eventually only a handful of fragrances will really feel like the exact idea you want to wear in any given circumstance. Once you have spent a good deal of time with those, you will know you are ready to make a commitment.

    That said, there are people who love fragrance, but are I believe actually more attracted to the acquisitional element - the "luxury" purchase, the sense that purchasing a fragrance (or any item from designer clothes to a car) is somehow personally transformative, that it makes them somehow better than they were. People who love fragrance for this reason will never be satisfied by a sample bottle or a decant. They need to own the bottle, like a talisman, for the imagined "transformative" qualities to be realized. These fragrance lovers will end up with dozens, or hundreds, of bottles that go unused as they continue to chase the "one" with transformative power that they haven't found yet.

    Keep in mind that if you apply fragrance twice a day, every day, 365 days a year, you won't use more than 3 and a half 100ml bottles in a year. So if you know what you love, it is possible to own even your favorite niche fragrances for less than you spend on cable tv. One way to structure the search might be to attempt to find an "everyday" fragrance that you love and then supplement that fragrance with your niche loves. For me, that everyday fragrance might be Mugler Cologne or Gendarme or Prada Infusion d'Iris. The objective of the "everyday" for me is to smell effortlessly pleasant. For the "everyday", I purchase the largest bottle available (200ml of Prada Infusion is $118) and then I might add two niche purchases to round out the year. From your list, let's imagine that you settle on Amouage Memoir Man ($260/100ml) and Heeley Cardinal ($180/100ml). Now you have 400ml of great fragrance, more than enough for the year, you own a couple of really special bottles that you know you love, and your fragrance expenditures come out to about $50 a month, far less than a monthly trip to Sephora to pick up the random designer new launch that you will only wear for a week anyway.

    Long story short, you are on the right path.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I can't do samples or decants. I don't consider it part of my collection unless I have a bottle of it, it's just part of the experience.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I have about 15 to 20 bottles that I bought on impulse. Those came early in the perfumista stage.

    for swap/sale:





  23. #23

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    While I do enjoy some aspect of owning an actual bottle of my favorite scents, for me it's mainly about the fragrance itself, so lately I've been leaning much more toward decants in order to spread my limited spending money around better. I've decided moving forward that if I can prove to myself that I wear it often enough to use up the decant in a reasonable amount of time, then it's full-bottle worthy. This way, eventually, I know that the actual bottles I have in my collection are truly my all-time favorites and ones I actually wear more than once every couple of months. Otherwise, it just doesn't make financial sense (for my current situation) for me to have more than a small decant of something.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Yup, the biggest bottle I own is a 30ml decant (well I have two of those actually.) Then a half dozen 10ml decants and ~50 samples. Right now I'm living off the samples for the most part, just getting a few wears out of at least a third of them. (The rest I don't like.) And it seems like every week or two I'm getting a new handful of samples so the cycle is ongoing. But I have found a few that are bottle worthy to me. (GIT being one...)

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Around half of my collections are decants, especially niche, vintage, or hard-to-find ones.

    If I bought all my scents in FW, I would have been broke & homeless.
    ***My favourite from my collection***

    -------- Amouage Tribute Attar
    ------ Serge Lutens: Ambre Sultan
    -------- Les Exclusifs de Chanel: Sycamore
    ------ Amouage: Fate Man
    -------- Amouage: Epic Man
    ------ Tom Ford Private Blend: Noir de Noir
    -------- Terre D'Hermès Pure Parfum
    ------ EDP FM: Carnal Flower
    -------- Neela Vermire Creations: Trayee
    ------ Dior: Leather Oud
    ------- Hermèssence: Ambre Narguilé

  26. #26
    Basenotes Member jadelotus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Quote Originally Posted by LA2000 View Post
    That said, there are people who love fragrance, but are I believe actually more attracted to the acquisitional element - the "luxury" purchase, the sense that purchasing a fragrance (or any item from designer clothes to a car) is somehow personally transformative, that it makes them somehow better than they were.
    So well said. I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with that, as long as it's not taking away from needs in order to fuel the wants.

    There are also those of us (myself included) that specifically like the sampling process not as a way to find that signature fragrance, but as a process of discovery, gaining a wider perspective, acquiring some specialized knowledge in an area to which few give any thought. Sounds like the OP might fall into that category as well.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    When I first started buying cologne, the bottles I wanted were designer and therefor within my price range and was able to afford them. Now that I've wanted to start trying niche and more exclusive houses, I can't afford whole bottles, so decants it is. Even if I find one I like enough to be full bottle worthy, I will still only buy small decants, because that's what I can afford. A small decant will last a long time if you rotate often and only wear on special occasions. I use my full bottles of designer frags for average everyday uses.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I own almost exclusively full bottles, and this was also my starting point into fragrance, but if the amount and quality of samples and/or decants would suit my fragrance preferences, why not?

  29. #29
    Super Member suds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    If you are 'starting out' like me samples or small decants are absolutely the 'way to go'. I have bought one FB based on rave reviews and it sits in my drawer after one disappointing use. I have just tried a sample of an expensive niche frag which attracts universal rave reviews and I really, really don't like it - thankfully I have saved myself from a second expensive mistake by only paying a fraction of FB price.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I've bought mostly decants and samples, and I prefer it. I don't use up a lot of cologne fast, and I wear different stuff all of the time. I've been quite disappointed with some of my bottle buys so far. Most have been impulse or blind buys, and they just haven't worked out like I thought they would. So, I think its better to stick with samples.

  31. #31

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I have a nice mix. Around 30 full bottles, around 20 decants and around 50 samples.

  32. #32

    Default

    I sample niche. If I like a frag after atleast 6 wears in 6 months i'll get the bottle. It's not that often, but haven't been dissappointed. I really don't want 30+ bottles so this keeps things neat.

  33. #33

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wit_Siamese View Post
    Around half of my collections are decants, especially niche, vintage, or hard-to-find ones.

    If I bought all my scents in FW, I would have been broke & homeless.
    I have the same combination (almost) too! Crazy!

  34. #34

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    i have very little of a sample i got from ebay of john varvatos 10th anniversary left i really love this one tho pretty much the same boat

  35. #35

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I usually sample first. Then decant if it is expensive and then if i really like it buy the bottle and keep it.

  36. #36

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I like the idea of decanting but can not really do it,
    Because so far all the decants I have get less attention from me,
    I really do not why, let alone the samples of which
    I have 100's from almost all houses.

  37. #37
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    When I started to get addicted, I started off by buying bottles. I now probably have 15 bottles, some are worn more than others. As I started wanting to try more and more of the niche scents, I started getting more and more decants. A 10 ml decant is a pretty good amount to get really acquainted with the fragrance. If I go through the 10 ml and really miss having it, then I'll buy the bottle. So far, in the past year I haven't even gotten through a single 10 ml decant, and many of these are scents I love and would surely consider full bottle worthy.

    So, so far I'm pretty happy with the variety that decants allows me to have.

  38. #38

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    Yeah the economics of 100mL or even 50mL bottles don't make sense if you have more than a half dozen or so frags, unless for some reason you're planning to wear them and nothing else for the rest of your life.

    That said I still buy 4oz bottles whenever I can and give 2mL samples/10mL decants if people really like what I'm wearing.

  39. #39

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I was 'between jobs' for a few months in the nineties and lived on blagged samples then (oh the shame!) -- you have to get your priorities right don't you?

    Wouldn't dream of it now though.

  40. #40

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I only have 3 decants in my collection of 45+ bottles, which were way cheaper than purchasing the full bottles. I go for decants when the available retail bottles are all 100mls plus, or if the smaller bottles are ridiculously high prices per ml. I'd buy more decants if the ones I wanted were offered on basenotes.

    I prefer full bottles, though I can't keep buying big bottles like I've done so far as I'll never get through them all!! I keep my bottles in their boxes, so ideally I would like a fleet of nice metal atomisers that I could fill as needed and use daily. Then air and light exposure would then be minimised for the full bottles. I travel every week, so carrying decants gives me the option of a variety of scents to use for 2-3 days away from home. If anyone knows where to get nice atomisers in the Uk, please tell me. Husband uses Muji but I need 50+ atomisers and they are pricey.

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    90% of my collection is decants and samples.

    First, I'm a college student with a part time job. I can't afford $150 niche bottles every month.

    Second, I want to try as much as possible before I commit to buying anything.

    Third, 90% of fragrances out there, I won't wear often. I found in many cases that a lot of fragrances are really fun to sample but a full bottle will never get used up.

  42. #42

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    My entire Basenotes Wishlist is based on niche samples that I have. After sampling, I lucked out in finding a Belgium antiques dealer who had a partial bottle of one of the favorite samples. It was at a fraction of the normal cost. But She changed her mind about selling it to me and kept it for herself! Oh, well. Back to the samples drawing board.

  43. #43

    Default Re: Anyone surviving on only decants and samples?

    I love sampling things and would do much better with 5-10 ml decants, but I just love the beauty and the feel of the actual bottle. I have too much perfume now to ever wear it all, but I enjoy touching, admiring and sniffing all the bottles.

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