Perfume Directory

Stetson (1981)
by Stetson


Stetson information

Year of Launch1981
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 169 votes)

People and companies

Parent CompanyBenckiser > Coty Inc > Coty Beauty
Parent Company at launchCoty Beauty

About Stetson

FIFI award winner in 1982

Stetson fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Stetson

Stetson is several things all at once: It's probably the last noteworthy chypre from the house that put the word "chypre" on the map (Coty), the last really well-done scent from the house that had slid precipitously downmarket as it grew, to the point of not being a house, but rather a megacorp braintrust under which other indentured houses operate, and the first really good use of a licenced brand for a tie-in fragrance (something all the mass-market drugstore perfume peddlers would eventually do). The Stetson brand, known for it's erstwhile iconic line of extended-brim fedora-style hats that are just classified as "stetsons" and forever linked to the American "Country Western" culture, has arguably become more known for the fragrances marketed under the name in the 21st century than the hat maker which sold the use of it's name. Put it to the test: ask a friend what they think of Stetson, and see how many strike up an opinion of the hat versus the fragrance. The original Stetson cologne is comparable to the Ford Mustang in modern times, and tends to get critically lambasted and devalued/marginalized due to it's ubiquity, and the kind of person associated with wearing it. I won't blow smoke rings and say this is some unsung hero of the early 80's, because let's face it: 1981 was awash in legendary masculine fragrance releases that defined the decade, and Stetson is not among them, but it -is- a distinctive and important scent nonetheless. I personally think it's the greatest repackaging of older concepts since the idea of selling cologne itself as an inherently masculine type of scent, since originally everyone wore it regardless of gender when the first eau de cologne came into being.

What's most funny about Stetson is the way it's composed versus what it's associated with culturally. Stetson rides on the back of Chaps Ralph Lauren (1979), which was a dense leather chypre/fougère hybrid that smelled like Bogart Signature (1975) on steroids, and was a development of the theme put forth initially by Avon Wild Country (1967), which got this whole "cowboy cologne" ball rolling. Stetson didn't have much connection to it's predecessors in terms of composition, and actually is more like an early 20th century women's drugstore chypre a la Dana's Tabu (1931) or 20 Carats (1933). In fact, pulling the lime, vetiver and geranium out of Stetson would literally be enough to market it as a pre-WWII feminine. Don't believe me? Compare smells and read the note pyramids! Stetson opens with lemon and lime, sage and bergamot, which is fairly straightforward. The middle of carnation, jasmine, orris, patchouli and cedar are also pretty much in line with early feminine chypres, which is why so many older women have said to me that this doesn't smell properly masuline when their husbands or significant others wore it. The vetiver and geranium do what they can here but the only reason this is masuline to people nowadays is for the same reason young adventurous guys can wear Tabu without judgement: shifting cultural paradigms. Basenotes here are honey, tonka (adding fougère-ish tones), oakmoss, musk, vanilla, and amber, which are also fairly on par with the genre. Stetson works because it repackaged a concept that was seen as feminine into something masculine with only a slight bit of tweaking. If you're a guy and you like Stetson, you can probably enjoy a wearing of Esteé Lauder's Youth-Dew (1953) as well. This is classic oriental/chypre here people, gender is almost irrelevant.

Stetson's story is similar to Jicky (1889) becoming Mouchoir de Monsieur (1901), and Early American Old Spice (1937) into just Old Spice for men in later years, with the difference being that like Canoe (1936), Stetson was never marketed to women first then tweaked into a male scent later, but just sold to men from the start despite being built from parts-bin feminine notes. The association with rugged cowboy machismo is quite literally all marketing on Coty's part, which is the real stroke of genius here, as it has generations of "good ol' boys" convinced that this is as manly as cologne gets, which puts an even bigger smile on my face than when I get compliments from wearing Chanel No. 19 (1971). The sheer success of Stetson spun off numerous flankers (including a feminine version), and for a while, future Coty masculines like Preferred Stock (1990) were introduced and sold under "The House of Stetson" before they were just re-branded as Coty after the Stetson brand lost some steam. Surprisingly, modern versions are superior to the vintage because the introduction of synthetics actually made this less cloying and easier to wear than it once was, and it's rare that reformulation ever improves anything, especially at this level. Stetson: it's Chantilly (1941) for cowboys, and I like it. Bonus points for the ladies who can strut this too, as it really goes both ways in my opinion, just like wearing the hats themselves.
07th April, 2018 (last edited: 21st July, 2020)
Sly vetiver adds
Yosemite macho to
This cowgirl Tabu.

20th January, 2018
You know how we all took our mom's home-cooked meals for granted when we were kids? It wasn't until we moved out, ate way too many fast food takeouts and Ramen noodle dinners that we became aware of how good a cook Mom was.

Stetson is like that. It was everywhere in the 80's. I took it for granted until men abandoned this affordable classic for Polo, CK1, and an endless stream of "sport" scents.

Cozy and distinctive. A real snuggle scent.
26th March, 2017
I give the vintage formula of Stetson a firm thumbs up. The current formula...more like teetering between a neutral and thumbs up. It's not bad or anything I just find the old formula more interesting.

I used to hate Stetson when I was a kid. This was a masculine and romantic scent, yet it slightly had unisex appeal through the florals and amber/sweet side. Women that were attracted to this side about it back then piled so much on that was all you could smell...floral and sweet, none of the masculine detail. That can ruin a perspective on a men's scent if all you smell is the overdose on it on a daily basis.

The Vintage Formula:
This opens up with some jasmine a little bit of lavender powder. There is some musk to this fragrance, but not a lot. Within the sweet side lurks a combo of amber washed with bergamot, honey, and some kind of spice. This fragrance is a little powdery but it absorbs a bit of the musk. It's barbershop but in a dirty way through this musky powder result. Mild amounts of sandalwood if you sniff through the amber.

The Current:
A lot of lavender and vanilla scented powder giving a cool/bright and clean sensation through it's base. People call this the barbershop part. Amber coming in but blended with that vanilla it does add a higher degree of unisex on top of the excessive amount of lavender florals. It lacks depth from the original for sure. There's a lot more musk in the current formula, but it doesn't mingle with the powder to get interesting as the old formula to my nose.

The current formula of Stetson is more weather friendly through it's cleaner nature. But I think this one made it more gender-bending to the newcomers of Stetson. The original was a deeper and more interesting aromatic that was fairly heavy that came out nice when applied responsibly. It smelled way beyond it's drugstore price tag. Thumbs up to the original...a neutral to the current. They're both just different enough to tell apart.
09th January, 2017 (last edited: 17th September, 2019)
mkpunk Show all reviews
United States
This is a very western smelling cologne that I got a splash at Christmas time last year that I had to put in a reuseable atomizer (there was no reservoir cap for the splash) and is very strong. Unlike most colognes that I spritz twice to three times, this needs only one and still smells strong and lasts a full day. This smells not just 1980's but 1880's but in a good way and I am younger cologne user. For places like Arizona, Texas and California, it is not just a night and winter scent but almost an anytime scent.
15th June, 2016
Chet56 Show all reviews
United States
I like original Stetson just fine, and liking a fragrance myself is important - I feel energetic, fun, and confident when wearing it - otherwise, why bother? The floral and musk notes are outdoorsy, rugged, and Western and fit with my Colorado mountain lifestyle. Fragrances don't need to be expensive or pretentious to be nice and effective, and Stetson is nice and effective at a very affordable price, and has a name you can easily pronounce (or not mispronounce).
14th November, 2015

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