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  1. #1
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    Default "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Ever since becoming active on the boards I've been perplexed by some fragrances being labelled as "unwearable". Not in the personal sense (I can't/won't wear this), but in the general (no one can/should wear this). The first for me is totally fair - fragrances react with our body chemistry and our noses are different. No one is going to like or even want to wear everything.

    The problem for me is the second category - writing off a whole fragrance as completely unwearable, when it's probably just personal taste. I find it unnecessary judgemental and dismissive of other's tastes/preferences. It's even more baffling when it pops up in threads showing that many people DO enjoy wearing a particular fragrance (the recent thread on LDDM being a noteworthy example).

    TLDR: "I won't wear this" is absolutely a valid reaction to anything. "No one should wear this" rankles.

    Curious what others think. If you are happy dismissing a fragrance as generally "unwearable", why? What alternatives might we as a community want to use that opens up dialogue and curiosity about each other's experiences rather than shutting it down?

    Perhaps "challenging" would be a better way of expressing the same thing?
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I think most people who say "unwearable" do actually mean "unwearable (to me)". Sense of smell, perception of scents and talking about fragrance are so personal that, I think, at some point it would become too repetitive and too tiresome to clarify each time - too sweet (for me), very loud (to me), fleeting (on my skin), outrageously musty and fusty (to my taste), leaning masculine (according to my perception on which things in nature and perfumery smell masculine or feminine), mature-smelling (depending on my understanding what is "mature" - 25+, 30+, 50+, 80+...? At 32, am I a young woman or an old one? - I guess the answer of an 8 year-old would be different than the answer of the 70 year-old here.) and so on. Unless you are a professional reviewer (or an aspiring one), I think subjectivity is already implied in each review, impression or description.

    To me personally, unwearable is one of the synonyms to challenging or cloying or difficult - just said in an exaggerated manner or implying the challenging/cloying/difficult, but in a stronger sense than simply challenging or a little bit cloying. I think it is helpful, at least in a way - you know it's not an easy wear, so maybe you shouldn't blind buy it unless you happen to enjoy the qualities that made it "unwearable" to that particular person. So yeah, just simply saying "It's unwearable" might not be particularly helpful, but when I read "the thick vanillic sweetness combined with strongly synthetic candy-like strawberry scent makes it unwearable", I can imagine what the scent is like and decide if it's more likely to be unwearable mess or heavenly aroma to me.

    I would not advocate banning words from vocabulary. If it's unwearable (to me), then it's unwearable (to me) and unbearable (to me) when others wear it (near me). No other way around it. And not talking about the issue won't make it go away (In my opinion it's the same when someone says that something smells too old/too young to them - but let's not go there).
    That said, I personally try not to judge scents too harshly and also to clarify that it's just my opinion or perception and not the objective truth, but I can't do it in each and every sentence. And sometimes some fun bashing is fun, too.

    (Also, if I'm using "to" and "for" in sentences like "it's too sweet for me" incorrectly, please do correct me! In my native language we use suffixes instead of prepositions in these cases and to me/for me are the same word here, so I just try to go by ear in English... Thanks in advance!)

  3. #3
    Basenotes Institution Darjeeling's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I also assumed it was followed by a silent “to me”.

    I don’t mind it if they go on to explain why they found it unwearable. To animalic, a certain note that sticks out or that they don’t get along with.

    I also kind of like those curmudgeonly, contrarian replies in a thread of people expressing how much they love it, particularly when such replies turn lyrical and we get a full and overblown explanation of why it is so horrible and nobody should be wearing it
    1. No, never blind buy (I do, but do as I say, not as I do. I'm taking no responsibility for your fragrance gambling).
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I think unwearable is a step beyond challenging. I think using it is ok.

    When I looked in Merriam-Webster's dictionary, it gave the example "high-fashion clothes that are not really wearable." Clearly they can be worn, these unwearable clothes, but it's hard to imagine someone wanting to, I gather.

    If someone called one of the perfumes I like unwearable, it would cut deep. I might put the person on my ignore list for a cool-down period.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockworkAlice View Post
    I think subjectivity is already implied in each review, impression or description.
    I agree, unless the person is actually making claims that his or her views are somehow definitive, which I have seen. Then, a person might say that his or her favorite perfume is "hands down" the world's best, or the person might have some backing along the lines of "everyone knows" / "those in the know know" this perfume is terrible.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockworkAlice View Post
    I think it is helpful, at least in a way - you know it's not an easy wear, so maybe you shouldn't blind buy it unless you happen to enjoy the qualities that made it "unwearable" to that particular person.
    I agree. I think of "unwearable" this way, as a word of caution. It depends on the context of how someone's using it, but when I've used it, I don't think I meant to imply that something literally couldn't be worn. Just that it would be hard. For me. And maybe others kind of, sort of like me.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockworkAlice View Post
    I would not advocate banning words from vocabulary. If it's unwearable (to me), then it's unwearable (to me) and unbearable (to me) when others wear it (near me). No other way around it. And not talking about the issue won't make it go away
    I agree. (red heart emoji)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Good points!

    Writing is always hard. Writing with precision about the experience of a perfume is even harder. I always appreciate contributors that make an effort to try to capture the qualities of a perfume as objectively as possible rather than making judgements of value (this is great!/this sucks!). Just tell me what you experienced and felt while wearing a perfume, as best you can, and I will make my own decisions about whether or not I am interested in it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Not sure I've ever come across someone saying and/or meaning that any fragrance literally cannot be worn by others.

  7. #7

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Used subjectively it means the person can't pull it off, if used objectively it means the person lacks imagination thinking noone can.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockworkAlice View Post
    I think most people who say "unwearable" do actually mean "unwearable (to me)". Sense of smell, perception of scents and talking about fragrance are so personal that, I think, at some point it would become too repetitive and too tiresome to clarify each time - too sweet (for me), very loud (to me), fleeting (on my skin), outrageously musty and fusty (to my taste), leaning masculine (according to my perception on which things in nature and perfumery smell masculine or feminine), mature-smelling (depending on my understanding what is "mature" - 25+, 30+, 50+, 80+...? At 32, am I a young woman or an old one? - I guess the answer of an 8 year-old would be different than the answer of the 70 year-old here.) and so on. Unless you are a professional reviewer (or an aspiring one), I think subjectivity is already implied in each review, impression or description.

    To me personally, unwearable is one of the synonyms to challenging or cloying or difficult - just said in an exaggerated manner or implying the challenging/cloying/difficult, but in a stronger sense than simply challenging or a little bit cloying. I think it is helpful, at least in a way - you know it's not an easy wear, so maybe you shouldn't blind buy it unless you happen to enjoy the qualities that made it "unwearable" to that particular person. So yeah, just simply saying "It's unwearable" might not be particularly helpful, but when I read "the thick vanillic sweetness combined with strongly synthetic candy-like strawberry scent makes it unwearable", I can imagine what the scent is like and decide if it's more likely to be unwearable mess or heavenly aroma to me.

    I would not advocate banning words from vocabulary. If it's unwearable (to me), then it's unwearable (to me) and unbearable (to me) when others wear it (near me). No other way around it. And not talking about the issue won't make it go away (In my opinion it's the same when someone says that something smells too old/too young to them - but let's not go there).
    That said, I personally try not to judge scents too harshly and also to clarify that it's just my opinion or perception and not the objective truth, but I can't do it in each and every sentence. And sometimes some fun bashing is fun, too.

    (Also, if I'm using "to" and "for" in sentences like "it's too sweet for me" incorrectly, please do correct me! In my native language we use suffixes instead of prepositions in these cases and to me/for me are the same word here, so I just try to go by ear in English... Thanks in advance!)
    Thanks for a well written & well thought out post, Clockwork! You make some excellent points, & your English is perfect. l agree with everything you said here.
    "What is this secret connection between the soul, and sea, clouds and perfumes? The soul itself appears to be sea, cloud and perfume..." - from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.

  9. #9
    Dependent Danny Mitchell's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by blackaroma View Post
    Used subjectively it means the person can't pull it off, if used objectively it means the person lacks imagination thinking noone can.
    I don't think imagination has anything to do with it. I do not agree that anyone should make that statement but it has nothing to do with imagination.
    "Ducks eat for free at Subway."

  10. #10

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I agree. “Unwearable” is a stupid term to use because, well...other people obviously wear it!

    I noticed this in the LDDM thread too, 20 people taking about how much they love it and then the random member stating that it’s “unwearable.”

    I am guilty of using phrases like “easy to wear,” but I think that’s different, generally meaning not too strong or heavy and with notes that are generally inoffensive. And on the contrary I might also describe something as “difficult to wear,” for fragrances that may be overwhelmingly strong or contain lots of civet or castoreum, or certain types of oud, etc. I mean, “difficult to wear” isn’t too far off from “unwearable” but I think there’s a difference, and it’s not such a declarative, final sort of statement as “unwearable,” ( and it’s not intended to be),

    There was some older member here to whom someone would ask a question like, “What do you guys think about (fragrance name here)?” And he would always respond, “It’s not FBW.” (full bottle worthy). I always thought it was a pretty obnoxious response, considering there were probably members who owned it and liked it. It’s these sort of declaratively negative statements poopooing a fragrance that just come across as arrogant and smug, albeit unintentionally at times, just a poor choice of words or bit of thoughtlessness behind it.
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  11. #11
    Dependent ClockworkAlice's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bavard View Post

    If someone called one of the perfumes I like unwearable, it would cut deep. I might put the person on my ignore list for a cool-down period.
    Oh. I'll have to be careful with voicing my impressions when testing all those classic Chanels. Some of them are quite difficult to me and I might already have hurt you with my brutish nose without realizing it.
    I'm always glad when I can turn around and eat my socks after bashing something and then retrying and finally finding beauty in it though. Happened already with some stuff!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bavard View Post
    I agree, unless the person is actually making claims that his or her views are somehow definitive, which I have seen. Then, a person might say that his or her favorite perfume is "hands down" the world's best, or the person might have some backing along the lines of "everyone knows" / "those in the know know" this perfume is terrible.
    Ah, these people. I usually read such claims with some humour, as if they're either intentionally exaggerating for fun or just want to feel important. You know, everyone knows that oranges are far superior than apples and Metallica is not a metal band anymore. If you don't know all the lyrics of Sisters of Mercy by heart, what are you even doing here with your black eyeliner. My opinion is worthier than yours, because I drank my coffee before it was cool, you know. (I truly think that oranges are better than apples and Sisters are worth listening to though.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bavard View Post
    I agree. (red heart emoji)
    Aww. <3

    Quote Originally Posted by teardrop View Post
    Thanks for a well written & well thought out post, Clockwork! You make some excellent points, & your English is perfect. l agree with everything you said here.
    Aw, thanks! And you're too kind - I know it's far from perfect. I try, but you can still read my posts in a slight Eastern European accent with lots of V's instead of W's and with rolling R's

  12. #12

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockworkAlice View Post
    Oh. I'll have to be careful with voicing my impressions when testing all those classic Chanels. Some of them are quite difficult to me and I might already have hurt you with my brutish nose without realizing it.
    I'm always glad when I can turn around and eat my socks after bashing something and then retrying and finally finding beauty in it though. Happened already with some stuff!



    Ah, these people. I usually read such claims with some humour, as if they're either intentionally exaggerating for fun or just want to feel important. You know, everyone knows that oranges are far superior than apples and Metallica is not a metal band anymore. If you don't know all the lyrics of Sisters of Mercy by heart, what are you even doing here with your black eyeliner. My opinion is worthier than yours, because I drank my coffee before it was cool, you know. (I truly think that oranges are better than apples and Sisters are worth listening to though.)



    Aww. <3



    Aw, thanks! And you're too kind - I know it's far from perfect. I try, but you can still read my posts in a slight Eastern European accent with lots of V's instead of W's and with rolling R's

    Apples are FFW.

    Oranges are not.
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  13. #13
    Dependent ClockworkAlice's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buysblind View Post
    Apples are FFW.

    Oranges are not.
    Nah. Oranges are FBW (full bowl worthy) all the time.
    Apples are meh on their own, but they're amazing in pies though, they're FBW (full belly worthy) in this case, too.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Let's see, Obsession for Men is unwearable, it smells bad and you will smell bad, don't wear it unless you want to smell like a middle aged maths teacher that drives a red Porsche, sports a combover and rubs female students' shoulders whilst they die a little on the inside.

    This is obviously just my honest opinion and others can bathe in it to their heart's content if they enjoy it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I happen to enjoy reading disparaging reviews that pour scorn, especially if it's a favourite perfume. I just find it humorous. "Unwearable" is a fairly innocuous (and useful) descriptor to me.

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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by freewheelingvagabond View Post
    I happen to enjoy reading disparaging reviews that pour scorn, especially if it's a favourite perfume. I just find it humorous. "Unwearable" is a fairly innocuous (and useful) descriptor to me.
    Ditto. One of my all time favourites is the one calling Boss No 1 warm hog's piss. Just makes wearing it even more fun.

    If someone really manages to destroy one of my favourites, usually my woman, then so be it. They must have found a proper flaw.

  17. #17
    Dependent ClockworkAlice's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by freewheelingvagabond View Post
    I happen to enjoy reading disparaging reviews that pour scorn, especially if it's a favourite perfume. I just find it humorous. "Unwearable" is a fairly innocuous (and useful) descriptor to me.
    Me too!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Person #1; "Creed (fill in the blank) is the juice of the bourgeoisie represents corporate greed and has too many fanboy's/hype. Because of that nobody should wear it, therefore I will now deem it UNWEARABLE!"

    Person #2; "......but do you like how it smells?"
    Last edited by JJ The Terrible; 13th August 2020 at 03:36 PM. Reason: I forgot to add in hype
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  19. #19

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by freewheelingvagabond View Post
    I happen to enjoy reading disparaging reviews that pour scorn, especially if it's a favourite perfume. I just find it humorous. "Unwearable" is a fairly innocuous (and useful) descriptor to me.
    That’s a good way to see it. I’ll adopt your POV.
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  20. #20
    Basenotes Junkie ThVH's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Since I started reading BN (Dec. 2019), the multitude of “for me” additions in posts was something quite noticeable. While I totally understand the polite intention behind it, opinions are inherently subjective and the addition is therefore oftentimes redundant.
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I find those who are openly critical to be often more trustworthy. They are not trying to spare feelings, just telling the truth as they see it.
    I always think its weird when someone says "well, these are only my perceptions" and such when trying to rag on a frag. Of course its only your perceptions. You can't tell me what another persons perception is.
    I find Mancera Red Tobacco unwearable, and don't think anyone should wear it. It is just too strong. 1 spray would fill a room. I know some people who like it a lot, and I respect their opinion, but I'm allowed to also have mine. I like Sauvage. There are a whole mess of people out there who dislike Sauvage, but I can't get up in my feelings any time someone says its trash, though I understand that emotion. Scents are so very personal and subjective that it can feel like an attack on you.
    I think clothes are a decent analagy here. If someone was in a department store shopping for clothes and said "oh my gosh, I can't believe anybody wears those shorts. They are too short. Those are unwearable." but those are shorts you were really liking.
    I smell.

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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    It never really bothered me. I agree that it should be followed by "to/for me". Some fragrances really are unwearable and unbearable for me, and I think that using the word "unwearable" gets that point across.

  23. #23

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I think it's a valid adjective

    There are some fragrances that are unwearable and the people who do wear them have made serious errors of judgement

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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scents And Sense View Post
    It never really bothered me.
    Same here.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I just read the term as "challenging".

  26. #26

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Mitchell View Post
    I don't think imagination has anything to do with it. I do not agree that anyone should make that statement but it has nothing to do with imagination.
    Unimaginative was a kind word for close-minded. If you don't like sth doesn't mean everyone else won't adore it.

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    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by blackaroma View Post
    Unimaginative was a kind word for close-minded. If you don't like sth doesn't mean everyone else won't adore it.
    It just sounds equally as judgemental as the hypothetical person criticizing it.
    "Ducks eat for free at Subway."

  28. #28

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Mitchell View Post
    It just sounds equally as judgemental as the hypothetical person criticizing it.
    You're equally judgmental as me being equally judgmental as the hypocritical person criticizing it.

  29. #29

    Default Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    I know that our relationships with the perfumes we love are very personal, but I think we can do a better job of understanding that a critique of a perfume is not a critique of the person.

    If someone finds a perfume I love to be unwearable, that's fine. They don't have the relationship with it that I do.

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend recently. She asked my opinion of a perfume she had yet to try, and I told her it was fine, but I find a lot of citruses to be basic and boring, so I didn't really like it very much. She got very offended and told me that I was being judgemental and saying that perfumes like that are for basic bitches. Um, no. That's not what I said at all. I wasn't saying anything about people who wear citrus perfumes. I was just expressing a feeling I've acquired over the years due to my own experiences. Her experiences are different than mine, so she feels more positive about citrus-based perfumes. That's fine. Her feelings are just as valid as mine.

    I don't think anyone needs to change their vocabulary. I think people need to step back and, again, understand that someone's opinion on the quality of a perfume is not necessarily an indictment of the person who is wearing it.

  30. #30
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    Talking Re: "Unwearable" - an unhelpful label?

    Quote Originally Posted by blackaroma View Post
    You're equally judgmental as me being equally judgmental as the hypocritical person criticizing it.
    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa! One more.....whoa! I'm asking you to ask yourself a question, man. I'm asking you not to be.
    I'm using my imagination! You of all people should know that! Use some imagination! lol
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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000