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  1. #1
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    Question How to decide if it's FBW

    Hi everyone! I'm new to Basenotes and to fragrance generally, but have been buying up a lot (like...a LOT) of samples and trying to learn as much as I can.

    After smelling a sample on a card and wearing it at least once, I put it into one of 3 freezer bags - 1.) Love, 2.) Like/OK/Worth another try, and 3.) Nope. Unsurprisingly, bag #2 is the largest, and I'm trying to give every perfume in bag #2 an honest try, multiple times, in case I come to appreciate it more as I continue to educate myself.

    That said, it's hard to resist the temptation to rush out and buy full bottles of the ones I really love in bag #1, especially if I've worn it a few times and the sample is running low. Alas, I do not have an unlimited perfume budget.

    So my question is, how do you experienced perfumistas decide when it's worth buying a full bottle? I'm worried I'll end up with more than I could ever possibly wear. I also recognize I'm a noob and my tastes and preferences could change and then I'll have a bunch of perfumes I don't love. Advice?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    I think there's no wrong approach.

    I would probably only buy things from the love bag. I might narrow down what to buy from the love bag by wearing the samples around other people and getting feedback.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    I tend to wear a sample or decant for at least 24-48 hours before deciding to invest in a full bottle. That may not seem like a long enough time to some, but for me, a full day's wear is definitely long enough for me to know whether a scent is terrific from top to bottom.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    I agree that it's a good idea to first buy only the "loves," and not too many of them. You are correct in realizing that your tastes could change. In fact, it's very common for one's tastes to upgrade fairly rapidly with exposure to more fragrances. Your purse will thank you if you take it slow.

    Also, the more bottles you own, the longer it will take to use up any one of them. So, grow your collection slowly. Assess your rate of usage of each one. If you are like me, there are some "loves" you will find yourself reaching for more often than others.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    When I was just starting out and found a fragrance I loved - or thought I loved - I used to get a small decant first (5-10ml is ideal). If after finishing it I still felt I had to have that perfume, I would buy a full bottle. There were a lot of decants I didn't finish so this helped me decide when to buy a full bottle and weeded a lot of perfumes out.

    If you're on a budget, having decants also allows you to own a larger number/variety of perfumes - you may be able to afford decants of all or several of the perfumes in bag #1, but only a few full bottle purchases. Also, if your tastes continue to evolve or change as you continue to sample, then you're not stuck with full bottle purchases you may regret.
    Currently wearing: Cavatina by Parfums Dusita

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    How do you approach other purchases? I know my walk-away criteria before I engage in any transaction. All my due diligence and KYC (or in this case know your seller or merchant I guess) is satisfied and the path is cleared for comfortable acquisition. If perfumery is not fun or you’re not paying bills in order to ‘smell rich or sexy’ then you’re doing it wrong or going too far. Know your budget, settle your desired wardrobe using the tools available here with any account, then execute.

    Your system seems sound from cursory review. I can’t offer any improvement though I would underscore patience along with careful consideration of where you buy. Say you are liquid enough to avail yourself of opportunistic sales. By default you could gain leverage, increasing your purchasing power.
    All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by LauraH View Post
    So my question is, how do you experienced perfumistas decide when it's worth buying a full bottle?
    The criteria are different for each person. You just have to find out what works best for you. You'll develop a feel in time.
    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.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Another vote for only buying from the “loves” bag, and slowly. Maybe give each of the “loves” another wearing, and see if there are any that you positively swoon over, and/or if there are any of them it would upset you to discover they’d been discontinued tomorrow before you bought a bottle.

    Bottle splits can also be a good option if you’ve got other perfume fans (BN or otherwise) near you.

    Speaking as someone who has extremely eclectic taste in fragrance AND more bottles (and samples) than I am likely to use in my lifetime, there are a few I’ve regretted *not* getting, and several I’ve re-gifted or culled from my collection mostly without regret (one or two exemptions) but none I can think of that I actively regret purchasing.

    Happy sniffing! And please let us know what you end up with (or forgoing).


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    It’s thought that people who hope too much will just waste their life away and never get down to doing any real work. They’re confusing Hope with Wish, its lazy cousin... When Wish whispers, “Something is just around the corner,” what comes or not is never what was wished for. When Hope whispers “Something is just around the corner,” something always is. -- Charlie Elberson

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by ComDiva View Post
    Speaking as someone who has extremely eclectic taste in fragrance AND more bottles (and samples) than I am likely to use in my lifetime, there are a few I’ve regretted *not* getting, and several I’ve re-gifted or culled from my collection mostly without regret (one or two exemptions) but none I can think of that I actively regret purchasing.
    I appreciate this perspective! Another good reason for me to get more involved here on BN is to find folks to gift or swap with if I do end up changing my mind about a purchase.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by Wingie View Post
    If you're on a budget, having decants also allows you to own a larger number/variety of perfumes - you may be able to afford decants of all or several of the perfumes in bag #1, but only a few full bottle purchases. Also, if your tastes continue to evolve or change as you continue to sample, then you're not stuck with full bottle purchases you may regret.
    This is great advice, although I'm realizing how much of my excitement about buying full bottles is about having lots of pretty little bottles to display. I know, I know.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    I look at my frags from 4 points:
    1) I need to connect to it personally, it got to make my eyes close in pleasure or has to touch my heart.
    2) Has to be best in class or amongst the 'clones' based on my subjective taste.
    3) Got to fit my style of clothes.
    4) Has to be timeless so i can use them even when i am old, and pass down.

    I also find that samples are best to start with, blind buys might sometimes be hard to re-sell or swap. Once you figure out your tastes, then you can cautiously move into blind buy category.
    And best advise - test stuff yourself, take advise and reviews with caution, cuz alot of times people dont know what they talk about, especially on fragrantica. In 'smell alike' section, you can spot tons of perfumes that are by no mean similar. Always makes me shake my head.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by Mak-7 View Post
    And best advise - test stuff yourself, take advise and reviews with caution, cuz alot of times people dont know what they talk about, especially on fragrantica. In 'smell alike' section, you can spot tons of perfumes that are by no mean similar. Always makes me shake my head.
    I noticed that too about Fragrantica's "smells like" section....it often just seems like a real mixed bag lol.

    Also loved your first point - "has to make me close my eyes in pleasure or has to touch my heart." Those are such good criteria! Thank you!

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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    My best advice is don't be in a hurry to accumulate a collection, but if you do find something you really love, buy it quick. Reformulations & discontinuations happen all too quickly these days.

    And l agree that a good-sized decant can last you a long time, by which time you may realise you don't need a full bottle. And you can have yourself a bigger wardrobe without worrying that you have too much to ever get through.
    "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.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Best thing to do would be to acquire a sample or small decant first to get a feel for the scent. Once you've depleted the sample/decant you could decide on whether to invest in a bottle. If you're still unsure, an alternative would be to participate in a decant split which would allow you to acquire more juice without paying the full price for a full bottle.
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by LauraH View Post
    This is great advice, although I'm realizing how much of my excitement about buying full bottles is about having lots of pretty little bottles to display. I know, I know.
    About displaying the bottles...light is a huge enemy of perfumes. It's best to keep your perfumes where it's dark and cool. Could you "display" them in a cabinet or closet?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    When it comes to changed tastes, I've found that I never come to hate a perfume I love, but I often grow to love a perfume I once hated (actually, I've never hated any of them - dislike, yes). So don't be hasty. Revisit each of your categories periodically.

    Too many impulse purchases can break the bank - but on the other hand, if you truly love a fragrance, and you wait too long to spring for a bottle, it could be discontinued or reformulated to the point that you'll kick yourself for not having jumped on it. It's not hard to tell which ones tick all the boxes for you, the ones that make your heart sing - you'll probably be glad you bought those.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by LauraH View Post
    I'm worried I'll end up with more than I could ever possibly wear.
    This is almost inevitable.

  18. #18

    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Hi Laura. For myself personally I find fragrances that smell fantastic to me and are very versatile get worn most and these are ones that have become my mainstays by earning their FBW status. I would usually try a fragrance instore where possible, then seek out a sample or decant; if I regularly reach for it, it will usually become a keeper. There are other times where I like something but know it wouldn’t get much wear time so a decant might be enough. I have a few of these that I thoroughly enjoy but have never made it to full bottles.

    We can sometimes be impulsive creatures so I think it’s an inevitable part of buying that you will end up with fragrances that you don’t enjoy as much as you may have at an earlier time and finding your path and pace will come with time. Enjoy the ride.

    Sheik

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Thank you all for this helpful advice! I'm learning so much and appreciate how kind and welcoming everyone has been. I'm ALSO learning that the better place for this question would have been in the "Just Starting Out" forum and I thank you all for kindly answering my question anyway.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheik Yerbouti View Post
    Hi Laura. For myself personally I find fragrances that smell fantastic to me and are very versatile get worn most and these are ones that have become my mainstays by earning their FBW status. I would usually try a fragrance instore where possible, then seek out a sample or decant; if I regularly reach for it, it will usually become a keeper. There are other times where I like something but know it wouldn’t get much wear time so a decant might be enough. I have a few of these that I thoroughly enjoy but have never made it to full bottles.

    We can sometimes be impulsive creatures so I think it’s an inevitable part of buying that you will end up with fragrances that you don’t enjoy as much as you may have at an earlier time and finding your path and pace will come with time. Enjoy the ride.

    Sheik
    Well said, I feel the same way I tend to gravitate towards versatile well blended fragrances especially formal ones. Something you can grab and go and it performs is a solid full bottle purchase or backup bottle worthy IMO.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by 30 Roses View Post
    I agree that it's a good idea to first buy only the "loves," and not too many of them. You are correct in realizing that your tastes could change. In fact, it's very common for one's tastes to upgrade fairly rapidly with exposure to more fragrances. Your purse will thank you if you take it slow.

    Also, the more bottles you own, the longer it will take to use up any one of them. So, grow your collection slowly. Assess your rate of usage of each one. If you are like me, there are some "loves" you will find yourself reaching for more often than others.
    That right there! I am in a discard/rebuild mode.

    Now, I could make this into a story problem—just kidding! I wont really—by suggesting you factor in rating, probable frequency of wearing, and price point. There are some drugstore classics that are affordable and ideal for everyday. Lately, I've been reaching for White Shoulders for work and the grocery store, to give an example.
    Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
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  22. #22

    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Purchase only from your bag of love. If you continue to smell, you will continue to love, it is that simple.

    Set yourself a limit on how many bottles or dollars you can buy or spend per month or per year.

    Exercise patience (it's very, very difficult to do) and purchase larger samples or decants of things you think you love. Use up 5, 10, or 15 ml, still want more, and you probably have a winner on your hands.

    Don't get into vintages if you want to keep a small collection and are prone to FOMO or hoarding.

    Swap and sell your samples to enable the purchase of more smells.

    My personal rule: if it doesn't make me light up, or relax into bliss from start to finish, it's a no. I have to love it from top note to bottom.

    Other than that, my "rules" have lead me to a 300+ bottle collection, spending thousands of dollars, and having more perfume than I can actively enjoy at an one point in time. It can be a bit of a burden, one that I'm trying to work through and sell.

    Oh, and don't succumb to the latest "gotta have it" lemming thing. That will save you time, money, and heartache.

    I was into "weird" perfumes for some time, and those can be more difficult to sell again. Now I prefer to just smell good.

    Use Mercari and eBay for some really good deals.

    Also, I make lists of perfume I want. Sometimes I find that the perfumes drop off the lists after some time, and that I no longer want them after sampling them again. And sometimes the perfume stays on the list, because really, I just simply like it so very much. But it can be helpful to write down what, and how much, and total it all up to see how much you'd be spending. That stays my hand a bit these days.

    I also do a great deal of looking around before purchase, and know how much I want to purchase a bottle for, what seems reasonable given the availability of it, its condition, etc. But this is a used/discounted perfume piece of advice, so maybe just stay away from that for awhile. As someone mentioned above, if you maintain liquidity, you can take advantage of some fabulous deals if you see them, if they're things that have been on your list for some time.

    Don't worry about blind buys for now, that can be expensively disappointing very quickly.

    Minis are always a good way to get more of a perfume and a cute bottle, for a decent price.
    Modern, Nice & Vintage for sale here!

  23. #23

    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Quote Originally Posted by LauraH View Post
    This is great advice, although I'm realizing how much of my excitement about buying full bottles is about having lots of pretty little bottles to display. I know, I know.
    If you are serious about your collection, and it's over three bottles, keep it in the dark, do not display it. Light, heat, moisture are the enemy of perfume preservation.
    Modern, Nice & Vintage for sale here!

  24. #24

    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Usually, from a personal viewpoint alone, a combination of various factors like having liked it not just on the first but on repeating testings, being on budget and all this with a minimal performance required for a particular fragrance house, price category, array and naturalness of notes.
    If all these requirements and more are all met at once, likely to become FWB yet also with the disclaimer that it does not always work like this and might not always make this choice, even less so by the standards of and of any other fellow Basenoter.

  25. #25

    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    I agree with Bavard; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

    My personal rules are:

    1. It needs to spark joy. (Marie Condo-style)
    2. I need to have drained 1-2 samples (2 if I can get them easily).

    Note that only #1 needs to be true if I’m creating a wish list for an occasion. So I sometimes am gifted things I haven’t finished samples of if it also sparks joy for someone at my house.
    My only regrets in life are the people I haven't stood up for,
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    If this thread had manifested oooh, say 5 yes ago.... sighs contentedly

  27. #27
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    Depends on your means. I buy mostly blind when I find something that catches my fancy and it works out pretty well for me.
    FYI: I spray all fragrances on clothing, never on skin.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: How to decide if it's FBW

    For me if I totally empty my sample and keep wanting more, it's worth a full purchase. Me spilling half the vial because of butterfingers does not count

    Let me rephrase that. If the perfume is close to the $200 mark or above, I need to go through at least two samples to justify the cost. Generally speaking the more affordable it is, the more likely I am to buy full bottle. Some of my best purchases were cheapies like Yardley. For some, having a 5 or 8 mL decant from places like The Perfumed Court (just an example, not an endorsement) allows me to justify that purchase a bit better and keep it under budget.

    Although for me, I love samples. I like wearing something new and unexpected most days. I can get at least 4 good wearings out of a sample vial for the most part.
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