Finding a Signature Scent/Investing in Yourself

“The unnatural and the strange have a perfume of their own.”  ~Fernando Pessoa 

I love perfume.  I especially love it when someone walks by and leaves behind a wonderful, trailing scent that gives me a bit of insight into their personality.  Various scents–like books or music–have the ability to transport you to different times and places.  There is a chic woman who comes into my library and smells of Dior’s “Poison.”  Every single time I smell her, it takes me back to my senior year of high school, as a lot of the girls were wearing that fragrance.  She, of course, is much older and more stylish, but she has taken a perfume and made it her own.  Has she worn it for years?  A few months?  I’m not sure, but she’s made it her signature scent and she smells fantastic.

As a teen, my very first perfumes were trendy.  I wore “Love’s Baby Soft,” “Exclamation,” and “Liz Claiborne.” (I had the matching purse too!)  I think I had some “Giorgio Beverly Hills” thrown in there for good measure.  I had no idea what I really liked.  I just wanted to wear what the other girls at school were wearing.

Then, when I went off to college, I started hanging out with artsy/hippie folks and stopped wearing perfume altogether.  It was all about patchouli and neroli oils.  That ended up being short-lived (thank goodness) and I stumbled upon “Samsara” by Guerlain.  My boyfriend gave a bottle to me on my 20th birthday.  I received so many compliments on that perfume that I went through bottle after bottle.  Eventually, I grew tired of it and stopped wearing it.

Once I reached my mid-twenties I got married and started a family.  Perfume wasn’t in the picture because I was sensitive to smells during my pregnancy and couldn’t wear anything other than a lightly scented lotion.  When my children got a bit older, I decided it was time to start investing in myself again.  I’d put myself on the back burner for far too long.  I even remember the exact moment when I realized I needed a big change in my life:  I was sitting on the floor doing a puzzle with my son, who was 4 or 5 at the time, and we were watching Sesame Street.  I was wearing a pair of old grey sweatpants and a college tee-shirt.  My hair was up in a messy ponytail and I wasn’t wearing any makeup.  I went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and realized that I didn’t feel like myself.  I looked as tired as I felt.

I spent so much time being a wife and mother that I put myself last on my to-do list.  I stopped investing in myself and it showed.  Big time.  So, what did I do?  I booked an appointment at my local Aveda salon and had my baby fine hair cut into a shoulder-length, layered bob.  I felt–and looked–immensely better.  It was progress.  Over time, I went back to college and started taking classes.  I began doing my makeup, reading interesting books, and watching French/Italian films. (You know, non-Sesame Street things).

I remember going to class one day and admiring a young freshman girl who reminded me of myself when I was that age.  Same dark brown hair and eyes like mine, but she was, of course, different in her own way.  She always dressed so chic, her nails were perfectly manicured, and her perfume smelled amazing.  I had my cute bobbed haircut, and it was progress, but I realized that I needed a signature scent.  I marched myself to the perfume counter at Macy’s that very afternoon.

I smelled several perfumes, but landed on an old favorite–Samsara by Guerlain.


Isn’t it funny how scent can transport you to different times and places?  I bought a bottle and went home.  I started wearing it, but it didn’t feel like the new me that I was becoming.  I decided I needed to try something else.  (By the way, I still have that bottle and I like to spray it in the air on occasion, if only to smell it and think of my college days.)

About a month or so later, I went back to the perfume counter.  I spritzed “Juicy” by Juicy Couture onto my wrists and grimaced.  It did not smell the same on me as it did that girl and it smelled too trendy.  I sniffed dozens of perfumes that day, but left empty handed because I couldn’t find one that was “me.”

For Christmas that year I received a bottle of “Guilty” by Gucci.  It was a nice gift and I did like the smell, but I found it to be too strong on me.  It also gave me a headache.  Out of frustration, I gave up trying to find a signature scent for the time being.

A few more years rolled on by (like they always do) and I started wearing scented lotions.  I loved “Ginger Essence” by Origins and “Stella” by Tocca.  I bought the cologne versions of both of those and actually liked the scented lotions better than the perfume.  The “Stella” perfume had too much of a honey scent and it gave me a headache, but the lotion meshed well with my chemistry.  I also tried “Fracas” by Robert Piguet, but grew tired of it after a while.

After years of testing, spritzing and getting frustrated, I finally found a scent that I absolutely loved.


“Coco” by Chanel.  I find it to be a sophisticated scent and it smells amazing on me.  I wear it often and receive many of compliments.  Currently, it is my autumn/winter scent.

My second favorite  and spring/summer scent is “Rose 4 Reines Eau de Toilette” by L’Occitane.  Oh, my word, it is incredible!  To me, it reminds me of my time in Paris.  It smells like a rose garden in bloom after a spring rain.


I also love “Orange Blossom” by Jo Malone and “Pure Vanilla” by Lavanila Laboratories.  (My husband loves the latter.  What is it with men and vanilla-based scents?)







Now, you may dislike all of the perfumes that I love and that is okay.  Scent is highly personal.  That is why, unless I know that someone truly loves or wears a particular fragrance, I do not buy perfume for them as gifts.

Another idea–make your own perfume oil!  Go to a Whole Foods or other health food store, buy some essential oils, a lotion or oil base and create your own scent.  I buy an unscented lotion base and put 2 drops each of chamomile and lavender oil and it smells amazing.

You can also go to an Aveda salon or their website and create your own personal blend.  I’ve done this and I have Aveda’s Lavender Fleurs Oil singular note scent that I wear on occasion, but I also spray it over my pillow each night.  My 8 year old son also demands that I spray it in his room before he goes to sleep.  He says it keeps the closet monster away.


What is your signature scent?  Have you found yours?  If not, I suggest taking a trip to the perfume counter or Sephora and sniffing some out.  If you can’t handle perfume or cologne, or have allergies, I suggest you try the lotion or shower/bath gel version of a scent that you like.  That is another good idea if you do not want to invest $80-$100 on a bottle of perfume/cologne.  The lotions and shower/bath gels are often much cheaper.  Some companies even make rollerball versions that are a fraction of the price.

Please take time to invest in yourself.  I know what it’s like to put myself last and it doesn’t feel very good.  You will be a better co-worker, friend, mother, wife, etc.  You will smile more!  You will have an extra pep in your step!

You may, in fact, look and feel so incredibly gorgeous that you begin spinning atop a giant hill and burst immediately into song.  (If this really happens to you, please ignore the people pointing and whispering and call me immediately.   I’ll sing backup!)

Whether or not you decide to seek out the perfect scent, start taking care of yourself today.  Don’t wait.  Do it NOW.

One of my favorite quotes ever is by George Eliot:  “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

He was right.  It’s not too late!

So, get out of those sweatpants and buy a pretty sundress.  Go get a flattering hairstyle that makes YOU smile.  (Remember, we’re doing this for US, not anybody else!)  Give yourself a manicure and a pedicure.  Book a facial or a massage.  If you’re on a budget, hit CVS and check out the latest products from Revlon and L’Oreal.  Worried about wrinkles or fine lines?  Try out a new skin care line.

Want to brighten up your skin tone?  Try a new shade of lipstick that makes you feel sassy.  Read my previous post regarding “Finding Your Color Season” and see which colors look best on you versus what colors wash you out.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money.  Take baby steps and do a little bit at a time.  That is how I did it.  But, I promise you that once you invest in yourself, you will feel better.  You will gain confidence and carry yourself differently.   It’s merely an attitude.  If you feel beautiful inside and project kindness, others will pick up on that.  Trust me.

Please leave a comment below or feel free to send me a PM via my Facebook page.  I don’t currently Tweet or do any other forms of social media, so those are the best ways to get in contact with me.

Have a fabulous weekend!






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