How to Choose and Wear Perfume

I got interested in perfume when I read Dita Von Teese's wonderful book, "Your Beauty Mark." What a great book! Anyone who has the slightest interest in becoming more beautiful and feminine should own a copy. Dita writes beautifully on all topics, and her chapter on perfume was especially fascinating. She created a line of gorgeous aromas, each of which she custom crafted. Reading this made me desire the experience of using her perfumes and inspired me to search for my fragrance. SheDaddy was fully supportive and loved the idea. She loved the Dita von Teese perfumes and was happy to pick out a fragrance for me. She chose Rouge. I was so happy! Rouge is for the seductress! It has the most beautiful top notes of Bergamot, Lapsang souchong tea (the first perfume to contain this), pink pepper, and a deep, woody heart with amber, guaiac wood, and magnolia. The base notes are Tonka bean, patchouli, and sandalwood (if you don't know what all this means, just read on. You will). OMG, who could not love this fragrance? It also has the most beautiful red bottle. I love it so much, and it was the one I was hoping she would choose for me. Dita Von Teese ad campaign photo.This picture is from the Rouge campaign, with the beautiful bottle (definitely part of the experience) and Dita looking so classy. I don't know about you, but I would kill to look that great!

The sad news is that Dita's perfumes are no longer available. What a shame! I did find an authentic one on eBay for a reasonable price, but it came from Hungary! There's a certain bittersweetness to wearing this fragrance since once it's gone, I doubt I can find it again.

Perfume History

Perfumes have been around forever. Trace the history of perfume, and you trace the history of civilization. In ancient Yemen and Ethiopia, during the reign of the Queen of Sheba, women wore bouquets that included exotic-smelling herbs from India and Persia. The Ancient Persians and Greeks splashed themselves with fragrant oils after bathing. The Greeks believed that the Gods were the inventors of perfume, and a lingering scent proved that a God or Goddess was present.

The early perfumers created their perfumes with the natural resins of plants or musk obtained from the odoriferous glands of animals. But in the 9th century, the Persian doctor and philosopher Ibn Sina figured out how to distill oil from flowers and became the creator of the modern perfume industry.

Ibn Sina created the technology, but perfuming was perfected by the Italians and French. Beginning in the Renaissance and moving into the next five centuries, these countries provided the greatest perfumes. Even today, some of the world's greatest noses come from France.

Waspie, designed by Rochas.Perfume packaging has always been part of its magic and allure. Marcel Rochas designed a famous wasp-waisted corset in black Chantilly lace for the actress Mae West. West also inspired his strapless bra-girdle (called the "Waspie" or "guepiere"), which pulled in the waist dramatically and accentuated the bust. Rochas loved an hourglass figure!

Femme Rochas ad showing original Lalique bottle.He was also a perfumer creating a best-selling perfume in 1945, "Femme Rochas." The original Lalique crystal bottle for this perfume resembled the top half of an hourglass, in tribute to Mae West's hips!

Dali painting, 'Mae West's Face'West didn't fall in love with this perfume, sorry. She preferred "Shocking," a perfume that Elsa Schiaparelli introduced in 1937. Interestingly enough, Mae West was also a muse for this design. The surrealist and eccentric beauty Leonor Fini designed the bottle based on the mannequin Mae West's tailor used to design her gowns! The flowers around the bottle's neck came from a painting by Salvador Dali! Incidentally, Dali also painted West and created the iconic red sofa, inspired by the color of her lips!

Dali's sculpture of Mae West's lips, forming a couch.

It's irrelevant, but I can't resist sharing some details about "Shocking." It took thirty ladies working together to assemble each bottle, Shocking perfume ad.assembling 20 parts manufactured in three different countries. The tiny glass flowers and green glass leaves came from Murano, Italy. The bottle came from France, and the clear glass dome was from Czechoslovakia.

Dali is also one of our SheDaddy's favorite painters. What a loss for Dali that he never had the opportunity to be inspired by her!

The Magic of Perfume.

Scent is powerful. When poets write about their experiences, the evocative power of scent is chief among them. In fact, the word perfume comes from the Latin per fumare - "through smoke". I'm sure you've all had the experience of walking down a street when the sudden smell of a particular flower or tree or food suddenly takes you from the present and returns you to your childhood or reminds you of a lover or a dear friend. Your scent is one of the things that will be most memorable and noticed about you, so give some thought to who you are and what you want to be. Perfume is a big business, and there is no shortage of people trying to take your money. Getting one of Dita's perfumes is next to impossible now, but you can look for ones by people like Frederic Malle, Serge Lutens, or Tom Ford. These are people with real integrity who value beauty over simply making money.

Perfume reacts with your body chemistry and temperature. The same bottle of perfume can smell radically different on different people. You can love one aroma on one friend and hate the same aroma on another. And don't expect to use the same scent for a lifetime. Your skin chemistry will change over the years, and who you are will also change as you evolve and grow. And then there are those matters only the heart knows: Scent binds lovers stronger than cord and turns strangers into friends.

Perfume changes as you wear it. That is part of its magic. Perfume is between 15-50% perfume oils; the rest is alcohol. (Concentrations between 20-50% are the longest lasting). When you first put on perfume, as the alcohol evaporates, you will detect the "Top Notes ." These are typically sharp scents, lasting about 20 minutes before they disappear.

After the Top Notes disappear, you will be able to smell the "Middle Notes ." These are the "heart" of the perfume. These will be soft, round aromas (perhaps floral, spicy, or woody) and last three to six hours. These, along with the base notes (also present now), provide the whole character of the perfume.

The base notes become even more prominent as the middle notes fade. These rich, deep aromas evaporate very slowly, lasting up to a full day or more. Many people enjoy layering aromas and will wear different perfumes on top of a previously applied fragrance.

How to Select Your Perfume

The worst place to try perfume is a perfume counter. It is the nature of such places to reek of dozens of different scents. If you go to a perfume counter, put a test scent on your wrist and a test strip (and write down what it is). Then leave. Never let anyone pressure you into buying any fragrance (except SheDaddy, of course!). This process is about you, not the sales clerk's commission. And, just as with makeup, check the store's return policy.

You aren't limited to stores. There are online shops that will sell you samples of perfumes for very reasonable prices. They decant them using sterile glass pipettes and bottles from the original. There is room for some shenanigans here, but I can personally recommend The Perfumed Court, which is where I obtained my samples of Dita's fragrances. If you don't care about the original bottle, you can also get reasonably priced decanting of much more expensive perfumes in smaller bottles from them.

Once you are out of the store, the process is pretty simple. See how you like it. See how your friends like it. Find out if SheDaddy approves. Then decide. Simple.

How to Wear Perfume

I was fortunate to receive direct instruction on this art from SheDaddy herself! Spray the inside of your wrists and your elbows. Incidentally, perfume can evaporate quickly, even before it has a chance to settle on your skin, so it's not a terrible thing to cover newly sprayed skin with a cloth. Spray the back of your neck and behind your ears. As I watched her demonstrate this, I could not help but think this would be the path anyone kissing a beautiful woman would naturally follow. That makes it easy to remember! It would not surprise me to learn that Dom de Luxury occasionally also spritzes her ankles and feet to bind the mind of any foot fetishist she may be training!

Don't wear too much. You've gone too far if someone can smell you coming from a block away. It shouldn't be a cloud but an aura. People should start noticing it when they are about two feet away from you. I have no idea how I came up with that figure, but it feels right.

Many perfumes also have "extras". You can typically buy body lotions, shower gels, and even deodorants with the same scent. If you want to make your own, Dita gives a recipe: "In a bowl, blend about 1/4 cup perfume with 2 cups unscented lotion. Pour it into a jar with a cap, preferably something pretty." These are less expensive than the perfume and can keep you going if you don't need the full effect.

Caring for Perfume

Perfume can spoil, just like any other beauty product. Avoid extremes. Keep it out of sunlight. Minimize evaporation by always replacing the cap after each use. Bathrooms are considered natural places for perfumes by some, but the huge swings in temperature from humidity from bathing make it dangerous for the perfume's longevity.

A Perfume Glossary

  • Accord Three or four notes that lose their unique identity when they are blended, forming a new, balanced aroma.
  • Animalic These days, they are usually synthesized, but this refers to scents (such as musk or civet) that originally came from animal glands. These can give a perfume a sensual depth
  • Atomizer A bottle, usually a small one, which is used to spritz a fine must of perfume.
  • Perfume A blend of aromatic oils and aromas. It is usually 15-50% perfume oils, with the remaining being alcohol. Concentrations of between 20-50% are the longest lasting.
  • Eau de Parfum A solution of 10-15% aromatics, the rest being alcohol.
  • Eau de Toilette A solution of 3-8% aromatics, with the rest being alcohol or water.
  • Juice (also Juis) The concentration of oils in a fragrance extracted from flowers or other sources or synthesized. It can also refer to the alcohol solution of a perfume concentrate.
  • Fragrance It can refer to the same thing as perfume, but it applies better to the fleeting smell of the product rather than the total product.
  • Nose This is a person. A Nose is highly trained and genetically gifted and is the person who mixes the various components into a perfume.
  • Top Notes The head of the perfume, these notes are typically sharp and volatile, lasting about 20 minutes before disappearing.
  • Middle Notes The "heart" of the perfume. Softer and rounder than the top notes, these include floral, spicy, or woody aromas. They appear as the top notes fade and last three to six hours.
  • Base Notes Along with the middle notes, these form the character of the perfume. Also called the "dry-down," these slowly evaporating notes will appear after the first half-hour and may last as long as a day.

I hope you enjoyed this! I hope it inspires you to find your scent. Let me know what you choose; I'd love to hear about it!