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Choosing is hard

woman choosing between two duck decoysNext to storage porn, there’s nothing that interests me more about other people’s perfume habits than picking something to wear. I love seeing other people’s Scent of the Day on Twitter or Facebook partly just because it gives me ideas about what to wear when, their associations with it or reasons for picking it, the occasion for which they pulled out the special bottle.

I find myself thinking mostly in categories, and true to memory theory, I can only remember a certain number of things per category that I might want to wear. (And in fact, I can usually only think of a certain number of categories.) This is part of the reason phone numbers are no longer than about ten digits no matter where you are in the world – that’s about the most you can remember. Maybe, in a stretch, plus a three digit country code.

Here are the families, and the perfumes, that just spring to my mind this morning when I’m thinking about picking a SOTD. As you’ll see, I tend to trail off after about three options in any one category.

Roses (I’ve been on a rose kick lately) – Lyric, AG Rose Splendide, Ava Luxe Roses
Patchouli (ditto the patchouli) – Loree Rodkin Gothic II, Psychédélique, Jalaine Patchouli

But then my brain goes farther afield…

Lily – Diorissimo, Donna Karan Gold, Lys Fumé (I’ve been thinking about lily lately but not wearing it. Isn’t that odd?)

Coffee – because I found my bottle of Eau du Navigateur recently, I don’t usually wear this, but I could also pull out the excellent La Via del Profumo Milano Caffé, or get nuts and pull out an oldy but goody like Café Noir (and then I get confused between DSH’s and Ava Luxe’s) or Hilde Soliani’s terrific Bell’Antonio, one of my all-time favorites.

And then I think kind of randomly of things I’ve been meaning to sample – Piquet’s new Rose Perfection; Micallef Red 1 and 2 (still on the rose kick).

And then I think of things I’ve tucked here and there around the house because either I’ve BEEN enjoying wearing them, or I just got them and haven’t worn them yet. Amouage Fate, Loree Rodkin V, SoOud Nur.

And then I think about the favorites that just sit out where I can fall back on them at any time, because they never fail me and I love them. Angel Touch of Leather, Boadicea the Victorious Divine, Psychédélique (and here we have come full circle).

Then I have to decide what is going to determine what I wear today.

Am I going to continue the recent trend (roses) or is it time for a change?

Often at this stage if I’m wandering about, my eye may just light on something. I keep bottles on my bureau that I like and want to wear more often; that Andrea Maack Smart has been calling to me lately — and sometimes I just pick one up and put it on.

Sometimes though I go through all the considerations above and then something will occur to me because of a random thought or something I read on one of the perfume boards. I have some vintage Hypnotic Poison that I haven’t tested yet, I’ll think because someone says something about Poison or Hypnotic Poison, and I’ll decide to wear that (even the night before). I’ll remember that I haven’t tried the Benjoin 19 yet and I’ve been meaning to try it for the Le Labo piece I’ve been meaning to write. I’ll remember I have a rotten day coming up and that I’ll need something soothing that always makes me happy, like Piguet Notes, or Amouage Opus I, or even a very old friend like Montale Vanille Extasy. I’ll remember I’m going to see someone, like my brother, who compliments when I wear Organza Indecence. I’ll remember I need something gentle because I have a lot of meetings in close quarters, so I’ll go back to something I know will work but also be light-handed, like Divine or Geir Ness’ Laila. Or I’ll remember that all needs can be met by a VERY old friend and dig out something that’s so familiar that I seldom wear it any more, but that I know will make me happy, never go wrong, never offend, and have many pleasant associations with it, like my beloved Beth Terry Creative Universe Element of Surprise.

Then I’ll think of an offshoot of that – well, if I’m going to wear tea, why not Bulgari Black or Eau Parfumée au Thé Blanc?

And then sometimes I’m off again.

This is not full brainpower, you understand. This is almost like a subroutine running in the background. What I pick to wear might well be a function of when I hit the subroutine. If any one of these perfumes is what’s occurring to me while I’m going past the Most Perfume Is Stored Here place, I’ll pull it out and wear it. Sometimes I’ll open a drawer or look on a shelf for something specific and get distracted by something else, pull it out and wear it. (This is the activity that most often leads to the biggest dissatisfaction, because it isn’t a scent I’ve been thinking of wearing or that fits the day, or it’s something I don’t always enjoy, which is why it wasn’t in my brain rotation, and it’s the wrong day for it *cough*Beloved*cough*.)

And after all that – because, Dear Reader, that’s just this morning – I’ll probably get up and put on Bois du Chocolat, because it’s one of my favorites and it’s in my mind because I saw somewhere online that DSH is bringing it back for the holiday this year, and that makes me happy, because I know there are people out there like me who love it and were sad that it was gone. So all that thought is attached to it in my head, and it’s the reverse of weighing it down – the more thoughts attached to it, the more it will float to the top and get worn. (Though I might remember that Jardin Clos, another one of my favorites, is stored with the Bois du Chocolat, and if I feel like the Bois du Chocolat is too heavy for this stormy grey day I may ending up wearing that always-makes-me-happy floral instead.)

Sometimes, to refresh what all’s in my head, I have to paw through the drawers and storage or through my inventory spreadsheet just to remind myself of what I own. The spreadsheet is to prevent me from duplicate buying (“I’ve been meaning to get that for a while. Did I do it already??”), but also serves to remind me of what I own but haven’t worn lately.

There, in years of writing about my perfume habits that’s probably the best description of my process of picking out a scent of the day I’ve managed.

Feel free to comment and tell me I’m crazy or explain how YOU pick a SOTD!

Stay dry and warm and if you are United Statesian, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

Image is “hard to choose” by schietparkiet, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

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5 comments to Choosing is hard

  • Please, immediately take back your “stay dry” – we’re looking forward to/hoping for some rain: we need it badly.

    I have no idea how I’m choosing what to wear. I even plan to write some program to suggest me my SOTD based on the data I accumulated over the last three years but I do not have time to analyze the data to come up with an algorithm for that.

    Have a pleasant holiday!

  • Judith

    I take it back, I take it back! We had a dry fall lately but are making up for it now. Mostly I was thinking one should stay dry personally – it’s so miserable to be cold and wet.

    I would love to see the results of that algorithm!

  • You have far more patience than I. It’s usually a matter of “Oh, I don’t know” and a look in the cupboard and grab the first thing that catches my eye and sounds good.

What do you think?