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On the other hand: value

swingOK, after all this defending of expensive perfume, let’s swing the other way for a while.

This week I’ve been snorting Bohemian Black, by House of Matriach, and my beloved vintage Vol de Nuit, which I was able to pick up at a relatively reasonable price from another perfume fanatic who was rehoming it.

If you put aside cost per ml – and if your perfume collection is too big for you to wear in this lifetime, as Kevin calculated at Now Smell This, then does cost per ml really matter any more? Isn’t it more important not to hoard too much MORE juice? — it’s fairly stunning that both of these beauties can be had (at least by me, at least this week) for under $150 a bottle. These are stunning rich jeweled leather ornaments of perfumes, not lightweight.

(It’s not that I’m against lightweight. It’s just that in a fit of excitement over the warm weather, I put Donna Karan Gold EDT on Thursday, Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Blanc yesterday, and Chanel No. 5 Eau Première today, and honestly it felt like I wasn’t wearing any perfume at all. And those are three favorites.)

In a world where such gorgeousness can be had for such reasonable money, IS there a reason to shell out for $400, $600, $900 perfumes?

I think it has to grab you. And when I say this, I mean I hope the person who shells out that much (…goes to cuddle her Amber Aoud…) really has a visceral deep love relationship with that juice. I hope they’re not doing it because it’s there and they assume expensive is better. I hope they’re not doing it for the reason people seem to buy ever more expensive designer handbags – because they can.

(I’m sure there’s a reason a Birkin costs 5 figures but I suspect it’s mostly exclusivity, and that turns me off the idea of them. Similarly I can get extremely good-looking, well-wearing handbags for under $200. I have friends who think I’m nuts to spend that kind of money on a handbag. But I feel the same way about people who spend that much on $1000 handbags. It’s all relative, innit?)

It has to boil down to love. If you are on a budget where the loss of a $20 bill makes you break down and cry (I KNOW I’m not the only person reading this blog who’s been there), a $50 perfume is an enormous splurge and you had better love it down to the last drop. I know I’m always surprised when people on or makeup alley refer to a $50 perfume as expensive. But of course, it’s expensive for someone.

$50 is also a lot of money. I mean, that’s easily five meals at Chipotle. That’s a week’s veggies for me. If put away in a Roth IRA once a month every month starting when you’re 30, by the time you retire at 67 you’d have almost $100,000 (assuming a relatively reasonable 7% interest rate) which would generate $10,000 a year for you for the rest of your life. Cash. It’s important.

So whether you’re blowing $50 or $500 on a bottle of perfume, I hope it grabs you.

This is a motto I’m trying to live by now. Of course it really is tough in execution, because we all know that different perfumes grab us at different times, that the Eau Première we want in summer is not the Ore we want in winter, and that if a chance to buy an Ormonde Jayne comes up, it won’t come around again quickly and we have to take it.

Personally I HATE HATE HATE that sensation of not being able to HAVE something I want. It’s driving me crazy now that I didn’t buy a bottle of Un Crime Exotique when I sampled it and pretty much liked it at Scent Bar last fall, and now there are no bottles to be had for love or money anywhere. I also hate when I see something listed in the television guide that I can’t watch because I don’t get that channel.

But a great guide to living came up during the “try to talk each other OUT of perfume buying” day at Now Smell This recently, as brilliant commenter Rappleyea pointed out: just liking something, and wanting to buy something new, does NOT equal love, and probably shouldn’t equal a purchase. This is a brilliant idea and I must employ it.

Partly because I have no room for frivolous acquisitions and partly because I must stop trying to GUESS what I will like IN THE FUTURE. Odds are, what I will like in the future is something I freaking own. I must stop trying to stockpile perfume against some mythical future apocalypse when no more perfume will ever be available for purchase. I passed up a backup bottle this week, and I’m proud of me. Um. Yes.

So that’s what I think about that. Smaller bottles, smaller outlays, only things I love, do not stock up for the apocalypse. I really wish decants didn’t sometimes evaporate on me, but overall my perfume collection will indeed outlast me. I must see the value in new acquisitions.

All of which is why I’m not buying more of this Bohemian Black right now.

Though I have to say, gang, this is one fantastic chewy floral incense.

OK rant done.

Image is “Swing 2” from photo brick via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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