How to Choose Your Signature Perfume

My grandma always said that a lady needs a signature scent to leave behind a memory for the senses.

Falling in love with the sophistication of that idea, I began my fragrance journey in junior high with the bold sweetness of Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth (no judgements, please). High school brought with it an obsession with Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers, followed only by the enormously popular Calvin Klein’s CK One. Now, 15 years and a brief love affair with Lancôme Tresor later, I’ve settled on the sweet blend of Stila Creme Bouquet.

Whether nearly edible fragrances will forever serve as my sensory timestamp, I don’t know, but research into the emotional connection of fragrance suggests that we gravitate toward scent families that ignite a spark within.

Using the industry-renowned Michael Edwards Fragrance Wheel and its companion guide to understanding, we’ve detailed the major fragrance categories to help you determine which scents reflect you best:

Floral: Easily the most popular of the fragrance families, this includes everything from the scent of a singular bloom to the combination of scents that could only be found in a floral bouquet. If feminine, classic, elegant tastes inspire you, Florals might just be your fragrance family. Try: Clinique Aromatics Elixir, Chanel Chance, MAC Cosmetics Dejarose, and Donna Karan DKNY Be Delicious.

Oriental: Exotic and sensual in nature, these notes are easily distinguishable by their warm, spicy tones and dramatic, musky aroma. If experienced, cultured, exotic tastes inspire you, Oriental might just be your fragrance family. Try: Chanel Coco, Dolce & Gabbana The One, Estee Lauder Youth Dew, and Yves Saint Laurent Opium.

Woody: Wood-inspired scents found in nature set the backdrop for this hearty, earthy fragrance family. If adventurous, wild, outdoor tastes inspire you, Woody might just be your fragrance family. Try: Burberry Body, Tom Ford Sahara Noir, Calvin Klein CK Be, and Lancôme Hypnose.

Fresh: Bold, inviting, and naturally pure, the Fresh fragrance family is home to earth’s celebration of life. If the spirit of nature inspires you, Fresh might just be your fragrance family. Try: Clinique Happy, D’Lish Clean warm Cotton, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Vera Wang Princess.

Once you’ve decided which fragrance family appeals to you and have decided which new fragrances to try, it’s important to know how to get the most out of your fragrance.

Upon applying your signature scent, aim the bottle 6-7 inches away before spritzing, as the fragrance should lightly mist your body. Apply to pulse points, such as the wrists, behind the ears, and even the back of your knees.

When it comes to maintaining the integrity of your signature scent, it’s important to keep your fragrance away from direct sunlight. Be sure to also avoid heat and humidity as both can break down the aromatic compound of your fragrance over time.