March’s Maxims

And here for 2010 are a few of March’s Maxims, soon to be self-published and available for $1.99 in a remainder bin in your area:

1) There is a single perfume out there that speaks to each person like no other scent does.  If all other perfumes disappeared from the face of the Earth, you could console yourself with that one bottle.  (For me, it’s Mitsouko.)  You can spend the rest of your life trying other fragrances, but you will always come back to that one.

2) I have, right this second, my home-grown fingernails in a longer length and shape that closely approximates what I’d get if I went to a nail salon and bought myself a set of acrylic nails for $50 or whatever the going rate is.   If I go to any salon in this area, with my real nails, they will insist that I get a French manicure of the sort that reminds me of Carmela Soprano.  If I want polish, even if I tell them not to trim my nails at all or square them off, they’ll be filed down to square nubs.  I don’t know why this is so, but it is.

3) If you wear red lipstick regularly enough it ceases to be a high-maintenance novelty and becomes a natural feature.  A pleasing, softer visual alternative is the same red lipstick applied lightly with a fingertip.  Voila, a whole new look.  In either case, a lipstick brush and a mirror are handy things to have in the purse.  Also a nice handkerchief.  Not for the lipstick but because just the sight of them makes me feel more like a lady, even if I end up using one to clean the side mirror on my car.

4) In 2010 I’m going to spend less time sampling new stuff and more time wallowing in the scents I have, many of which are quite beautiful and don’t get enough attention.

5) Even if you swear you’re not getting any more perfume bottles, and you take active measures to try to decrease the number of perfumes you own, they still reproduce in the dark on your shelves, to the point that the uninitiated might open, say, the closet doors in your guest bedroom and then look at you as if they’d just discovered your stash of nasty porn.

6) Each year brings a search for a magical new note that one has not ever properly appreciated.  This year for me it’s going to be sandalwood.  Somewhere out there is a fragrance that is predominately sandalwood that doesn’t give me a headache and that I won’t want to bury after fifteen minutes of bliss turns into annoyance.  If I can love incense, and (generic) woods, I can learn to love sandalwood.

7) While I haven’t managed to stay faithful to my attempts to dress more like a grownup on a daily basis, I’ve made some progress, and the results have been rewarding.  I’ve given some of my cheaper, trendier stuff to the teenagers, and am staying out of their closets.  I bought the boxed set of Nina Garcia’s Little Black Book of Style and The One Hundred on Carter’s recommendation, and I have very much enjoyed them.  While I don’t agree with everything Garcia says (I think an oversized peacoat looks silly on me, like I’m wearing daddy’s, I much prefer my fitted version) I’ve made a few checks next to “classic items” I don’t own, like a nice trench coat.  This year instead of blowing money on cheaper, trendy items, I’m going to shop for two or three of these classics that appeal to me.  I think I’m finally ready.

  • Caroline says:

    Hey, lurked for the first time and just had to throw in my $0.02.

    Sandalwood is comfort food for me when it comes to fragrance. I’ve had good luck with Etro Sandalo. I’m not up on how much is sandalwood in it and how much is filler, but it works for me when I want a (more or less) one-note sandalwood.

    I loved Samsara when it first came out, and wore it well, but there is a huge difference in it now versus what it was like in the 80s when it was made with real Mysore. Pity that there’s such a shortage of Mysore now.

    Finally, I’m working on the scents given to me this past Christmas: the scent that everyone tells me is great on me (and it has such an unfortunate name that I’m embarrassed when I tell them what it is): Hypnotic Poison. It’s got some sandalwood in it, although the sugary vanilla and bitter almond give it a creaminess that initially trump the earthier dry-down of sandalwood. Yeah, yeah, think what you like, but this one works with my body chemistry to the point of narcissism for me. It truly is my poison.

    The other is Blu Notte, by Bulgari. Although it smells good, it doesn’t have much staying power on me. Sillage, yes, when first I spray it on; lastability, no. (Gee, it would have been way too easy to type out “longevity”.) Still, an overall pleasant experience.

    Um, dare I bring up others still lurking in my bedroom? -I’ll freely admit to returning to Shalimar when I’ve nothing better to slip into, because like Hypnotic Poison, it smells so dang good I can’t resist it. I used to work at a high-end department store, not too unlike Needless Mark-Up, and the twentysomethings all used to yell at me when they’d catch me spritzing some on. “Why are you putting that old lady scent on? Put on the Juicy Couture instead!” -I told them I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than wear fruit gone bad, and once they smelled the Shalimar on me, they understood it was neither old lady nor unhip.

    Sublime, anyone? Complicated and lush and mature and powdery-intoxicating aldehydic. Jean Desprez at his second best, second only to Sheherazade.

    Oh, and call me crazy, but I still love the raucousness of Oscar. It’s hyper-happy in a bottle and Christmas-y (somehow) and reminds me of cold weather and lots of laughter. I love you for sentimental reasons, Oscar. (with my apologies to Watson & Best for the plagiarism of the song title)

    I am currently in mourning for the cessation in production of L’Occitane’s Notre Flore – Iris. April and May will not be the same without it.

    -That’s all. For now. Greetings from the West. (Yes, that’s a relative term, but you know what I mean.)

    • March says:

      Hey, thanks for delurking!

      I LOVE Hypnotic Poison. One of these days I’m going to buy it as a flanker, I think it’s awesome. I don’t throw a lot on, but wow.

      And another vote for the Etro which I obviously have to try.

      Oscar — man, I haven’t thought of that in forever. I think some friend’s mom wore it. I can’t even thing what it smelled like. 😕

  • Catherine says:

    It’s official (I think). I’ve moved from perfume to lipstick as my addiction because those are answers I read. I’ve been doing reds nonstop. Sometimes brighter, like Ed Bess’s Midnight Bloom. Mostly darker reddish wines and burgundy with Le Metier’s Red Rapture Kalidescope colors layered over it. I lull myself to sleep flipping through all the different reds I want still. Chanel Laque Dragon, Nars matte lip pencils in Cruella and Dragon, Le Metier’s siren red (I think it’s called Riviera?), and Armani 400. Crazy.


    But I do have an answer for #1. Chanel No. 18. 😡

  • Scent HIve says:

    These were all terrific March! Happy New Year.


  • cathleen56 says:

    I replied a little while ago, but it disappeared. I should really improve my internet posting skills.

    Anyway, my first thought was doesn’t it take forever to clear off your side mirror with a lipstick brush?

    1. As for the one you’ll always love, for me, it’s Chanel No.19, the older, straw-colored version. Heaven. And sandalwoody, too, for your #6.

    2. N/A for the nails, since I keep mine short for guitar playing. I will have them shaped and buffed, though, but usually no polish unless it’s a special occasion. Now, if I had lily white hands like Louise’s though, I’d reconsider….

    3. Red lips. Yes to your thoughts, and to your technique. It’s great when you find that tooth-whitening, dramatic but not costumey shade you can settle down with. I’ve been wearing it almost every day.

    4. a/k/a/ “shopping in your own closet.” No arguments there.

    5. Questions of morality set aside, I do feel guilty sometimes that I have more perfume than I can use up in a lifetime. And I don’t have a very big collection, either.

    6. Sandalwood — what about No. 19? It’s the bone-dry martini of sandalwoods. Lovely and sophisticated, which brings us to…..

    7. Grown-up dressing. I’ve been on a stealth campaign along these lines for a while now. For me, it translates to more structured clothing, more skirts/dresses, and good shoes. Though I don’t go so far as thinking of clothes as “investments” — like perfumes, they rarely if ever increase in value — the things that I get the most wear out of are things that I paid the most money for, but I also wear them the most. There are some exceptions, like that cute little Prada dress at the N-M outlet I honestly thought I’d be able to breathe in while I was wearing it…

    • March says:

      Hahaha about the lipstick brush. :d And YES to the tooth-whitening, which is one of the reasons I love red lippies. Even ones that shouldn’t do that on me, like the slightly orangey ones (Nars Jungle Red?) still work like that.

      I tell myself that if I were hit by a bus, at least the family could sell my collection on eBay for a pretty penny.

  • carter says:

    1) Jolie Madame, first love. Wore it as a teen in the 70s and it’s still my go-to scent.

    2) I have never had a professional manicure in my life. My nails are short and just slightly tapered at the corners. I always wear a red, usually Chanel Dazzling, but for the past few months I’ve been on a no-polish kick and I wear Orly Nails for Males, which give a very clean, softly-buffed look.

    3) I’m totally with you on the red lipstick thing, both sheered out and full bore. I am partial to NARS Jungle Red and Red Dragon, and an Armani sheer red that I can’t remember the number of at the moment (why can’t he do names like everybody else?). I don’t do pink often in winter, but I love NARS Funny Face when I do, and you, March are behind my latest infatuation, D&G Dahlia. Oh lawdy, what an incredibly fabulous color.

    4) Not a problem. I wish I sampled more than I do.

    5) Also not a problem. I have exactly the number of perfume bottles as I have space for, not because I’m especially disciplined, but because I live in a shoebox.

    6) I love what I love, don’t love what I don’t love, and I’m fine with it. If I happen to sample something that opens my eyes and broadens my nose’s horizons, it’s all good.

    7) Glad you are finding the books useful, but you’re right about the peacoat. Oversized anything is for tall people. Definitely get a trench — I actually own two identical ones in two different sizes so that I can wear the tight-fitting one in the spring and the looser one over sweaters or with the lining attached. Those two coats are what I would grab and run with if one day I accidentally (or not so accidentally) manage to set this dump on fire. When you look up Bette Davis in the encyclopedia you’ll see a picture of my living room. That last remark was ‘specially was for Francesca and Shelley

    • March says:

      You know what I hate about me? I read two great books and I nitpick one crappy detail. What kind of mind does that? Those books were FUN!!! And I’ve had fun trying to decide which item I might get next … I really do want a trench, but I’m trying to find a balance, you know, all that …. stuff on there. Those epaulets and buckles and froofraw and diddly-dee…. How ornamented is yours?

      Funny face!!! Is that the one I need to go back and buy? It is, it was so great. And Jungle Red is my go-to red. The two different sizes makes total sense, my black raincoats are like that. (I just have two raincoats instead of two trenchcoats 🙂 ) And come to think of it, they don’t suck. One’s a Prada and one’s a Ralph. They look nice.

      You know, I can’t find my Dahlia. I am a hair cross about that.

      • carter says:

        It’s not the nitpicking that’s the problem, it’s the hating yourself for it. Besides, you know that you do it, and that’s a very good thing. Lovable, even:x

        So about the epaulets and buckles and things: on Burberry coats, the epaulets just button right off if you don’t like ’em or if it’s to gewgawie for you. I never buckle the belt in front. In fact, I buckle it in back and wear the coat open, like a reefer or a-line. In other words, I de-trench it somewhat. I know where you’re coming from with your worries about the style; it’s about height, again, right? And maybe boobage? The problem isn’t so much the hardware; it’s the length. If you have a trench that fits right through the shoulders and bust, and it’s hemmed to the right length for your frame, it will work on you and look great. But if you have a good-quality classic raincoat (or two) and you like the way it looks on you, then that’s all you need. I like the trench because it is like a Birkin or something; it’s just one of those designs that is somehow absolutely right, regardless.

        Yep, Funny Face is the color you and I have exchanged gushes about on here in the past. If you like it on you, buy buy buy. And you need to find that Dahlia, girl. I’d be ransacking the room and strip searching them chilluns toot sweet.

        • Francesca says:

          I just fainted a little in response to how well-thought out all this is. #:-s

        • March says:

          I think I’m going to keep my eye out for the perfect trench (I would like a Burberry). Not too big or too long, maybe knee-length? The thing’s got to fit.

          Funny Face yes, plus there was a lip goopy (maybe also funny face?) right there that I loved. I should go get it. And I found my Dahlia! In a handbag I’d put away. :”>

  • Robin R. says:

    1. I actually started to feel queasy and upset when I thought hard and long about isolating that single can’t-live-without scent, you guys! Imagining having to let go of every other scent I love is emotionally draining. It came down to Attrape-Coeur, vintage Je Reviens extrait and Que Sais-je? but I think Que Sais-je? could be it. It has that kind of “inevitable” feeling about it that someone (you, March?) said about the composition of Mitsouko. At least, to me it does. It also smells as though I wore it in a previous lifetime. That sounds pretty corny, but it’s the truth.

    2. Hopelessly ignorant of anything below my knuckles, except to the extent of making sure the nails of my left hand are short for the guitar. (And no, no creepy long nails on the other hand; I’m a strummer not a picker.)

    3. I love the idea of strong lips and the rest of the face nearly naked. A great aesthetic, and a confident one. However, nature was not kind to me, and I don’t have a beautiful mouth. The rest of my face is ultra-bland, too, so it would be the worst of all possible worlds for me to wear that look. So I try to do my eyes nicely and wear one of those sludgy pink lipsticks and hope people don’t look too closely at the space between my chin and my nose.

    4. No, no, NO. You can’t do that. We, the great unwashed and your loyal readers, can do that. Your job is to wallow in all the new stuff and tell us which is brill and which is dreck. NST’s Robin probably doesn’t have the time or inclination to pick up the slack.

    5. Yes. Although they do their procreating in the dark chill of my fridge. My condiments do not approve. Neither does anyone in the house who’s trying to put a sandwich together.

    6. Yet another vote for hunting yourself down some BdI vintage extrait. Although the edt might do ya in a pinch. Etro Santal is worth a sniff in the meantime.

    7. You are growing up. I remember well my salad days, when I had a closet full of cool clothes for the punk clubs, and no decent winter coat. Now I’m all about the decent winter coat. Less but Better is our new mantra. And it doesn’t have to cost a bundle. I just snagged a great pair of sensible-yet-sexy Stuart Weitzmans — new — at the Sally Ann for fifteen bucks. And you just never know when you might stumble across a cobwebby bottle of BdI while you’re at it. [-o<

    • March says:

      I want that bottle of BdI! :(( The EdT is nice but doesn’t hang around on me long enough.

      I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you with the one-perfume talk! Have as many as you want! Get a second fridge! 😉

      • Robin R. says:

        Second fridge. Now there’s a thought. I’ll put the boys into one and the girls into the other. That’ll keep ’em from shagging like rabbits. :>

        • Shelley says:

          Yeah, good luck with that. I know I have trouble figuring out particular gender on a LOT of the varmints…not that I cared…until today, that is, when the whole reproducing issue came up and it dawned on me just how so many of them got to be there…[-(

          • Robin R. says:

            OTOH, I guess the offspring are, like, FREE bottles, right? Guess at that rate I should keep ’em together and play a little Barry White for them in the evenings. *-:)

  • Disteza says:

    I applaud that you’re able to pick perfume just one to survive one–I don’t think I’m up to that.
    On the mani though, wish I could help, but I’ve had only 2 in my life (gifts), and can’t keep my nails looking like anything other than short or shredded.
    Feeling the love with you on the red, my poison of choice was the Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque.
    As for sandalwoods, I have a hard time finding anything that won’t go all skunky on me. Profumum’s Sandalso and Bois 1920 Sandalo e The were amongst the notable exceptions.
    Dahling, consider trolling eBay for indulging in more accesibly priced high-end clothing. If you know your measurements, and aren’t afraid to ask questions, you can find some truly amazing bits of couture on the cheap. It helps to have a good tailor in your back pocket tio get the fit exactly right, and you shuld wade into it with the mentality of “I’m looking for a classic cream trench in weather-proof twill for $200-$300 in size 42” and nothing else. That’ll help keep you from non-returnable fashion disasters.

    • March says:

      Hm. There are a whole lot of people on here today who are NOT nail people. Who’da thunk?

      I do get clothes on eBay, although cheaper stuff so far. You’re right though, a trench could be something I’d feel comfortable with, since it doesn’t have to fit like a glove and generally it’s an easily identifiable size.

  • daseined says:

    1. I think the one that I will always return to, no matter how much time I spend away from it, is Chanel No.22. It was my first perfume love. But (like so many other areas of my life) can’t commit to that quite yet. There are at least three others (Cuir de Russie, Vol de Nuit, and Mitsouko) that I can’t imagine being without. I am a bit of a whoreder, maybe.

    2. What are these nail things you speak of?

    3. See 2.

    4. I did actually resolve to wear my perfume with abandon in 2010, and am making a conscious effort to really spend time with the many beautiful (and often vintage) things I bought in the Great Reformulation Anticipation of 2009. I have a feeling a number of us have gone through the GRA in the last few years. /:) Which brings us to

    5. I do like that you specified *nasty* porn, as if you leave the other stuff out on the coffee table. I don’t have guests over often, but there is No Way In Hell that I would let a non-perfumista in my bedroom or in the Perfume Closet to see my babies. I really don’t have that much, I don’t, but in my ivory tower, clean-faced jeans university town (waving to Francesca), more than one perfume is considered a serious indulgence. My 30+ bottles (including backups) and the randy little decants breeding in the Perfume Closet would probably get me committed.

    6. I was fortunate enough to win a sealed vintage bottle of Bois des Iles extrait on the *Bay some time ago and it is Spectacular. In the manner of classic Chanel extraits, it is seamless, smooth, and elegant without hauteur. Like an impeccably dressed beautiful woman who tells stories about her family and has a melodic laugh. Just sayin’.

    7. I am trying to dress like a grownup as well. Thanks for the book tips!

    Happy New Year to all of you wonderful, funny Posse-ites who never fail to make me laugh!

  • Musette says:

    In the midst of grouting the last of the tile and packing up the remnants of my pop’s move to our house – wearing Wal-Mart sweats and vintage Jolie Madame (she and the Empress are my go-to gals, as you know). I have a lace-edged vintage hankie in my hoodie pocket. Very bizarre but it’s working for me, at least for today! My two months 😮 here has renewed my interest in wearing casual-but-stylish clothes. Just because I work in a messy industry doesn’t mean I have to dress sloppily. Besides, slacks with buttons and a zip are a great way to keep tabs on your weight.

    It’s so weird, March: because of you I decided to break out of my standard YLLB routine – went to Lipstick Queen and did the Goldilocks thing: the red looked weird, the pink was too blue…but the clear/sheer orange was Juuuuust Riiight. Gives a little hint of healthy color (I’m talking the crayon, which is a hoot).

    Weird #2: Having access to so many new releases has dulled my desire for most of them (Charmes and Leaves is a notable exception) and having so many decants and samples makes me wonder if I’m focused more on the acquisition than the scents themselves. Like so many of us on here I am looking more and more to my vints. Time to step back a bit and enjoy what I have, though we’ll see how things go when I get through the Cartier Brilliant sample 😕

    Well, it’s back to tile. xoxoxo >-)

    • March says:

      Hope the tiling got done! Where’s my “fingers crossed” emoticon?

      Oh, doesn’t a new lipstick bring a ridiculous amount of pleasure into one’s life? Worth every penny.

      YOU are the one who got me on the hankie binge, and I often have one (or two) very charming ones in my purse, courtesy of my Favorite Alien. But I don’t divulge my sources…

  • Nava says:

    If perfume is my closeted “nasty porn”, then hallelujah and amen! I’ve discovered over the past few months that there are many (more perishable) items that can be considered deep dark secrets stashed away in the nether regions of one’s home.

    If I can have a maxim of my own to start off the year it would be to not judge one by what’s hidden in the aforementioned nether regions. I’m working on that; in the meantime, I can’t help myself – it makes for great material. :d

  • Elizabeth says:

    Great list, March. I’m with ya in spirit regarding the red lipstick, though I can never wear it to work (Trust me, it would be way too strange looking in that environment. Plus, it would get all over the flutes–not good.) As a collector of handkerchiefs, I discovered that there is such a thing as a lipstick hankie. It’s usually made of cotton and it is Bright Red! I found a nice vintage one in a lot on eBay. Great advice about using up the samples; thanks for all of that. I will be watching for other recommendations re: sandalwood. It’s a note I love, but to date haven’t found just the right sandalwood perfume. Best wishes for 2010, everyone!

  • Shelley says:

    Nod, nod, nod, nod…oh, hey, I should say something…lemme saddle up… <):) I already commented on the mass/volume of my collection higher up, afore I saw some others of you also copping to plenty of juice. So I'll move sandalwood, one of my favorite notes. That's a slippery one, given the (rational) stranglehold on Mysore. The hug the trees and the planet person in me applauds; the lover of its application in perfume emits a strangled little cry. Vintage Samsara, yes. Haven't had the pleasure of experiencing Bois des Isles in extrait, which is a shame, given that BdI just might be The One for me, would probably elicit a strangled little cry of an entirely different nature. b-) I think the old formula BBW Sandalwood Rose had the real stuff. As I've said before, would that I could buy up all that was left. But that would satisfy neither budget goals, nor desire to curb the hoarding impulse... Nails. You know me, the one who generally treats smoothed out tips and buffed tops as doing it up, and a French manicure--the real kind, not Carmela style--as the pinnacle of nail-dom. I have a bunch of colors from my little foray this fall, but I got totally burned by a 1-2 punch of aggressive manicure and cold weather. That's right, I splurged and paid. And my cuticles are now ragged on 3-4 fingers, one nail is busted into layers and halfway through recovery, and I am waiting for the day when they are simply all the same (shortish) length. I think that the harsh manicure + Thanksgiving, with all that cooking and washing and banging about, combined with a couple of klutz moves and some brutal cold, done did the hands in. My maxim for 2010 is that cash outlays go for beloved perfume and an occasional massage. I'll tend to my own hands and feet. Such as that effort shall be. :-$

    • March says:

      Well, I guess before they cut it all down, Mysore Sandalwood used to be dirt cheap. Ooops. But I am glad they’ve done something to restrict it.

      Louise is lining up some sandalwoods right now, and I’m already wafting, courtesy of my own stash of samps.

      “Aggressive manicure.” Words that strike FEAR into my HEART. I had the first ingrown fingernail of my life a month ago, courtesy of the same thing (they trim the sides too aggressively.)

  • Josie says:

    Long time Lurker and nail tech here, believe me, I shudder to do the “carmela mani” but you would not believe how many want that harsh french manicure with the super long, white tips. So excited to de-lurk, just love this site!!

    • March says:

      Hey there! Thanks for commenting! I LOVE a real French mani, on natural nails, which I think is elegant. But that weird strip of white on a long, fake nail, way past the fingertip? Ugh. To me it screams “fake.” Yes, I’m a snob about some things.

    • daseined says:

      FWIW, all my younger cousins (13-19) are wearing a sort of reverse French pedicure, where the tip of the nail is painted black and the nail bed is clear polish. I don’t know if this is something specific to our ethnic group. I didn’t ask about it because it always prompts the conversation about how my own nails are chewed and raggedy and generally a source of dismay to the women in my family. Intrigued to see if the reverse French mani shows up on the undergrads this spring.

  • Margot says:

    Yes, yes and yes! Great post, March!

    Absolutely agree on number One – Mitsouko. (Bois de Iles a close second.)
    Two – I am a convert to natural, and in my case, very inelegant nails, after years of subtly done gel nails. My hands looked better then, but it’s a want, not a need, so it got axed in the new budget. May have to revisit that, tho – looking really raggy at the moment.
    Three and Seven – red lips are intriguing, and I love dressing stylishly and well. But here in my ivory tower university town, every one goes barefaced and jeaned. I mean, what would look smart in NYC or DC looks like a stage costume here. Drawing stares in Trader Joe’s makes me feel like a oddity, not Catherine Deneuve. I have to wait for those city weekends to express my other, more sophisticated self.
    The 70% perfume/30% linen closet in my bedroom is happily crammed, and I am deeply satisfied by that. Continuing to collect for the sake of collecting seems kind of pointless, when the real pleasure lies in actually wearing the perfumes you love!

    • March says:

      I see your point about the university town, where such things are discouraged as weird or frivolous. [-(

      I get the fake nail thing — I’m lucky to have strong nails, and folks who don’t are entitled to them as well. But for the life of me I can’t see doing them up so they look obviously fake.

    • Winifreida says:

      Margot … Warning Warning…whatever you do, do not – that is- do not – try Attrape Coeur , it seems to sum all the best that Chanel has done with a Mitsouko twist… I am actually thinking it may have finished my diffuse cravings for Amouage etc….

  • Olfacta says:


    Re # 5: There’s a thread going around on POL about cultures that see perfume as “Immoral.” Silly thought isn’t it? Until you think about showing an entirely un-iniatiated acquaintance your 100+ bottle collection. Anyone who can do this with total aplomb and a complete lack of excuse-making– I salute you.

    Re # 2: I’ve never met a manicurist who didn’t want everybody’s nails to look like Carmela’s.

    Re # 6: Vintage Woodhue is nice.

    # 1 for me will always be Bal — vintage.

    Going to use up all those samples. Stop being chicken about it and just pour the whole thing on and wear it for a whole day.

    Re the last one (I’m getting confused): About 15 years ago I decided that if I was spending anything significant at all on a piece of clothing, it would have to be a classic. The wardrobe is still thanking me for that decision, especially since more and more stuff is made of sneakily disguised polyester now, but that white cotton shirt I bought in 1994 still looks as au courant as ever.

    Hankies rock!

    • maidenbliss says:

      Are you referring to Bal a Versailles? This is my enchantress! Where oh where can this vintage be found? I don’t see much written about Bal, but I remember a comment by March, I believe, and I was
      in complete agreement with whatever she said.

      • Olfacta says:

        I get mine on fleabay. There’s lots of it available. If you want EDT, look for the square splash bottles with the white label printed with gold. For perfume, the 1/4 oz size is the round bottle with a round gold cap. I’ve bought the 1/2 oz perfume in a similar bottle, but it comes in a hard-shell brocade case. Also look for the gold and white brocade sleeves on the smaller bottles of perfume. There’s a glass one ounce size of spray EDT too, printed with the brocade design and with a ridged goldtone plastic cap.

        Bal was packaged in many ways, so this can be kind of confusing.

        As far as I know, the faceted EDP bottle and the big round EDT bottles are the Parlux version — a reformulation (Jean Desprez no longer makes Bal.) This is very cheap on the discount sites — under $30 for 100 mls — it smells like Bal, but cheaper.

        • maidenbliss says:

          Thank you so much, Olfacta. I snagged mine at Marshall’s for $8-it’s a white bottle with gold lettering, gold cap, EdC, 30 ml-she’s a fancy looking little lady. I didn’t even bother with fleabay as I didn’t think many people even wore it, much less sold it. I’m heading over to fleabay-thanx!

      • March says:

        What Olfacta said. And I love that EdC, it’s skankalicious. Check out eBay, there’s usually tons. I recommend a vintage parfum concentration if you can find it — it’s more candied and quite lovely.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Woodhue – I wore that in junior high! Great stuff!! And I totally agree (and it is a MAJOR peeve with me) about stuff being “sneakily disguised polyester”! Even very expensive stuff from top of the line stores. :-w

    • March says:

      Apparently there’s a high demand for Carmela nails. It’s true I reserve my gaudiest colors for when they’re short. Now that they’re longer I’m wearing my favorite ugly greiges — right now it’s either Jacques or Metro Chic, I forget.

      Perfume isn’t any more immoral than any other way we choose to decorate ourselves. Although it’s hard to explain to friends who have one or two bottles, for sure.

      I’m going to get on that classics bandwagon. And the hankies are a fun, affordable luxury, particularly bought in bulk, vintage, on eBay.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Well, DUH! #-o It never occurred to me to check eBay for vintage handkerchiefs. I love them, and have quit using the ones my grandmother made me with crocheted edges – they (like me) really are vintage!

  • How do you handle the red lipstick constantly? I feel like if I wear a bright lip like that I need to have eyeliner, blush and mascara in addition or it just looks… weird!

    • March says:

      I’m a LOT older than you, but see, I’d argue the opposite. On me, red lips with a fully done face is too much makeup. So if I’m doing a red lip, everything else is very underdone. A squidge of eye pencil and *maybe* mascara but that’s it. It’s all about the lip.

      • I don’t do a full face with it, I definitely skip all of the eyeshadow but I feel too naked without mascara and a hint of color in the cheek (although quite subtle). Maybe because my face is so uniformly pale – I don’t have any pink in my cheeks or anything.

        • carter says:

          Yes, you need mascara and I’d say a very neutral eyeliner, as well. And eyebrows. Wear blush, but very lightly and very understated.

          • March says:

            Hah — I forgot, I always do my eyebrows! But that’s because I don’t have any, so I don’t even consider doing my eyebrows to be “makuep.” It’s more like brushing my teeth.

  • Rappleyea says:

    A very grown up (and fun) post, March. I definitely need to check out the books as I have NO sense of style – although I smell great! I’d have to chose vintage Vol de Nuit (Mitsy is in 2nd place, after all, I AM a Guerlie Girl).

    Good luck on the sandalwood – it would have to be vintage. It’s even gotten hard to find good stuff for aromatherapy and it has serious application for respiratory and genito-urinary tract infections.

    • March says:

      Ooooh, VdN. Come sit by me.

      I was just smelling some sandalwood yesterday … there must be a fragrance out there that would work for me. And it doesn’t have to be ALL sandalwood, just enough that I could pick it out. Perhaps I’ll order a sandalwood sampler on TPC? I bet they have one!

      • Rappleyea says:

        I bought a bottle of vintage Samsara (with real sandalwood) a couple of weeks ago off of the ‘Bay, and it was a revelation in its beauty. Real sandalwood and what smells like real jasmine as well. I couldn’t stand the plastic-y violet note that I got in my sample from TPC, which was thankfully absent from this vintage.

        • March says:

          Hm. Samsara keeps coming up. I should try it.

          • Rappleyea says:

            I’d be happy to send you a sample (although I’m a spray into a vial decanting virgin :-\” ). Email me at rappleyea11 at yahoo dot com if you’d like some.

          • March says:

            Thanks! I think I’ve got my hands on a sample, I’ll contact you if that falls apart.

        • daseined says:

          If we were to hunt some vintage Samsara down, what sort of bottle/packaging would we be looking for? :d I know the vintage packaging for a number of other Guerlains but Samsara has always been pretty distinctive…

          • Rappleyea says:

            Just so happen to have a pic here:

            It’s the clear bottle in a red box with the little black square at the top. From what I can tell by date codes, Guerlain used that one for awhile.

          • Rappleyea says:

            The one I have is in the clear bottle (I think later the bottles were red) and in the red box with the black square at the top. They’re still very reasonable too.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Oh, in the post above, I meant black CLOTHES. Sorry!:”>

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Happy New Year!

    I think my one-and-only would be vintage Mitsouko too, and it helps that my long-suffering Other Half absolutely loves it, more than any of my other five billion (and breeding – see March’s post, supra) scents.

    I tend not to do the red lippy as I am a pink/purple girl (ha) to go with the black, so red wouldn’t work, though if a specific outfit called for it, then I would. My dear mother used to look fab in red lippy but she had darker skin than I and navy-blue eyes so it looked stunning.

    I love, love, love beautiful clothes. I’ve always thought that Europeans dress very differently from North Americans. I’ve observed that les Americains dress either very, very, very casually or extremely formally, with not much in between. I don’t really do casual and don’t own a pair of jeans. I also never leave the house without makeup on and hair done. Then again, I do live in central London and it’s probably not the same in the sticks.

    • March says:

      Yay, a partner who loves Mitsouko! The Cheese thinks it’s okay but doesn’t adore it.

      I think you’re right about American clothing style. I’m not entering a pageant — just trying to raise the bar a little on the low end of the spectrum. I did a post awhile ago … I work out of the house and don’t “have” to dress up, but running around looking like a schlub is depressing. I can do better than that. So I’m trying to embrace the concept of a more dressed-up casual.

    • carter says:

      Right. The way people here dress depends very much upon where they live. Cities vs. ‘burbs or farmland, north vs. south, east vs. west. Weather and lifestyle are the thing, and in the cities much of it has to do with what the main industry happens to be. In DC it’s politics and law, and people dress accordingly, in LA it’s film and television, in NYC it’s fashion, art, and money.

      It never ceases to amuse me to see 4″ heels on women who walk everywhere or take public transportation, while in a city like Miami, where everyone drives everywhere, tennis shoes rule.

  • 1) I think it is Guerlain Plus Que Jamais. As the name says, it keeps growing on you!

    2) Couldn’t type with long nails, so keep them short now.

    3) Sadly, I look terrible in red lipstick owing to my sallow complexion. I can do sludgy pinks quite well.

    4) Mais oui! Let’s see if I am any better at it this year…

    5) They absolutely do reproduce – how does that happen? I swear I am not buying any more FBs this year.

    6) Do try Damien Bash Lucifer #3 It is hardcore sandalwood! There’s a Sinfonia di Note one that is pretty fierce too – Fleurs de Santal?

    7) Getting dressed at all on a daily basis would be a start.

    • March says:

      Sludgy pinks are excellent. I like them as a non-lipcolored alternative but they’re easy to wear.

      The nails are funny — right now I’m typing with the tips (the nails themselves, not my fingertips.) But we hit some magical length when that doesn’t work anymore. I’m always fascinated by women with really long nails, I don’t know how they do anything. Mine (at 1/4 inch? I don’t know, not Dragon Lady) are about as long as I can keep them and function. I’m sure I’ll break one and then I’ll cut them all back off.

  • Louise says:

    Since I always follow your Maxines…

    0) I’ll love you all year @};- Friends are to be cherished.

    1) Monogamy is hard in all things for me. I’m not sure I’ll ever have a perfume soulmate…but the closest is Black Cashmere

    2) Ask for a “polish change” only at a good salon. They’ll not touch your nails with file. Or see my nail tech-I’ll make sure she obeys 😉

    3) I’m still wearing my red lippies, but now seeking my best “natural” MLBB-Bess colors are great

    4) Yeah, I make that vow every season. Not working for me, though I have a lovely collection now, and am very picky about additions. Also, no storage space.

    5) My bedroom doors stay shut-not because of modesty, but because of embarrassment over perfume overgrowth.

    6) I have my perfect sandalwood-BdI vintage-and since Mysore sandalwood is endangered, it’s really tough to find the good stuff. Keep us posted on that…

    7) I intend to dress intergenerationally…today a nice suit, tomorrow skinny jeans. Again, there’s those committment issues :-j

    Fun post, March :d/

    • March says:

      “Perfume overgrowth” – I love that. I’m going to steal it and start using it.

      Well, I wish you hadn’t planted that BdI idea in my head. :-w That’s an expensive lemming. And just the vintage?

      I always think you look great, even if you’re coming from the gym. To me you have a very defined, fun style that works with your job.

      And re the nails: but I’d like to go and get a manicure, you know? I’ve just been annoyed when they hack them off, even though they’re a perfectly reasonable length. 😮

  • Francesca says:

    1.Not 100 percent sure what my number one fave is, but Promesse de l’aube always makes me feel good.

    2. I keep my nails short or my piano teacher hits my fingers with his walking stick, but I bought a bottle of metallic taupe polish (your faults, March and Louise) that I was too lazy to apply over my Christmas break.

    3. I found a lovely brownish red lipstick, Wild Card by Benefit that doesn’t make me look 98 years old

    4. I’ve really slacked off in the chic dept and I want some of Carter’s know-how.

    • Winifreida says:

      Yep, long nails a no-no around horses – not that they would ever survive – they scratch the heck out of your saddle even in gloves… guitar players still have that spooky long nail thing on one hand tho’… I was at a party over Christmas with this brilliant old guy (about my age) playing, the long nails a dark yellow eeeewh as teenager would say…
      Perfume N Years’ resolutions already blown away by the sample of Attrape-Coeur I receved from TPC today, yes, it is a rosey-violety Mitsouko and since I have had a panic stock-up on Vintage M, can I really convince myself I do not need it, as I do not need any more perfume, EVER, as was my N.Y’s res. – … I am trying so hard to go back into the big Mitsouko sleep BUT ITS NOT WORKING
      :((:(( hey how do u get those emoticons to work???

    • March says:

      I always think you look chic in that New York way. So there.

      And I’m glad you found a lipstick you love, although getting whacked by the piano teacher doesn’t sound like much fun.

      • Francesca says:

        I’m kidding; it’s an allusion to a James Mason movie where he did that very thing to his ward.

        And thanks!:x

  • Robin says:

    1. Yeah, but it’s Diorissimo and they went & ruined it. Now what?

    2-3. No nails to speak of, and no red lipstick. Which relates to 7 (I am not yet a grownup, despite my advanced age).

    4. I keep saying that too.

    5. Yes!

    6. Yum. Send all your failures to me 🙂

    • March says:

      I know, I know … the regular Guerlains aren’t so great either. I KNEW somebody’d get on here and point out the flaw in my logic! If I were Robin I’d be stocking up on the vintage bottles, at least it’s been around a long time and isn’t wildly obscure.

      Re 5: I’ve had a couple folks over recently who were clearly, quietly horrified by the amount of perfume I own. :”> And I don’t even consider my collection that extensive by our standards.

      • Shelley says:

        Would that I could remain anonymous here…but I think I’d better out myself before Musette does…I, erm, think I don’t have much either. 90% of the time. Then I go in with fresh eyes…or the eyes of a friend eyeballing the joint…and I see anew…

        • Musette says:

          😉 I would nebber ‘out’ you. And yours isn’t that engorged – it’s just that your stashes show up in the oddest places! LOL!

          You love them, you wear them. It’s all good by moi!

          xoxo >-)

    • March says:

      Oh and PS — you’re fond of sandalwood IIRC. (Of course everything’s been reformulated blah blah). Have you any recommendations? I keep thinking I should retry Tam Dao, since I fell in love with Philosykos (wow, I wondered how those two would be layered?) Or 10CC or that other hotel one? Costes? It doesn’t have to be ALL sandalwood, just enough I can pick it out.

      • Robin says:

        10CC is definitely different now that nobody can afford (or find) real Indian sandalwood. I assume the same is true of Tam Dao, & haven’t tried it recently. But both of those are rough. (Tam Dao & Philosykos layered = lovely though)

        I do think an excellent introduction to sandalwood in its smoother incarnation is to find some vintage Amouage Ubar or Chanel Bois des Iles extrait.

        Then of course there’s SL Santal Blanc, but you might want to wait until you already like sandalwood. And that’s probably been redone too.

        • March says:

          Thanks! I am pretty sure I have samples of 10CC and Tam Dao, although of course I don’t want to fall in love with them now. I’m going to try Tam Dao and Philosykos…

          And another vote for BdI extrait! Sigh. I’ll have to try it.

          Santal Blanc is the first SL I ever bought, I think. Oddly, to me it smells less of sandalwood and more of just plain weird. Like a big pencil.

        • maidenbliss says:

          Sad it is that 10CC is almost an imposter, although I still love her. On my skin 10CC and MGP Santal Noble are like fraternal twins.

        • Rappleyea says:

          Seconding the BdI extrait. Glorious.

      • sweetlife says:

        BdI in extrait, the modern version, is still pretty damn great, and can be found at the Chanel boutique in NYC. Just a phone call away.

        Tam Dao+Philosykos=fantastic

        Santal Blanc (SL) I think you would like, sweet-killer that you are. It can be pencilish. But also divine–sweet, smooth, floral.

        Santal de Mysore — yikes! Cumin-fest! But many others adore it.

        Etro Sandalo, worth a try.

        All my other sandalwoods are in the bases of other non-sandalwood things… Good luck! I look forward to hearing about your explorations on the blog!

        • March says:

          Santal Blanc I am seeing with new eyes, as I said in today’s post. Santal de Mysore, ugh, too much cumin (and I LIKE cumin). But I don’t want to smell like curry, which is what it smells like on me.

  • Brian says:

    Fragonard Santal?

  • Flora says:

    Number 4 for me too, as much as possible, though I have try new scents if I want to keep reviewing them! However, I need to give my top 10 (or 20) frags more regular love, that’s for sure.

    My other resolution is to quit buying so much cheap and interesting vintage stuff, however great it turns out to be, and save up for the Big One – a full size bottle of vintage Jolie Madame or Vent Vert or whatever else I have been pining for. On my budget I really have to make that choice – and it’s really hard to stop trying “new old” things!

    Oh, and your number 1? Mine is one that’s gone forever – Jean Patou Vacances – and my mission is to find enough of it from time to time to last me however long I have left on Earth. My dream would be to locate some the true vintage Parfum, but that’s a fantasy indeed, and if I had it once and then ran out of it, I would never stop longing for it. :((

    • Winifreida says:

      Oh gosh, but today an (actually) dusty bottle of Balenciaga Quadrille turned up from France all the way to Australia (I thought they got banned) and its absolutely GORGEOUS , and how can you resist when something like that turns up for nearly free on epay, when you are a born-again perfumista who missed it because for once I was actually too young when it came out???

      • Flora says:

        Yes, I would find my version of that HG to be very hard to resist! I am old enough to remember stuff that was in production when I was younger, and now it’s discontinued AND “vintage” – many of them I could not afford at the time either, so Fleabay is my only hope. 8-|

    • March says:

      Well, I do this thing where I buy a bunch of decants, or 3 $50 bottles on eBay, and I could have had a bottle of nice perfume I really wanted by then. Sounds like you do too.

      I’d think if you kept your eyes peeled you’d run across Vacances periodically? Even if through some miracle it were reissued, it would no doubt smell different.

      • carter says:

        I’ve seen it now and again, but it’s definitely one of the harder ones to find.

      • Flora says:

        Oh, I see the “new” version from time to time – for about $500 or more. It is the most in demand of the Ma Collection reissues. There is a reason for that. :((

  • sweetlife says:

    Happy New Year, my dear!

    I’m all about the wallowing, too. In fact, nearly all my splurges of the past year have involved buying full bottles of things I was finally ready to commit to (or was afraid would be reformulated momentarily).

    You look so elegant and sexy in your red lips and trench!

    • March says:

      Why, thank you! I actually tried to stick in a silly picture of me for this post, but I couldn’t get it to work. 🙁 FAIL. I’m such a techno-loser.

      Wallowing sounds good, I’m all for wallowing.

  • maidenbliss says:

    March, I agree, especially with your thoughts on returning to our first love. And maybe Andy Tauer or someone akin to his genius nose will create a sandalwood especially for you. It’s really not a stretch considering that you wrote it–your words are now reverberating around the globe…niche perfumers are possibly already envisioning your desire…

    • Winifreida says:

      But isn’t sandalwood all over due to spurious “conservation” measures taken by IFRA?? In the name of selling more nice chemicals? And I am a card-carrying tree-hugger Greenie….in Australia, we have ‘licenses’ for our Aborigines to collect “fallen” branches from a close relative of Indian sandalwood..hmmm. (Actually it smells great, I get it from the health shop in my little town). What’s the bet that if/when plantation sandalwood comes on line (presuming they have the foresight to be planting it), its allofasudden so highly toxic it has to be banned!
      Gosh, don’t get me started on big business when I’ve had a couple of glasses of Chardonnay!

      • Louise says:

        I believe that it is just the Mysore sandalwood that is restricted due to overfarming, not to IFRA regs at all. Sandalwood does not appear to be on their hit list 😮

      • March says:

        I thought all the sandalwood was fake now, anyway (I could be wrong.) And so my timing could be better but I know I’ve smelled a couple of fragrances with chemically constructed sandalwood and my nose isn’t discerning enough to smell the difference.

    • March says:

      Ah, would it were so. 🙂 You’re right, though, I bet Andy could make a sandalwood I’d love. Or Mark Buxton.