How to cope with Perfume Doldrums – Patty

Y’all might have picked up on my perfume doldrums since I think I’ve posted on everything else but perfume for the last few weeks/months.

It’s not that I love scent any less – probably more! – but nothing is really exciting me or moving me to drool all over it or even gets me breathing fast.  So what to do while I’m in the down phase of perfume lust?  Back to the old stuff, my favorites, taking more time with them, reminding myself why I love them.

L’Artisans, for instance. I really do love that line. There’s so much of it that works for me on so many levels. Tea For Two, Passage d’Enfer, Bois Farine, the orange blossom and narcissus special harvests.  Just working my way through all of them again, feeling how special each one is,  easy to wear, effortless at creating a fragranced space around me.  Then I’m rolling through the big white florals for summer, hunting through gardenias and lillies and jasmines, pretending that early summer will last forever and not bloom into unbearable heat that I’ll eventually sigh with relief to see go about mid-September.

And I plant flowers and veggies. I took a lot of you guys’ suggestions on what to plant – thank you so much!!!  y’all are a treasure trove of information for scented things to grow, as I knew you would be – and they are in the ground or going in the ground soon or will arrive by fall, so I meander around my front and back yard, watering and pruning and plotting, sniffing all of it, thinking of scents in bottles that I remember I want to play with.

In time, something will captivate me, and in the meantime I wait and luxuriate in the embarrassment of so many scents that I love.

What do you do when you  just hit a lack of enthusiasm for sniffing new things?  And if you’re still new to perfume, are you just shaking your head wondering how this could happen? I remember the early stages where I had entire spreadsheets tracking scents I had heard about and wanted to try, crossing them off as I got to them.  I had no idea a day would ever come when I’d read about something new and go – yeah, yeah, I’ll get around to it eventually.  Or maybe not.

  • Dante's Bra says:

    As reader-not-a-blogger, I don’t really expect y’all to explicate every single new perfume that comes out because, as everyone has already said, there are just too many. Revisiting old sleepers or once-hated perfumes or one’s sterling perfume companions is great, too.

    The stories we tell about perfume– March talking about the old Chloe, Denyse about her friends who got married last year, an older relative or family friend who rocked some great old vintage– I really love these, too.

    And it’s not just the posts I look forward to, but the exchanges where we can refine our ideas, or disagree, or formulate a different way to think/smell (I wish there was a word for “think/smell” as opposed to just smelling).

    Like Suzy Q said, thank you thank you thank you! I’m still a relative newbie and not blase yet!

  • nozknoz says:

    I guess on some level, the more scents one has tested, the more challenging it is for any new scent to ring the gong. Early on, testing BK Back to Black was a revelation – I’d never smelled anything like it. Now I try Frapin 1697, get a nagging sensation that it reminds me of something else and realize a week later that it’s Back to Black. The Frapin is in some ways more beautiful, but not more interesting.

    And it only unleashes my inner curmudgeon to read about the latest flanker of an originally boring scent or the lighter (cheaper) version of a lost classic. I tend to think perfume was inherently more interesting when designers were trying to come up with a perfume that exemplified the genius of their designs and added to the luster of their firms, rather than (apparently) spending all the money on the PR. In reality, there is a much wider range to choose from now, for which I should be grateful, but I always wonder if I’m missing something. It’s the proverbial embarrassment of riches. I do sometimes focus on vintage for a while, both to get the old notes and to narrow the range to something more manageable.

    Ultimately, lack of time saves me from getting bored and moving on. Still, I’m close enough to that to find this a great topic and appreciate the ideas above of picking notes or noses, etc., as a theme for testing in order to deepen the exploration.

  • Olfacta says:

    When I started blogging, about three years ago, prices were much more reasonable. Samples or decants could be had for a dollar or two. That has changed! The new perfumes continue to get worse — even if they’re good, they don’t last (I know this is overgeneralization, and there are a few gems each year). Sometimes it’s hard to keep the enthusiasm up. But the people who do this — the other bloggers, faithful readers — keep it going for me. I’ve made new friends, with whom I can discuss my passion for fragrance without being thought of as a wackjob or at least eccentric. And there are always ingredients, essential oils, books and the once-in-a-while “off-topic” post.

  • Kirsten says:

    I guess we can all get a little jaded sometimes – even with our heart’s truest desires!

    But yes, I agree, there are an overwhelming number of new niche releases for a newbie perfumista to keep up with, especially so when there are thousands of classics yet to be sniffed and loved.

    That’s why the blogs are so good for keeping you informed, sharing opinions, whittling down the ‘to try’ list, and introducing the oldies, but goodies.

    I love all the nerdy-notey stuff too, and if you guys want to blog about nail colour, makeup, candles, flowers, books, movies, art, chocolate, tea, yoga, tattoos, or anything non perfume related, go right ahead!

    I’ll be right here snaffling up every delicious word…


  • Mary says:

    Perfume is of interest to me on a lot of levels, so I really don’t get stuck in doldrums. I just move on. I love to read the nerdy stuff about the botanicals and aroma chemicals, theories of aroma therapy, cultural and historical context– there is a lot of interesting and erudite material to read on the net, thanks to the diverse and interesting blogging community. Moving on to other aspects of the subject of perfumery is easy for me, because I haven’t taken on the task of blogging my thoughts– I’m happy to pop in comments here and elsewhere. Plus, thanks to ebay, antique stores, yard sales, and a few choice, lovely perfume retailers (Perfumed Court, Raffy’s, Barney’s and wonderful, fantastic Lucky Scent) I have just about all the perfume and samples my heart desires. Right now, I am into layering and playing around with a bunch of raw materials. (Accidental layering discovery– Parfum Sacre and Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere. Dang, my arm smelled good after I mixed up those decants!!) Planning to try the experiment proposed by Abdes Salaam on Basenotes, if I can figure out what to do. Is he proposing layering natural pheromones over perfumes? Or must we mix them up? Inquiring minds want to know. Look at the forum on Basenotes and tell me what you think they are up to. So, lots of fun stuff still to explore. :)>-

  • Madea says:

    I get the doldrums when I realize that a lot of perfumes are basically dupes of existing stuff–I loved the topnotes of ‘Boyfriend’ until the drydown smelled exactly–exactly!-like Black Orchid.

    I’m all for an homage/being part of a trend/whatever, but seriously? Don’t insult my intelligence.

    My reaction is try to something really brave to shake myself up. I got a sample of Bulgari Black, and it did the trick.

  • steve says:

    You have absolutely hit on something…I’ve noticed the same thing in myself recently…like you, I am going through my myriad of samples and just luxuriating in the eclectic glory of it all!…I do wish something would come along and make my nose jump off my face, but until that happens…who knows…I may find something in my samples that makes me say, “Why did I pass this one up?”…my luck, if I do, it was probably a limited edition.

  • AnnieA says:

    I find that if perfumes haven’t been holding my interest as much I switch over to sniffing candles, lotions, soap, and the like. It seems that my standards are more relaxed with these products, no doubt because they are usually lots cheaper. I’ve almost depleted my stockpile of lotions, for instance, and am now working on the bottle of Moschino Funny! body lotion I got from Winners for $12…

  • Suzy Q says:

    I want to take this opportunity to thank all the writers of the perfume blogs like the Posse. Your dedication has enriched my enjoyment of perfume. I’ve learned a lot and laughed many times with the writers and the commenters. I know it’s a big commitment to carry on this important work and I appreciate you!

  • Kathryn says:

    I’m not one of the oldtimers, but far enough into it so that I have more bottles I love than I have lifetimes to wear them. I’m sniffing fewer new releases than I once did partially because of that, but also because I’ve entered a passage in my life where family obligations mean less time for myself.


    I do manage to keep my interest in perfume alive with a little help from my friends. Just when I get to the point of ennui where I start to believe that I’ve smelled every interesting thing there is to smell, one of my wonderful perfume friends will email “You just have to smell this!” and send me a little sumthin’ sumthin’ in the mail. (S, I’m talking especially about you, darling) And then lo and behold, along comes a completely new perfume that lifts my heart, clears my head, or does some other delightful thing. I also have lots of fun sending samples to friends who become intrigued by my wackiness about perfume and decide they want to do some exploring themselves. (Of course, there are also friends who just stop at the wacky part, shake their heads, and go no further.)

    For me there’s a huge social component in exploring the sense of smell that carries me over the times when I get bored with myself.

  • Julie says:

    Like Musette said above, writing about perfume daily or even weekly can make it a chore rather than a pleasure. You have to have material, so often that is new stuff. Since I don’t have to worry about writing about perfume, I just try to enjoy what I’m wearing and have fun reading the blogs and comments. Perfume folks are the funniest, most interesting and generous peeps out there! And I’m not so worried about keeping up with new stuff – I have so many samples and decants, I have more than enough stuff to keep me busy for years.

  • maggiecat says:

    It’s beena few years for me, and I find that my standards for a full-bottle purchase have gotten a LOT more stringent. and sometimes i get indecisive – should I wear this one today? or that? And then I just go with an old favorite. i want to try new things still, but i’m harder to impress – and fewer new things make me thing “I’ve gotta get my hands on that!” So I hear you all. But I think that it’s just the honeymoon stage passing, and the real marriage getting ready to begin…

  • I was just discussing this today with the head of the Osmoz website, who is thinking of ways to transform it to attract a more general public.
    Oddly, everyone in the industry seems to agree with us that too many launches are killing the excitement, and they are slowing down a tiny bit…
    What I’m wondering is, is this fatigue something that we “old-timers” are feeling because of the intense focus we’ve been lavishing on the subject for years, and so many disappointments (reformulations, mediocre new products, restricted raw materials)?
    I’m sure there are a lot of new enthusiasts, and “non-initiates” who could be interested: in fact, every time I do a demonstration — to my students, friends, people in my publishing house — I find that people are extremely receptive.
    Somehow I’m hoping, for the sake of perfumery which I truly care about, that there are many people out there who aren’t blasé!

    • Rappleyea says:

      Denyse, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head regarding the feelings of the “old-times”. And I agree that there must be many, many folks out there who would be interested once exposed to perfumes. I think some of the problem there, though, is that unless one lives in a large city, selection is limited (I live in a medium sized city and the selection is horrible!), and of course there is the issue of cost in a very tight economy.

      • Rappleyea says:


      • It’s something that particularly interests me because of my book, which hopefully will attract “non-initiates” despite a fair amount of geekiness, and because of the courses I give… It doesn’t take much to get people excited and open them up to a world they hadn’t fathomed existed. But as you say, there’s one point where there’s got to be physical access to smelly things! That’s when you get the shock.
        I really think there’s a huge amount of pedagogical work to do. The problem is, as far as I’m concerned, that though I like to do it in person, with fashion or art students for instance, I’m not so sure I’d be into spelling basic things out on the blog, which is my area for reflection and is, I must say, more geared towards us nerds.
        One area I’d like to investigate would be interviewing people in the industry — not just perfumers. It would be a way of wading out of the flood of launches. And of escaping that collection of samples staring at me balefully next to my computer!

        • Rappleyea says:

          Several years ago, a friend who knew of my interest in perfume gave me a coffee table type book on the subject, which came with tiny samples labeled “floral”, “sport”, “fougere”, “oriental”, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if you could include sample packs with your book! But I suppose it would be impossible to use the real things with the copyright laws, etc.

          I love teaching, but for me (and if I’m reading right, also for you) the joy is in the feedback, seeing the dawning understanding and wonder in the students’ eyes and on their faces. Teaching the basics of perfumery on your blog would rob you of that feedback.

          A series of interviews would be wonderful! Maybe it’s time to step outside of the perfume blog box!

        • Dante's Bra says:

          And these have been some of the posts I’ve most enjoyed on your blog– not just interviews with perfumers, which are fantastic, but about the structure of the industry. I love the running thread about creativity, secrecy and passing along knowledge in perfumery, which you rarely get to read about anywhere else.

          Maybe there are enough archived posts across the blogs for the beginning sniffer to do his/her own Perfume 101 at home– although nothing beats smelling perfume with others.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Patty, you’ve definitely tapped into the mass consciousness today. I too was thinking about this as I stared at my collection trying to figure out what I felt like wearing today. While I’ve been a perfume lover since my teen years, I’ve only been part of the on-line community for four or so years.

    What I’ve realized about myself is that as much as I love perfume, I’m not a collector. The older I get, the more Eastern becomes my philosophy regarding “stuff”, and beautiful as it is, perfume is more stuff! I realized that I was happier when I only had eight to ten bottles.

    That, and I just don’t enjoy testing anymore. The restrictions have ruined (for me) so many of the materials that can be used now. Nine out of ten times I don’t like the scent enough to buy even a decant, much less a bottle, and since I have scent glue skin, I’m stuck with something I can’t stand for the entire day and sometimes into the next one! Why bother? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side – sometimes you get there and it’s just Astro-Turf!

    • tammy says:

      Seriously, I think the restrictions are what have ruined it for me, too. They just don’t smell as good as they used to, and I know it isn’t just me aging, because the vintage perfumes still make me swoon.

      And I suppose for me part of it is just that I like rich, heavy perfumes and they are sadly out of fashion now; maybe I can jump back in when the trend swings back, but they will be so butchered due to regulations by then that I don’t hold out much hope for the future, either.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Tammy – I’m wearing Roja Dove’s Unspoken today – not quite as “heavy” as some of my older Guerlains, but at least with that classical feel. I love some of Laurie Erickson’s work at SSS too. I need to explore more of the Indie perfumers, perhaps the next Jacques Guerlain is lurking amongst them.

        • tammy says:

          Rappleyea, I greatly admire Laurie’s work, but there is something in her base that doesn’t agree with me at all. It’s a very sweet musk that seems to overwhelm everything else for me, though I can clearly tell that her perfumes are rich and glorious.

          Same thing with Roja Dove (and Lutens, for that matter); I can appreciate the immense quality, but I have yet to find one that works for me!

          Thanks for reminding me that there IS plenty of wonderful work being still being done.

          • Rappleyea says:

            Tammy – I canNOT wear Laurie’s musky ones (and there are several), but Champagne de Bois has no musk and Incense Pure has very, very little and I love them both!

  • tammy says:

    Your post really resonated with me, too, though I don’t know that I am in the doldrums so much as that after two years of intense immersion, I have come to realize that a) there are a whole lot of notes…heck, entire classifications….that I just do not like, and b) I infinitely prefer vintage.

    My sampling has ground to a halt, and I am concentrating on finishing off my FB list, buying a few back-up bottles, and tracking down the vintages I love.

    Perhaps we’ve all hit Stage Four at once?! That description fits me perfectly at the moment.

  • Marlene says:

    When I get doldrums, I pull out samples from one house and go through them systematically. I enjoy trying to pick up on a persistent theme and understanding it. I’ll also start reading about individual noses. It’s a good way to revitalize old favorites or must-tries, and not risk too much money on a FB of something ultimately unwearable.

    Or, I’ll start on a note. I’ve been doing tiare and then coconut. Testing for those notes is keeping me going for months.

  • Bee says:

    I agree that a touch of blasé-ness is overcoming me too, I am slowing done my pace in sampling and blog reading. Nowadays my biggest effort is deciding which scent to apply in the morning for the whole day, and I’m generally happy with my daily choices, that’s the good thing of having an extensive collection of bottles and samples (today I’m loving my absolue pour le soir)
    Do I need more scents? No. Will I succumb again, to something new? Well, probably yes…but no hurry.

  • Meg says:

    This essay really resonated with me. Sometimes I get really overwhelmed by choices– torn between the desire to wear something known & loved that supports the mood of the day, and the pressure to try “new” (you know… for the sake of research!) and possibly be ousted from familiar territory. Occasionally I will revisit a scent I’ve written off and re-gauge my reaction to it– I’ve been doing that w/ Angel for the last six months or so and find myself surprised at how my perceptions are changing. And sometimes… I reach blindly and put on the first thing my hand falls on, tried or untried….

  • pam says:

    This is an interesting post. I have been going through some of this lately, too. Since I am more recent to the perfumista world, I was thinking a couple of days ago that maybe this interest of mine is disappearing. But then I spray some fragrance and it’s love all over again. But with financial constraints, my buying has come to a halt for awhile. So I am re-exploring things on the back of the shelf in my closet. Ah yes, now I remember why I bought a FB of Jungle Elephant!

    With the intense heat we’re having here (and no rain in sight!), I have been trying various categories of perfume, to see how they hit me. Yes, the citrus is nice, and I spray a bit of that early am. Also, lavender is making me happy. But the greens, like Y and Balmain de Balmain, are making me kinda sick. Oddly enough, I used Yvesse yesterday in this heat and loved it all day. Go figure.

    • Marla says:

      Mmmm, Jungle L’Elephant in intense heat, you know, it’s very popular in Brazil, so it’s probably a good combo, if spritzed lightly! I’ll have to try it.

    • Musette says:

      I tried Balmain de B in the intense heat and got the same reaction. Those galby greens tend to ook me out in temps over 80F and it was 93F when I spritzed it. b-( In typical Midwestern fashion, the temps have now dropped 20degrees in 7 hours (for which we are eternally grateful [-o< and it's pouring rain. I wore Carnal Flower to bed last night - it bloomed beautifully. I could easily wear BdB today, though 😕 xo >-)

      • Gretchen says:

        Gee, I don’t even wear galbanum greens until the temperature approaches 100F – but my climate is a dry, dry, DRY hot summer. So galbanum is a no-go in sultry weather?

    • rosarita says:

      Oh, Jungle L’Elephant! Now I know what I’m wearing today, thanks!

      And sweet Musette, isn’t the cool rain a welcome change? I do not do well in the heat and it gets worse the older I get. I’m tired of all my usual summer go-to scents that I generally enjoy: Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, DKNY Woman, even Omnia Crystalline; just not happening this year. My perfume quest goes back to about 2006, so not as long as many others, but I remember when niche scents were generally under $100 and new releases were discussed and disected at length on the (few) blogs and the MUA frag board. Now I’ve pretty much given up on new releases due to the high prices and sheer onslaught. This summer I’m swapping a bit, shopping my collection and like all of you, enjoying other pursuits for a while.

      • GalileosDaughter says:

        You nailed it for me when you wrote, “Now I’ve pretty much given up on new releases due to the hight prices and sheer onslaught.” Perfume used to be such a fun hobby and I didn’t feel so *GUILTY* after buying a bottle or sampling. Now, since there are so many to wade through, and the stakes are so high , even a decision to sample something seems fraught with peril. Much of the fun has gone out of the whole enterprise for me.

      • Musette says:

        Hey, doll! I was wondering how you were faring over in Land o’. I’m actually wearing a long-sleeved top today!:o Wanna know how hot it was? My hummingbirds couldn’t eat becaues the micture was COOKING inside the glass jar! I just cleaned it out and refilled – hope they come back!

        Do you wonder if you are tired of your scents because you think about them so much – because you have so much more to think about? I wonder this a lot. Back when I had 4 or 5 scents I don’t remember ever giving it a lot of thought…:-? and it was just part of my routine. Someone on here already commented on this – and way more coherently.

        Perhaps we would benefit from just relaxing about it a bit more – I know I would! I mean, we all know how ‘serious’ I am about it, right? Right?



  • Do you think that maybe the group of people who formed the online perfume community – what was it? Six or seven years ago now? – are getting to the end of that cycle? I don’t presume to know how anyone is feeling, but because we’ve all been around for quite a while, things get more routine: posting, reading other blogs, commenting… It’s no longer a brave new world. Also, with so many launches, even if we just don’t bother to keep abreast, there’s more of a blasé-ness, maybe?
    For my part, sometimes I feel a little distressed that I’m always testing, never enjoying what I love. Sometimes I don’t even remember what it is I’d really want to wear on a day “off” from testing! I’m still extremely curious about perfume, but now my curiosity is more directed towards the creative process, going behind the scenes…
    One thing I’ve noticed is that it becomes a thrill again when I’m doing the testing with someone in the real world.

    • Marla says:

      I’m one of those ancient “6-years-back” people, my first blog was on the primordial form of Basenotes, before it fell apart and was put together again from scratch! So I guess I’m quite the dinosaur. I’m definitely jaded about 90% of mainstream perfumery, don’t even bother much with it, except for a few neglected beauties from the 90s to early 2000s. I do feel very excited about indie perfumery, though, getting to know those perfumers, and also learning more about the “backstory” of perfumery ingredients, botany, the science, and so on. The peculiar chemistry of alicyclic musks, or the current market in maydi frankincense, doesn’t make for really popular blog articles, though! ;-) My Inner Nerd Girl took the reins from my Inner Starry-Eyed Perfumista, I think!

      • Musette says:

        I don’t think it’s just Youse Guys, though I can imagine that writing about perfume dayafterdayafterday can turn it into a chore rather than a pleasure, sometimes. I find myself more overwhelmed than anything else – and when that happens I run to the sanctuary of my vintages and Constant Loves. Perfume is something to be savored, imo, and that’s not always possible when you are constantly writing about it.

        fwiw, I love the ‘nerd’ articles. Backstories takes perfume beyond ‘sniff/spritz/love/hate’ and gives the reader something to ponder other than whether or not to buy the newest thing.

        xo >-)

        • Marla says:

          OK, Musette, if I go and publish a “perfume nerd article” and no one comments, I’m comin’ after you! :o But seriously, thank you for the encouragement.

          • Rappleyea says:

            Marla – what is your blog? I don’t *think* I know. I love nerd articles!

          • Marla says:

            These days I am writing for Perfume Smellin’ Things, usually on Mondays or Tuesdays.

          • Christine says:

            I’m a fairly newbie, I have lurked here for quite some time and this is my first comment here and I would really love to read some “nerd” articles, particularly the botany and science aspects.

          • Nan says:

            I three would thoroughly enjoy a “nerd” article, and like Christine, I’m especially interested in the botanical aspects of perfumery. So please, write away. Even though I very rarely comment on any articles, I do enjoy them.

          • Rappleyea says:

            Great! Thank you.

          • Ninara Poll says:

            I majored in biology (almost did chemistry until I had a very bad experience with my college’s chemistry program, and had some hardcore physics courses also), did a little time in medical school before burnout + severe depression and anxiety took over and I had to quit (I was so burnt out I turned to another field entirely and earned an MBA afterwards, and the depression and anxiety are under control), and am a hardcore science nerd, so I would *love* articles about the more technical side of perfume. In fact, I’d love it so much that the very thought of it is making hearts rise from my head and stars glimmer in shiny eyes, like in a bad anime ;)

          • nozknoz says:

            Marla, I don’t have a lot of reading time, so I often see posts days, weeks of even years after they are published. By then I assume it’s too late to comment. But I, too, would welcome some “nerd” articles. If YOU find it interesting, I think many of the rest of us would, too!

          • Marla says:

            OK, everyone, I’ve received editorial approval, I’m going to write genuinely nerdy artcles, starting…soon! I’ll have to think of an appropriate pseudonym, hmm….

  • Meg says:

    I am definitely a newbie but I am also in some serious perfume doldrums myself. It has come from the realization that I am in a stage of perfume collecting where I want things ONLY because I don’t yet have them. I have several wondeful perfumes yet I will only wear a sample I have and wish after a full bottle, thinking: if I had this, it would be that magic scent I want to wear every day. Since I also happen to be on a strick “no buy whatsoever” streak imposed by serious financial restrictions, I have been having a lot of scentless days lately. Maybe it’s a needed break and I’ll be diving back into my collection shortly.

    • Elisa says:

      Yeah, once you own a bottle and know you can wear it anytime, you stop being obsessed with it. Collectors are restless.

  • Musette says:

    I was just thinking about this very thing today, as I sat there, gobsmacked by the absurd heat, watching my face break out like an old potato (heat rash. ick)…..

    ….I have decided to stick with my tried and true hefty summer hitters right now: Tribute Attar, Carnal Flower, the …oh, what the heck is it? Oh! Cuir Ottoman that ONLY works for me in extreme heat (it blooms into this incredible beauty). For heat-induced migraines, I will wear Imperiale. And for iced tea (with a touch of bourbon) time: Agraria Bitter Orange.

    And I keep hoeing the corn rows, watching them come up (sooo cute) and all the planting I did in autumn coming to fruition in the extreme heat and torrential rains… I just divided a specimen Frances Williams hosta (about 5′ diameter) and the divides are going gangbusters, thanks to the intense rainfall. YAY!

    …it’s actually kinda nice, to focus on other things for awhile.

    xo >-)