Last week, in the Beach Baby post, Joanna and I got into a conversation about appropriate scents to wear when visiting the Amish. She kindly allowed me to use excerpts of the comments for this post – they went thus:
On my way to Iowa right now to buy some produce and baked goods from the Amish. For some reason I always have to really think about which scent to wear when I’m going to buy stuff from the Amish
I actually waited until after I had visited with the amish before I spritzed anything on today, (Ysatis which I got from Swapmania! Thanks swap partner!) I’m not sure why I’m always so afraid of offending them with fragrance?
I’m going to start this post by saying a) I only know about 12 Amish and b) the full extent of my knowing them centers around their incredible skill with draft horses. But I’m also going to ooch my fat butt out on a limb here and say that everything that I have witnessed (no pun intended) in my dealings with those 12 Amish – perfume isn’t on the agenda. For one thing, I don’t think it’s part of their general culture, though I have never heard the 12 I know say anything negative about smelling it. For another, horses tend to not like a lot of perfumes – and the Amish tend to like a lot of horses.
But this isn’t about the Amish, exactly. Or horses. It’s about our notions of what perfumes are appropriate for certain occasions or groups you might perceive as having issues or taking offense. There’s a lot of resistance to perfume in many places, like offices. But I’m thinking more about self-policing, out of fear of giving offense. For me, it’s plummy plushy cumin-laden scents. like current Femme. Even lightly applied, I find it totally inappropriate, unnerving and weirdly offputting for any business meeting, as if I’d just shown up to a biofuels conference clad only in a too short, post-coital, soiled satin robe and chipped toenail polish. For meetings, my go-to is always vintage Mitsouko (if I need to terrify somebody) or Parure (if I want to project ladylike confidence and still kinda scare them) – they just feel appropriate for my Meeting Persona.
But! I wore Mitsouko to hitch up some drafts and got green snot sprayed all over me. Horses? Do. Not. Like. Mitsouko. Neither do the people who handle them – it’s just not a barn-appropriate fragrance. A 2000+lb animal does not need to be offended by perfume – they get spooked enough as it is.
Totally freaked out by the move to this very rural, conservative area I used to be more perverse in my public perfume choices. I would wear really challenging scents to the most inappropriate places: hubba-hubba Carnal Flower to an Apostolic lady’s 90th birthday card shower, a whole lotta Tribute Attar to the Lions Pancake Breakfast. Extraordinarily beautiful scents, to be sure – but not ‘pretty’ – and a place like the Lions Pancake Breakfast…well, it was a bit overwhelming (and, I suspect, almost offensive, like I was deliberately bludgeoning them with my Perfumista Coolness.). I’ve gotten over myself and now save the glorious Tribute for my city events. I’ve not been invited to another card shower. Hmmm… Sometimes a place just needs ‘pretty’.
So what people/places/horses give you pause, when it comes to choosing fragrance? Are there any where you, like Joanna, are scared to put any on at all?