Man-Repelling Perfumes (Ari)

Oh hey, Perfume Posse! My name is Arielle Weinberg, and I run the perfume blog Scents of Self. The other day, in a fit of Sour Skittles-induced mania, I decided that I was going to become a fashion blogger instead. (My enthusiasm quickly fizzled when I realized that “fashion blogger” is really just a nice way of saying “trust fund baby”.)  In my twenty minutes of frenzied research, I came across a blog called “The Man Repeller”. Its founder, Leandra Medine, defines “man repeller” as “outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive way that will result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include, but are not limited to, harem pants.”  I was instantly intrigued.  Now, it will be an ice cold day in hell before y’all catch me in harem pants, but I began to wonder: could perfume be a man repellant?
Perfume is usually thought of as a tool of seduction, a man catcher. But what if you don’t want to attract a man? Maybe you already have a perfectly good man and/or woman. Maybe you’re single, but would like to be able to drink your freaking latte in peace without having to politely nod along for 45 minutes while a stranger brays at you about his allegedly burgeoning rap career. (“I swear, girl, the other day P. Diddy said to me, ‘You have so much potential’! Well, actually, he said, ‘Waiter, could we please have the check?’, but what he meant was…”) This is starting to sound a little Samantha Brick-y, I promise that this male attention really has very little to do with my looks. It tends to happen when I am dressed like an Olsen twin circa 2004. I suspect that these charmers choose me because I am small and young-looking (read: vulnerable). These gents are also not exactly Johnny Depps. Most of them are twice my age with half my teeth. As seductive as I find their mid-life crises, I assure y’all that I would be first in line for a man-repelling perfume.

So which perfumes are your best bets for repelling unwelcome suitors? The goal here is to smell as unapproachable as possible. Nothing too inviting (sweet gourmand scents) or friendly (cheerful fruity fragrances). I suggest the following perfumes, but I want to hear your ideas, too! Please share your most effective man-repelling perfumes with us in the comments!

Prada Infusion d’Iris: This heavily powdered iris fragrance is proper and businesslike to the point of desexualization. Infusion d’Iris has a conspicuous lack of warmth or womanliness. (Infusion d’Iris fans, please understand that nothing that I just said is necessarily negative. Infusion d’Iris is an awesome perfume; it’s just not particularly likely to be interpreted as “hawt” or sexy by the average non-perfumista. Of course, that’s exactly the effect we’re going for here!)

Serge Lutens Douce Amere: Douce Amere is a biting, antiseptic perfume centered around the notorious liquor absinthe. Absinthe is anise-flavored, and this has to be the most anisic perfume I’ve ever smelled. As a lover of hardcore anise perfumes like Lolita Lempicka and Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille, I really like Douce Amere, but literally nobody else seems to. This is one of the weirder Serge Lutens (which is sort of like saying “Evian is one of the wetter brands of water”, in that all brands of water are pretty wet), and I feel confident that it would baffle and hopefully dissuade most non-perfumistas.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune: Listen, I love Pamplelune. I think that it’s a gorgeous, vibrant grapefruit scent. But an awful lot of people on the internet maintain that it smells like cat pee. I have never, ever detected cat pee in this perfume, but it obviously comes across that way to some folks. While that might seem unfortunate, it can be used to your advantage: most men will probably think twice before trying to chat up the litter box lady.

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Pour Homme: Of course, the fastest way to repel men is to smell like you already have one in your life. Acqua di Gio has been the top-selling men’s fragrance at Sephora for years now, which means that wannabe suitors should be able to recognize it as being a men’s cologne relatively easily. They will assume that someone much manlier than them has already marked his territory and will back off, lest they incur the wrath of the alpha male.

Chanel No. 5: Yes, yes, Marilyn Monroe wore No. 5 to bed and therefore it is the sexiest perfume of all time forever and ever, what is this sacrilege you tasteless trollop, etc. Chanel No. 5 is on this list for two reasons. First, that bracing blast of aldehydes makes No. 5 an imposing perfume, maybe even a bit bitchy. Second, because No. 5 is such a classic, most men have at least one older female relative who wore it at some point in her life are much less likely to hit on you, unless they are truly weird, in which case you’re probably going to need more than perfume.

(ED – seriously, y’all need to make Ari’s blog one of your regular perfume visits)

77 Comments
M.j. Rose May 8, 2012

It was great meeting you at Sniffa Ari - did your parent's find out? And this post is hysterical!

Dionne May 6, 2012

Great inaugural post, Ari, you're a good fit here at The Posse. Can you believe that back in the day I felt sorry for myself because I didn't seem to get attention from random males? I actually *wanted* to have construction workers whistle as I walked by. Insane, I know. I'd choose Avignon and Iris Silver Mist as man-repellers, because they're not snuggly, comfort fragrances. I imagine something about the cerebral nature of them might scare away the crazies.

Debra May 5, 2012

Ari, your blogs are as delicious as your favorite perfumes! My only wish is that we had the technology to hyperlink each perfume you mention to a "scent-engine app" that would immediately release that particular perfume scent from some electronic component of my computer aimed directly at my nose! Not kidding! Then I would truly have the full experience and benefit of your delightful and insightful critiques! But of course, if we could electronically duplicate the complex fragrances you describe, then perfume science would not be the art that it is! Thank you, Ari, and keep writing!

Sherri Miller May 5, 2012

My husband asked why I was laughing and so I told him I was reading about man-repelling perfumes. Before I could even finish my sentence, he shouted out 'Chanel!"! So there you have HIS vote! LOVED you article, Ari!! Hope to hear more from you!!

skincloud May 5, 2012

Thanks for this post. It makes me smile while I'm reading this one..This is such a very funny one.

Eva S May 4, 2012

I would chose no19 and I agree that Messe de Minuit should probably do the trick as well. Perhaps some Andy Tauers such as L'Air du Desert Marocain or Insence Extreme to project a suitably monastic/cloistered air? :-) I haven't tried Iris Silver Mist but from the descriptions it doesn't sound like a come-hither scent. A word of caution, I can testify from personal experience that Mitsouko does NOT work as a Man-repellant!

Disteza May 4, 2012

I also found that Messe de Minuit and Avignontend to elicit a more cerebral response from men. My go to "stay behind the line, please" perfumes are Profumum's Olibanum and Amouage's Memoir for men. They may smell like many things, but they most certainly do not smell like available female looking for a mate.

nozknoz May 4, 2012

This is a fun topic, and I love your post, Ari! I often wear vetiver scents to the office because I like them and they are so unisex. Totally agree with your choice of No. 5. In fact, most of the Chanels seem quite chilly to me. I love nearly everything by Duchaufour, but the weirder ones, like Dzongka and Sienne L'Hiver are certainly not come hitherish!

fleurdelys May 4, 2012

Good to find you here on Perfume Posse, Ari! I hope this is the first of many posts from you. I agree that so-called "old lady" perfumes, like the classic Chanels and Guerlains, can be man repellers. That would go for houses like Caron as well. They are far from frooty-cupcake-cotton-candy scents. After all, the perfumers were creating scents for women, not little girls. And if the guy is the type who prefers someone who smells like a little girl, it's time to head in the opposite direction (at least IMHO). Or, as mentioned, the guy may relate a classic perfume to the one his mother or grandmother wore. To the "man-repeller" list I'd add intimidating chypres like Paloma Picasso and Niki de Saint Phalle, as well as the knock-you-over-the-head Big 80s Fragrances Obsession, Poison, Giorgio, etc.

Teri May 4, 2012

Our office has recently expanded and we have lots of females now, but until recently I was the only woman in an office with 35 men. Talk about input...lol.....all of them had an opinion on my SOTD. I got the most negative reactions to EL's Youth Dew ('smells like my mother/grandmother') and Messe de Minuit ('did you stop by the cemetary on your way in today?'). Hands down favorites were PdN's Fig Tea (that one drew crowds, I'm serious) Mazzolari Ambra ('you smell cuddly today'). The guys I work with range from about 35-60. The younger generation (my 20-something son and his cronies) dismiss a lot of the classics I like as 'old lady smelling', but surprisingly, they all love the classic Faberge scents when I wear them. As you would expect, they like the sweeter scents that are popular today. My son bought me a bottle of Escada Sentiment for Christmas. He loves it and I dutifully wear it, because I know he spent considerable time choosing it (his fiancee told me he picked up samples and tested scents for weeks). In sum, I'd add Messe de Minuit to the list of man repellers. And just add that I LURVE this idea, because there really are times that you just don't want to be messed with by some silly amorous male. ;-)

Vanessa May 4, 2012

Sorry if my comment above suggests you can have a partial panther...

Vanessa May 4, 2012

Hilarious from start to finish! Congrats on this guest post on "da Posse". You guys are a perfect match. : - ) PS At Easter I conducted a scientific experiment on my brother's skin to test this widely reported cat piss theory. His wrist acquitted itself pretty well, I must say, but as with the sightings of a black panther on our local heathland, Cannock Chase, the circumstantial evidence for at least a partial pee problem is compelling.

hermine stover May 4, 2012

Apres L'Ondee. it will be a tragic day when this vanishes. Nearly all Guerlains are man traps for me, Jicky, Mitsouko...Narcisse Noir is another great one for drawing men to me,and also Kouros and Yatagan which are both reviewed as smelling like rancid jockey shorts. my husband inhales of me deeply when I wear these things, and of course JOY, the platonic ideal of FLOWERS without smelling like any single flower, as one brilliant reviewer said.

maggiecat May 4, 2012

Love, love, love this post and it's made me late to class. Fortuinately, I am the professor! Agree with all about the classic scents - and I used to date quite a bit before my late in life marriage to the love of my life. ( I found that SJP's Lovely attracted men like nothing else, BTW) Now I find myself more often trying to find a "safe" office scent, and I thinkl that's kind of the same thing. Thanks for the chuckles, and I'll clean up the tea later :-)

Olga (Warum) May 4, 2012

Hiya, Ari, so glad to see you here! (you people if you haven't read Scents of Self yet, get your perfumed selves over there!) :) I knew #5 will be on the list, and hey, here's at least one gal for you who knows, loves, and wears #5 but has no problem with it being on the list -- for all the reasons you mentioned. I'll put White Linen (the original, not flankers) in the same category. For the same reasons. And don't forget incense, especially elemi centered perfumes! Non-perfumista men often claim that incense smells like dead people -- yeah, playing an undead is a good way to scare off a mortal who's lacking good teeth. I can complete the image by showing off my fangs, too :) But seriously, elemi in addition to having a distinct incense vibe is coooold, so I'd definitely go for Craft by Andrea Maack or Tirrenico by Profumi del Forte for a high quality man repellent.

Tanyas Image May 4, 2012

Very funny story! I enjoyed reading it so much. Well, I wore different kinds of perfume everyday.

Mals86 May 4, 2012

Oh YAY! One of ma favrit gals doin' her thing over on the Posse! (And yes, everybody needs to go check Scents of Self. Because it is awesome.) I am getting a bit long in the tooth myself, but I actually can remember my first job, working in a law office doing clerical stuff, my first summer out of high school. I think two of the four male lawyers in the office hit on me (one of the other guys had a new baby at home and was barely getting enough sleep to focus, and the senior partner was out of the office on vacation all summer), and I dang sure could have used a Man Repeller perfume at the time. I adore, adore, Chanel No. 19, but I think it is truly one of the least friendly perfumes in existence. If you're going Standoffish Iris, it kicks Infusion's butt IMO. I like Douce Amere, as well, but I actually would have characterized it as friendly, because of all that warm sandalwoody vanilla stuff popping up through the anise. But Pamplelune might be a genius sort of pick. And Serge Noire (you're mistaken on Douce Amere being on the "weirder" end of the spectrum) utterly fascinates me, but it is a true freakfest. Aromatics Elixir IS pretty repellent, but I hate it myself, so that sort of defeats the purpose.

Mindy May 4, 2012

Welcome Ari, wonderful post. I can't help you out with the man repellent thing. On most days the only males I'm around are my spouse and my son. A few weeks ago, the spouse noticed how much perfume I have and asked if I ever wore any of it. I wear perfume EVERY DAMN DAY! He had never noticed. I guess this means I can wear whatever I want. Well, I would anyway.

Amy May 4, 2012

Ari, you are preciously funny. Thank you for a wonderful piece of writing. I hope to read more from you again!! My husband is emotionally allergic to tuberose. Why? Why I ask. Of all the scents -- the most beautiful one, tuberose. But I wear it with abandon and pride (when he's not around....)

dleep May 4, 2012

Love the article. An ex-boyfriend was completely turned off by Caron French Can Can.

Ann May 4, 2012

Ari, welcome! Now that was a hoot of a post! I think we're going to need to set up a Keyboard Replacement Fund for those of us who keep spewing our tea, coffee (or other beverage of choice) after reading all our hilarious posters. No other blog has me falling out of my chair with laughter.

FragrantWitch May 4, 2012

Love, love this article, Ari! Congrats on a fabulous first Posse Post! Before I was married, its fair to say I liked to date and this article really hits the nail on the head. One of my all time faves is Shalimar as it never fails to make me feel 'vavavoom' but to men no doubt I smelled more 'knit one, purl one' so it was not a good choice for clubbing/first dates - a fact reinforced by the night where I had one sad middle-aged man following me around (I was in my very early 20's at the time) saying how 'sultry' I smelled yet the guy I had fancied wanted to know who smelled like mothballs. However, I did also wear a lot of Cool Water for women (and no, I don't know why!) and Ombre Rose and those were man magnets! Interestingly, Ombre Rose was greatly favoured by smokers...

pyramus May 4, 2012

I have no opinion on its potentially man-repellent qualities since I am a man, but Douce Amere is possibly my favourite Serge Lutens, and that's saying a lot, because I own a bunch of them and would like to have a few more. The bitter and sweet aspects are kept in perfect equilibrium throughout its entire life: every time I wear it I end up wondering how it was done, like a magic trick that never gets old.

Syl May 4, 2012

Clinique Aromatics Elixer. In this case it is ALL about judicious use. Use Just One Drop . At that level it is beautiful. More and the stuff will clear a room.If you want to be 'left alone' it should be better than a sign on your forehead. And its about scrubproof... LOVE the article!

Devon H May 4, 2012

HAAAAAAAAA I totally get what you're saying about Chanel No. 5!!! I LOVE it. Have always loved it. Several years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I was wearing the current EDT formulation. A middle aged Russian I worked with stopped me once and said "you're too young to be wearing that perfume" in a very condescending, dismissive tone. He never hit on me (praise Jesus), and he was a sleeze you can believe. However, a friend of mine, who was another colleague, routinely wore cheap body sprays and was the recipient of his flirtations, pickup lines and attempts at getting her drunk as often as he breathed air. Granted, he may have been right - No. 5 I feel can be intimidating, and definitely a scent for a woman who knows what she is, what she wants, and owns her body. I wasn't at that point at that age. But geez he could have at least said I had good taste... ;-)

Cm May 4, 2012

THAT explains it! All my favorites scents ( except for the serge Lutens which I haven't tried) are man repellents. Tomorrow I'm wearing Pink Sugar. Love the post so much!

Patty May 4, 2012

I will get completely lambasted for this, but L'Heure bleue and Shalimar. I have never seen a guy run faster in the opposite direction for his Old Stalker Girlfriend than when I wear these. It's probably just how they smell on me, but I think it reminds them of gramma and baby diapers all at the same time. Not a sexay combo.

sweetlife (Alyssa) May 4, 2012

A) This is hilarious and puckishly feminist and you are such a natural fit for PP I can't believe you haven't been over here already. B) "Litter box lady." Bwah hah hah hah hah! C) I love, love, love your point about Chanel No. 5 and older perfumes in general. I do think men don't like to be reminded of their mothers when they're trying to date. And if they do well, we don't really want them, do we? On the other hand, the man who is able to re-configure his initial idea of what a perfume smells like because he is smitten with the woman wearing it...

Eldarwen22 May 4, 2012

Thus far, Mitsouko has been my go to for repelling people. It seems to keep the creepy people away and the nasty witches give me a little wider berth.

Joanna May 4, 2012

Is it horrible that I've never really given much thought to what men like when it comes to picking a fragrance? I'm married, I dated quite a bit before marriage. I have a list of who I might consider after marriage, (ha...) But I always just thought either they had the good taste to appreciate my choices or the good sense not to say anything. And if they didn't...so long sucka'. One guy was really hot but he complained about not liking my Coco Chanel and "Suggested" I try Lou Lou, like his ex wore. Gross. Even if I didn't find the whole suggestion insulting and inappropriate I would have dumped him for dating a chick who wore Lou Lou...and liking it. Sorry, I don't mean to offend those of you who were Lou Lou gals but I always found that one repuslive. My husband complained about Safran Troublant when I first got it. So I wore it heavily for the next 3 weeks and sprayed our bed with it. I might have some control issues when it comes to fragrance?

March May 4, 2012

Annick Goutal Mandragore. To me it smells like a wonderful grapefruit cologne, but apparently to much of the population it smells like pee. Too bad for them. Great topic. PS I spilled a small splash bottle in my car. Oops.

FG May 4, 2012

Another for the list: original Comme des Garcons. It's awesome and spicy, and smells of liniment. It's weird enough and medicinal enough that it takes a .... special man to find it sexy I'm betting. At least a special man who isn't into scent. But any guy who could peg CdG on me? I'd be willing to talk to anyhow.

Judith DM May 4, 2012

Very, very funny!

Portia Turbo-Gear May 4, 2012

I love you Ari. This is a great piece and had me smiling broadly from beginning to end. Before you got to Chanel No 5 I was thinking any of the 80's power fumes because their relatives would have worn them and then maybe an Oud/leather based heavy hitter, because the horsey girls have to know how to handle themselves. Congratulations on your PP position, Portia xx