Best Perfume – Safety Zone v. Comfort Zone?

Seth Godin has a new book out –  The Icarus Deception.  While reading it, my thoughts turned to my best perfume list. Wait, are you guys saying you don’t do that… ever?

best perfume - where is your perfume comfort zone?

Godin talks about Safety Zone and Comfort Zone and how when we are young – and I am embellishing this not just a little with my thinking – we are idiots with our Safety Zone in terms of knowing where it is, but part of youth is finding it.  Usually that entails some scary near-misses. The safety zone is the place where your physical and emotional person is mostly safe.  Over time, that Safety Zone often gets, well, comfortable, and then it becomes our Comfort Zone. The big problem with that is often our Safety Zone has moved in the intervening years, and we are now completely unsafe in our comfort zone..

Example – Fragrant Fanny heads off to the perfume counter at age 26, she has  her first big job and feels like she can splurge on a bottle of perfume. She shops and shops and falls in love with Donna Karan Chaos, buys a bottle, declares it the Best.Perfume.Evah and it will be her signature scent from this day forward.  She buys it year after year, people get it for her as gifts, she is awash in Chaos until suddenly the Chaos gifts slow down and stop and she troops off to the department store to get her own damn bottle and – not there, discontinued.  She now hunts it down at discounters, not there either.  Finds it on eBay for — $300 a bottle?!?!?

Fanny’s Comfort zone of one fragrance made her fall out of the Safety zone for perfume into the unsafe zone. Her perfume became discontinued, she wasn’t paying attention, didn’t stock up, and now she’s paying Amouage prices for a $60 bottle of perfume.

Fanny also has worn the same flip-up bob for the last 15 years.

best perfume comfort zone or safety zoneAre you your perfume comfort zone?  Is it the best place?  As I’ve done the comprehensive notes post (yes, a new one will be up next week), it has forced me to go beyond my comfort barriers. What I’ve found is that my comfort zone isn’t where I thought it was. Many of the perfumes I’ve avoided because of their notes or classification are really beautiful and perfect for me.  Never having been big on having The Scent, I’ve never been in danger of having just one perfume that was my best perfume.

But it makes me think about how many things I have missed out on – and I consider myself incredibly adventurous with perfume – simply because of the notes or the maker. Did I reject something simply because it fell outside of my comfort zone?  What would be a perfume safety zone?  Not sampling things you know you can’t afford or would never spend that much for?

What is your comfort zone in perfume, or do you think you have one at all?  Do you have a safety zone?  Do you not question either?  See, this is what happens when I get a couple of weeks off and I wind up spending ten days of it with a flu that had me thinking expiration was a perfectly reasonable option. I missed you guys!

What did you get for Christmas?  Any great/good perfume gifts someone gave you or you gave yourself? Spill, spill, I want/need all the deets!

Oh, the book!  Love the book, you can go to Amazon to get it in hard copy or kindle.  It just verifies a lot of what I already knew and how I live. Screw that flying too close to the sun nonsense.  You melt the wings and fall to earth? Build another set, but better.

  • Jennifer says:

    I like it quite a bit ,it’s sort of a warm fruit/amber/musk very wearable and not (seriously) offensive to others around me.(I would still avoid on choir days as it does stick around) I love Black Amethyest too (have the entire line) you can still get it at the website.
    I’m hoping to find something like some Ineke Anthro stuff at TJMaxx/Marshalls but so far my top options are some travel sets of Crabtree &Evelyn,YSL Cinema$49(would have to add $),Eau de Prep set by T.Hilfiger$39 (caramel as I recall)or some Angel Innocent (have half a bottle already )Also saw Lily Sanguine by Haps & ____? for $39.

    • Jennifer says:

      meant to reply to Maureen .Ooops.
      I’m pretty open to try anything -except wintergreen(I’ll hork .For Reals.) or too much civet-I don’t mind but Zorro my male cat DOES! And I object to scrubbing the carpet for weeks and doing Lots of extra loads of laundry.He wins.No the outdoors is Not an option-we are 4 doors away from the highway and there are owls,hawks and coyotes around.Besides I love the little 17 lb. stinker.

  • Ramona says:

    I will pretty much smell anything, although I do have to admit I was really stuck on vanilla for a while (still one of my favorite notes, sorry patty). I dont have much experience with ANY perfumes, niche or otherwise, because I worked in an acute care setting for most of my career and could only get away with body lotions and such, so I basically never explored the perfume world at all until the past 2 years or so. It totally skipped me.

    Bottega Veneta was the first perfume that had me transfixed- it came out around the same time as Elie Saab and I was in Neiman Marcus sniffing around to just pass some time and kept going back to the BV because in my little antiseptic filled world I had NEVER smelled anything so good! The Elie Saab made me scrunch up my nose is distaste, thinking “Who in the WORLD would wear this?! Ugh!” The only thing that limits me now is price point =(

    What I dont understand is trying to “work” at liking a perfume? Can someone educate me? Am I missing an integral part of the *perfume experience*? If I dont like it, why would I bother? It seems similar to people who opine “one must develop a taste for scotch” Why? If I dont like it, why would I force myself to “develop” a taste for it? And by doing so, does it really enhance my life? Or anyone elses? That whole issue has me scratching my head.

    Now I work at home and have no restrictions, which has been very liberating and I am loving many many perfumes. I actually will spray perfume BEFORE going to bed, which many of you probably do as well, but 2 years ago I would have wondered WHY any person would be CRAZY enough to do that! See- thats why I dont want to miss out on the whole concept of “learning” to like certain fragrances.

    This blog is a wonderful resource and a fun way of educating myself about the perfumed world =)

    • Martha says:

      > What I dont understand is trying to “work” at liking a perfume?

      When I try to work at liking, or at least tolerating, a given scent or flavor, it’s usually because there are things that include the offensive element, but are great in other ways.

      For example, I’ve often eaten food with hot peppers, where I can taste glorious flavor behind the peppers, but I can’t eat more than a bite or two before my head explodes. So I’d like to learn to tolerate hot peppers. Now, sometimes I actually learn to _like_ the note, rather than just tolerate it. Just a month ago, I actually enjoyed, rather than tolerated, a particular type of blue cheese. Someday I may actually enjoy violins, rather than tolerating them for the sake of the rest of the music. 🙂

      Similarly, I initially disliked aldehydes, powder, and amber/ambergris in perfumes, but there are a lot of perfumes that are lovely “behind” those notes, so I’m working at liking or tolerating the notes. So far, I can tolerate aldehydes, I actually like some very silky powder, and ambergris is still a dealbreaker.

      • tammy says:

        I think I tend to let a perfume or food work on me, rather than vice versa. Occasionally a food or scent that I initially didn’t like will insert itself back into my consciousness later on… and then I want to try it again. I won’t ever force myself to revisit something I didn’t like to start with, but sometimes things do sneak up on you. Cooked cabbage is one of the food items that has snuck up on me; Bvlgari Rose Essentielle, which flat out nauseated me on first sniff but haunted me for two years, is now one of my favorites.

    • I don’t see it so much as “forcing myself to like something” so much as just occasionally revisiting things I’ve tried in the past to see if I still react the same way to it, recognizing that tastes can change over time and that experiences in the intervening time may change one’s perception of something. Or they may not. I still don’t like scotch. 🙂

  • Gabe says:

    Your safety zone example is best described as “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
    Personally, I’m a big fragrance connoisseur, I have a large collection of colognes but maybe 7-8 that I actually use and keep in rotation. These colognes range from Black by Kenneth Cole to Starwalker by Mont Blanc. Now, I know these are nothing too fancy, I mean I don’t use Creed as an everyday cologne. However, I feel pretty safe that if one of these colognes become discontinued, I can always just use one of the other ones I enjoy. No need to drop niche house prices on designer brand fragrances.

    Regardless, great blog. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  • Glad you’re back and feeling better, Patty! I spent my vacation being sick too. Not the flu, but still… not fun.

    I’m always trying new stuff, and my taste is fairly broad, so I don’t know that I really have a safety zone. I’m reassessing my comfort zone, so where that is is kind of in flux too. I have had a tendency to dismiss scents that seem like they’ll be overly sweet, as well as ones that are iris-centric (though not ones where iris is a bit player, those are ok) because iris seems to be soapy on me. I’ve also usually written off anything with violet in it, and I had considered it my “enemy” note because it had a tendency to screech a bit.

    HOWEVER… I recently got a sample of, and fell head over heels for, Parfums de Nicolai Musc Intense. I looked at the list of notes after I had worn it a couple of times, and there in the list.. my nemesis.. violet. I didn’t even realize it was there, but on subsequent wearings I realized I could make it out. And I still liked it just as much. So I’ve realized that, while violet may not be my favorite note, I maybe shouldn’t dismiss a scent containing it out of hand because I might miss out on a pleasant surprise.

    So in light of that discovery, I think I’m going to be reassessing what I want to try. I might actually seek out some iris-centric scents and see if I can find any surprises there. I learned from Diptyque Volutes and MPG Bois de Turquie that iris isn’t always soapy to me, so maybe there are others out there.

    As far as a what-I’ll-wear-in-public comfort zone.. I don’t really wear the skanky stuff around other people because I think my skank tolerance is pretty high and I’ll end up inadvertently killing somebody (I blame Musc Tonkin… after I wore it around the house a couple of times, I noticed a change in my skank-o-meter).

  • Liz K says:

    I guess green scents, super spicy, and sweet vanilla are out of my comfort zone and I do try to push myself every once in a while. Also musks tend to go sweeeeet on me and I am afraid even of the supposedly animlic ones. Got a bottle of Love and Tears from my mom and “permission” from the husband to pick up FBs of my 2 favorite SSS scents (Incense Pure and Jour Ensoleille) and a small bottle of Ambre Russe if it is ever back in stock at Luckyscent. My comfort scents seem to be incense and florals.

  • Maureen says:

    Every once in awhile I will try gardenia, but I just have not liked any have tried yet. Comfort scents would probable be snuggly oriental vanillas.

  • Martha says:

    I am a niche snob at heart so moving out of my comfort zone with perfume would be wearing a celebrity scent from Kohl’s or Walmart. Another way of moving out of my safety comfort zone would be to wear a fragrance designed for and marketed to men. Thank goodness for unisex scents … at least I can fake myself out that way. I’m not even all that girly, but I guess perfume is my way of being feminine even when I’m not wearing make-up and look like a complete frump.

  • kathleen says:

    No safety zone. My preferences change constantly. I’m exploring classics at the moment

    I have a bottle of SIP Persica pure parfum, but when I heard she was discontinuing the scent, I ran to spend too much on the edp.

  • Dina C. says:

    My safety comfort zone has always been the Green zone. Green florals, Woody greens, green chypres, aromatic-herbal greens. I still love them the most. But now I’m willing to explore notes like vanilla, incense, cardamom, …more oriental type scents. I didn’t like Opium, Youth Dew or other “spicy” scents when I was young, so it has taken some courage to approach this group.

  • Janlast says:

    Still here in Puerto Rico, still haunting the duty-free places, Marshalls, where good perfume seems to come to die, still ordering samples from Surrender to Chance. So far, my only no-no’s seem to be big rose and ubervanilla. Will be back in Colorado the 15th, so will change scents again. Many thanks to all of you who have helped me and steered me to and away from the shoals of weird scents. I’m having a great time!
    Any time Patty wants to put together a paid seminar, I’m in!!
    BTW, I’ve smelled some Mancera stuff from expats here, and they aren’t ugly. My nose is expanding along with my butt and my waistline. Scuse me, I hear my mojito calling…..

  • Jackie b says:

    My security scents early in life were the ones my mother would have approved of…Chanel 5, Givenchy…L’Interdit. I later rebelled with Georgio Red!!!

    My husband gave me Seville A L’Aube for Christmas, after I dropped many hints and wrote down the address of the shop!!!
    Florals are waaay out of my comfort zone, so maybe the orange blossom will segue into more hardcore florals….but no, not tuberose. Yet.

  • Selina says:

    Great post! I think my comfort zone is sticking to ‘niche’ fragrances in general. And as i don’t like florals i don’t tend to try them very often. I tried to leave my comfort zone a few times over the xmas period by trying loads of mainstream scents in my local department store. I didn’t like any of them, but decided to go back and test them more often -as you say you never know what you might be missing out on!

  • Jennifer says:

    Hmm comfort scents.. Laura Mercier Marrons Glaces,Emauraude(SP) and EA Green Tea and 4711 Mulhens one not the Tosca one -which is also nice but rather more dirty hairbrush than cologney-and the Bvlgari Blv line.
    Christmas I got the BBW Cashmere Glow set edt,gel,lotion,body mist. The edt sprayer snapped off the 1st time I tried to use it so I dumped the contents into a empty bottle and took both into the store . They let me keep the salvage juice and I got store cred for $29.50 (which I promptly blew as it was the SAS ).I got Lemon Vanilla lotion &gel,Orange Sapphire gel,3or4 Forever Sunshine gels,a Twisted Peppermint body spray, Oak bodyspray and gel.
    I also got VS Coconut Passion in the lotion and mist,Bijan men ,and Gucci Rush and because my color/size was sold out I blew clothes gift money on Ineke Sweet William on Anthro’s boxing day sale .I still have about $30 to blow at Marshalls/Tjmaxx (returned some unwanted stuff an escada and a zit extractor? and tweezers?)so now of course it’s impossible to pick anything .Grr.

    • Maureen says:

      I also received Cashmere Glow as a gift…I kinda like it I think. What do you think of it? I liked BBW Black Amethyst, but of course, they discontinued it. I also have a $25 TJ Maxx gift card but could not find anything I wanted. Sigh. Maybe they’ll get some good scents for Spring.

    • Patty says:

      Great haul on the christmas gifts!!!

  • Martha says:

    I seem to be uncomfortable with the commonly accepted–I’m far, far more comfortable wearing, for example, CdG Garage than Chanel No. 5. I’m also uncomfortable with other people smelling my perfume. 🙂 A bazillion bottles, and I spray so little that only I can get whiffs of scent–any scent, not just the weird ones.

    • Musette says:

      That’s funny (the thing about other people smelling your perfume). Is it a fear of invading their space? Or a fear of them invading yours?

      xoxox Dr. Musette

      • Martha says:

        Fear of invading theirs. Probably the fear that the one time that I go out proudly stinky, I’ll find the one person that goes into anaphylactic shock from that particular perfume.

        Also I suspect there’s a lifetime suspicion of being girly and well-groomed, a “soooo… have you considered therapy?” conviction that it’s laughable for me to consider myself worthy of adorning. And that therefore people will, y’know, laugh.

        • Martha says:

          Hey… “Proudly Stinky”. And I’ve been looking for a new name for the ChickenFreak blog….

          OK, OK, I’ll get a grip. I think.

  • anatu13 says:

    I seem to be a bit leery about trying anything that’s not niche/indie, which I know is silly. I’m also a little leery of leather, although this is not a note I _know_ I hate, like licorice/anise. I received Vero Profumo Rubj edp for the holidays, so I am a _rather_ happy girl 🙂

    • Musette says:

      That’s a difficult comfort zone to step out of because of preconceived notions of ‘niche’ etc. Then you spritz something stupid like Fresh Lemon Sugar, fall completely in love..and get 74 times the compliments you ever get with Snakes in the Garage by Nichehorse Parfums…and you realize that pretty is just that…pretty. And you’re okay with it.

      Unless it’s Fresh Index Pomegranate Anise. In which case you’d better break out the Advil cause there’s a migraine comin’ on!

      • Martha says:

        Snakes in the Garage produces hysterical giggling in me.

        Is Lemon Sugar a common guilty pleasure? I love the stuff, and, yes, I’m vaguely ashamed of loving the stuff.

    • Patty says:

      Not odd at all! I’m leery of a lot of mainstream perfumes just because I’ve been burned so much. There’s still some good stuff out there, but it forces us all to be more careful shoppers and not assume a good brand name attached to a perfume makes it awesome.

      • Musette says:

        That being said, Fresh Lemon Sugar (and (ahem) Pink Sugar, anybody?) ROCKS!!! It’s one of those scents that one feels, as a perfumista, one shouldn’t love. But we doooo! xoxo

  • unseencenser says:

    Nice post! I try super-hard to sniff and wear occasionally things I think are way outside my comfort zone (iris comes to mind as a note I’m pretty sure I dislike, but which appears from time to time as a supporting player in perfumes I really do like). Just branching out from vanilla has been good for me. 🙂

    • anatu13 says:

      Iris-centric perfumes don’t seem to agree with me either, unfortunately. My 11-year-old likes them, though!

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, vanilla can become the a big area where people wind up staying their entire life. 🙂 I get why, but I can’t imagine just smelling of vanilla forever.

      • Musette says:

        I can’t imagine smelling like vanilla at all – except for CBIHP 7Bill. I could smell like ‘that’ vanilla for a very, very long time!


        • wooddogs3 says:

          I have to put in a plug for the beautiful Mona di Orio Vanille, the only one besides 7Bill that I can wear for days in a row.

      • wooddogs3 says:

        Interesting about comfort zones: I had been tumbling down the rabbit hole for a while when I realized that my comfort zone was the dark oriental, and I squirmed at the very thought of wearing a pleasant pretty vanilla. I forced myself to order a sample of 7Bill just to stretch my limits a little, and now find myself huffing all sorts of vanillas and reluctantly, happily admitting that a pretty perfume that makes no outrageous demands upon its wearer has a lot to be said for it. I now think that, if Dark and Strange is your comfort zone, you should just spray yourself with vanilla or orange blossom until you get over it. I will always love the dark, the woody, and the weird, and I will certainly order a bottle of Snakes in the Garage when Musette decides to market it, but a spray of lovely sunshine here and there is a much-needed contrast.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I have so many perfumes that are my safe/comfort perfumes (Lyric, Cuir de Russie, Mitsouko). My recent favorite that pushes the safe/comfort is Joy. The jasmine is very heavy on the indoles and have mustered up the courage to wear it to work. Nobody in my circle of friends nor family gave me perfume. I did ask for Amazon gift cards. With the gift cards, I scored 1 bottle of Lyric, 1 bottle of Gold and a bottle of Joy. My bank account is still not happy with that order because I still dropped a small fortune. Sometimes what does pull me back from trying anything new is either price or is it a perfume that I would only be able to get it in Europe.

    • Patty says:

      I guess I think of those as comfy perfumes, but I’m now really aware of falling in a comfort zone and not re-testing my old thinking on perfumes and notes all the time.

      Oh!!! great score on the gift cards. I think of safety zone now as discontinued stuff. I used to hunt them down. Now I may just to see what the fuss was about, but I really push myself not to horde any of them and, in effect, push them off of my personal cloud and snip the cord.

  • Musette says:

    Ha! Blog-mating with you and Li’l Missy put paid to that whole ‘comfort’ thing long ago! But I have to say, I was stuck in BWFloral land for simply evah, prior to meeting you two wackadoos. I did green. And I did Joy and Kate Spade. So much so that I was the despair of my SAs.

    Now? Unless it leaps out of the bottle and grabs me by the throat and sticks the sprayer in my eyeball, I’m pretty much okay with at least trying it!

    But I probably wouldn’t be, were it not for you guys. xoxoxoA