57 Channels…or..How Do You Wear Your Perfume Samples?


I wish I had a review for you this week, truly I do…but I don’t because…well, the headline says it all.  I’m in Sample Hell!  Now…don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE what I do on the Posse.  I do.  I love smelling new scents and reviewing and discovering new passions and loves and, yes, even the hates!  But when Life intervenes, especially with Teh Crazy, it becomes a bit more difficult.  Plus, I have a LOT of samples and decants.  Again, not complaining.  But sometimes it does get a bit overwhelming.  And when those times happen I fall back on my go-to scents.    Right now I’m in all sorts of drama, so that means I’m sticking with some really zzzzzscents.  Not the scents themselves, mind you – they’re all perfectly gorgeous.  It’s just that I can’t stand to make a decision right now.  Heck, I’m so stressed-out that I can barely stand to make the decision between Amouage Lyric and Jub25!

Does that happen to you?  Do you end up with Too Many Choices?   I know, it’s my ‘job’ – and I adore it.  But sometimes, when Life just kicks the tar out of you and there’s not enough time in the day to do stuff so you just sit at the computer and stare at ……..good grief!  I don’t even know what I’m staring at! LOL!     Anyhoo…when that happens, I bust out the vintage Chanel No 5 extrait.  There’s something very ‘normal’ about Chanel No 5 perfume.  It’s not one of those scents that makes everything all right, it’s that it never does anything to make it worse – and sometimes that’s exactly what you’re looking for!

But that brings me to the point of this post – persackly ‘how’ do you guys wear samples and decants?  Is it different from how you wear your full bottles?  My full bottles are largely default scents – I wear them when I cannot contemplate trying something new.  And I often wear them at night because I know they are reliable (heh.  Carnal Flower.  Mitsouko.  Jubilation 25. Reliable.  heh. That’s like saying Godzilla is reliable – but I guess he is.  You can always count on him to flatten Tokyo!.). But back to the question: can you imagine trying something right before bedtime…and finding out it gave you nightmares ..or hives?  Anyhoo, do you guys wear your samples as full-day tests?  Do you chance wearing them at work or out in public or do you give them a test-run in the privacy of your home?  Do you treat splits differently from something you spray on at the store?


So…okay.  Just so you know, I’m totally FINE over here.  Nothing weird – or any weirder than it was the last time I posted how stressed I am.   My family and friends are all healthy and above ground and I’m still breathing and enjoying each lovely (and ugly) day that Life brings me.  So I’m fine – just not able to try much new …but…oooh!  I lie!  I have something new in the offing – just can’t divulge it right now, nor am I quite ready to do it the justice it deserves.  But stay tuned…


I promised you some winners this past weekend.  And, again, I lied!  It’s getting to be a habit – sorry!  But I have the winners here now!!


Laboratorio Olfattivo:  tomate farcie

Strange Invisible Perfumes:  Spiker and Beth

Drill is:  contact me a posseATperfumeposseDAHTcom (the bots iz fierce these days, hence the phonetics) – your mailing info and what you won.  I am slower than molasses in February but I will get a move on and get it out to you pdq.

  • Mary P. says:

    I keep my growing sample collection in several plastic, sectioned bead storage boxes I got at Michael’s because I found out rather quickly that if I didn’t keep them in some sort of order it would get totally cluttered and overwhelming and I would never be able to find anything. I keep an inventory sheet on what I have – I love Jan Last’s spreadsheet though, very inspiring! I started testing one olfactory group at a time (though I do skip around a lot) and record my impressions on pinterest boards. If I really love a sample I usually get more samples of that fragrance, or maybe a small decant or bottle, depending on how expensive it is.

    I test one sample at a time, I test them several times in a row or maybe with a break of a few days (unless I really don’t like them, but I haven’t found many that I really dislike that much :)), and I wear them for their entire duration. I am having a blast, so much fun and learning a lot as I go along. Some days I do choose to wear my old favorites and take a break from wearing something unknown, but mostly I am wearing something new almost every day.

  • mim says:

    I sniff samples when I get them, even if I get a dozen at a time. Then, as soon as practical, use arm and sometimes leg space to dab on a teeny bit of each in the privacy of my own room, and not right before bed.

    Some go into the ‘pass along’ box, some to the ‘whoa, love it’ box/bag/jar to be used up in consideration of a decant/fb, and some into the ‘I dunno, need to test alone over longer’ box(es). Sample storage: a couple thrift store boxes, some old small jars, and a few divided plastic boxes which I also use for beads.

    Then I sometimes do another mega-test from the dunno box to refresh my memory, and continue winnowing those slowly. Sometimes I save samples for reference even if I don’t love them. Often will try or retry when I know I’m going to bathe in an hour or three anyways and can move up that timeframe if necessary.

    I used to have a word doc with the samples’ names, houses, first impressions, and whether I wanted to keep or swap it (and if the latter, condition) but lost it with my old computer. Now I’m really not organized at all.

    For me, decants of 4ml or more are like small FBs but 2-2.5ml are large samples. Though sometimes I will be satisfied with just a teeny bit of something special. Have been trying to wear what I love which is mostly bottles right now, thinking less about the novelty of experimenting and more about using my scent-wearing time to maximize pleasure and feel like I identify with my scent, like it’s expressing something of me, rather than like it’s developing and I’m working to follow it. one’s

    Really liked reading everyone’s approaches!

  • Tom says:

    You know what? I’ve decided that I wear it when I wear it. Blogging isn’t a paying gig so if I decide that I really need to wear something that I’ve loved and wrote about before for a week then I’ll write an “Off Topic” post that I can only hope will be mildly interesting. Or I’ll write that I’m wearing what I damned well feel like wearing and hope that it’s mildly interesting.

    I love perfume and I love to write about it. There’s about 90% too much stress in life and I refuse to make this pleasurable part stressful. Which means that readers (and I appreciate all of you sincerely) will have to endure the occasional post about flowers or cheese or my car obsession.

    Which reminds me, I haven’t written about cheese lately..

  • Amer says:

    oh you purrrrrr thing!

  • LaurenW says:

    I like to try samples anytime. It’s fun I learn what notes and houses I gravitate toward. I have a teacup-full of samples that have been tried at least once and passed muster, and I wear one of the pre-tested samples when I go to bed. Seems to give me good dreams 🙂

    All my decants are of fumes I don’t have full bottles of. I store them by perfume house, and I use them as much or more than I do my full bottles. I really like variety.

  • When I first get a set of samples in the mail, I’m all excited and can’t wait to know what they all smell like, so if they’re dabber vials, I just take the cap off each one and sniff from the vial, just to get a preliminary sense of what all I got. Then I’ll pick several and try a dab or two of each one on skin. This stage is where I weed out stuff I really really don’t like. If I’m sniffing around on my arm and come to a spot and think “ugh what did I put there?”, then that one doesn’t get any further wear (once I remember which one it was.. lol).

    With the rest I’ll commit a day to each of them. I’ll put one on before I go to work and then put the vial in my pocket. Then over the course of the day I’ll be able to see if I like how the scent develops on my skin and to see if it fits me. If it makes me want to crawl out of my skin over the course of the day, then obviously it’s a no. If I like it after a day of wear, I’ll keep wearing it until my sample runs out and then see how I feel about it after that, to see if it sticks in my mind.

    I probably should keep written notes about these things but I never do. I don’t have spreadsheets and such. I just have a couple of shallow jewelry-type boxes that I keep my samples in, one box is ones that I really like, and the other is basically everything else: what I didn’t like, what I’m on the fence about but want to like, and what didn’t elicit much of a reaction either way.

  • Beth says:

    I love this topic because I am still going crazy on sampling. I’m fairly new to the perfume world, only the last couple of years, which means that I don’t have a huge collection yet. However, my sample and decant boxes are growing.

    I had to put down ground rules – sample first, if that is drained, a decant is in order. If I drain the decant, it’s time for a full bottle. Some that I know I love, but don’t LOVE, I’ve bought 5ml-10ml decants of, and that keeps me pretty satisfied.

    On a day like today, where I’m going to be working with customers, I pick a scent I know, something that isn’t going to be offensive to anyone. For today, that’s Ormonde Jayne, decant almost drained, looking to buy a bottle. For every other day, where I know it’s going to be pretty much just me smelling it, (50% of my time), I’m comfortable trying new samples. It’s been rare that I’ve HATED a perfume. I can only remember maybe one time. I may not like it, but I’m still interested in seeing what it’s progression is. If it’s a date, I’ll select something I know, and I’m always interested in the guy’s opinion. Of course all the gyrations apply … do I think I may not like this guy? better pick something I won’t mine losing to a bad association of a horrible first date. Do I want to impress him? better pick something that’s classy. etc. Most likely 99% of the time, the guy hardly even notices!

  • pelicano says:

    My samples are contained within one of those gold-paper-covered holiday gift boxes, divided into multiple compartments inside using small, vintage cardboard jewelry boxes- not so different from Jan’s use of a silverware cabinet (great idea, btw!). Samples from any one house are grouped together for easy locating. I keep track of my personal reviewing with a form I created with spaces for notes, comments, and final-grade check-boxes from -1 to +5. Right now I’d say I’m back-logged… which is fine by me, really- things to look forward to!

    When I do try a new one, I apply a small amount to the back of one hand only at first (for the rare case of a scrubber), and, if I find it pleasing, I do a full wear- wrists, inside-elbows, chest, neck- and spend the next hours “listening” to this composition- and this composition only (can we really view two or more paintings at once and give them the attention and thought that these works of art deserve?), allowing it to speak, even asking other people for their impressions. The main question is always: “Do I identify with this fragrance?” I’ve been surprised a few times- fragrance can absolutely change one’s mood and attitude, and bend it into new directions… But as much as I love trying new things, yes, most days I enjoy the comfort of my full-bottle, familiar friends… and when I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I know just which ones function like a hug.

    I don’t rush the adventure- in fragrance or in life: that takes the fun out of it, like a trip with too many destinations or planned activities..

    • Dina C. says:

      That’s a great question to ask: “Do I identify with this fragrance?” because there are a lot of pretty or interesting scents that I don’t identify with. Really good tip! I like you system.

  • Mary says:

    I have a special pretty box for my samples. It’s large, and I’ve put blocks of top floral oasis in the bottom – you know, the green stuff that’s like very soft styrofoam. I push each sample bottle down into the oasis so it is standing up on its own. I have a map that I typed up in Word showing what is where, and a separate document that lists each scent, notes from reviews, and my impressions. The MINUTE the samples come in the mail, I put them all on, up and down my arms. I can tell quickly which ones I want to pursue! If I love something i practically eat the sample, it’s gone in a day or two. My family thinks I’m completely nuts. 🙂

    • Musette says:

      Wow! I love your commitment – and your mad organizational skilz!! Non-perfumistas think we all nuts – only other ‘philes seem to get it. xoxoxoA

  • HemlockSillage says:

    I completely understand! To you lovely Posse readers, I will confess that with samples, I could wear TWO fragrances a day for YEARS and never duplicate. Yeah. I have a bin of samples. I revisit them sometimes, many are in purgatory and I should really let them go. Many I haven’t even tried yet (ducks head in shame).

    Today, I finally tried Love, Chloe for the first time. I saw it in my drawer, untested as I was reaching for Carnal Flower, and thought, hmmm, wonder what this smells like? It was rather a mistake, as I was craving that crazy menthol tuberose, but it is interesting to try something new. I went and read reviews, and no one out there mentions a sour note in it (well, Victoria in EauMG in her video blog says sweet pickles). Yes, I get the violet and powder that everyone mentions, as well as rose, but the sourness is tenacious on my skin. It’s so funny to me how things are different on different people.

    To answer the question–if I have an important meeting or event, I’m wearing one of my precious, something I know, love and can depend for a certain image. If I’m feeling jaunty and doing stuff around the house, I’ll wear any old sample. Sometimes that also applies at for my SOTE. I’m pretty experimental as I’m the only scent victim 😀 If I feel emotional or physically unwell, I have my standby comfort scents, again, my FB precious, that I use in times of stress. So basically, I need to be in a positive, experimental, freewheeling mood to stick on a new ‘fume. Hope you all are having fun trying new things. May your mind/body/spirit be in a joyful place where you feel like getting outside your comfort zone. Be well.

    • Musette says:

      No shame, sweetie. Get to them when you can. I can’t remember Love, Chloe. I love the bottle, though! I wore the heck out of the original, back in The Day. That sour note sounds terrifying!


  • Mrs. Honey says:

    I tend to be impatient and want to test new samples when I get them. I usually buy samples of things I cannot test locally. I apply on the tiniest little bit just in case. Also, I apply on my hand, so if it turns out to be really awful, I can wash it off easily. If nothing untoward happened, I will apply more on another day. If it did not work on me, I put it aside to send to my friend.

    The other reason I buy samples is to determine full bottle purchases. I went through 3 samples of Miel de Bois before finally getting a full bottle. This reduces the temptation to impulse buy. I bought two different samples of Chanel No. 5 Parfum and will buy a full bottle at some time in the future. I prefer to have full bottles rather than decants, though I do buy the smaller bottle if available.

    • Musette says:

      I’m okay with decants of some beloveds but for my go-to’s I much prefer the full bottles, too! And I’m with you on the smaller bottles – there are just too many gorgeous scents and I don’t want 30ml of something languishing in a bottle at the back of my armoire. xoxoA

  • Connie says:

    Sometimes I feel overwhelmed or anxious about choosing a perfume, but then I remind myself that it’s a ‘first world problem’ and that I’m doing something that on the whole fulfills me. I wear a sample or two most days and usually reswap, but some I hold onto to test more if I really like or love them. When I have something serious going on, I wear one of my beloved full bottles, as when I go to the ballet, take an exam, or have an alumni interview. When I was still in high school I would put on perfumes during class, once I had a scrubber and had to wash it off with whiteboard cleaner.

    • Musette says:

      It is a ‘first world problem’ and a lovely one at that, isn’t it? It’s actually one of those ‘problems’ that makes me laugh out loud at the absurdity of life!

      I love that you washed the scrubber off with whiteboard cleaner! Bet that took care of the problem. I once used Windex!


  • Jan Last says:

    Compulsive here. I get in my samples, and enter them into a spread sheet which most of you have seen. Then, on a chilly, rainy day such as today, I pull up a note, yeah it’s clove or carnation on a day like today and figure out in a small amount of time what I’m wearing today. Today is CDG Stephen Jones. Weekends, I let the impulsive out and open the mini chest (an old silverware cabinet which will hold a lot of minis and decants) and grab one. I do have a nooooo! drawer in that chest, too.

    • NeenaJ says:

      The use of an old silverware cabinet is fabulous and I’m totally stealing it. Can’t wait to hit the flea market!

    • Mary says:

      I’m with you on the spreadsheet! I’ve invested a lot of $$ in my samples, and being obsessive is how I show them my respect!

  • alityke says:

    My rules are easy. 5 mls and over are used like full bottles. Liberally whenever I fancy wearing them. There are times when only old friends will do and like you I break out the No 5 but I’ve run out of vintage extrait so my go to is vintage EdC. However, this isn’t my comfort blanket. My comfort blanket is a combination of my pale pink cashmere tunic which smells of PG Tonkamande, even when it’s freshly laundered. The pillowy sweet almond vanilla danish smell of Tonkamande and the softly strokeable jumper provide a virtual hug to all the senses

    • Musette says:

      I’m with you on the edc when the parfum isn’t available. They smell the same to me (though in different strengths, of course) – it’s when you get into the edp that things go…….not bad…just awry (from the original formulation, imo). That sweater sounds delightful


  • Jackie b says:

    This question has made me stop and ponder…I tend to treat my samples like one night stands, wear for a minute with nothing to lose. Scrub, respray,
    But I expect more from the Chosen Ones, as I wear them to create a mood or emotion. Not that I ever take them for granted, as we respond to them differently on any given day. It’s so fun.

    Portia, what flag are you sporting?

    • Elia says:

      Portia is on a trip in India which has made many envious :).

      • Musette says:

        Saris, parathas, curries, more saris, samosas, attars, those fabulous jeweled slippers…and the beauty and vibrancy that is India…what’s not to envy!


  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    I hear you. Sometimes there’s too much choice. Especially after Scentsation and Europe earlier in the year, it is COMPLETELY OVERWHELMING! I am going back to Sydney to organise it all a bit and get some new loves.
    I hope the CER AY ZEE times calm down a bit for you and I think the Vintage CHANEL No 5 Extrait a perfect foil
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      Thank you, my darling! When I do get a breather, I will indulge my organizational mania by taking everything out of the armoire and cataloguing……..oh, who am I kidding? Do you know how many times I’ve tried to do that? LOL! But, at the very least, I will put the samples in their correct places!! xoxoxoA

  • Elia says:

    I mostly live off samples. I’m a bit addicted to the discovery procedure.
    I give samples their full life in wearing and use them whenever. I usually have 2-4 things on me during the day.
    If I go out then I’ll select a single fragrance in a full wear.
    If a sample has a spray then I’ve given it a full wear, on its own.

    When I’m indecisive I reach for a proven fragrance, something that might fit a current mood. Usually from a full bottle but could also be from a spray sample or decant.

    When I tire of discovery, I usually don’t wear any fragrance at all. Only deodorant.

    • ncmyers says:

      This sounds like my process. I love discovering the new stuff; it’s hard to commit to full bottles with all the lovely things to try. But it is nice to have a FB of something tried and true to reach for when I don’t feel adventurous.

  • Lisa D says:

    I test just about every perfume sample that crosses my threshold – if I get a sample pack, all limbs are pulled into play (for the extra real estate). After initial testing, if I find one that strikes my fancy, I’ll keep it close to hand for a few days, and wear it again. Otherwise, they all go into a box, basket, or bowl in my perfume cabinet. Occasionally, I’ll drag out the bowls and baskets, root through them, and have a sampler testing extravaganza (which, given the state of my memory these days, is often as fun as it was the first time round).

  • Tara says:

    I can relate, going through heavy stress here too and find that it makes me super sensitive to scents, so I need to wear my lighter less-challenging stuff in small doses. I shamefully neglect the samples and decants I have, I almost always reach for my full bottles, so unless gifted with them I have given up on buying decants. Too hard to store/find/remember to wear. The samples end up wasted, sitting in a shoe box, even ones I like, as most are those dabbers and I pretty much only spray.

    • Musette says:

      Here’s hoping for a cessation of the heavy stress for both of us! I still do the occasional decant, especially if it’s something exceptional – but those I treat as FBs, much like rosarita does. xoxoA

  • rosarita313 says:

    I treat decants of 5ml and up as bottles if it’s something I really like; 5ml can last a long time and decants usually satisfy my bottle craving. They have their own small tabletop cabinet. I try samples a couple of mornings a week when I’m at home. If I like it, it goes in a dish of samples I like and wear up. If not, it gets passed on as swaps or extras. Exceptions include samples I save for reference. Something that helps with the decision making: I generally plan outfits in advance, including jewelry and perfume and write it down if necessary; that helps me in times of stress to feel like I have a grip on something, anyway. We’re in your corner, MsA, hang in there.

    • Musette says:

      Babydoll, I love your approach! I tend to try to take care of a lot of basics like that, especially in times of stress. One of the strangest stress-relievers is..basic household chores. Running a load of laundry or vacuuming (especially if I make a list and then am able to cross it off). ……oh, yeah!


  • FeralJasmine says:

    I long to have enough samples and decants to have this problem! Nonetheless, I see your point. I find that I most enjoy trialing samples when I get home from work. Would never try something brand new when on the way to work, in case of a scent disaster, and at bedtime I want something that my husband and I will enjoy. Daytime on weekends is a good time too. But I also realize that there are times when stress levels are such that an unlikeable new perfume is like a punch in the nose. I’m having one of those times too, and I am so grateful that I don’t have to crank out reviews as you do. Hope things calm down for you, and we will all be pulling for you.

    • Musette says:

      It really is a privilege to be able to review so many gorgeous perfumes. But Life doesn’t always appreciate that. You all are always so generous and supportive – it really does mean a lot! xo

  • Janice says:

    I usually test drive samples on the weekends or at home after work—and often try them on a paper strip first so I can sort of gauge what I’m in for before I actually apply them to skin. I’ve had a few memorable days where I’ve put something on just before leaving the house for work and realizing, on the way there, that this just was not a good idea (and at least one episode in the bathroom at work scrubbing my wrist furiously with that pink liquid soap).

    When I’m really stressed I become completely indecisive and fall back on a few reliable, familiar scents—I wouldn’t call them bland, exactly, but maybe well-worn and predictable as to how I’ll feel about them a few hours in. (Although I have to say your list of reliable perfumes is classier than mine.) I don’t want to concentrate on “interesting” and “new” when I’m stressed out. That is a perfect description of a comfort scent: “it never does anything to make it worse.”

    I hope the craziness goes back to a manageable level for you very soon!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I’m loaded with all kinds of decants and samples. One bag of decants is the haven’t been reviewed yet. I’ve worn some but not all. My other bag of decants is the worn and reviewed. What I normally do is take a fistful of worn and reviewed and randomly pick out what I will wear for the next few days. I don’t try anything new right before bed. I wanna track it’s development to see if I like it or not and how long it lasts on my skin. I swear that most of the time, I really don’t pay much attention to my full bottles because I am trying to drain a lot of my 2ml or 3ml decants to create a little more space in my bag.