Under the radar: Best go-to scents for summer

go-to scentsWhat do you turn to when you’re tired of exploring new scents or you’re just not up to scrambling to get a vial or split of the latest and greatest? What are your old faithful fragrances, your go-to scents that smell good, and even better, make you feel good in the summertime, without being temperamental or demanding?

Here are several of mine:

go-to scentsFrederic Fekkai — a soft orange blossom with eau de cologne overtones from a few years back; it came and went without much of a splash. Not sure if it’s still available, but if you see it at a good price, you probably won’t regret grabbing it. This is a good all-around performer, perfect for whatever you throw at it, from running errands to lunch with friends to dinner with your parents or significant other.

Prescriptives’ Calyx –- This is a lively, juicy, jump-for-the-sheer-joy-of-living fragrance if there ever was one. Its vibrant, fruity personality simply won’t stand for the blues. And if you put it on when you’re already happy, it might just make you positively buoyant. I never want to be without some of this in my perfume wardrobe.

Pikake — a sweet friend at work got her husband, a pilot, to bring back a little bottle of this from Hawaii for me to try. Not complicated, not fancy, not super long-lasting, just a nice scent. If I’m working around the house and want to wear a little something that’s not too “busy,” I’ve been known to slip on some. And this one’s roll-on bottle is just so cute and portable.

Also in that same vein — Kai. Although it has a big celebrity following and sometimes gets pooh-poohed by perfumistas, it’s still a great scent to wear in hot weather, or any time you need an instant tropical escape. Not to mention it’s a great comfort scent for me, as I wore the oil throughout my son’s long hospitalization several years ago and somehow it just made me feel soothed and calm.

What are your favorite go-to scents?


  1. My #1 has gotta be the vintage Cristalle edt! I also love Haute Claire from Aftelier (sample, can’t swing the fb..) And the cool minty Dirty by LUSH is a great afternoon pick-me-up–the solid can go anywhere.

    • All right — let’s hear it for Cristalle! I only have a sample of the vintage, so I tend to forget about it, but it’s such a lovely classic. Have not tried the others you mentioned, especially the solid perfume,but I love those. Thanks!

  2. No. 5, 4711, L’Ombre dans L’Eau, and O de Lancôme. Actually, No. 5 edt. is my superhero cape at any time of the year bit gets more play in the summer – it is just so darned good in the air conditioning.

    • Lovely choices all, Liz. I used to wear the Lancome by the gallonful when it first came out, so need to revisit. I just wish i could love the No. 5 edt. I’m only just now, after all these years, coming around a bit to 5 and that’s thanks to the Eau Premiere and the vintage No. 5 pure parfum. But it’s a start, right?

  3. Tocca Giulietta is a really good one for summer especially when it gets to be 90 degrees or better out. I don’t know of too many people who wear Chanel no. 19, probably because no. 5 is pushed. Deneuve can be great in the summer too.

    • So glad you mentioned the Tocca. I have heard nice things about that line and I really need to get on the stick and try all of them. Lucky you to be able to wear the Deneuve!

      • Tocca Bianca is really nice for the heat too – a light citrus tea-ish scent. Easy to find those at Sephora or Anthropologie if you have any of those nearby!

  4. Ann: When you wear Kai does it bring back bad memories or can you wear it without any negative vibes? Hoping you can wear happily these days.

    I can always count on With Love Hilary Duff, Escale a Portofino (but it doesn’t last long) and Pure (Donna Karan) just lightly sprayed. For some reason I haven’t worn Pure this year as much as in the past and don’t know why. Used to enjoy Creed’s Virgin Island Water but my youngest “borrowed” the bottle and it has never found its way back to the house. The past couple of summers I’ve also been reaching for Jasmine Summer (Soivohle).

    • Hi, Tiara! My son survived his near-drowning and recovered completely, which was such a blessing! So I’m fortunate in that Kai turned out to be a great comfort scent with a happy ending. Each time I wear it now I thank God for our little miracle boy (well, not so little anymore, he’ll be 13 next month). Oooh, I love the Escale a Portofino, too, and just happily re-spray when it starts to fade. That’s too funny about the Creed — maybe one day it will somehow find its way back home to you 🙂

  5. OK, I know I am going against the grain here and have probably said this before but…..
    L’Heure Bleue is amaaaazing in the heat!! The heat pulls out more layers and it just blooms in the heat.
    So this year, I have been playing with Jicky. And have discovered the same thing – heat and humidity lessne the lavendar and make this Jicky an even more amazing vanilla.
    Really, try them just once in the heat – you won’t be sorry 🙂

      • Thanks, ladies! Think I’ll try the LHB soon then. But no can do on the Jicky — last time I tried it, it smelled like stinky feet on me (no kidding) 🙂

  6. My go to scents are Prada Infusion d’Iris edp and Philosykos. I keep small decants of these in my purse for those rare occasions when I run out of the house without having sprayed something on. I turn to them when I’m tired of trying new things and I just want to wear something reliably good.

    • Those sound perfect, Suzy Q. It is so nice to have lovely favorites that you can take with you and you know they’ll always work well.

    • I love Infusion D’Iris in the summertime! It’s so womanly and complex and the heat just makes it more so. One of my very favorites!

  7. My favourite scents for summer are simple scents – MOR Italian Blood Orange, Calvin Klein Crave and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Cherry Blossom.

    • In theheat of summer, the simpler the better I say. That blood orange scent sounds interesting, too.

  8. Heya anne,
    Calyx is one of the frags that perfumistas often write and talk about but I just didn’t get it.
    I love Silences, Gentiane Blanche, #19 parfum and Nikki de Saint Phalle EdT for green warm weather. Don’t forget the Ava Luxe Tubereuse Diabolique, Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges or SOIVOHLE Tropic Lime Vanille too.
    Portia xx

    • Howdy, Portia! Not to worry on the Calyx; think it really is a love it or hate it kind of scent. Need to wear Silences this summer. And thanks so much for the suggesting the Nikki — wouldn’t have thought of that but it might be just right!

  9. Byredo La Tulipe is such a cheerful, easy-to-wear scent. I find myself reaching for it over and over. Nanadebary Pink is surprisingly very much a comfort scent to me. It and Jus d’Amour are two of the most easily tolerated with allergies. Annick Goutal Neroli and Des Lys are always good fallbacks, gotta love soliflores in the summer. Des Lys is a soft, powdery lily when you don’t want a demanding white floral. I saw it on sale half off a few years ago (I had a FB then so I passed it over). Wish I would have bought several now that they’ve discontinued Des Lys! Etro Heliotrope is another great summer comfort scent.

    • I am right there with you on the La Tulipe, dear Sherri! If I could afford it, I’d buy a gallon of it. Like your other choices, too, but am drawing a blank — from what line is the Des Lys?

  10. It’s a little hard for me to conjure summer in this cold rain, so I had to peek through my collection to remember!
    My summer go-to’s, especially in the I’m-too-hot n bothered-to-decide times, include a heap of Hermes- terre, voyage and the 1st 3 jardins, Du 68, L’occitane verbena, and Odalisque. If I were rich, it would also include A Taste of Heaven by Kilian 🙂

    • Sorry to bring up summer when so many of you are in winter mode. But it’s something to look forward to, right? Great choices; I’m particularly fond of Odalisque.

  11. My summer go-to scents include: Escale a Portofino, Miller et Bertaux No. 3 Green x4, Kai perfume oil, L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse, Guerlain Cologne du 68, Vetiver pour elle, Cristalle eau Verte, and Cartier Declaration. New ones this summer include: Lacoste pour Femme, MMM untitled, and Hermes L’Ambre Des Merveilles. Today I’m wearing SL Clair de Musc. My iris scents like 28 La Pausa and Infusion d’Iris get used in the summer, but really they are year-round scents for me. Same with No. 19 and the other galbanum beauties.

    • Yay — another Kai and Portofino fan! Plus Cristalle, which I should have put on my list. And also MMM Untitled –that is a kissing cousin to Cristalle, I think. Love ’em!

  12. My go-to summer scents all tend to be pretty light, but either quite floral or aldehydic, and sometimes both: Hanae Mori Haute Couture (aldehydes, fruit, jasmine), the first Ines de la Fressange (aldehydes again, peach, rose, jasmine, sandalwood), Guerlain Vega or Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere, Moschino Funny! (grapefruit, rose, tea), PdR Rose d’Ete (apple and rose). Or Silences, I love that in the summer. It’s like air conditioning – not just that blast of galbanum, but the rose and iris and moss… sigh.

    Another one I love in the summer is DSH La Fete Nouvelle, which is the only scent I’ve ever found to smell of hay drying in the sun.

    • Hi, Mals! It’s so funny that you mentioned the Ines — I got a bit from a sweet perfume pal and it really is lovely. I must give my Silences sample a whirl in the heat; it makes sense that it would be good. And I need to try Funny since you and someone else I know love it so. Thanks!

      • I just mentioned Funny below before scrolling back up to see what others named. I second that emotion!

        • Wow — another Funny fan! I really have got to try this now. 🙂

  13. Kai, BBW Coconut Lime Breeze and Bronze Goddess when I need a tropical vibe. Chantilly (esp. the powder) when I want to feel “pretty” in the humidity of a Mid-South summer (EL Beautiful is just a little TOO much). But lately it’s been Jean Nate–the lotion, cologne and powder do more for cooling comfort than any of the Bath and Body Works body mists, even refrigerated.

    • Hooray for a tropical vibe, Sharon! Jean Nate — oh, wow, that is a great heat-buster. I’ve got to get my hands on some of that splash and stow it in the fridge. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  14. I tend to go greener in the summer, so I like No.19 and Niki de Saint Phalle. Timbuktu and CdG Kyoto are also nice for summer. I’ve also been wearing Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau lately.

    • Jennifer, you’re the second person to recommend the Nikki, so I’ll be trying it ASAP. I agree — green is definitely the way to go. Now I’m wishing I had some vintage Aliage from EL.

  15. It seems I am all about the green in summer: No. 19, Nikki de Sainte Phalle, Silences, Coriandre, Eau Parfumée Au The Vert, Prada Infusion de Vetiver, and strangely enough Agent Provocateur ( which is all green, all the time, on me).

    • You are in good company with the Nikki, Silences, etc. Green is great for keeping cool. That’s funny that AP is green on you, but that’s pretty nice.

  16. I love Frederic Fekkai and no one ever talks about it! It feels like an insider secret. I think I got my bottle for all of $5 (unsniffed) at Marshall’s. It’s great in the heat. I also really the warm, smoldering quality of NR for Her when it’s hot out. And grapefruit (Moschino Funny or my new love PdN L’Eau Mixte)

    • Hi, lady! So glad to find someone else who knows and likes it. Not sure what happened with it — it didn’t seem to get a whole lot of press or promotion. As I mentioned above, must try the Funny, and also the Mixte, now that you mention it. Thanks!

  17. I usually like citrus based fragrances but this year I cannot get enough of Atelier Vanilla Incensee! I know it doesn’t have incense in it but it smells like it to me (maybe the wood accords). It rocks in the heat and humidity. You can try to pry it from my warm sweaty hands but you might get hurt. Seriously.

    • OK, Bridget — we’ll just back away from the Vanille Incensee and no one gets hurt! 🙂 That is a nice one – the wood and vanilla are in perfect tandem. I’ve got to go dig up my sample now, ha! Enjoy!!

  18. I have been experimenting a lot in this heat and humidity and have been surprised by a few of my choices that have worked well though. SSS Jour Ensoleille has been really nice in the heat. I have also been reaching for O de Lancôme, Ineke’s Gilded Lily and Chemical Bonding, and, my non-perfumista choice, Kate Spade Twirl. It is fresh and light, somewhat fruity, and wears well in the heat. All these mentions of Calyx remind me that I loved it once upon a time. Need to find my bottle. 🙂


  19. The heat and humidity in the NY-Metro area are so montstrous I can’t even think about my favorite orientals. So lately I’ve been cooling off with some citrus (AG Neroli, Lime Basil Mandarin), gentle florals (24 Faubourg, Aimez-Moi, Blue Grass, Pur Desir de Lilas), and fizzy aldehydes (White Linen, Chanel No. 5).

    • yes, this week especially is out of control

      I’ve been loving my Eau MiXte during the day and Baghari at night (I mean like going to bed time)

  20. Awhile back, I landed on a pre-2009 bottle of Moschino Uomo? cheap at TJMaxx- a blind buy- and its become my equivalent of these go-to scents- citrusy top, spicy-herbal heart, and a musky, long-lasting base. It’s simple, comforting, cozy, and when I’m not doing anything spectacular besides existing, I can just spray it on at the beginning of the day, forget about it, and re-discover it still clinging to me like a hug when I lie down to rest.

  21. Guerlain’s Herba Fresca was a nice surprise, the mint is not half as strong in summer. It’s floral and herbaceous
    and elegant.

  22. Here’s that post I was looking for! I’ve been wearing Child (which is a lot like Kai and similarly dissed) and it’s so pretty. Nuthin’ complex, just really nice and summery. About pikake; one of my scent-memories from college is this custom-oil blending bar downtown (very pretentious but fun, they presented everything by wafting it in front of you on a glass dipper) and pikake was one of their staples. I can still smell it in my mind, and that makes me smile.

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