Under the radar: Best go-to scents for late fall and winter

OK, let’s face it. Autumn is full-on, winter won’t be far behind and the holiday crush will be here before we know it, and 101 (or more) things will be vying for our every waking minute. So reach for your old faithful fragrances, your go-to scents that smell good, and even better, make you feel good this time or year, without being fussy or demanding.

What’s that scent you grab without a second thought, when you’re tired of exploring new scents or you’re just not up to getting a vial or split of the latest thing? Especially on those hectic days when there seems to be little to no time to thoroughly test something new.

EBP 2 go-to-scents 3No surprise that I tend to opt for cozy and snuggly, as many of you here in the Northern Hemisphere do this time of year. My favorite go-to fragrances for fall and winter include the angora-soft warmth of Costes 2, the slightly sexy and mysterious Byredo’s Gypsy Water (waves to Portia who had a fabulous review of it last month), L’Artisan’s sadly discontinued Tea for Two, and as I’ve mentioned before, Tom Ford’s Shanghai Lily: a versatile beauty that I’m finding works well in almost any situation.

For great date night go-to scents, I can’t go wrong with Chanel’s Coromandel or the original Coco. They are so gorgeously dependable and have a bit more va-va-room to them. I know I will feel wonderful wearing either one, although I do try to apply these with a lighter touch.

And a bonus: Any lingering traces of the above scents just before bedtime can’t help but bring sweet dreams.

What are your favorite standbys, your most reached for go-to scents? I know you all will mention some great ones that I forgot, and also will have some new ones for us to try.

  • CarolynC says:

    Tend to reach for spice/smoke/incense this time of year…I’ve been wafting Bond Silver Factory, Theorema, Tea for Two, and Chergui recently.

    • Ann says:

      Yum, Carolyn — you smell wonderful! I love all of those myself and they are just perfect in cool weather. Enjoy all those lovelies!

  • Johnnie says:

    Hey Ann

    This just amazing. Today I decided to give a try for myself. I put on a tiny amount of Yves St. Laurent Opium because I like the name and I had a dental appointment followed by a car appointment. My dental tech said, if you don’t mind me saying, whatever you have on smells really nice. I told her what it was, and she said, why not as long as you like it. I agree, it is really intoxicating. So cool.

    • Ann says:

      Yay, Johnnie — so glad you found something else to love! And it’s doubly nice when someone compliments you. Opium is a show-stopper of a scent. Have fun exploring the great world of fragrance.

  • malsnano86 says:

    It’s getting chillier here in the mountains of Virginia – I’ve been wearing Parfum Sacre a good bit in this weather, as well as Memoir Woman and Black Cashmere. Tabac Aurea is another fall favorite, and Organza Indecence (sadly, i have misplaced my decant and must find it!). Shalimar Light and vintage Emeraude (which share some DNA, definitely) are a couple more I love for chilly weather, and I need to get my beloved Alahine out soon too.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Mals! Oh, dear, must find that OI decant. You listed some nice scents there, especially BC and Memoir Woman. That reminds me that I need to get a bit more of the Memoir. And I remember what a big Alahine fan you are. Enjoy!

  • Dina C. says:

    Ann, Here’s my better late than never comment on your post. I’m gonna sound like a copycat because I love a lot of the same scents that everyone else does. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons, so I have an embarrassment of riches during this time. I’ve been reaching for: LouLou, Bois des Iles, Sycomore, Cuir de Russie, L’Ambre des Merveilles, Mitsouko, Bulgari Red Tea, Bottega Veneta, and Premier Figuier Extreme. I’ve also thrown a couple of lighter year-round things into the mix like No. 19 edp, and Paestum Rose. Our weather is still very changeable around here, so I go with the flow. 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Dina! Always glad to see you whenever you get a minute to comment. You have great taste and are in good company with your faves. I know what you mean about having a few lighter ones to fall back on; you never know what the crazy weather is going to do.

  • Catherine says:

    In cold weather, some of my favorites are: TF Tabacco Vanille and Santal Blush, Diptyque 34 St. Germain, Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain, Serge Lutens Santal Majascule and Jeux de Peau, HdP Ambre 114, and L’Occitane Labdanum. Actually, I haven’t worn Tea for Two in quite a while too and I think that needs to be rectified ASAP. 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Catherine! That’s a great lineup you have there. Do dig up your T42 and enjoy it — I’ve pulled mine out and am ready to indulge, too.

  • Sherri says:

    SDV has been getting alot of wear lately. It appeals to everyone and is great in the cooler weather. Mancera Roses Vanille is the other one I’m cray cray for. I think it’s my favorite purchase of 2013–gets lots of compliments, too!

    • Ann says:

      Hey, sweet Sherri — that SDV is so yummy I’m tempted to tip my sample up and drink it (right along with my Tihota vial) 🙂
      I think you’ve mentioned the Mancera before — sounds lovely! And if it’s your 2013 fave, well, that’s saying a LOT!

  • Chergui has been a fall go-to for me, though I found that it worked better than I expected in heat too. Others this fall are Dune and Rossy de Palma. I also just got a sample of HdP 1740 Marquis de Sade from a very kind perfume fairy, and I’m loving it.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Jennifer! Glad to see Chergui getting some love on here today. And Dune — oh, my! Loved that one back in the day; now I have to run upstairs and dig out my sample.

  • Gwen says:

    A fabulous fairy godmother just sent me some vintage Lucien Lelong “Indiscret” and I think I’m in love. It reminds me of Guerlain Vol de Nuit warmed up with cloves. I can’t stop snorfeling myself!

    • Ann says:

      Gotta love those fabulous fairy godmothers — they are great, aren’t they? That Lelong scent sounds wonderful; cloves, you say? Wow! I’ve only tried the Lelong Pour Femme and it was beautiful, not a far cry from Vacances.

  • Mary P. says:

    So many great fragrances being mentioned here! My list, my list, my ever growing list!…..

  • Liz K says:

    No. 5 and Bvlgari Red Tea (both worn year round), Mitsouko, Love and Tears, Aromatics Elixir, Stella, Kyoto, and Avignon. It is still warm-ish here (ok, yesterday was frickin’ hot. 89* F is a bit much even for here) so I have to keep cozy scents pretty light.
    I have also been wearing the heck out of Vanilla Insensee since I have a tiny splash bottle in my purse and it is the most inoffensive scent ever.
    I think I need to go on a sample binge again as I am finding myself praising the same bunch over and over.

    • Ann says:

      Bless your heart, Liz — I bet you can’t wait for some cooler temps. I’ve had to do the same thing, though, and keep a few lighter ones close at hand for our see-saw weather. Glad you’re enjoying the Vanille Insensee; I’m a fan, too.

  • Elizabeth Watson says:

    Oh, another fan of Tea for Two! I love that one also; scored a big bottle of it recently. Take note, swappers, at swap time! 😉

    • Ann says:

      Yay — yet another fan of T42! And lucky you, Elizabeth, to have gotten a honkin’ big bottle of it — love it!

  • mim says:

    My go-tos this fall:
    Tea for Two also, KM Genie des Bois, lots of ambers like Ambre Sultan and L’Ombre Fauve, Bois Blond, OJ Woman, Safran Troublant, Botrytis, Parfum Sacre, LDDM, Caron Pour Homme.
    Actually these are my year-round go to comfortable scents. They’re very me and easy to wear.

    • Ann says:

      Great list there, Mim! It’s so nice to have a wardrobe of scents that really work for you and fit you so well. I must go put on my Tea for Two and also dig up my little bit of Safran Troublant, that one is so good but is a bit of a sleeper for me, so thanks for the scentful reminder of it!

  • Elizabeth Watson says:

    For this time in New England, when the leaves are (mostly) off the trees but no snow yet: DK Black Cashmere, vintage Samsara, Indult Isvaraya (sp?), CB Patchouli Empire, Magie Noire–any of these. 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Elizabeth, I’m nodding my head, “yes, yes!” as I read your choices. Can’t wait until it’s cold enough here to pull out the BC, Samsara and another deep, rich one I’ve just rediscovered: Chopard Casmir. Enjoy!

      • FeralJasmine says:

        Black Cashmere was the scent that turned me into a perfumista, and I LOVE Casmir in cold weather. Right now our afternoons are still too warm for it, but by mid-December it will be a regular in my rotation.

        • Ann says:

          I love that BC was your gateway drug into the perfume rabbit hole! I’m hoping to be able to wear those scents by December as well. We’re having a bit of a warm spell, so the heavy-hitters are on the back row for a while.

  • AnnieA says:

    Cuir de Lancôme never fails in the cooler months, and no matter how rough a day it is EL jasmine White Moss will rise above it.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Annie — so glad you mentioned the Lancome. That was one of the first scents that helped me to appreciate leather. Now you’ve got my mouth watering to try some of the EL; it’s been waaay too long since I wore it and it’s a beauty.

  • Elia says:

    When I don’t want to think I reach for Blue Sugar by Aquolina. It’s sweet and comforting and works well in most situations. I’ve mentioned Chergui for a travelling scent in another post, and it could be another to wear more often blindly, although not as easy a wear. In warmer weather I used to reach for Oscar for Men often, because a blast of herbs is refreshing. And though I’ve not yet purchased more than a sample of Rose 31, it is one of the very few samples I have burned through, because it fits me well, and it feels special, every time.

    • Ann says:

      I love Chergui as well. Not familiar with the other scents you mentioned but keep hearing about the Rose 31. Maybe you could splurge this season and get yourself a nice decant of it as it sounds divine on you.

      • Elia says:

        I believe I was ready to get the official travel spray a few months ago and they don’t ship to me if I remember correctly… yes Rose 31 is a top 5 scent and wish list item.
        I could provide a sample of Oscar and Blue Sugar if you cared to try them. eliared a][ zoho do][ {om

        • Ann says:

          Oh, thank you, Elia, that is so nice of you! BTW, do Surrender to Chance or any of the other decanting sites ship to Cyprus? If so, at least you could get a nice decant that way.

          • Elia says:

            They do. I have a stc decant handy, and quite a few tpc samples. Of course shipping with little cheaper items is always a factor and lately customs have been keen to stop anything and anything to charge. A 30% surcharge is a game changer.

          • Elia says:

            *anything and everything

          • Ann says:

            Oh, what a bummer — sorry to hear this. Let’s hope with the holiday crush of packages they’ll be too busy to do too much of this.

  • Audrey says:

    By night. Not by bight….

  • Audrey says:

    I second Roma Imperiale…..it gets sprayed on my scarves regularly. I also reach for their By Bight: White, Le Labo Gaiac 10 (day) or Vanille 44 (night), MDCI Amber Topkapi, and Chanel Eau Premiere or Rue Cambon. Also, Le Labo Jasmin in the summer!!

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Audrey! Another Roma fan — guess this means I’d better get off my duff and get a sample pronto! 🙂 Love so many of your choices, especially the Gaiac and the Vanille 44, two of my faves. Must try Le Labo’s Jasmin though; I somehow missed that one on my jasmine kick this summer. Thanks!

  • Johnnie says:

    I just recieved my first 10 samplers from Surrender to Chance and opened Black Cashmere, this is great fun and I am a married male. So I don’t have a go-to scent, however the thought just occured to me that these would make such great stocking stuffers for my daughter and many others. A crazy fiction book called Perfume got me started on this hobby.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, and welcome! Black Cashmere is lovely, isn’t it? Hope you will enjoy all your samples and several that you love enough to get more of. They do make nice stocking stuffers, especially for those just dipping their toes into the perfume world. I need to read that book — thanks for the reminder.

  • rickyrebarco says:

    I go for my comfort scents, the ambers and spices. Lutens’ Chergui, Lutens Ambre Sultan and the wonderful MPG Ambre Precieiuse. Also my fave fall Chanels, Sycomore, Coco Noir and Bois des Isles. Like a warm spicy blanket! And can you believe I just discovered Organza Indecence? It’s the perfect fall scent.

    • Ann says:

      Those are some great warmer-upper scents. I need to revisit my sample of MPG though; haven’t worn it in ages. So glad you’re now an OI fan — welcome to the club!

  • Lynley says:

    Hi Ann! Hi all! My cool weather go to scents include Organza Indecence (its summer here now but i got a fb of the re-issue a few months ago and am missing it already now that its so hot!!), Hermes Ambre des Merveilles, Cuir d’Lancome, Chergui, and Amber Orient. I love MdO Vanille and would apply lavishly if i had a fb… Special occasions call for Lyric or Epic. And, strangely enough, I find that I wear Odalisque more in cool weather.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Lynley! Yay — another OI fan! It’s one of the best gourmands out there. Thanks for the reminder; I’m going to pull it out for later this week when the temps drop. I like all your other choices as well and have a very soft spot for Odalisque; it’s such a beauty. What are you wearing these days in the heat?

      • Lynley says:

        Each year I seem to have different favourites, and I find that this year I’ve been reaching for Caron Eau de Reglisse, Bvlgari Thé Blanc, Songes, Nasomatto Absinth, and Roma Imperiale by Profumi del Forte. I’m sure I harp on about it but it’s just the classiest combination of warm and cool and almost always seems perfect. Today is L’air ddm, this morn I sampled Tendre est la Nuit by Madja Bekkali and unfortunately it’s one of those love at first sniff affairs… oh my fickle heart 😉

        • Ann says:

          That’s a nice lineup you have there, Lynley. Now you’ve made me want to try the Roma Imperiale and the Tendre, so you’re helping to spread the love. 🙂 My poor fickle heart likes so many things that I practically give up on owning a FB of anything, ha!

          • Lynley says:

            Yes, I know, I have a problem 😉 I have so many scents I love in coffrets or decants but I find that I hoard them rather than use them. Silly I know, and I know there’s a chance they’ll turn if I don’t use them but I still find I reach for the big bottles :-/
            The RI is kind of fresh green and sunwarmed rock and slightly floral, and the Tendre is incense woods and spice. Lovely. And you’ll are such generous enablers it’s only fair I return the favor 🙂

          • Ann says:

            Oh, Lynley, you’re in good company here on the Posse! I have hoarding tendencies also (oddly enough, that may be why I rarely can commit to a FB because I know I’ll hesitate to use it). But I’m trying to get better, by telling myself, “Life is short — indulge yourself.”

    • Mary P. says:

      I love Organza Indecence as well, it’s another perfect fragrance for this time of the year.

  • Portia says:

    Hey there Ann,
    Neela Vermeire’s Mohur and Liberte by Cacharel have been seeing quite a bit of action in our weird spring weather in Sydney. It’s wet and cold now.
    Great post,
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Portia, and thanks! Mmmm to the Mohur — that is so nice, isn’t it? I surprised myself by liking it so much, not being a huge rose fangirl. It sure sounds like the perfect antidote to a damp, chilly spring though. And I hear there’s an extrait coming out, which you may have already tried. Hope you have a great week!

    • Martha says:

      I LOVE Mohur. All you Mohur wearing Australians smell fabulous!

  • Jackie b says:

    I find myself reaching for Bottega Veneta when I can’t be bothered analysing how I feel. I have already bought the larger size. It is spring here but the scent is dry enough to work.
    I am seconding Epic, lotion and spray which is my date night perfume, but Trayee seems to be popular too, must try it!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Jackie! I agree — BV is the perfect scent to grab and go. I have only tried the Epic body cream but need to try the actual juice. Do give Trayee a whirl; it’s a beautiful and interesting scent.

  • Caroline says:

    hmm, must investigate Costes 2. I’ve got a bit of perfume ennui: yesterday I wore Tubereuse Criminelle (a small spritz!), and it wound up getting on my nerves, which hasn’t happened before. Much as I adore the fall, it seems to be a challenging scent season. Is Ms Musette ok? There were some wicked tornadoes in her neck of the woods today.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Caroline! Do try the Costes 2; it’s subtle and un-showy, but just right on a cool, fall evening (at least on me). Sorry to hear about your issue with TC, although I know it can be a demanding scent at times. And it’s a wonder anything works with our crazy up-and-down weather this fall. I have e-mailed Ms. Anita but not yet heard back; the closest tornado to her looked like it was an hour or two away from her, so I’m thinking she’s fine. And hope you are OK; no tornado issues there, I hope?

      • Caroline says:

        it looked like Armageddon for awhile earlier today, but no tornadoes here, thank goodness. Apparently it was a Big Deal that the Bears game got delayed! We’d raked up about 10 big bags of leaves on Fri–hope they’re not completely disintegrated. Our town uses recyclable paper leaf bags–in another suburb, you rake/blow them to the curb and a city vacuum vehicle comes along & hoovers them up–kinda wish we had that. Not that it would have mattered if there had been a tornado…

  • Ncmyers says:

    Just got a decant of By Killian’s Rose Oud and it’s all I want to wear! Starts off sorta musty but then it turns sweet and rich but also sheer. And the contrast makes it that much more delightful. Always appropriate too! Calice Becker does it again.

    • Ann says:

      So glad you are loving the Rose Oud! So is a FB in your future? 🙂 I can’t recall if I’ve sniffed it or not, but your lovely description of it really makes me want to try it. I agree — Ms. Becker has a knack for creating great scents. Enjoy!

    • malsnano86 says:

      Rose Oud is smooth as silk. It’s a lovely sheer rose-woody-vanilla, and I feel decadent when I use my hoarded spray samples.

  • FeralJasmine says:

    Hi dear Ann, I am loving my ambers and spices right now. First, I would wear all Trayee all the time if I could afford to. It is rich and complex and luscious and even my perfume-phobic work buddies like it. But it has to be reserved for special treats, and my constantly grabbed fragrances right now are Mona’s Vanille and an Arabian fragrance called Kalemat, a light but wonderfully vanillic spiced amber. There was a review of it on A Kafkaesque Life that induced a bunch of us to buy it, and it is much lighter than I expected but is a lovely thing indeed, perfectly suited to my mood and the cool weather.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, sweetie — I am right there with you on the Trayee! LIke you, I parse it out only on certain occasions, hoping to make it last. That Mona is lovely, isn’t it, and a refreshingly different take on vanilla. Kalemat sounds nice and i like that it is surprisingly light; some days that sounds just right.

    • Mary P. says:

      I love Trayee and that Kalemat sounds interesting as well!

    • Martha says:

      I adore Trayee, and I am in love with MdO Vanille. They are perfect for cool/cold weather when you want something substantial, rich, and warm.

      • Ann says:

        Hi, Martha! So glad you are enjoying the MdO vanilla, and great to see another Trayee fan! What do you think of her Ashoka?

        • Martha says:

          I am going to give the Ashoka my full attention tomorrow since it is a day off work for me. 🙂 When I sampled it briefly the other day, I was reminded of Diorissimo! The three Neela Vermeire perfumes that I’ve had the pleasure to sample have been beautiful and I would be very happy to own a FB of any one of them. Since the first spray of MdO Vanille, I’ve been a little obsessed with it. Who knew I’d be wild about vanilla.

          • Ann says:

            Hope you enjoy it! That’s interesting that it brought to mind Diorissimo — very cool! And I’m glad you’re loving the MdO vanilla; it’s got quite a fan club among perfumistas.

      • FeralJasmine says:

        I am hoping for Trayee to rain down from the sky. There is nothing quite like it, and I have to have a full bottle somehow.

        • Ann says:

          I like that idea, dear! And then when the Trayee shower is done, Mohur and Bombay Bling can start falling (not at the same time, of course) 🙂

  • Foxbins says:

    My “what to grab without thinking” scent in cooler weather is always Bois des Iles. Coming in second is Carner Barcelona D600, followed by Teo Cabanel’s Alahine. I seem to crave the spicier warmth of woods, vanilla, or amber in the fall.

    I will have to try Shanghai Lily as well–it sounds lovely!

    • spiker says:

      I have to second your Bois des Iles recommendation Foxbins – really my favorite go to. My preference if I’ve been overusing BdI is Five O’Clock au Gingembre by Serge Lutens. I find it very comforting on a grey day.

    • Ann says:

      I had forgotten about BdI — see, I knew you all would list some other lovelies that I had forgotten. I have a little sample vial of the BdI extrait that I need to go and enjoy this season. Thanks! BTW, can’t believe I have not tried the Five O’Clock — must remedy that soon.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    This time of year, I can’t stop wearing Amouage Epic or Lyric, Cuir de Russie or Mitsouko this time of year. Right now, I”m gunning for Amazon gift cards to get the Amouage bath stuff. I got 15ml of the Gold, Epic, and Reflection body creams. Holy crap, not only do they smell fabulous, they are great on my dry ass skin.

    • Ann says:

      Oooh — lucky you! Those Amouage body creams are fabulous (a sweet perfume pal sent me samples of several but I have yet to try the Gold). For those of us who are a little shy of going whole hog with the juice, they are such a nice option.

  • Mary P. says:

    You have named four of my favorites – Costes 2, Coco, Coromandel and Sahara Noir. I’ve not tried MdO’s Ambre, but it it’s as good as her vanilla I’m sure I’d love that too! One of my favorite amber’s is Laboratorio Olfattivo Alambar, so luscious……

    • Ann says:

      Yay — another Costes 2 fan (as well as all the others)! If you liked the MdO vanilla I feel sure you’ll enjoy her amber; but do try a sample first to see what you think. Yum — that Alambar does sound nice — does it resemble any other ambers out there, for comparison’s sake?

      • Mary P. says:

        I don’t know of one that is that similar. There are a couple that have similar notes but I’ve not tried them yet….. I was at first thinking – and have tried – Anne Pliska, but no, she has too much musk and patchouli? But it’s got the same sort of depth and warmth as AP. It’s not light, but it’s not overbearing either. It’s just warm, cozy, delicious – it has some light gourmand spiciness, vanilla and cacao. Oh, and I have put the MdO Ambre on my wish list 🙂

        • Ann says:

          Mary, you had me at “warm, cozy, delicious” — sounds like a great scent. And I like the AP too, so if the Alambar has a similar character, it must be good. Thanks!

  • wefadetogray says:

    I am reaching for Kenzo L’Elephant, Tonkamande (PG), Sahara Noir (TF) and MdO’s Ambre non stop, day or night. I dont think I have date or night scents.
    I need to try Shanghai Lily; you make it sound so delicious and tempting.

    • Ann says:

      Mmmm … you list some nice scents there, although I don’t think I’ve ever tried the Tonkamande. Do give the Shanghai Lily a go with a sample and see what you think and let us know. I am on my second sample and am considering a decant.

      • wefadetogray says:

        Tonkamande is a gorgeous thing! On me its a mix of L’oiseau de nuit’s sweetness with that gorgeous creaminess of Indochine. Two of my favorite PG’s in one! Granted I am a PG fan and have yet to find something I dont like. I dont adore Aomassai :/