Satisfying a craving: Substitute scents

substitutesBack in the day when I was learning to cook, the bright red-orange Betty Crocker cookbook was a go-to volume. Its good recipe basics, some handy instruction on various cooking techniques and substitute tips suited me well. I must admit that I did better in the cooking portion of Home Ec than the sewing portion, but that’s not saying a whole lot. 🙂 Case in point: One morning as class started, I was sitting at my ninth-grade classroom sewing machine, rolling along, stitching a side seam on the cream muslin yoked blouse for which I had grand cross-stitch/embroidery plans. My teacher, Mrs. C., came up behind me, gently touched me on the shoulder and said (trying gamely to contain her mirth), “Ann, dear, your enthusiasm is admirable, but it helps to have a needle in the machine and a threaded bobbin.” So there you go. The spirit is willing but oh, the mind . . . Anyway, I’m sure she got a chuckle through the years remembering that girl zipping merrily along on her project with the empty Singer in front of her. Somehow I muddled through the class and beyond, but as I got older, if there was something I wanted from a pattern, I saved myself a lot of “Lucy” moments and got a professional to make it.

But back to the cookbook. There was a page in Betty Crocker that I thought was so handy. In fact, I made a copy of it and had it laminated. It was “Emergency Substitutes.” One example: Need 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch? Use 1 tablespoon of flour.

substitute 2 OK, OK, get to the fragrance point already, I can hear some of you saying. 🙂

Well, recently I was craving the polished, crisp, white-cotton shirt chic of Serge Lutens’ Bas de Soie and pulled out my little bit of it. Push, push, push went the sprayer but nothing came out. Oh, no, it can’t be empty already -– wahhhh! But then I started thinking creatively on how to scratch this particular fragrant itch and find a substitute, so into the perfume drawers I dove. When I surfaced, I was clutching my sample spray of Tom Ford’s Ombre Hyacinth. Not quite an exact match, but enough of what I was craving to hit the spot. Which, of course, got me thinking of other scents that could stand in as a substitute for something else.

I love Givenchy’s Ysatis but have also found Divine’s Divine edp to be close. Also, Annick Goutal’s Encens Flamboyant and Serge Lutens’ La Fille Anguilles smell somewhat similar on my skin, so if I can’t put my hands on one, I know I can satisfy my craving with the other. When I applied Donna Karan’s Iris a while back, I got the impression that it could be Gucci Envy’s little sister. A little more delicate, a little less intensely green, but definitely a sibling, and one that could get me through nicely if no Envy was close at hand. I know there are others that might work as a substitute, but I just can’t think of them at the moment.

So what fragrances do you have that can substitute for scents that happen to be out of stock or misplaced? If the jones strikes you for deep, dark roses, and you’re out of, say, Amouage Lyric Woman, to what do you turn?

42 Comments
Eloquaint July 5, 2014

If Fracas isn't available, I think Chinatown by Bond #9 is a good option. And I agree that Heure Exquise and Chanel 19 are very, very close. If you're out of YSL's Paris, try Serge Lutens' La Fille de Berlin.

kayliz July 3, 2014

Thanks, Ann, will do :)

kayliz July 2, 2014

Ann, I'm quite new to this and really don't have much of a clue. To my untutored nose there's a similar creaminess in the florality, and since this is what I loved about my Amouage Gold sample, I was delighted when I found it in Rive Gauche for a fraction of the price. I'd be really interested to hear if anyone else feels the same (more likely, I'll end up cringing in embarrassment if&when I get a proper education)!

kayliz July 2, 2014

Rive Gauche hits the Amouage Gold spot for me, and Annick Goutal Mandragore Pourpre is stilling the urge to splurge on Vero Profumo Kiki. I think I would have bought Dior Dolce Vita rather than Feminite du Bois if I'd discovered it first.

Lynley July 1, 2014

I find that the only perfumes that can cross over to cover the same ground are colognes and some ambers. Maybe that's why my collection is astoundingly large- each one covers a slightly different aspect. That said- old school chypres are all still in an unappreciated group of their own. They all kinda smell a bit the same to me :-0

Brooke July 1, 2014

How fun! I find that SL Daim Blond and Bottega Veneta scratch the same itch, Ferre and FM Iris Poudre are quite similar. Annick Goutal's L'Huere Exquise and Chanel 19 are swappable. The new Dior Cuir Cannage and Heeley's Cuir Pleine Fleur. MPG's Ambre Preceux and HdP Ambre 114 both satisfy. Finally, Majda Bekkali's Mon Nom est Rouge might be the thing to satisfy your Amouage craving.

jilliecat June 30, 2014

Ann, you and Rosarita have brought back awful memories of my "domestic science" teacher who took an (unaccountable!!!) dislike to me and made my life miserable. And the more she barked at me for my mistakes, the more mistakes I would make. She even told me off for not being able to thread a needle when I was having difficulties because I couldn't see properly. Then there was the time I dropped out of my shaking hands two huge jars of sugar that smashed into smithereens on the floor. But I got my revenge by becoming a reasonable cook and even catered professionally for a while. Oh, how some teachers can scar you!

rosarita June 30, 2014

Hi Ann - absolutely nothing is coming to mind; like Portia, I get distracted during the search. But I had to comment on your Home Ec experience, I can picture it! And at least your teacher was nice - mine was a horse faced horror who left me with a lifelong aversion to sewing anything besides buttons. Instead of hemming a pair of pants, I hemmed the same leg twice..... Yes, the cooking portion of class was much smoother ????

Farouche June 30, 2014

Lyric Woman has been on my buy list for years and I have only a tiny sample that is almost gone. I have found that Coup de Foudre, although not a dupe, satisfies my craving for a deep, rich rose.

Deb June 30, 2014

I'm currently trying to figure out workarounds for the lack of staying power in 4711 cologne. In other words, anyone have any great substitutions, even if they are a little more expensive? So far, Acqua di Parma comes pretty close.

Robert Matthews June 30, 2014

I stupidly didn't buy the limited-edition Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir at the duty-free in Gatwick in 2007 and regretted it for years. Then I discovered that Je Suis un Homme by Etat Libre d'Orange is basically the same exact thing. Oh joy!

shylotus June 30, 2014

I've noticed that if I can't put my hands on my decant of Amouage Lyric Woman, Caron's Parfum Sacre Intense (or vintage edp) will do the trick. Roses & Frankincense...

Portia June 30, 2014

Hey Ann, I've never done this. It's a great idea though. My spritzing is mostly by looking at my cupboard or in the latest sample pack that's arrived. When I really crave things I can usually find them, or get sidetracked in the search. Portia xx

jilliecat June 30, 2014

I can't afford Amouage Gold, but find that Madame Rochas or Hermes Caleche help satisfy the craving! Lagerfeld's Sun Moon Stars is a nice substitute (and slightly softer and cheaper) than CK's Eternity. Can't afford Malle's Le Parfum de Therese either, but Diorella almost replaces this.

eldarwen22 June 30, 2014

I have found a few reasonable alternatives to some of my collection: Mistouko can be a substitute for Chanel no 19 Deneuve can be a substitute fo Chanel no 19 Chanel no 22 can be a substitute for no 5 along with Aldehyde 44 Frapin 1270 is a substitute for Serge Lutens Daim Blonde But I haven't really found anything that really resembles Lyric though.

Jennifer Counts June 30, 2014

I don't know a direct substitute for Lyric Woman, but I have found several perfumes that I think bear resemblances to others: SL Douce Amere ~ Keiko Mecheri Paname Kerosene Pretty Machine ~ TokyoMilk Waltz (and Waltz is 1/4 of the price - but Pretty Machine wins the cool name contest) Etro Shaal Nur ~ Histoires de Parfums 1826 Chanel No.19 ~ Jacomo Silences Tom Ford Plum Japonaise ~ SL Feminite du Bois

lorraine June 30, 2014

I find Olympic Orchids Ballet Rouges to be a reasonable substitute for Amouage Lyric Woman. For me anyway :)

Jennie June 30, 2014

I can get a demi-L'Heure Bleue fix by reaching for the Oscar de la Renta Esprit d'Oscar.