This N That: The Overappliers

nuclearOkay, so I’m being lazy. I was going to review a new scent this week, but I found after wearing it for a week I could find nothing I could say that was nice about it. It was a powdery leather that was simply awful on me. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t go out of my way to trash things I just don’t like, I really have to be provoked, so no, I will not name the scent. Because it was well made and I am sure that there are many people out there that would love a well made powdery leather.

Just not me.

I think that sometimes the root of people being averse to perfume is that some people over apply in a way that borders on criminal. In my last office job during period close some days I would have to stay as late as midnight, and there was a very nice lady that came to clean who apparently either had burned out her sense of smell front the cleaning products she uses or feels she can drown them out by such a liberal application of whatever it is she’s wearing. It was like saying “good evening, how are you?” to a tear-gas attack.

One of my oldest and dearest friends is one- I can remember being in the Agent Provocateur store when they had a new scent out and the clerk mentioned that she liked the original better. My friend agreed, and proceeded to give about 53 pumps on it onto her ample poitrine. I swear her shoes must have been soaked. Instant migraine. She wanted to go get dessert; I wanted to get treatment for anaphylactic shock.

It’s not just the heavy hitters that can kill- I think I’d previously written about the (now thankfully ex) husband of a BFF to whom I gifted a lifetime-commitment sized bottle of Guerlain Vetiver that I had picked up on Broadway in DTLA. A splash bottle mind you, and strategically purchased to keep him from filching large quantities of her then Paris only Lutens. When Christmas came around she called me begging to get him a movie gift certificate, a bottle of scotch, a bus ticket, ANYTHING but cologne, because he had managed more that once to wake her from a deep sleep from his bathing in Vetiver.

Yes Vetiver.

I have a neighbor who run a store on Melrose. He wears Issey Miyaki. You might be saying to yourself that it’s impossible to stink-bomb the lobby of a building with it. It is not. Lobby and stairwell . For hours..

Please share your stories of over-appliers in the comments.

Photo: Wikipedia

  • malsnano86 says:

    Female dorm halls in the mid- to late-80s were a veritable gauntlet of oversprayed Poison, and sometimes Giorgio. GAH. You’d practically choke just walking through.

    That said, it was the late 70s when I got literally gassed out of a movie theater by a lady who was clearly on a date with her husband, and she’d bathed in Opium for the occasion. And then there were the church ladies who had similarly applied their Youth Dew before Sunday services. (I understand the Tabu diatribe – Tabu and Opium and Youth Dew and Obsession, I still can’t stand them, and they tend to be big powerhouses that you can’t just ignore.)

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    Late to the party, but here goes: I used to work for a man who must have used a full bottle of Old Spice every week! The smell of it would come at me in gusts whenever he spoke. His wife wore Youth Dew–a lot of it. I could always tell when she entered the building–long before one could see her. They were both heavy smokers. The missus would always refuse to have roses anywhere near her, claiming allergic reaction to the scent. (Florist roses almost never have a scent nowadays.) The both of them would hang those wearable air cleaners around their necks whenever they flew anywhere.

  • Diana says:

    I had a friend in the 90’s who used to bathe in Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir (or was it Prescriptives?). She didn’t have a car so I drove whenever we went anywhere and my car ended up smelling like her for days afterwards, which felt like an invasion of my space. When I bought a new car, I put a big beach towel on the passenger seat so that I could pull it up and wash it the next day.

  • Amanda P says:

    Omg “tear gas attack” I died , my ex was the worst over applier! Thanks for the read 🙂

  • Sapphire says:

    Haven’t had too much exposure to over-appliers recently. I used to have a patient who was pretty liberal with her Angel, but I learned to live with it. I am really wondering what leather fragrance you didn’t review. C’mon, Tom, you can at least tell us the name.

  • flowergirlbee! says:

    my mum used to gas out the car with tons of 4711….i would love to see an post about which juice you need to be respectful of and start with minimal sprayage …would save us newbies many a bad time!!

    • Ingeborg says:

      I would say you need to spray gently when using several of the perfumes from the Serge Lutens line. Likewise, Andy Tauer has many lovely scents which are best not over-applied, they linger on nicely for many hours even after light application. The tricky thing is those scents which really change personality with change of temperature.

      Anyway, I could take enormous amounts of 4711, but cringe when in contact with many musky or powdery scents, even the ones many would call calming. Scent is very much about personal preferences.

  • Jackie b says:

    Paranoid undersprayer here, even my husband can’t smell me in the car. I have had too many intrusive perfume experiences, usually in restaurants or in yoga class and usually huge clingy florals. Or Axe. Men are also guilty.

  • Petrichoria says:

    Never mind the straight forward over-appliers – what about the wall-of-scenters who won’t tell you what they’re wearing? One of my pet narks is people who airily reply “…oh. I don’t know. I don’t remember the name,” even after you’ve asked them for the third time. What am I going to do, lady, steal your soul? You come over illiterate at the sight of your perfume bottle every morning, or what? Just tell me the name of the freaking fragrance so that I can open a mental file on it! I’ve tried cajoling and wheedling; I look winsome, and smile, is it Cerruti? 1881?” to continued mulish stonewalling and an unconvincing “Er, I don’t know. Um, my husband bought it for me”.

    The second most annoying thing is when you eventually chisel a house or brand name out of them, but they’re still not parting with the name of the specific juice, leaving me almost winding my hands wanting to say “Yes? And? Agent Provocateur What?”

    I’m never going to plagiarise their overwhelming olfactory identities. I prefer niche, linear fragrances that smell of woods and resins without a hint of sweetness. Anyone who asks what I’m wearing as they pass me is probably a bit too close, but they are welcome to a straightforward name of the perfume and even a trial squirt if they so incline. Let’s share the pong and share the pong alike. In moderation.

  • Hahaha – I loved your tales of overappliers. I just worked with one girl who’s reapplications could give me a headache and nausea from about 20 ft away – at least 3 cubicles between us. Overall, I think scent is something better enjoyed by myself and those in very close vicinity, but I suppose others are different. 🙂 I do wish you had named the powdery leather – that sounds like a leather I’d like to avoid (but I’m currently on a leather quest)!

  • Elizabeth R. says:

    I admire my husband’s ex because she is intelligent, acerbic, and does not play said-this-but-meant-that games. They had divorced long before he and I got together, so there’s no animosity between us. That being said, I recently got to hear her verbal dressing down of Tabu, and all who wear it. Words like bordello, slutty, suffocate, migraine, stench, nausea, and murder were used. So if you come to Indiana doused in Tabu and get accosted by a tiny red-head, don’t say you weren’t warned.

    BTW all y’all are teh funnieess!

  • Pixel says:

    On my first job out of college, my boss drenched himself in Polo every day. To this day I can’t stand it. Sometimes if I had to talk to him up close, I’d put my hand on my chin in a thoughtful pose, so that I could stick my fingers in front of my nose and block out some of the fog of Polo. Shudder…

    My MIL and FIL both soak themselves daily; MIL in Chanel No 5, dunno what FIL wears. But my husband finally had to have a chat with them a few years back — they live far away, so when they come visit, they stay with us — and the concentration of scent literally had our cats bouncing off the walls. They insisted that our female cat was mean because she growled when they came near her — poor furry was just being gassed to death! (OK, she was mean too, but hey, a kitty’s gotta stand her ground….)

    Also: I’ve been on a plane and been subjected to overspray from a woman ‘touching up’ her scent before landing. Drowning row after row of captive passengers in a fog of Whatever. It’s that kind of thing that gives honest justification to the no-scent crowd.

    I will admit to inadvertently filling my house with TF Black Orchid the first time I tried it. Whoops. It’s kinda strong. Who knew? 🙂

  • Tara C says:

    Back in the 80’s I worked with a woman who wore so much Liz Claiborne that it would hang in the air for at least 15-20 minutes after she had walked by. I try not to overdo it, but I have occasionally been guilty of 1-2 spritzes too many of Musc Ravageur, such that I had to roll the windows down on the way in to work and wash in bathroom before going to my desk.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I remember in high school a couple girls that bathed in Calvin Klein’s Obsession. It was horrible because restraint wasn’t applied and I was one of the girls that wore Obession but not the mass quantities that they did. It turned me off to Obsession for while. But at this point, it seems like these little old ladies love to over apply perfume mainly because they really can’t smell that well anymore but it’s still aggrivating.

  • Musette says:

    oh, there are too many to mention…but most recently It Wuz MOI!!! I lost mah tiny little mind and …well, Lyric soap, Lyric body cream…and 5 sprays of Lyric. FIVE. I walked into El O’s den. He recoiled, saying ‘you smell awful………strong’

    And he wuz RIGHT! As gorgeous as Lyric is, that was too much of a muchness!


    • Gwen says:

      When I was first gifted a spray sample of Lyric (from a generous Posse Godmother, BTW, and thanks), it was one I’d coveted for so long and thrilled me so deeply that right out of the gate I used three generous sprays, then immediately got in a car with my husband and daughter to go to a concert. Everyone rolled down their windows, me included. It took me months before I tried Lyric again. Two tiny spritzes max. Better to reapply than to asphyxiate.

  • Kandice says:

    I had a co-worker who smoked. After every smoke break she would go into the tiny break room and spray herself heavily with perfume. I don’t know what scent it was but it was very strong. That combined with cigarette smoke gave most of us terrible headaches. As she took multiple smoke breaks a day, it was a day long problem. She was an incredibly nice person and we didn’t want to complain, but management finally had to talk to her because no one could use the break room! Thanks for the fun post!

  • Bexca says:

    I had a narcissistic roommate who doused himself in Egoiste every morning. Can’t stand the stuff now.

  • Ms.Chris says:

    Issey Miyake really can be lethal. I just moved cross country to a new rental house. When I initially viewed the place, I asked the landlord what scent he was wearing. You guessed it. Issey Miyake. It is not one of my favorites (I hear you, Portia!!) but since the landlord lives out of town, it seemed that the odds of encountering him wearing this again were well within my favor.

    A month (yes, 30 days) after viewing the place and signing the lease, I took occupancy of my new house. As I did my first walk through as the new resident, I noticed the bedroom door was closed and then remembered it was the last room Mr. Landlord and I had viewed together as he mentioned that the door closed on its own without a door stop. Upon entering, I was assailed by a wave of Issey Miyake, as freshly gag inducing as the day we were last in that room. Need I tell you that in spite of below freezing temperatures, I opened both windows and would not sleep in there until I had burned incense for a few days.

  • Portia says:

    I had a boyfriend for a good while who wore so much L’eau d’Issey that I would have to stop having sex with him to go vomit. TRUE STORY
    Portia x

  • bevfred says:

    “I swear her feet were soaked.” Love it! I inadvertently had my feet soaked once by a lady at the Estee Lauder counter.
    Not only did I not like the scent but my skin amped up the liberal application. I then got on the subway and the poor man I sat beside got up and went elsewhere, far, far away.

  • rosarita says:

    I used to have one coworker who doused herself in Angel and another who marinated in Calvin Klein Euphoria. Fortunately it was a busy restaurant kitchen and they worked in different areas, but at break time I could feel my throat close up.

    Agent Provocateur! I love it but can’t imagine more than a couple discreet spritzes, you poor thing.

  • Dina C. says:

    Back in the 90s I had a coworker whose signature scent was Jessica McClintock — the lily of the valley one. She liberally doused herself with it every morning before arriving at work, and it was all I could smell and taste in the back of my throat up until lunch time. I’ve finally gotten to where I like LotV again, but not that particular one. Shudder.

  • Julie L says:

    Well, call me a little embarrassed since I was unwittingly guilty just this past Saturday morning. Getting ready for work I decided to wear my newly acquired Habinita. And just for fun I thought a spritz of Rem Patchouli layered with it would make for a lovely combo. Well, I didn’t realize an AMPLIFICATION process would take place on my skin once I got warmed up and moving while working….um, yeah. Finally , my co worker, after looking at me sideways all morning asked f I was wearing some old Shalimar with all the 28 year old disgust she could muster because “I smelled like her grandma” and old ladies” . I then realized a darling ashtray soaked baby powder was wafting all around. Silly me! Lesson learned- never experiment with what I consider “safe and smelly good ” when going to work! (Even working with tons of eye raising smells as a vet tech didn’t drown out the Habanita haze, either!)

  • Neva says:

    LOL…” get treatment for anaphylactic shock”! I really had to laugh reading your post.
    I remember when my Mum used to take me to concerts to the music hall in the eighties, you could not concentrate on the music because of the waves of Dior’s Poison that hit you from all sides periodically. It seemed that all the ladies (except the two of us) were wearing it. Probably there were not so many, but the scent was overwhelming and I hated it ever since…
    Nowadays I never get such a strong impression anywhere. It seems that the scents are much lighter compared to the vintage ones…or maybe is my nose getting older? 😉
    btw. Issey Myake used to be VERY strong as I remember it. One could always tell when a person was wearing it even if he/she was sitting on the opposite side of the dining table 😀 Maybe it still is, but I’ve never tried the reformulation.

    • Julie L says:

      The vintage ones ARE stronger and better! I still like, or love(?) Poison but the one that haunts me from the 80’s/90’s is “Liz Claiborne “….OMG, It can Still me me I’ll right along with the “Georgio doused” .