Street Scents: What’s that Perfume?

Hey Posse, Are you ever walking and sniff something familiar? I call these Street Scents. In your head do you wonder What’s That Perfume? It doesn’t happen a LOT in Sydney because quite a few of the businesses here are fragrance free. Sometimes though I get Street Scents in malls and cafes, on the street, grocery shopping, at events or even in the cinema.

Street Scents: What’s That Perfume?

vintage-mitsouko-extrait-guerlain Street Scents

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Citruses, jasmine, bergamot, rose
Heart: Lilac, peach, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose
Base: Spices, amber, cinnamon, vetiver, oakmoss

Although TBH I’m often not quite sure exactly which one it is when I smell it in the wild, my mind doesn’t work that way sadly. As an example, one of my personal favourite fragrances that I wear a lot is Mitsouko. A GF of mine wore it recently in vintage version, my favourite, to surprise & delight me. She even respritzed just before meeting me so I would get the full blast. I noticed how good she smelled immediately and complimented her. Also I was thinking FURIOUSLY in my head, “What the bloody hell is that intoxicating scent that I know?”. 5 minutes later I had to ask, “What is that beguiling scent you wear? I know it so well and I think I may even wear it but I can’t bloody pinpoint it.” “Mitsouko!” was the reply. Face Palm.

curious-britney-spears-fragrantica Street ScentsFragrantica

Curious by Britney Spears

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Lotus, pear, magnolia
Heart: Tuberose, jasmine, pink cyclamen
Base: Musk, vanilla, woods

Another one I am often complimenting women on is one of the Britney fragrances with all the vanilla in it, Curious Britney Spears. About 50% of my random Street Scents compliments are for that. I always think it’s some delicious high end niche thing that’s wafting towards me.

obsession-for-men-calvin-klein-fragrantica Street ScentsFragrantica

Calvin Klein Obsession for Men

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Tangerine, grapefruit, lime, bergamot, lavender, nut, coriander, cinnamon
Heart: Carnation, jasmine, rose tree, pine
Base: Patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, benzoin, vanilla, amber

Likewise with Calvin Klein Obsession for Men, even now it knocks my socks off when I smell it and I have to compliment the wearer. Though yet again it’s ALWAYS a surprise that he’s wearing it rather than a very expensive something.

What to try these babies but not buy full bottles? Surrender To Chance has samples.

How about you? Are you good at Street Scents or do you need to ask? Is there a particular Street Scents that you get more often than others?
Portia xxx



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  • merrilyrow says:

    The two fragrances I’ve repeatedly smelled on others and been compelled enough to ask – believe it or not – are YSL’s Manifesto and Lanvin’s Oxygene. It’s kind of shocking because neither of these is anything special in theory and they don’t do a thing for me, but, wow, are they both great wafting downwind of a stranger!

  • Barbara B. says:

    Me — “What fragrance are you wearing? It smells wonderful.”
    Random stranger — “Angel.”
    It’s like Groundhog Day – every time!!!
    Probably because it gives me a huge headache every few years when I try it on myself.

    It’s all Light Blue and Casmere Mist around here!

    • Portia says:

      Hi BarbaraB,
      Yeah, the people that wear Angel well are a breed apart and they make it smell even better than it does normally. I love to wander through an Angel sillage.
      Portia xx

  • Kathy Larson says:

    There is a woman who generally sits on the far end of the pew ahead of me at Mass-a stylish matriarch with daughters,son-in-laws,grandkids with her.Always wears the same fragrance that weaves around.I finally asked her-Youth Dew!She immediately asked if she had too much on.I reassured her she was fine.It suits her,a dramatic brunette.

    • Portia says:

      Hi Kathy,
      Youth Dew, what a fabulous fragrance. How nice of her to ask if she overdid it too.
      Very glam for mass.
      Portia xx

  • The other day I was getting blood drawn and my phlebotomist had this strong, big-shouldered dame of a perfume on that was just wafting off of her. But, ya know, I kinda liked it! It was cozy, it made me feel good right before a needle was going to be poked into my arm. I asked her what it was. “Red Door,” she said. I don’t know what I was expecting but I’m always a little surprised when the answer to that question is an inexpensive scent.

  • HeidiC says:

    In the wild, I mostly identify No 5, Coco, or Coco Mademoiselle. Though once I KNEW I had smelled Victoria’s Secret’s Rapture, and it was! Even though I hadn’t smelled it since college decades ago!

  • Libby says:

    I spent the month of January in Paris in college (early ’80’s) and everyone wore Poison, so I associate that smell with college and Paris. The silage is powerful, so it was everywhere, cafes, the metro, etc.

    • Portia says:

      Hi Libby,
      Paris in winter is my 100% favourite time to see it. I bet the Poison was HUGE! They are still unafraid of an overspritz.
      Portia xx

  • shuvanidev says:

    I love that compliment getter’s can include very inexpensive fragrances. One of the most complimented fragrances I’ve ever worn was Britney Spears Fantasy – people love pink sweeties what can I say? I am not good at picking out fragrances that others wear because they smell so different on another person and the context for them is not there. I’ve asked a couple of men what they were wearing that smelled so good and one was Hugo Boss Hugo, another was Dior Homme Intense, and another was Old Spice 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hi Shuvanidev,
      Yeah the boys stuff is nice across so many price points, I really like Dior Homme Intense. Smells great on almost every man.
      Portia xx

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    There aren’t too many that I can pick out just by smelling a person. Pleasures, Obsession and Happy are the three that I can pick out in a split second. The ones that garner me the most compliments are Une Rose Vermielle, Memior Woman, Shalimar, Mitsouko adn Epic Woman for some reason.

    • Portia says:

      Hiya eldarwen22,
      What a fabulous line up of compliment getters. A couple of all time faves there for me too.
      Portia xx

  • mikasminion says:

    I can almost never identify a scent in the wild. The few exceptions are Angel, Coromandel, Narcisso Rodriguez, and No. 5. Lots of times when I can smell a perfume it’s a super strong musk that I seem to be hypernosmic to and I can’t tell what the perfume actually smells like beyond it.

    • Portia says:

      Hi Mikasminion,
      I always get Narciso Rodriguez and Lovely mixed up when I smell them on people. Both YUM.
      Portia xx

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    When I was a child (in the 1960s), the lady who lived across the street wore a very distinctive and spicy scent. It was elegant and beautiful. With all my sampling and fanatic collecting of vintage perfumes, I have never–not once–come across that scent! I wish with all of my heart that I could find it; she was such a nice and loving person. I would know that perfume in a heartbeat if I ever smelled it again.

  • Musette says:

    omg. THANK YOU FOR THIS. I always feel like I should KNOW. And I rarely do. Mitsouko is one of me “I should know that” as well – especially as I, like you, wear it often. A few months ago I was in a shop and a woman was wearing something that stopped me stone-dead. I knew that scent. KNEW it! But couldn’t bring it to mind. Turned out it was Juicy Couture, which my late sister loved – and wore beautifully! This woman wore it beautifully, as well, which was a lovely thing to experience. It smells like rotting mangoes on me, alas, so if I want to have a scent memory of my sister I spritz it on a kerchief.


    • Portia says:

      Heya Musette,
      Great to see you.
      Bloody Mitsouko! It’s a phantom.
      I love your scent memory of your sister, what a bummer it doesn’t work on you but maybe her shade is not letting you wear it as it was hers?
      Portia xx

  • Kathleen Smith says:

    I always recognize Hypnotic Poison. I wore it years ago as a comfort scent and it’s very distinctive. I also recognize Angel, but I don’t like that fragrance at all, the only fragrance I find nausea producing.
    My favorite house is Chanel and I can usually differentiate most including the les exclusives.

    • Portia says:

      WoW! Kathleen,
      I think you have a MUCH better nose than I do. It would be amazing to be that able to differentiate. Lucky you.
      Portia xx

  • jenbat says:

    Although I don’t really like Angel on myself, I also often smell it in the wild and stop the woman who’s wearing it to compliment her! I feel like I can usually recognise when someone is wearing Chanel, not which one, but definitely the house in general. Other people I’ve asked have been “J’adore,” “Jazz Club,” and “Oh, it must be my body lotion from Bath and Body Works.”

    • Portia says:

      Hey Jenbat,
      Yeah the CHANEL’s have a certain something that makes them a bit recognisable in dry down. A balmy smoothness. Good catch.
      HA! B&BW, I love their bath stuff.
      Portia xx

  • MMKinPA says:

    I am terrible at identifying scents! I was sitting next to an older lady at the symphony a few weeks ago and she was wearing something I KNEW but I could not for the life of me put a name to it. I didn’t ask, because I didn’t want her to be self conscious about it in close quarters. Should have, though!

    • Portia says:

      Hey MMKinpa,
      Yeah, my nose just refuses to work that way.
      YES! You should have asked, she would have been thrilled. I bet she’s a fellow perfumista.
      Portia xx

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    One time I asked a lady who had trailed a lovely scent down a parking garage stairwell. She smiled up at me from below and said “Ciara!” I have also identified Angel, which can actually smell good on some people. Years ago, my (now former) boss wore Old Spice–lots of it–and it would gust at you in waves whenever he talked. So I can understand the office ban, though I doubt he would have assumed it also applied to him, had there been one.

  • Tiara says:

    The only street scent I can ever identify is Angel. I am so bad at not only figuring out individual notes, but what I’m smelling as a whole.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Tiara,
      Yes, Angel is a good one to pick. Even now, after decades it’s still the most enigmatic of the gourmands for me. Love it when I smell it wafting by.
      Portia xx

  • M3000 says:

    Does that mean it is actually forbidden to wear perfume in the office at those places?

    • Portia says:

      Yes M3000,
      We have a percentage of offices here that it is forbidden to wear scent. Even heavily fragranced body lotions are unwelcome.
      Portia xx