Cheap and Cheerful: Coty Sand and Sable

Well it’s Labor Day weekend in the old USA. In LA that meant unexpected rain on Saturday and overcast Sunday (although we didn’t get the rain they received in the desert at Burning Man) I guess that it makes some sense that I choose something that while named innocuously summery, turns out to be kind of a throat-punch.

According to the internets Sand and Sables was released by Coty in 1981 and has notes of Jasmine, Gardenia, and peach as well as green notes and will make you feel like running towards the shoreline, an ocean breeze rustling through your hair as you make your way through the sand.

Well, okay then. I get a punch of big white flowers writ in neon letters 20 feet high: GARDENIA!! JASMINE!! TUBEROSE!! (the last one isn’t listed, but I swear it’s in there.) Now, don’t get me wrong, I am no Joe Gillis. I like white flowers and even own bottles of both Fracas and Tubereuse Criminelle, but this stuff is dangerous. I can imagine that one spritz too much and you may have to run towards the nearest body of water all right, good lye soap in one hand and scrub brush in the other.. This is the sort of perfume that necessitated workplace perfume bans and validated people who just don’t like perfume of any sort pushing for those bans (Yes, I know there are people who are actually allergic. I would bet that 90% of those who are are “allergic” in the same way I am to cooked carrots, as opposed to bee stings. Only one requires an Epi pen.)

The thing is though, when this one calms down a bit, it’s quite pretty. The green notes and the sand and sea part start to come through and add an odd, beachy, Coppertone/Coconutty aspect to it that is really quite compelling. It is still very 80’s and nobody is going to confuse it with Chanel but it’s pretty and my little 11ML bottle will doubtless last until the end of time, if I resist the urge to release the Kracken and respritz. An urge I hope you will not heed as well.

This one kind of reminds me of the scene in “The Damned Don’t Cry” where David Brian tells Joan Crawford she’s wearing cheap perfume (video is her rather priceless reaction) before he turns her into a society lady so she can seduce Steve Cochran. Mrs. Lorna Hansen Forbes would have delicately dabbed some Fracas behind her ears. Ethel Whitehead would have bathed in Sand and Sables..

Have you tried this one? Discuss in the comments.

Sand and Sables is available at shockingly low prices at various e-tailers. I think I spent under $6 for my little bottle. There are larger sizes available, but really I think the 11 megaton flowerbomb size is perfect for my needs. Of course, yours may vary.

Images: My iPhone and Pexels

  • ElizaC says:

    Just tried my newly ordered Sand and Sable. I didn’t feel attacked by the white florals but that is coming from someone who whose favorite perfume is Amoureuse. Sand and Sable reminded me of a watered-down version of Serge Lutens Datura Noir. Not as rich/textured but the same concept!

  • Darryl says:

    I genuinely thought I was the only one who felt that way about cooked carrots. Blech.

    Sand & Sable…I remember my mother talking about wanting a bottle for Christmas circa 1992ish. She was an Amarige girl otherwise, although later she branched out into Organza and YSL Elle before seemingly losing interest in perfumes altogether. I’ve been trying to gently nudge her back into them, and even bought her a copy of The Guide (mwah hah hah!) for her upcoming birthday. She does love essential oils and nice smells in general, and remembers her favorite perfumes fondly (she wore Eau Sauvage in her teens!). I’ll make her a fanatic yet. Maybe I’ll track down some Sand & Sable for a lark.

    • Tom says:

      Cooked carrots were the only “Mommie Dearest” style stand-off I ever had with my parents. They said I couldn’t leave the table if I didn’t finish them. After an hour or so, they gave up, no doubt because ny siblings liked them and unlike them I happily ate Brussels sprouts and spinach. Otherwise I might still be sitting there..

  • ElizaC says:

    Do the white flowers attack with aldehydes or indols? Asking before I hit the purchase button! Film Noir Joan is the best!

  • March says:

    I remember liking this (in small doses) because I really like that tanning oil bit that comes in, what a fun twist. That’s such a great summer smell — the Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen I use on my body has the same vibe.

  • rosarita says:

    I have never tried Sand and Sable, big white florals aren’t really my thing, but I am very fond of many vintage perfumes so I may look for a little bottle. As if I need more perfume!

  • Dina C. says:

    Hahaha, I love your image of running toward the shore with lye soap and a scrub brush! I missed Sand & Sables somehow in the 80s. Sounds like it was a good thing!

    • Tom says:

      I could imagine it could have been a good thing in small doses. But the 80’s weren’t a “small dose” decade so I can imagine that this was often a very bad thing indeed.

  • cinnamon says:

    I’m sure I must have tried this ages ago. Sounds like it is at the very least worth another go. Your film associations are so evocative 🙂 And I think I’ve seen it at local drug store…

    • Tom says:

      I love old movies. I turned my godchild onto them when she was a kid. She turned her friends into them. I think there’s a whole subset of LA & NY 20-somethings that revere Bette & Joan & Lana & Barbara because of her.

  • Portia says:

    HA! Tom, you are hilarious.
    Sand and Sable wears big but not jaw droppingly so for me. 11ml is my current bottle size too but I did have a bigger one that saw a lot of use before a friend loved it so much I gave it to them.
    It’s easy to imagine you going spritz crazy and fumigating your house with it. No moth, cockroach or spider could survive 20 sprays of Sand and Sable.
    Portia xx

  • Kathleen says:

    I sampled Sand and Sable from STC vintage vial after Musette’s post and it is spectacular. However, I am a vintage perfume fan. It has more tuberose than I tend to wear, but it is beautiful and worth sniffing for anyone that loves vintage perfume. I enjoyed the movie clip!

    • Tom says:

      Glad you liked it! This was more vintage and a lot more.. more than it’s name made think it would be.

  • Maya says:

    Oh, I like that scene! A lot. Is the whole movie as good?

    Musette once mentioned Sand and Sable. I was going to try it and somehow never got around to it. Fragrantica lists tuberose as a note and a couple of the commenters said they get mainly tuberose, then gardenia. I checked eBay for older bottles and found a few for about $10-15. I’m ordering one.

    • Tom says:

      The movie is great- Crawford is older than the part calls for (she’s supposed to go from barely out of her 20’s to mid 30’s) but she pulls it off with cheekbones and chutzpah.

      This is inexpensive and a lot of fun. I wouldn’t wear it to the office (like Joan’s hat) but it’s great fun to play around with.

      • rosarita says:

        Oh, that hat! In watching the clip, I couldn’t wait to see it off her head.

        • Tom says:

          Yeah, the dress is pretty dire too. She goes from barely out of her teens housefrau (“no” makeup, custom tailored housecoat) to this Ethel in the City stage (awful outfits, gum-chewing, drinks bourbon) to tutored Great Lady with Sheila O-Brien Dior knock-offs and a pool-side scene shot at Frank Siantra’s Palm Springs house.

          It’s loads of fun if you like those sort of movies as I do.

  • Pam says:

    Now here’s an oldie that I never tried even though it’s been around forevah! Love your review, Tom, but I think I’ll pass on this one.

    • Tom says:

      I think you have to be of a particular mindset and mood to do this one. I could see where people would absolutely hate it..