Comfort Me

Today, dear readers, I need your help. So please put down that decant of non-export Serge Lutens and rustle up your thinking cap. Because when I survey the shelves, drawers and boxes of my scents, lined up like preening, pouting divas at the Met, I realize: I need something less high-maintenance.

No, seriously. I seem to be missing a simple, easy-on comfort scent – the olfactory equivalent of curling up on my couch with my favorite junk magazines (Allure, anyone?), a Hershey bar, and no kids within earshot. What do I find comforting? Well … “comfort” smells I do NOT find comforting in general are: powder; amber; laundry/”clean” scents; extreme food scents (I want to eat my crà¨me brulee, not wear it).

I also want it to be very much a skin scent — the winter equivalent of my default summer scent, Bvlgari´s The Blanc — I´m aware of it, but it´s muted. It also needs to pass the Gym Test: something I wouldn´t have to scrub off if I decided to go to the gym half an hour after I put it on, BUT (here´s the tricky part) I don´t want it to just disappear in 20 minutes, either. It would be nice to have something polite that I could spray on freely for a change.

Believe it or not, I´m wondering if my comfort scent lurks in the vast wasteland (kidding, kidding) of barely-remembered department store frags — is there some really gentle musk? Tommy Girl? White Linen? One of those Philosophy scents? SJP Lovely? I want this to be a cold-weather scent, not a summer fruit or floral. I bet a mall fragrance is exactly what I´m looking for, but which one? Is there something at, say, L´Occitane or BBW I should try?

Here´s what I learned in an hour at Macy´s and Sephora:

Betsey Johnson and Hilary Duff both score comfort points (and I find them very similar), although Hil´s a little sweet, but I think if I really sprayed them on they´d fail the gym test.
Gucci Rush – Tigs reminded me about this – an amazing juice in a tragically ugly plastic container (YSL Nu being another example – stellar incense in what looks like a diaphragm case.) Quoting Luca Turin (I hope correctly): “Thanks to the milky lactone note, (Rush) smells like an infant’s breath mixed with his mother’s hair spray… What Rush can do, as all great art does, is create a yearning, then fill it with false memories of an invented past…” I adore this absolutely, it smells like hot skin, but am having doubts about the gym test.
JLo Glow – too sweet.
Elizabeth Arden Provocative – hahahahahaha! Er, no.
JLo Live Luxe – too sweet.
Armani Sensi – ? can´t smell it at all.
JLo Live – well … there´s a note of “fresh air” I´m not loving.
Tocca Stella – new at Sephora. Not half bad. The candle´s blood orange, but this is cinnamon and cream on me. Yum. Definite potential.
Tocca Touch – also new at Sephora. Starts sweeter, but dries down nicely. Notes sound heavy (tiare and pom — really?!?) but it wears light and musky. Definite potential.
Clinique Simply – huh. Never even saw this before. “Soy nut and smoked woods”? A little grassy/aquatic, but a possibility.
White Linen – no. Too powdery.
Versace Bright Crystal – reinvestigate in July – grapefruit, yum.
Dolce & Gabbana Blue Whatsit – do I have to wear this? That bony witch at Macy´s is hell-bent on my buying this, and I´m beginning to think I should, just to get her off my back…

Okay, your other suggestions and/or feedback on the above, please. I´ll give them a whirl and do a post on the results. PS I met the nicest gal at Sephora who´s a fellow perfumista! What is it about fragrance that makes someone feel like an old friend? Louise, if you´re reading this, hi!

  • Lucy says:

    H20 Green tea, try that, it’s good for the gym, even though it is a tea, not sweet or musky at all, dries down to a true strong hot tea scent, which goes well near the hair or even if you get a bit heated with exercise…

  • March says:

    Kuri– In Vienna I was eating these chocolate-dipped marzipan things. I feel a little queasy just thinking about it.

    FWIW I just smelled Laura Mercier almond-coconut and marron glace (?) but still undecided…

  • kuri says:

    Yes, there should be more almonds! I used to inhale this triangle cake iced in marzipan and chocolate when I was in middle school, but I could never handle straight marzipan(!!).

  • March says:

    BBliss — wow, that sounds beautiful. I might have to get some of that whether or not it turns out to be my gym scent! Incense is my friend.

  • March says:

    Elle — wow, all great suggestions, thanks! I’m a little embarrassed that I can’t even remember what the CdG smells like, will remedy that.

  • March says:

    Louise — hey, glad you met Bill! Everything smells so good on him — Velvet Rope on him should be illegal. I go over there at least once a month and roll around in the good stuff.

    Thanks for the Zents tips — haven’t smelled them!

  • March says:

    Nina — nope, not here yet. But I look forward to smelling it!

  • March says:

    Kuri — L’Occitane Almond Blossom!!! Totally forgot about that one, thanks for your ideas.

    Yeah, why AREN’T there more almonds?:-w I have a vicious sweet tooth, btw, and anything almond-paste is lovely. I even eat marzipan, which will kill most normal people.

  • March says:

    EvilP — Mostly I associate tea scents w/summer, although there are exceptions — I’ll check out your suggestions! I’m thinking Bvlgari Red might be the ticket, it’s got that dirt note that makes it less crisp and more winter-ish to me, without being obtrusive.

  • March says:

    Hope — great suggestions!

  • March says:

    MnM — okay, another vote for Sur Le Nil lotion, must try that… the Agatha sounds nice, actually.

  • March says:

    Beth — you raised an excellent point. I am so … weird about lotions and don’t know why. Like everything else in my life outside fragrance (candles, body wash, etc.) I tend to go for unscented — but that’s because I want a blank background for the fragrance. But you’re right, for a lighter application, a lotion might be just the ticket.

  • March says:

    Amy — that’s funny, I tried Shaal Nur eons ago and decided it was too light. Which might make it perfect for this application…

  • BBliss says:

    Wow – tons of suggestions!

    Here’s one more March…my ultimate “I’m cranky, cross and don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself (or wear)scent” is actually an oil by Lierac called Thekoa Huile Relaxante Anti-stress.
    It’s incensey and ancient-smelling without being overpowering and it REALLY is relaxing. Hovers around nicely without offending or leaving a wake of sillage. Would be perfect for “hot yoga.” And is wonderful in the fall/winter. Gorgeous turquoise bottle, too.

    I got mine from France, but it appears on ebay and some beauty sites occasionally – maybe around $50-60 at the most. I wish I could find the same smell and level of comfort in a perfume, actually.

  • Elle says:

    The EdC is a lighter version of their original EdP. On Basenotes they list the notes as bergamot, orange blossom, lime, mandarin, magnolia, freesia w/ woody and spicy base notes. Well, there’s definitely cinnamon in those base notes and that’s what makes it so appealing to me.
    I was also going to second the Bain du Marais scents for yoga class – they’re very sheer. And these aren’t winter scents, but Beth Terry’s Creative Universe scents are almost custom made for gym classes. Very well done for light scents.

  • Louise says:

    Hi March-I saw Bill yesterday at Tyson’s-you have a fan. I re-upped on SL Ambre Sultan after several years absense.

    For the gym-have you considered any of the Zents line-pleasing, pretty simple, close to the bod. I like Sun, but Ore is nice and a couple others.

  • Nina says:

    Hmm, maybe D&G’s ‘The One’ hasn’t made it to the US yet? I haven’t seen reviews, so probably it hasn’t. It’s all over the UK at the moment, Christmas gift sets and everything.

  • kuri says:

    I lurve almonds too. I told the SA that fact yesterday when I was browsing, and she said there aren’t many scents with almond or nuts so I should eat them instead! :-w
    I don’t have any comfort scents to suggest. Light scents such as Monotheme White Tea or L’Occitane Almond Blossom? Probably neither lasts very long though. If applied lightly I don’t think Ungaro Desnuda would offend.

  • evilpeony says:

    Hi March! My comfort scents usually come from Crabtree and Evelyn (Sonoma Valley and Summer Hill.) But… the first thing that comes to mind after reading your post is….. Cool Water? Or L’Occitane’s Green Tea Vert (i think that’s what it’s called)… Or Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea… hmmm… im sensing some serious tea love hear or maybe it’s the caffeine talking…. hope this mindless rambling works

  • HopeB says:

    Not dept. store, but Lea is my favorite comfort scent! Another fabulous choice would Omnia–soft, but slightly spicy & comforting.

  • MnM says:

    I have to second the Hermes Sur Le Nil lotion – it’s divine. Also, this may be too gourmandy for you, but I like Agatha Paris Caramel – it’s not too sweet, despite the name – more like creamy bourbon vanilla – and stays close to the skin.

  • Beth D. says:

    Well, I think if you’re after comfort, go for a lotion. Inherently more subtle. I really like Bathed & Infused’s cool beans. And I love L’Artisan’s Tea for Two as a comfort scent. If you want a floral, the new I Profumi di Firenze Miele Rosa tops my list right now.

  • Amy K. says:

    The only thing that’s coming to mind is Shaal Nur. The comforting vanilla/incense stays pretty close to the skin, and the citrus lightens it a bit.

  • March says:

    Tigs — nope, you are NOT getting me hooked on some hard-to-find juice! Part of the charm of this is gonna be that I can go buy it at the Mall when I’m picking up some new socks…

    I know, ultra-light isn’t my thing, either. It’s funny how difficult it is to find something that isn’t super summery…

    That Rush. Still contemplating that one. I’ll probably buy it anyway. What an incredible scent.

  • March says:

    Karen — honest to God, I can’t even think what the original Burberry smells like. So I guess I’ll have to go smell it! Thanks!

  • March says:

    Minette — another vote for DdeM! Okay, I’ll try it…

    Femme?!?! The new one? I could try, though…

  • March says:

    Raisins — actually, honey water might be just what I’m looking for. I tend to mute the sweetness and bring out the muskiness — In a good way (at least I think it’s good!)

  • March says:

    P – I have never smelled that. I thought it was d/c’d? Am I thinking of the wrong scent? I lurve almonds…

  • March says:

    Angela — 100% Love is a great choice … gotta think how I could get it in the background more …

  • March says:

    Sariah — you don’t want to stand next to me when I’m doing Downward Facing Dog drenched in Rush?

    C’mon! It’ll be fun!

    Tommy Girl smells so great on some people. On me it’s too … citrus? Something isn’t right.

  • March says:

    Vi — I’m actually thinking that Simply has some potential. I like that it’s not sweet at all, just … balanced. Not leather, not strong … the Guerlinade I don’t think I can do, only b/c (this sounds weird) I’m such a slave I am really aware of when I’m wearing them … too … stimulating?:”>

  • March says:

    Robin — thanks, some new things to check out! I’ve never tried that lotion, that might work too.

  • March says:

    Nina — um, do you mean the regular one? The original D&G with the red cap? Or Light Blue?:-? I actually think the original D&G is nice and kind of light, but I said that to the SA and she looked at me like I was insane. So perhaps not.

  • March says:

    Marina — :d

    Okay, is it really really powdery? Or more like the actual baby? I need to go find your review… if it’s mostly powder, I’m afraid it’s probably wasted on me…

  • March says:

    Marczilla — my initial reaction was, you’ve got to be kidding me with that Serge. But. I use CdeM as a gorgeous magnifier of other scents. I am ashamed to admit I am not sure I have EVER worn it on its own, stunning as it is. So I’ll give it a go! Thanks for stopping by!

  • March says:

    Emily — both of those really sound like things I would like! Thanks. BTW I use some of the Bigelow face stuff and it’s great.

  • March says:

    Sybil — you’re the second person to mention that in 24 hrs. I need to check it out, thanks.

  • March says:

    Patty — OMG, Gucci EDP… hon, it’s a stunner. But everyone around me would strangle me with their yoga belts. It is REALLY STRONG on me. Like … elevator-clearing strong. Not that I have a problem with that…

  • March says:

    Judith – two votes for Vettiveru… well, if YOU like it…

    The thing is the yoga class. In my regular (ice cold) gym I mostly wouldn’t care, but there’s something about that 105-degree room that really puts the damper on my in-your-face scents (which is, let’s face it, 90% of what I own.)

  • March says:

    Dusan — thanks for all the great suggestions! No, no, it’s still nothing but love for the Dreamer. But, gosh, it’s hardly a background scent on me, comforting and wonderful though it is (and Gaultier 2) — hard to explain, but those are scents I’m very aware that I have on. I’m looking for a thing that’s not asking for my attention. Y’know — something …. boring./:) In a good way.

  • March says:

    Sara — I’ll try it!

  • March says:

    Flor — Simply stuck around in a really nice way. Someone on Basenotes compared it to Jil Sander Sensations, actually…

    You guys and your multiple Daim Blond suggestions! I mean, it’s a gorgeous thing, but I’m having trouble figuring out how I’d apply it lightly enough, I find it fairly strong.

  • March says:

    Elle — so, no c*l*ry in those scents?!?:-”

    Which CdG — the original one? I can’t even think what it smells like …. hmmmm.

  • March says:

    Louise — you stopped by — yay! It was so much fun chatting with you. Sorry about Hil and Betsey… I envy you that Italy trip. You’ll have such a blast.

  • March says:

    Kayliana — The Duff … I wonder if I walked through the spray, could I get it to go on lighter… I’d like to take out about 1/2 cup of sugar from the first 30. But the drydown IS great.

  • March says:

    Holy Cow! I’m gone for the whole (crappy) day, don’t get me started … but look at all the love I came home to! 😡

    Everyone, thanks for all the great suggestions.

    Dinazad — Sensations sounds absolutely perfect, actually. I’ll have to hunt some down.

  • Tigs says:

    Glad to find another Rush lover! Can see how it would be too heavy for the gym, though. Unfortunately, I don’t like many “light” scents, so I have few suggestions. The comfort, no-brainer types I have been wearing lately include Kayasha de Kenzo and Yohji Homme, but they’re both discontinued and could be too sweet, even after the inital moments. Another discontinued one that might fit the bill is Annam (Tann Giudicelli) but it is d/c and fiendishly hard to get ahold of.

  • Karen says:

    I like Burberry as a “comfort” scent. It’s the one that used to be called Burberry London, but now it’s just plain “Burberry”. You can get it at Sephora for $52 for 50 ml and $68 for the 100 mil. I have the 100 mil size and it’s about 2/3 gone and still going strong! I bought mine at Hecht’s when Burberry was giving away a free umbrella with purchase of the fragrance. I admit that I bought the fragrance because I wanted the umbrella! But it was money well spent. I laugh at myself because that umbrella may be the only Burberry (other than fragrance) that I can afford to own!
    If you spray this on and grab your Allure magazine, you just might get so “comfortable” that any crazy notion to go to the gym may never come up.

  • minette says:

    i have several of these – no-brainer, “don’t have to think about it after i’ve put it on” scents. they include clair de musc, the pour un ete, cedre, drole de rose, kiehl’s original musk oil, cabaret, and femme de rochas.

  • assorted raisins says:

    March, Sorry if I can’t point to something directly you may like, but when I’m looking for a simple happy scent, a BBW or L’Occitane sniffation might be just the thing. on principle BBW scents are usually light enough to wear to the gym, and I like the Breathe line’s Energy (light clean grapefruit and ginger), another yum comfort scent to me is the L’Occintane honey water, but I don’t think honey is what you’re after. The new almond lotion is delicate and tasty too. good luck!

  • Patty says:

    How about Castelbajac? vanilla, musk and almond. None of them heavy, I’m reviewing it on Friday. Gourmandy, light, clean, smells like sun-dried sheets. But get the EDP. It doesn’t stick forever, and stats a clean skin scent.

  • AngelaS says:

    I find s-perfume 100% love comforting and not too intrusive. I agree, too, that YSL Nu is a good winter comfort scent, for a different feel than 100% love.

  • sariah says:

    Hi March,

    I’d really love to help, but my gym/sport scents are totally not comforts scents, to me anyways. FWIW, for gym/sport I use Tommy Girl (over 5 years now and still love it), Anisia Bella, and Victoria’s Secret Breathless (citrus/soapy). Give me a shout if you’d like to try any.

    I would not recommend freshly applied Gucci Rush for the gym! It’s quite a powerhouse.

  • violetnoir says:

    Hmmm…be by becker-eshaya? I don’t know if that would be a fit for you, March, but it is very easy to wear and smells like a better version of Clinique Happy.

    Speaking of Clinique, Simply, which is on your list, smells good and comforting, too. I need to pull out my bottle from the back of my shelves and give it a spritz.

    Guerlinade is very comforting, too, as is MH coeur d’ete, which is very similar to it.

    Happy testing!


  • Robin says:

    My comfort scents aren’t quite gym-ready, I don’t think. The only thing I’ll wear to the gym is Body Time Egyptian Musk. Comfort scents: La Perla Eclix, Molinard Tendre Friandise, stuff like that. Actually, seeing the comment above about Bain du Marais Musc reminds me that the Fleur d’Oranger is what I wear when I’m not going to wear perfume. I use it as something like a body splash. Or, Jardin Sur Le Nil lotion, which is ultra fabulous.

  • Nina says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve toyed with the tester of D&G’s ‘The One’ many a time, thinking how beautifully comforting and pleasant this is for winter. Today, I found myself reaching for Idole de Lubin and it’s just what the weather is asking for.

  • Marina says:

    I have 3 words for you Norma Kamali Baby. If you haven’t tried it and would like to, just shout! 😡

  • Marczilla says:

    It’s my first post yippee. My suggestion is Clair de Musc. It’s the softest skin scent. Love your blog ladies. It’s a daily read.

  • emily says:

    This is a quest of mine too.

    I’ve found two favorites. The first is C.O. Bigelow’s Musk Oil; it’s soft, delicate and yet incredibly long lasting. Gorgeous scent and would pass the gym test without a doubt.

    The second is Les Bains du Marais Musc Blanc. It’s a sheer subtle scent that does have good lasting power on me — but it’s again, incredibly subtle.

  • sybil says:

    I’m going to go out on a great big limb and suggest you check out Sonoma Scent Studio, if you haven’t already. ( Laurie has a lot of really nice incense/woody/spicy blends that are very wearable (& reasonably priced!)and her customer service is great. Lately, my favorite scent from her is Incense Lily, but I’m also considering a bottle of Bois Epices… I think Marlen did a review of Fireside a while ago…

  • Patty says:

    Gucci EDP is my comfort scent, but I don’t think it fits the bill for what you’re wanting. 🙁

  • Judith says:

    I have a friend who uses Cabaret for this (some similarity to Nu), although I’m not as crazy about it as she is. I would 2nd Vettiveru, which is a nice scent that I find a bit too light for me–but it would be a good gym scent. Me, I just stink up the gym with whatever I happen to be wearing. 🙂

  • Dusan says:

    Marchie of Marchieland,
    here are my two cents:
    RUSH – yes! Love it on my girlfriend, smouldering but must be applied gently otherwise you’ll have people look daggers at you at the gym. Comforting indeed.
    Yesterday I tried the new L’Occitan Ruban d’Orange which falls neatly into said category, being a juicy orange with green figs, pale woods and a touch (just a touch) of earthy vetiver. Don’t know about you, but I’m picking this up fer sure.
    D&G Light Blue – scratches head: invigorating rather than comforting. It was all the rage when it came out and maybe that’s why I have mixed feelings for it. Hm.
    What about the Dreamer, you are not over it, are you? Once the juniper-y thingie shuts up, it’s quite the comfort scent.
    Gaultier2 – may be heady at first, but the drydown is a textbook example of CS.
    Dior Homme – I don’t remember if you liked this one (?)
    You *must* try Nemo by Cacharel (men’s) – green open and swirls of incense on a warm cardamom base. Still wondering why I don’t own this.
    I’d suggest Fumerie Turque but it can be heavy with tremendous sillage, although it dries down to a lovely beeswax-y skin scent.
    M7 – you know this one, right? And you like agarwood, right? 🙂 Again, heavy it can be, but there’s also a M7 Fresh with amped up citrus.
    L’Eau Blueu d’Issey Miyake – wait, wait, it has nothing in common with the rest of the IM bunch! Lemongrass, herbs, muted florals, the whole on a base of creamy patchouli. It’s sort of a barn CS.
    Ok, I’m signing out now. Hope this helps.

  • sara says:

    Have you tried Bambou by Weil? Very easy to wear and passes the sweat test. Good luck w/your quest!

  • Flor says:

    Clinique Simply is my comfort scent. I love the smoky nutty notes. It reminds me of sitting by a fireplace in a warm blanket, (it also passed the gym test with me). I also agree that Daim Blonde is a good choice for a comfort scent.

  • Elle says:

    You might like Aroma Allegoria Exalting or Vitalising. They’ve been tragically d/ced, but can still be found on ebay from time to time. They’re woody and spicy, but not too heavy. I actually think SL’s Daim Blonde is a great comfort scent for winter that if put on w/ a light hand could pass the gym test. CdG’s Vettiveru cologne is also a great gym scent w/ character. CdG’s EdC in the orange box also is one of my favs for a light winter comfort scent (great cinnamon and hay notes).

  • Louise says:

    What a delight meeting you yesterday! Unfortunately,Hilary faded, and Betsy turned all fruit. Had to comfort myself with SL Datura Noir last night.

    On the quest…I let you know what I find in Italy!

  • Kayliana says:

    It seems you’re looking for a sporty-spice scent.. hmmm, For me when I’m out doing errands and such it’s L’Artisian’s Mure et Musc Extreme, that’s about as non-descript as I can tolerate. It just sort of hum’s along and doesn’t scream I’m wearing perfume. It’s very comfortable. I usually shun Dept. store scents but I must admit I love that Hilary Duff stuff, it’s SO good after about 30 minutes. Perfect for fall! Good hunting!

  • dinazad says:

    Well, my present seasonal comfort scent is Léonard Balahé, the equivalent of hot chai, Christmas (already!) cookies, a good book and a warm blanket in that particularly comfy nook of the sofa, but that might be just a tad too Christmas-cookie-spicy for your needs. So I’d recommend Jil Sander Sensations, which is the olfactory version of cashmere underwear: it WILL come to the gym with you, but it will envelop you in cozy softness even there. The perfect low maintenance “I don’t want to make a statement today but want to smell and feel good anyway” fragrance!