What to buy your guy…

Unfinished Bizness from March — winner of the DSH draw is …. Jennifer!   I emailed you.   Winner of the Tauer post I will put up in that post (and close comments.)  Also, speaking of scents for men (and for those of us who like to smell like men) …. CB I Hate Perfume has some excellent news for those of us who mourned the loss of Cumming…!

Okay, on to today’s review…

By Tom

I often get questions from friends about what they should get for their guys, usually with a caveat that the guy in question really doesn’t wear cologne so it can’t be something that’s too strong.  It also should be something that’s readily available and not too expensive, so if he decides to replace it when he runs out the poor dear isn’t upset when he sees that you dropped $200 at Saks on him while he got your present at Home Depot.  Which is very nice of you.  I would have told him exactly where to put that garden gnome and perhaps offer to assist, but that is perhaps why I am alone…

In any case, here are five that are delightful, available readily at places on the internets or Sephora, and not bank breakers.

Acqua di Parma Colonia is a beautiful citrus/lavender number with hints of rose and sage and a lovely woody drydown.  At $83 for 1.7 oz it’s one of the more expensive ones in this post, but the quality of the ingredients and general luxe-ness makes it a bargain.  It looks and smells like $283.  Cary Grant wore it.  Need I say more?

Dior Eau Sauvage is a close second.  It was created in the 60’s but there’s nothing dated about it; it’s as fresh and modern as its sparking lemon/petigrain opening.  There is something about this one that just smells “right” in a way that even a man who insists that he does not and would never wear cologne couldn’t resist.  At $52 for 1.7 oz it’s also a bargain.  I’ve personally always wanted one of those mammoth bottles of this…

Guerlain Vetiver is the Gold Standard reference for what a vetiver should be.  Not too grassy, not too rooty, and skillfully married to citrus, spice and pepper.  Lovely, but I do have a warning: I got this for a friend’s husband and he managed to wake her from a sound sleep by his over-application of it.  From a splash.  If he’s like that you might want to get the smallest bottle or apply for him.  $71 for 2.5 oz.

Bvlgari Black is for your more adventurous man.  Smoky tea with a hint of rubber and leather in a bottle that looks like a mag wheel and low-profile tire.  It could have been tragically silly, but it’s a  masterpiece.  It’s also $74 for 2.5 oz.

Bvlgari Green Tea skates the other side of the rink.  Crisp citrus and refreshing green tea mixed with discrete spices and dry woods make this the cologne equivalent of a shirt fresh from the cleaners.  On hot days you’ll be poaching it.  $60 for 1.33 oz.

The prices quoted are from Sephora, which I chose because I’m sure that there’s one near you even if your current address is somewhere in orbit.  I daresay that you can do better price-wise at discounters or on the internets.  I know I did.

Disclosure: three of these I own currently purchased from various sources, the other two I have owned in the past and am remembering.

  • Jennifer says:

    I nabbed a bottle at Ross for about $20 recently .I originally thought MINEMINEMINE buuut….. Christmas…Okay (grr) I’ll be giving. Told Dad it’s a Unisex and had him try it .He thought it was pretty okay (He liked it ).He’s been a Stetson wearer for decades and just this year really branched into wearing Burberry Brit mens.
    I had him try Blue Sugar and since it is labeled as a mens he will admit liking it .To me it is almost duplicated in the female market by Lolita Lempicka “L”.Tom Ford Black Orchid and the mens Burberry London(plaid fabric bottle)seem to be absolute doubles too.Weird huh?

  • jen says:

    I just checked; there’s tons of blvgari black for cheap on ebay. I love it for me.

  • nozknoz says:

    “scents for men (and for those of us who like to smell like men)” Ha, ha – we’re busted! :-) I just adore an instant AC blast of Guerlain Vetiver in the summer! I’ve also tried their Vetiver pour Elle but all that white musk ruins the crispness, IMO. Thanks for more ideas, Tom!

  • dinazad says:

    A lovely selection, but I’d add the lovely Cacharel pour Homme. Another one that lends itself to poaching!

  • Vasily says:

    I don’t know which if any of the following are available at Sephora, but here are additions to the list from my bottleworthy/decantworthy lists, all of them very affordable:

    Helan Vetiver and Rum
    Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel
    Guerlain Habit Rouge Sport
    Aramis Havana
    Caswell-Massey (several colognes)
    Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea

  • Ms.Christian says:

    I am so glad you are doing columns, Tom. Another wonderful one!

  • marina says:

    Mr C actually has one of this, yay! :)

  • LindaB says:

    Great list! I just bought Bvlgari Black for my own personal stocking – got it for a song online, tester / no cap version. I bought hubby a small bottle of Stetson for his stocking. Nostalgia maybe? It is very well done and for $13! I am lucky though that my man shares my perfume passion (well, not nearly as crazed as I am) and wears cologne on a daily basis so he already has a fine collection.

  • jirish says:

    Great suggestions. Vetiver and Acqua di Parma were my first fragrance gifts for my husband, who was pretty much a non-cologne wearer. And, as others have noted, all of these choices are great for poaching! I love to wear some Acqua di Parma on a hot summer day.

  • SilviaFunkly says:

    Me likes your list! I’d gladly sniff any man who wore your choices.

    My hubby is my guinee pig of choice, and although he doesn’t lend his skin gladly to some of my wilder my experiments, he has enjoyed my perfume addiction over the years.

    For me Hermes’ Equipage is another “must” man choice, but that’s probably because it’s been my father’s scent forever. These days it’s no so easy to find (although Hermes reassuringly says they will NEVER discontinue any of their scents).

    That lovely Dior Homme also beckons…

  • Victoria says:

    What a great list! I especially like your recommendation of both Black Tea and Te Vert.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I love these suggestions, too. However, my husband probably would not appreciate any of these great fragrances. I love Bulgari Black. I think I could give my man a bottle of Rum Extract and he would be perfectly happy with that. =))

    • Tom says:

      Sometimes that’s for the best. I think I’d like to date a bald, anosmic guy so he wouldn’t filch my fumes or expense shampoo..

  • karin says:

    These are great suggestions, Tom! Thanks! I got a bottle of Eau Sauvage for my dad a couple of years ago. He loves it.

    My perfume obsession has spilled over to my husband, too. I’ve started forcing samples on him, and buying him a few bottles. He’s a good sport about it – he clearly doesn’t get the same excitement out of scent that I do – but lately, when he gets home from work, he’s been spraying a small spritz of something from his growing stash.

    First bottle I bought for him a couple of years ago was Bulgari Pour Homme. Then Chrome Legend (before I knew any better – this stuff can clear a room even with a very small spray), A*Men, and Azzaro (unsniffed purchase from TJMaxx based on LT’s review – a bit on the strong side, but not bad). For Christmas, I got him Field Notes from Paris. He had a sample spray (from me, of course…ha), and he liked it. I like it on him, too.

    • OperaFan says:

      My husband the same way. It started while we were still dating. I brought him a bottle of AG Eau du Fier edt and Hadrien after shave from a trip to Paris. He dutifully wore the EdF and grew to love it – savoring the final few drops still remaining in the bottle. Last year, of all the samples I passed on to him, he picked Timbuktu, so he received it for Christmas and dutifully wears it. There is also a mammoth splash bottle of Eau Sauvage in his cabinet, which like the Hadrien, he thinks is too “sweet” – so I guess he’s more of a patchouli kind of guy…

    • Elisa says:

      Yep, I keep buying fragrances for my homme and while he’s not as crazy about it as I am, he faithfully wears one every day and even takes a bottle with him when he goes out of town, so I know he’s not just doing it to humor me. :) Lately he’s been getting a lot of wear out of Clarins Eau Dynamisante — a unisex cologne that is affordable and pretty easy to find, like the suggestions above.

    • Tom says:

      Field Noted from Paris? Must investigate..

      • karin says:

        Tom – send me your address, and I’ll send you the sample spray. It’s a 1.5ml, and there’s about 3/4 of it left, so plenty to test. Will wait til after Christmas…then steal it from him. Afterall, he’ll have his own bottle, so won’t need it! :-)

  • Musette says:

    El O claims to be allergic (rash) to perfume but I’ve never seen it manifest on him – I just think he’s a big ~:> though he got the shock of his life, the one time he let ms spray my Fracas on him – Neil Morris suggested that BWFs smell GREAT on guys – and he wuz right! We went to a gathering and the women were wild for him/it, leaning in for closer sniffs, etc…

    but if I had to choose a regular scent for him, I think I would go for Habit Rouge in extrait. Oh, wait….that one’s for me, too! These are all gorgeous scents – great choices, Tom!

    xoxoxo >-)

    • Tom says:

      I looooove Habit Rough. But it’s not at Sephora is it? I was trying to do stuff that was readily available and not too pricey. For the holidays, since we only have a week left.

      • Musette says:

        Oh! Yeah. You’re right. :”> – sorry!

        You can’t even find the extrait at most of the boutiques anyway – I swear they make one gallon of it every 5 years and sell it at Jupiterian boutiques on alternate Flibsdays in Moonuary.

        xoxoxo >-)

  • Louise says:

    I love Tom Ford Extreme…but have a new bf, and the scent really worked on the former occupant of that position…so may go with Eau Sauvage. Any ideas for an outdoorsy, hunky, pony-tailed kind of guy…yeah…

  • Francesca says:

    My husband sort of went from zero to 60–never wore any fragrance his entire life, and then started wearing Musc Ravageur, which smells fantastic on him. I think, though, that he’d be much happier with books (more books!) than fragrance as a Christmas present.

  • gator grad says:

    I think I’m alone in really, really liking the new MJ Bang. I wish it had more sillage, but it’s fantastic on my DH: a combination of pepper, wood, smoke and skin. It smells amazingly human. Still looking for something like it with stronger sillage, if anyone knows of one…

    • Tom says:

      You’re not alone- I quite liked Bang.

      • Ann N. says:

        Well, now that makes three of us who are fond of Bang. I, too, like its peppery, woody, smoky attributes. My DH is getting some of it for one of his holiday gifts (and I may filch a bit myself). He professes not to care about scent — “it all smells good,” he says, waving at me dismissively, but I’ve noticed that almost every day before work he puts on the Tom Ford that I gave him last year. Maybe because it’s right by the sink after he’s done shaving, but …
        Anyway, nice column, Tom, and some very good picks — thanks!

        • Tom says:


          My only issue with Bang is that it’s a bit strong, so if you’re married to a four-spritz type of guy it could be an eye-opener first thing in the AM…

  • sybil says:

    As always, you are a monster of good taste!

  • Persolaise says:

    I thoroughly approve of your choices, but what about Habit Rouge… or would you consider that too strong?

    • Tom says:

      I love Habit Rouge and wear it often, but I don’t think it’s carried at places like Sephora. I was trying to keep it to places practically anyone could get to.

  • Vintage Lady says:

    Aqua di Parma, Bulgari Black, Guerlain Vetiver, these are the ones my brother was talking about yesterday.

  • Wordbird says:

    And can I also point out that all of these are utterly stealable if your man says a polite thank you and then leaves the bottle on the bathroom shelf. Just saying…

  • Masha says:

    Bvlgari Black is a very interesting morph-monster! On me, it’s 90% vanilla, 10% rubber weirdness. My fave vanilla. On several men, I get mainly incense, rubber, and leather. The vanilla sweetness practically disappears. So I’d say it smells great on men and women, but it smells different on each!