Summer Friday Poll: Perfume BT/AT

A computer that size now fits in your hand!

I’ve had this question taking up space in my head all week: How has technology improved/intruded on our lives?

Was it simpler back in the day when we didn’t have all this gadgetry making us so available to each other, or do we revel in the fact that we’re so accessible? I’m not just talking about cell phones and text messaging; I’m talking e-commerce, social media, Facebook – all the stuff we can no longer function without.

Then the thought lead me to perfume, and my question is, how did we find out about new scents before the Internet? Yes, we saw magazine ads and television commercials, and then came scent strips, but this medium took it to another level entirely. We have blogs and groups and countless sites we go to for the latest news and opinions. Is it too much or is it just right?

My question to you is: Were you content with your scents before technology or after technology? How has technology affected your feelings about fragrance? Inquiring minds want to know.

Have a great weekend!


  • Olfacta says:

    Before the perfume blogosphere and forums and all the rest of it, I bought perfume in stores, at retail price, which I never do now. Of course, then I had maybe 3 or 4 bottles and a signature scent. It’s not as though I’ve saved any money, considering the size of my collection!

    Technology in general though: we’re all working for it now.

  • Barbara says:

    I’ve always loved perfume, but like nozknoz, my obsession began with The Guide. Through it, I became intrigued with vintage and began to collect vintage perfume. Could I have done that without the Internet? Sure. I’d have maybe 15 in my collection, instead, thanks to eBay and the Miniature Perfume Shoppe…I have an embarrassing sum for my scent library/museum amassed over three years.

    So…yay for the Internet, in that respect.

    Great question!

  • nozknoz says:

    I grew up BT, and I could never go back. Nonetheless, I am dragging my feet a bit in moving forward – no smart phone or Facebook page so far. Also have to say that I’m very worried about the impact of the fragmented attention span and ever shorter-term perspective – the center does not hold.

    I’m tempted to say the greatest influence on my perfumehood is an old-fashioned book – The Guide. However, I might never have discovered The Guide and cerainly wouldn’t have been able to sample more than a handful of it’s five-star recommendations without the internet. And I get huge enjoyment out of the perfume blogs – thanks to all of you for that!

  • Kirsten says:

    If it wasn’t for the internet, I’d still be impulse buying full bottles from the mainstream stores, then giving them away a couple of months later.
    Now, sampling and decants and the ability to buy over the internet means a lot less money wasted – not to mention all the fun of the perfume blog communities, and finding comfort in knowing you are not alone in your perfume madness and you are not a freak!

  • pyramus says:

    Technology all the way, baby. In the eighties, when I started seriously wearing fragrances, you could get information about them from two places: promotional material that sales clerks would occasionally let you see, and really expensive books. Now you can get as much information as you can possibly handle, at the press of a key. You can’t trust all of it, of course, but too much is better than not enough, and you can develop a nonsense filter if you work at it. And, of course, you can order anything online. Access to a near-infinity of scents and information about them has enriched my life more than I could say.

  • Julie says:

    The 2 issues I see with technology are choice and screen time vs. face time. Studies show that people are “happier” with less choices, but I think as perfumistas, we know that isn’t true for us! I wore perfume BT, but just in a serial monogamistic way, whatever I found in dept. stores or Marshalls. When I started looking online for things I read about in magazines, maybe 4 years ago, I found the blogs and luckyscent and TPC and all that. So if it weren’t for the internet, I’d still be wearing perfume, just not very interesting stuff (and be much richer!). And in our case, the “screen time” we spend on blogs and trolling eBay is not something we could do in person – we’d be limited to our friends and local shops, so I think it has enriched my life – “meeting” and swapping with commenters and learning all about different perfumes. As long as it isn’t something you spend waaaaay too much time on, I think it’s great.

    • Julie says:

      And a little more about choice. I think that I was happy with my perfume wearing BT – in a kinda “ignorance is bliss” way. If you don’t know what you’re missing out on, then you aren’t missing anything! The internet feeds us so many choices and it can get overwhelming if you let it and feel like you have to try all the perfumes that exist (the same could be said for books or movies or music – I just got Spotify yesterday and was instantly overwhelmed that i could listen to anything!). Also, with so many choices, it’s easy to get acquisitive – getting things just to get them, again, could be with any hobby, but the internet makes it so easy!

  • Ann says:

    Great post, Nava — very thought-provoking! As I mentioned above, I am a BT baby. So although my perfume love was strong early on, I could only feed it through actual brick and mortar stores, which, as I got older, still managed to give me pretty decent variety (Neiman’s, Saks, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Macy’s). But the age of the Internet really opened my eyes to the world of niche. And, of course, to these lovely blogs, where we can commune with fellow perfumistas, like all of you!

  • maggiecat says:

    I’m more than old enough to remember BT, when I discovered fragrances through scent strips in magazines and sniffing things in stores. The best thing about technology is learning that there are others out there just like me! I remember going shopping with my sister and her chiding me “You can’t walk around the mall sniffing your wrist and your elbow all the time.” But now I know that yes, yes I can. I’m NOT crazy – or at least, not alone! :-)

    • Ann says:

      Nope, you’re far from alone! I used to get the same thing from my friends, who used to roll their eyes at me, and had to drag me away, kicking and screaming, from the perfume counters.

  • Kit says:

    I remember when I was little and computers were huge ugly boxes. They didn’t talk to each other. I used to sit beside my mom and watch her play Zork: black screen, white text, no graphics whatsoever. Then my family moved overseas and lived there for several years. When I came back, computers came in different colors and, even more wonderful, could access this thing called the Internet! Everything was different and life changed.

    Honestly, though, I was still young enough to pretty much take it in stride and now I can’t imagine life without it. I’ve learned so many useful things on the internet and become interested in things I would never have heard of otherwise. I certainly credit the Internet with my love for perfume. I don’t know if I ever would have braved the perfume counters with enough persistence to discover things I really liked otherwise.

  • Nita says:

    I am old enough to remember the world BT and it is so much more interesting now! I have my morning tea in front of the computer & catch up on news, weather, new scientific discoveries, & what far-away friends & relatives have emailed and/or posted on Facebook. I never managed to find a perfume I truly loved (after years of hoping) until a few years ago when I discovered perfume blogs. Now I am in Perfume Heaven!!
    The internet offers marvelous educational opportunities and there are so many people willing to help others & to share what they know. I have just discovered that you can learn Turkish online absolutely free, which I daydream about doing while I continue to study Greek & to sew more of all that beautiful fabric I’ve bought online!

  • Alnysie says:

    My parents never wore perfume, and most of my friends now don’t — and like AnnieA, my friends that do have a signature scent, mayyyybe two, and that’s it. Maybe I’d have ended up at the same place that I am today, but it’d probably have taken many years instead of weeks, to go from “I have to smell every fragrance at the drugstore!” to owning samples and decants and bottles and knowing about the history of perfume and niches and all that fun stuff. And since I hate smelling fragrances at the store (it smells so perfume-y already, I have a headache entering the store, and I can’t really smell anything anymore), being able to order samples online and smelling them in the comfort of my home has really made it a pleasure instead of an annoyance.

    So like Disteza, I’d say that the Internet is in a very large part to blame! And I’m really grateful it’s available!

  • Disteza says:

    Being young-ish, I have to admit that the internet is entirely responsible for my perfume addiction. I do remember the world BT though–and I admit I rather liked it more. The problem with constant communication is that inevitably you run out of things that are worth communicating. It seems like no one cares about the quality of what they’re communicating, or even their own privacy!

    I feel like I’m the only person I know who’s gainfully employed, in her 20’s, who has neither a cellphone nor a facebook/twitter account. I am personally too busy to waste time on such things. My friends consider me to be mysteriously off-grid, but between phone and e-mail and *OMG* actual face-to-face communication, I seem to get by just fine.

  • Musette says:

    A friend and I were just discussing this topic yesterday! We are BT babies, come of age when you learned to type on an Underwood QWERTY-style (I remember our delight when the first IBM Selectrics became available and then our double-delight when they became more affordable (of course you had to buy them used but so what?). Our worlds were much less expandable – for most, it was bounded by your neighborhood and, later on, your job-friends. If you were lucky (as I was) you met people in college or at work who were from other parts of the country – or the world – and if you were really lucky (I was) you could go visit them. But it was a big deal.

    My first grownup job was in the marketing dept of a major retailer so I had access to perfume early on – but I didn’t know what I had then. My interest was like so many of you – one or two fragrances I wore ad infinitum – then something would cross my path and I would wear that one to death…..and so on. Like so many of you I stumbled into the online perfume community researching a long-lost scent (Nina Ricci Bigarade). But without the technology I prolly would’ve just sought it out in antique malls and been happy with that search (I remember driving to St Louis once to research a children’s film I remembered from back in the early 70s! Had to go to the main library and troll through hours of microfiche! Now, I just type in a few words and bingobangoboom! Do I miss the hours of research? Sometimes. somehow there was time available to do that…

    …but I digress..

    Perfume: I think the Internet spawned my perfume obsession. Without it, I would’ve been happily ignorant. However,I’m glad that it exists to take me on this journey.

    xo >-)

    ps. without the Internet, I doubt I could live where I live today. Because of the Internet I can have my world, even as I live in a totally alien place.

    • Ann says:

      Amen, Musette! I hear you on being a BT baby. I remember punching my fingers raw on an old manual Underwood (even as late as 1982-83 at my independent [read: not university-funded] college newspaper. So I was elated when the electrics came in, tee hee, not to mention computers!

      • Nava says:

        Ladies: is it a blessing or a curse that we’ve seen so much technology permeate our lives? I learned to type on an electric typewriter in middle school and consider myself lucky. Today, there are computers in kindergarten.

        By the way, my handwriting sucks huge!

        • Musette says:

          About 3 times a year I force myself to sit down and write a letter. On paper, with a fountain pen.

          My art mentor, the late, great R.B. Kitaj, refused to embrace technology – his method of communication was handwritten postcards and his penmanship was exquisite. At one point a pal suggested they communicate by fax (this was back in the heady days of faxing) because phoning was so difficult (they were both nearly deaf). Kitaj said he would sooner retrofit his house with gaslight than do that. So postcards it was. I thought it charming.

          xo >-)

        • Ann says:

          My handwriting’s not what it used to be, that’s for sure! About the only things I hand-write anymore are thank-you notes, to-do lists and checks (yep, still write a few of those, old fogey that I am)!! :)

  • Maureen says:

    I used to be a one or two fragrance girl…whatever my late husband bought me…usually Chanel…for Christmas. I stumbled on to the perfume blogs just this past winter searching for a less expensive put similar fragrance to coco Mademoiselle which is the last one he bought me…passed 7 years this July. It has opened up a whole new world! I think & love it, except now I have to win the lottery to try all the fragrances I want to experience.

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    Would I have had an interest in perfume BT? Yes, but a frustrated interest. I remember that I used to try various new fragrances (and ones I had heard about, like Opium, Joy and Shalimar) but never liked them. (I have grown to like Shalimar and Joy, but that’s another story.) The online communities opened my eyes to things to try. I like this much better than a scatter-shot approach, especially since I live in a mid-sized city and would never have seen By Kilian, Frederick Malle, Serge Lutens, many Chanels or many Guerlains.

  • KirstenMarie says:

    I love your blog topic! I’m what I like to think of as a current anachronism. I enjoy the instant communication email and social networking allow, but I think a letter written with a fountain pen is priceless. One with a little flex in the nib so your line width varies slightly makes ANY handwriting prettier! There is something about taking your time to enjoy things – books, letters, a cup of tea or coffee.

    BT, I think how word about perfume would pass was much more through social interaction. You’d smell an amazing scent at a dinner party, and talk to the woman wearing it. Rather than social network, people actually socialized! Home parties seem to be rarer now, though still treasured. Or you’d be out in the Big Department stores and get a sniff (how has technology influenced department sales? ‘Nother interesting question) Maybe you’d enjoy a swap at a neighbor’s house in the afternoon waiting for the kids to get home from school. PTA meetings? All those things mean you’re out of the house and interacting with real people. It’s the antithesis of the girl in the car commercial who is at home with her computer, complaining her parents – who are out camping and biking – have no life because they only have 19 friends on Facebook. The interaction between real humans makes a difference in perfume, since we don’t have a way (yet!) to experience smell online.

    All that said, yes, the blogs have increased my knowledge of and desire for perfume. We are forced to be creative in our descriptions since the nose and the computer can’t interact, yet. But what the blogs REALLY facilitate are virtual friendships among people with the same passions who “get” you, where people in your circle where you live may not. And the amount and quality of opinions here (“That smelled like cat pee on me!” or “Divine scent sent from Heaven!”) do more to compare and contrast the goodies available than any biased advertising campaign could.

  • rosarita says:

    Great topic! I am old, so I grew up BT, in a small town. As teenagers, we were always complaining bitterly how there was nothing to do. I now work in a high school and teens haven’t changed much; they have all the gadgets but still complain. I do miss the face to face time, though. People used to visit, play cards, talk. As everyone becomes more insular, closed up with our online communities, our actual communities cease to exist in the same way and that’s a shame. As to perfume, I would never have discovered niche lines and most of my perfume loves without the internet. I first got hooked 5-6 yrs ago and there was only a handful of blogs and new niche releases; now no one can keep up with the floods of information. The more there is to sort through, the less interested I become. I still read blogs but I am content with my collection as it is. I think the world is much easier to deal with in general without such a plethora of choice, but at the same time, I can choose which aspects of technology I want to use or not.

  • AnnieA says:

    BT I wore Cristalle or Dioressimo and that was it. Like others, I stumbled onto perfume blogs via a review of a third perfume I was interested in. My in-person friends are tolerant of my interest, but all of them are still the signature types, ie “But why would I need a second perfume?” YOU, however, all know perfectly well why…

  • karin says:

    I think technology and advancement are a good thing. All eras have had their challenges and problems, but those problems don’t worsen with the advancement of technology; they just change shape.

    And who knows? Perhaps someone would have started an international perfumista club without the help of technology. Newsletters sent in the mail, weekly chapter meetings, annual international meetings, Sniffapalooza trips, etc. But daily interaction with others across the globe surely wouldn’t exist.

    I’ve always loved perfume, but my interest in it exploded when I found an online community. Though it could be seen as a time suck on occasion, is that a bad thing if it’s something I enjoy? What else would I be doing – cleaning house? It’s the current generation’s version of a coffee klatch. Instead of hang out with our neighbors, we hang out with our perfume friends on the blogs and FB!

    Sad thing is, I don’t even know my neighbors. Maybe I need to get out there and knock on some doors.

    • Nava says:

      When I was a kid, my mom and my next-door neighbor would be having coffee in the kitchen every day when I got home from school. There was something very comforting about that. And while I love chatting with all my Internet friends, I do sometimes wish I could meet up with many of these people face-to-face.

  • Todd T says:

    Tech, has expanded my collection. I would never heard of Amouage, Montale etc… Internet opened up a whole new world to me. Since I have found this blog and other places on the internet. I can’t even shop at macy’s anymore. Not sure if its good or bad. I do I can’t wear mainstream anymore.



    • Nava says:

      Funny, the sheer number of choices has me re-embracing mainstream. Don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

  • hongkongmom says:

    We didn’t have tv until i was 16 in South Africa…Sometimes I gasp in disbelief at the rate of tech. development…It could be scary, but its better to make it positive. I have always loved perfume, and I think the imbalance of the amount of perfumes and all stuff available forces us to work harder at our own internal balance than in the good old days! altho so many get lost in the torrent of the material world! Just smelled honour woman…its not on my lemming list for sure!

  • Tamara*J says:

    My mama was telling tonight about how they didn’t have a phone until she was 16 AND even then it was a “party” line shared by other neighbors way out in the Missouri country. No running water till she was a senior in high school. When I told her tonight how my daughters bemoan their life being the only ones ALIVE to not have cell phones like everyone else she told me to mention this. :)

    • Nava says:

      I don’t think today’s youth could ever imagine what it would be like to live without their cell phones.

  • Tamara*J says:

    I always have loved and collected perfume but this internet has got me all jacked up. Never satisfied,never enough. All messed up man. ;)

  • Meg says:

    I had a great time with signatures before going online for scent-knowledge or scent purchases. I was content to wear Gucci Rush for Men or L de Lolita and to be defined by it to others. I would have long and heated discussions about perfume with my friend and spend hours sniffing together in stores in person. However, I wouldn’t go back. I found NST and the posse because I was curious about a reviews for Idole d’Armani, what I was wearing at the time. I shudder to think that now, if I hadn’t come online and discovered CBIHP, SL, LAP, PDN, etc… I might be wearing Idole d’armani as a signature. Right now. And that is an alternate world I don’t want to live in.

  • Madea says:

    I honestly don’t remember life BT. Most of my memories date to a time when there was the internet, and in a lot of ways, my life has been defined by constant availability of information*.

    When I hear people talk about life BT,though, I think that it might have been easier, in some ways, to live in a world with finite choices. When my grandmother was my age, her life was much more settled than mine is–she had a better sense of where she was going. (As it turned out, it wasn’t necessarily accurate, but that was later).

    On the other hand, the lack of definition means people can make nearly any sort of life for themselves. The same goes for perfume–we’re not limited by what’s around us, but now we have to wade through loads more to find what’s good.

    Overall, I think it’s worth it. Finding a common bond, sharing experiences, having fun, more than makes up for having to kiss a few frogs. It’s rare to find people that truly share an esoteric interest–finding a universe of them has been a godsend.

    If anyone’s still reading this novel, the answer is AT.