When a Man Love a Woman(‘s Fragrance)


It seems like every single one of my posts on here starts with me introducing you to yet another quirk of my nose. I don’t want let any of you down, so I’ll just continue. Sometimes I like to wear fragrances that you, luckyscent, your grandmother, the counter attendant at Macy’s, and pretty much everyone else consider feminine when spritzed on paper. I absolutely hate the marketing of a fragrance toward a man or woman specifically. I guess I can thank my coming of age in the days of CK One for that. Musette’s mention of men wearing Fracas helped me feel much more comfortable writing this post. (Thanks!!!)

Tuberose is a note that most associate with feminine fragrances and I think bulk of perfumes heavy in tuberose are marketed toward women. Bond No 9 Saks en Rose, Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, and Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle get plenty of play on my skin. I get more compliments while wearing Saks en Rose than most of my “men’s” fragrances. I’ve only had one person ever confuse a tuberose I was wearing for being on a female in my vicinity.

Jasmine is also a love of mine; not shocking to anyone who read my Mother’s Day post, I’m sure. I just HAD to spritz myself with a little of my Mother’s Serge Lutens Sarrasins before I headed home after Mother’s Day. While standing in line at the gas station about halfway home, a woman in line said I smelled “fantastic.” Considering I don’t have strangers randomly mention my fragrance to me without it being brought up in conversation, I felt pretty solid about being able to pull it off.

And finally, my love of Orientals knows no gender bounds, I’ve been sniffed wearing vintage Opium, a few of the Amouage Woman perfumes, and most recently a new love of mine: Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale. I’ve never understood what makes one fragrance that smells like a soukh, apple pie, or spice cabinet more masculine or feminine than another.

So if you’re a man, wear your “women’s” fragrances proudly, and if you’re a woman, maybe spritz a favorite of yours on the Significant Other and see what you both think. While I don’t want to smell like a giant bouquet of flowers on a sunny May day, there are plenty of other fragrances marketed toward women that I absolutely adore. Now that it’s all out in the open, I think I’ll put on some Fracas and wear it proudly.

  • carlene says:

    I have a friend, I hope he’s reading, who wears women’s fragrances (and unisex and probably some men’s; he does not discriminate) and they are a.mazing. on him. Roses! Vintage Emeraude! I could only dream they would smell like that on me. It’s infuriating. Delicious, but infuriating.

  • I love to live under the delusion that florals smell masculine on my skin. No problems there. I wear them proudly just as long as they are not thick and sticky sweet. But one has to admit that with marketing trends shifting so dramatically some classic feminines are now totally on the masculine spectrum, especially the green ones, like Jacomo Silences

  • Great article. I am parfumdrogynous too, throw anything good, some things awful my way and i’ll wear them happily. I would love someone to call me out on it one day, I’ll tell them to go get Fracas too.

    • Derek says:

      Hahaha! I think even if most people asked me what I was wearing they wouldn’t know if it was a m or f unless it has “homme” or “miss” in the title!

  • mariekel says:

    I am completely with you, Derek. I wear what I like, regardless of marketing. One of my very favorites is Dior’s Jules. I also adore PG Querelle and have been known to wear Divine’s “male” fragrances, Aramis and Guerlain Derby. I wore vetiver as a teenager even though it was considered strictly masculine then. Never stopped me getting dates!

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    Have you tried Mitsouko, Derek. When I was poking around the internet to see what other people’s experiences with Mitsouko were, I came across a man’s review on Now Smell This. I wore Mitsy the very next day to see if I could get his point and after a couple hours, I did see his point. Fracas or any kind of tuberose dominant perfume always seems to give me trouble. I just find it to be just suffocating. To make things worse for me, most “gardenia” perfumes are tuberose dominant. I love gardenia perfumes and know that gardenia flowers themselves either don’t produce any useable essential oil or not enough (can’t remember which). I find Chanel’s Cuir de Russie and Sycomore to be perfect perfumes that can easily be worn by either sex and are marketed to women.

    • Derek says:

      I haven’t tried Mitsuoko, sadly. I know, it’s basically perfume-blasphemy! I’ll put it on the must-try list based on your recommendation!

  • nozknoz says:

    Hurray for your quirky nose, Derek! You’re absolutely right that the current M/F fragrance classifications are absurd. For one thing, it’s clear that men in different cultures and historical epics have reveled in roses, violets, jasmine and other flowers. Wear ’em loud and proud!

    • Derek says:

      Thanks! I’m glad I can share a little about me and hopefully open up a dialogue about fragrance and specific perfumes.

  • Musette says:

    You’re welcome, Derek! Imo, there is nothing more intriguing than a man in a ‘woman’s’ fragrance, especially in lieu of the generic colognes so many men wear. Male hormones seem to twist the scent just a bit – turn it HAWT!

    Report back on Fracas!!! You’ll probably be beating them off with a stick!

    xoxo :Devil:

    • Derek says:

      Hahaha, I agree that men’s chemistry really changes anything intended for women. I fully intend to try Fracas tomorrow night. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • Perfumista8 says:

    Great article! I completely agree that it’s pointless to tag fragrances with a gender. If the point of labeling is to help narrow down the selection a bit, because the sheer number of frags can be intimidating, then it would be much more helpful to use descriptive language such as the mood the frag evokes or even just the type/genre. I love many “masculine” fragrances on me and I’d love to try some of my “feminine” fragrances on my hubby. He has excellent taste. Hmm, what should I start with?

    • Derek says:

      I think as a primer, Orientals are good. But I really love Tuberose and dark rose perfumes too.

  • Poodle says:

    I don’t fall for the gender tag either. I love Avignon, John Varvatos Artisan, Lolita Lempicka Au Masculine and others. I always have worn some men’s fragrances. In high school my friend thought I was nuts when I would do that but my feeling was “I like how this smells” and if I like it why on earth can’t I wear it. Why should I have to wait until there’s a guy around to smell it? Who would even know what I have on anyway? It’s not like I walk around with the bottle around my neck. If I smelled jasmine on a guy I would love it and would definitely lean in closer for a sniff. Men do not need to smell like pine trees. That being said I’m glad my husband hasn’t realized this just yet because he would swipe even more of my scents than he already does. He sticks with the one that say “homme” on the bottle. 🙂

    • Derek says:

      I agree completely! I’d be more embarrassed about a thousand other things than admitting I was wearing a perfume that a marketing department deemed “for a woman.”

  • Patty White says:

    I really dislike the tags of masuline/feminine in perfume as well. I mean, who decided that women should smell like lillies and men should smell like a fern? It makes no sense.

    I’d never bat an eye if a guy sidled up next to me wafting soft clouds of jasmine. I think I’d just be sniffing him with abandon. More guys should try it, really. It’s being secure in your Guy Card Ownership. so glad you wrote this!

    • Derek says:

      Glad you like! It’s something I really believe and wanted to get it out there for discussion.

  • Lucasai says:

    Great article Derek, you really hit the right point in this article. I, myself, live my perfume life with a thought that perfume knows no boundaries which also means it knows no gender. Of course perfume concerns divide perfume into feminines and masculines, but that’s only a marketing trick, don’t you think?
    I believe there’s no need for this in perfumery. I personally don’t feel weird while wearing a perfume that was ekhm “meant for women.” Some of the women fragrances smell better on men and vice versa, right?

    • Derek says:

      I agree completely… I normally just see it as… “Oh that’s not for me.” more than it being to “girly”

  • vizcondesadesaintluc says:

    Since I love iris I have chosen a male fragrance Dior homme intense that smells really gorgeous on my skin.
    Regards from Spain!

    • Derek says:

      Glad someone else isn’t concerned with the gender marketing people assign to a fragrance.

  • The whole male/female perfume thing is a marketing scam. Notes are not inherently masculine or feminine, any more than Marlboro cigarettes (originally marketed as a woman’s cigarette) is inherently “manly”. I personally don’t like white flowers on myself (except for muguet), I like the concept of roses and the way they smell on the vine but can’t wear them since they become harsh on my skin. But I do like violets and can wear them. (other fragrances I love in vivo but mostly can’t wear in a fragrance include lavender, nutmeg, and cardamon).

    I’ve found that there are a lot of men out there who think wearing fragrance of any sort is somehow unmasculine … never been able to figure that one out.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    I adore some ‘male’ fragrances, I tend to make them warmer and sweeter. Favourites include Costume National Homme, Grey Flannel, Pour Monsieur, Dior Homme. My husband is not into fragrance at all but will usually let me spray him and he smells great in Emeraude and in TF White Patchouli (which is a horror show on me). Wear what you love and the hell with the label!

  • Sam says:

    I find my fragrances smell very different on my boyfriend than on me–and usually quite nice. Something about his chemistry mellows fragrances, warms them, diffuses them. (I admit, I’ve never sprayed him with something uber-feminine, like Heure Exquise, for example; I should try, if he’ll let me!) I find, however, that the opposite–spraying myself with so-called masculine fragrances–rarely works. There’s a note in many men’s frags that is awful on me. I call it “eau de manly cologne,” and tho I always recognize it, I don’t know what it actually is. However, I can wear Amouage’s men’s perfumes because they’re glorious–and don’t contain that “manly” note–along with a few others. Anyway, I’m going to have to give my BF a little spritz of FM CF or SL TC one of these days. I don’t like to wear them–but maybe he will! Thanks for the idea, Derek.