Cheap and Cheerful Part Deux: Woods of Windsor Lily of the Valley and “For Men”

Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

Well, if you needed proof that I read and take to heart comments on the blog, here’s my proof (Yes, I am going to blame y’all for my shopping addiction. Take responsibility? On what planet?)

Our own cinnamon on a comment on my last post mentioned Caldey Island Lavender and of course I reacted like Pavlov’s dog, immediately going down the rabbit hole of the interwebs to try to find it. I did, but the shipping was just a bit too dear for me so I just kept surfing until I came across Woods of Windsor.

W of W apparently started in the 1700’s in England and eventually was bought by the parent company of Yardley who owns them today. That’s the Evelyn Wood version, anyway. I have no particular enmity towards Yardley (I think it may be regarded as rather fusty in the UK, but could be wrong) so I just popped for a bottle of “For Him” on eBay and a small Lily of the Valley on Amazon.

For Him” arrived first (quotes are mine.) The website lists:

Head notes: Lemon, Orange, Bergamot, Nutmeg, Clove

Heart notes: Herbs

Base Notes: Oakmoss, Patchouli

I will write that this is very English (Or what we Yanks think of English from watching years of “Masterpiece” and ignoring the recent “Crown”) in that it’s very self-effacing. It seems to almost excuse itself before radiating anything as obtrusive as smell. When it does I don’t get as much of the citrus opening as I do a faint, surupy immortelle: not the glottal hit of AG Sables, more like her late, lamented Eau de Monsieur. This may be the “herbs” in the middle and I am very glad it’s there. The drydown has what passes for Oakmoss these days, still the (faint) immortelle and a hint of mint and I’ll take it, those and the patchouli are certainly nothing that’s going to frighten the horses. It’s one of those soft scents that make a guy (or a girl for that matter) just seem ”finished,” like having a good haircut or nicely shined shoes. Not flashy, just.. finished, in that suave, buttoned-down English way that people who douse themselves in the latest RL Eau de WASP will fail to accomplish. Were it terrible I would think “oh well, it was only $20,” as it is it’s so good I feel like I stole something.

Being Amazon, where you pay through the nose for Prime Shipping, Lily of the Valley was late.

The website lists:

Head notes: White Lily, Mimosa. Lemon, Orange

Heart notes: Lily of the Valley, Geranium, May Blossom

Base Notes: Sandalwood, Amber Musk

Now Lily of the Valley is one of my all-time favorite scents in real life. Growing up in New England, it was a sign of spring when it would pop it’s head out of lawns and people would carefully mow around the shoots rather than risk cutting them back. That smell still smells like spring to me and that (and Lilac) is something that we don’t get in SoCal and I miss.

I also was told that there is no way to tincture this particular scent: whatever version of it we have in perfume is entirely artificial, which can be forthright (and fantastic) as in Commes des Garcon Leaves or as heart-rendingly real as the old Diorissimo.

With Lily of the Valley the initial blast is all about the citrus and the mimosa. It’s very green and a little bitter. You don’t really get the lotv until later, and then it is a little swamped by the other flowers (as it would be in a spring garden I suppose.) It actually has kind of an odd echo effect- just when you’re thinking “this ain’t lotv” out its little head pops. Likely not the first thing I would reach for when I needed a fix of lotv, but it cost ¼ what Diorissimo goes for these days, and I am dead sure that the Dior likely doesn’t smell like the Dior of my memory.

I will also admit that I just like the name. “Woods of Windsor.” It just seems so veddy English. Like I should be taking the Corgis out for a walk wearing old tweeds while Sneaves has the oil changed on the Daimler. Or the England of E. F. Benson: Miss Mapp might use Lily of the Valley as a reminder of her youth in her dear Aunt’s Mallards, while Mr. Georgie would feel very daring putting on “For Men” for his two-handed duet with Lucia.

Major Benjy would, of course, upon smelling him mutter “milliner” under his breath and Quai Hai for and yet another Whiskey and soda..

These two are available at various places on the interwebs: I purchased “For Him” off eBay ($20ish for 100ML) and Lily of the Valley at Amazon ($22 for 3.3oz)

Have any of you tried any of these? Any other suggestions for the cheap and cheerful? Let us know in the comments.

  • Dina C. says:

    Good thing my cup of hot tea wasn’t in my hand yet, Tom! This really made me smile. I expected the entire cast of the Clue game to show up and have a Battle Royale with Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot! I have a couple of those old-fashion metal shaker tins of dusting powder that’s scented. One is Freesia by Caswell Massey, and the other is Taylor Lily of the Valley. Both are cheap and pleasant.

  • Musette says:

    Tom –

    meant to remind you of Coty (vintage) Muguet des Bois. It’s a great lotv. has several vintage iterations of it. Come early Spring, I lay all up IN the cologne


  • Musette says:

    oh, good grief! Now you’ve got me craving yet ANOTHER re-read of Mapp and Lucia!

    I love all of these cheaps and cheerfuls. There’s something so…easy..about them and there’s always a faint thinness to them that never fails to delight me (go figure). There used to be an Yves Rocher boutique/outlet (yes!) in a cheap little strip mall in the Western ‘burbs. I kept swearing I would stop in; alas, I never did….and now it’s gone. Alas. Their bath & body was amazing in that ‘bath & body’ way.


    • Tom says:

      Well, anything to enable a fellow luciaphil..

      Did you ever see the 2017 version? Almost universally hated by lovers of the ’85 one but I quite liked it.

  • March says:

    Oh lord I JUST REWATCHED Mapp and Lucia (the 2014 version), I needed some cheering; I should buy the books again, I loved them so much I kept giving mine away to people I liked. Also your writing is on point, my friend; I giggled all the way through this, so thank you! Sigh. I feel so unfinished these days … a little frayed, even. I think I’m going to dig out a gentle cologne and dab it on, maybe tuck a scented handkerchief into my purse or something. “For Him” sounds perfect.

    • Musette says:

      that scented handkerchief is perfect for you, li’l Missy.

      I shower, dress, put on makeup (not a lot but enough to not get arrested for looking rrrrrrough!) and AND perfume… just so I can walk the 3 blocks to the Post Office. Not for them (they couldn’t care less) but to remind me who I am. It really does help!


      • Tom says:

        I shower. I put on pants. Shoes, shirt, mask (covers a lot of sins and covid protection too? Can I get a hazmat suit?)

        Perfume goes before pants.

    • Tom says:

      A scented handkerchief was something I almost put in the review but forgot to. I think these are perfect hanky-scenting ‘fumes.

  • cinnamon says:

    These are available on amazon uk as well. Cheap as chips. Not surprised it’s silly money to have the Caldey Island shipped to US. I’ve yet to find a LotV that works on me. Probably won’t try this unless I can sample it in a department store or pharmacy.

    • Alityke says:

      My Caldey Island Lavender bottle leaks. Quite a bit was in the wrapping so the shipping to the US might end in an empty bottle.
      I can send you some Woods LotV if you would like to try

    • Tom says:

      If lotv is iffy on you then by all means try. I almost never blind buy but at that price I could just spray the sheets with it if it went south on me.

  • Alityke says:

    You guessed it Tom I have the Woods of Windsor LotV & their Jasmine. They crop up a lot in TKMaxx in the UK, usually 100ml for the £8 mark. They’re almost all simply good edcs but the bath & body ranges are where they really deliver!
    Yes Yardley as a house are seen as fusty here but do try their wares, again they’re edcs but smell good for peanuts. I like their Iris.
    I recently discovered Outremer Paris & bought there Vanille. They have other fragrances & I plan to explore those. I found them on Trouva.
    Of course Muehlens 4711 both EDC & their new stuff are the gold standard

    • March says:

      You have JUST reminded me I have a bottle of 4711, I think it made the move! I need to go look, that’d be just the ticket these days.

      • Musette says:

        YES! and don’t forget Jean Nate’!!! those – and all the rest – are very cheering! xoxoxo

        • Tom says:

          OMG Jean Naté? Suddenly it’s 1976! We had the after bath splash in a gallon drum (seemingly) in one of the bathrooms. My grandfather (yes, GF) loved it and it smelled sooo good.

          • Dina C. says:

            Jean Nate bath splash was my grandmother’s signature scent, so I had to buy some for that reason if nothing else. Great scent.

      • Tom says:

        That seals the deal. I’m going to frangrancenet..

    • Tom says:

      I’d trade you our TJMaxx for your TKMaxx for a few days to get access to the discount perfumes. Which reminds me, I need to cruise by the Beverly Connection and see what’s lurking..

      I may need a gallon of 4711 to put in the icebox for when it gets hot here. We used to have it at home for those oppressive humid New England summers. So delightful- couldn’t have been better if it were served with gin and shaved ice

  • Portia says:

    LOVE a cheap and cheerful bargain shop Tom.
    These sound very wearable and sweet, more the For Him TBH.
    My favourite way to LotV is the Hermès Porcelain Muguet. Melon and LotV. Beautiful.
    Portia xx