What’s That Smell??

what’s your favorite scent memory….


smell the flowers…. 

As you may or may not know, I am a perfume rep. Yes, I am one of those annoying people you walk by in department stores and try so hard to avoid. Although I, myself am not annoying(just wanted to add that)and do not try to spray anyone with my fragrance of the moment. I just stand there peacefully at the perfume counter holding my bottle and blotter cards and watch as people walk by and try very hard to either ignore me or hold their noses and run by me at top speed….I have been doing this job off and on now for over 14 years. Sometimes it is fun and sometimes its annoying and some times it brings back some great memories of days gone by. Take for instance this week…while I was working the other day one of the women who work in another department came by and I don’t remember how or why we started the conversation but it led to us discussing how many fragrances there are now and how few there were back when we were young.

We talked about the old perfumes of yesterday and what our mothers and grandmothers wore. Smells of the past like Emeraude by Coty(1921) and Tabu by Dana(1932). I can still smell each of them and it makes me feel a little sad. Of course this conversation brought up the question, “what was the first fragrance you ever wore?” Her first was Charlie and I think mine was Ambush(50’s) and then later thanks to my BFF Peggy…Royal Secret by Germaine Monteil. I felt so grown up wearing that fragrance even though it was a bit overwhelming for a teenager especially when all the rest of our friends were still wearing Ambush or the new hot one at the time, Charlie, that I mentioned my friend wore…

A few others from the 50’s and 60’s are My Sin and Arpege by Lanvin, Youth Dew, Joy by Jean Patou, Yardely and Jean Nate, which came out many years prior to the 50’s but was popular during that time period. I never liked Jean Nate by the way…Then in the 70’s Coty debuted Obsession and Eternity… both of which are still very popular to this day. I remember during the 80’s Giorgio came out and everyone was falling all over themselves for that one for quite a while. Never was a fan…

“Perfume is the key to our memories.” ~ Kate Lord Brown

Not to be ignored were the men’s fragrances…and they were plentiful…from the 50’s and 60’s came English Leather(one of my all time favs), Hai Karate, Canoe, British Sterling and Jade East. Old Spice from back in the 30’s was still very popular with the Dads…and Grandpas..I remember getting Grandpa a bottle every year for Christmas. Not sure he ever wore it, but he would smile a huge smile and thank me ever so much for the present, year after year.

While searching Wikipedia to see when some of these fragrances first appeared, I was amazed to see a lot of them came out in the 30’s and were still around in the 50’s and 60’s. Some of them are still going strong even today…and I do mean strong. Scents such as Evening in Paris, Chantilly, Opium and Shalimar are still around today, compare that to some of the new ones brought out every single year and by the beginning of the following year… are long gone.

I wore Royal Secret for quite a few years and then switched to L’Air du Temps and later Tresor. In the 90’s I was into L’ Eau D’Issey, Issey Miyake. I felt so avant garde wearing it. I didn’t switch my perfumes. I believed and still believe in having a “signature scent.” I now wear Chloe and have worn it for years. I love it and get lots of compliments on it. The new perfumes come and go but I think some of the old ones are still the best. Chloe, by designer Gaby Aghion first appeared in 1952, from what I see on various websites about perfume. I wore that one for a long time. The new Chloe is a bit different but I truly love the scent so much. It makes me feel “dressed up” when I spray it on every day.

Fragrance is an important part of our past. Smelling one of these old scents bring back so many memories. It is funny how much of an impact it can truly have. I can be walking somewhere and get a whiff of my Mom and Grandma and lately… my dear son. My own grand kids have even brought this subject up…yes, boys who pay no mind to anything remotely having to do with fashion or perfume. They say they know me by my smell. At least it makes me happy that I am known for something.

What was and is your favorite scent? What memories do certain fragrances bring to mind for you?

“Perfume is a way of stopping time. You smell a beautiful scent and you remember something.” ~ Isabel Toledo

24 thoughts on “What’s That Smell??

  1. Charlie all through the 80s, and it takes me back to a blue flowery dress with a high neck and shoulder pads. I hated that dress, but mum made me wear it when the family came round and I needed to get dressed up lol! However, when I came home from the local nightclub with a lovebite on my neck, that high necked dress suddenly became my favourite item of clothing…😂

  2. I’m one of the people who just might be rushing past your counter – a lot of fragrances bother me. (In fact, some flower scents that many people like smell, to me, like garbage. Rotting garbage. I’m serious. I think it’s generic; my son says lilacs, to him, smell like garbage although it is a pleasant scent to me.) Although my Mom wore perfume, I haven’t in years. But there are many fragrances that bring back memories. A fragrance I love is that of Johnson’s Baby Powder. And, speaking of body powder, I so remember the Lilacs and Roses my Mom used. It hasn’t been manufactured in years, as far as I know.

    1. Alana, I work with perfume but I don’t like a lot of it and I hate when women have too much on..I get that some people are allergic and some can’t take the smell, but you should see how they act when they run by me…and first of all if you(not you) can’t stand perfume why walk in that dept?

  3. My Mother wore Jean Nate because we could buy it for her at the drug store. She switched to Red Door and but always kept a Channel #5 tucked away. I remember watching her dress for a fancy occasion and her saying CoCo was a bitch Nazi Sympathizer but she could make a good scent! Personally I don’t care for Channel, maybe I have been brain washed?

    1. Haralee, I do not like Chanel at all…and people constantly come in and ask for it…they always pronounce it the wrong way…and I want to say, “what channel would you like to watch”…I think I did like Jean Nate for a while and then just got tired of it at some point…

  4. Such a great walk down memory lane! Fun fact: my grandfather (not grandmother) wore Jean Nate and always smelled delicious. My father wore Polo, and a few weeks after he passed away I walked by a man in the grocery store who was wearing it and nearly fell over, I was so overwhelmed with memories and sadness. Now if I smell it it just makes me smile.

    1. Well fragrance smells different on everyone Sharon so I am sure it smelled wonderful on your grandfather….and isn’t it crazy how a certain smell can bring back such a wonderful memory..Thanks Sharon!

  5. My Mom was a seamstress and sewed for many “well-to-do” ladies. One in particular had a certain scent on her clothes. I had my Mom ask her what it was. It turned out to be Royal Secret and somehow I got the money to buy some. Wore it for years. Now I wear Jimmy Choo (the original) Sometimes I switch to LaCosta (the pink one) My Grandmas bathroom smelled like lavender. I still love walking in the woods and smelling the damp leaves, pine trees, etc. Sooooo many smells have different kinds of memories. Now I’ll be thinking of some all day long.

    1. well I smelled it on you and had to have it Peg! Thanks for wearing it….and I don’t even know where I got the money to buy it, maybe babysitting…

  6. My favorite smell is from the kitchen when my wife is busily concocting a great meal to serve. To me, the care and love that go into preparing the meal makes the smell something to really savor and enjoy. Two other smells that I enjoy are the smell of spring flowers blooming after a particularly harsh winter and the smell of rain in the air after a prolonged dry spell. And, think of the Loving Spoonful, what could be better than falling into someone’s new mowed lawn? Thanks for your blog.

  7. I agree with Mary Anne, in that Shalimar was my fragrance for so many years. Eventually, wearing a fragrance in public became “out of fashion” because so many people had allergies. I had developed an allergy to many fragrances, but not all. There seems to be a component or ingredient in many fragrances, that I can not tolerate. It seems to permeate every cell in my body and drives me crazy until I can find a way to rid it from my nose!! Even though I LOVE fragrance, I still steer clear of the fragrance aisle due to this development. Still love Shalimar but have not owned it for many years. I now have a bottle of a Vanilla fragrance that is very, very light and causes me no problem, but I refrain from wearing anything to the doctor as you are requested due to the aforementioned allergy issues. It is sad that this issue has arisen for so many, but, as it has, I try not to cause others harm when in public. I know how debilitating it can be. Maybe I will buy a small bottle one of these days, just to stroll down memory lane……sigh. <3

    1. so true Georgia, but everything in moderation..f people didn’t pour the whole bottle on themselves it wouldn’t be so bad!

  8. I loved Charlie. Couldn’t afford many others and Jean Nate was cheap!! Nowadays I don’t wear any. Bugs eat me alive as is with hair spray so I right now have no perfume on hand. I just hope my showers keep me from being stinky 😜😜. Some peoples scents are so strong I can’t take it really but do LOVE a MAN wearing something good!!!

    1. Oh, me too Susie…a good smelling man is awesome! And I really don’t like people who pile on their fragrance…you don’t need whole lot…

  9. Hey Renee. The perfume that comes to mind is what we wore during my college years: Shalimar! We always applied it liberally when we were going out on dates or to dances. It was everyone’s special perfume. Not all of us owned a bottle of it so our friends were nice enough to let us borrow theirs. I still have the remnants of a bottle of Shalimar that a boyfriend gave me back in the day, and you know how long ago that was!

    1. Cool Mary Anne! Good way to have expensive perfume….sharing it! Thank goodness I don’t have to buy it…and you guys always benefit from my working there…I have even more brands now….

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