I've Just Created My "Dream" Perfume Cabinet—Here's Every Single Scent I Added
I've been a fragrance lover ever since I started earning an allowance and could afford every single celebrity, Bath & Body Works, and Victoria's Secret scent I could get my hands on. (You quite literally could not see the surface of my vanity in junior high and high school—that's just how bottle-strewn it was!)
Therefore, it's not surprising that my love for all things perfume has only intensified ever since becoming completely immersed in the world of fragrance as a beauty editor. (Side note: when I first started my career in beauty at Who What Wear, our CCO Hillary Kerr lent me The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York by Chandler Burr, and it's still one of my favorite reads of all time.)
Years later, you could say I've definitely been around the block when it comes to perfume and am familiar with practically every fragrance from every brand. You could also say I've become infinitely more particular when it comes to choosing my own wardrobe of scents, and while it might seem superficial, I pride myself on getting complimented by strangers on my smell. Essentially, I want to smell as intoxicating as possible, and I choose my perfumes accordingly. Below, I'm sharing the contents of what my "dream" perfume cabinet would look like, and really, it's not dissimilar to what my actual perfume collection is comprised of. Keep scrolling for 16 collection-worthy icons I think every single person should own.
Jo Malone London
Key Notes: Ambrette seeds, sea salt, sage
This beloved Jo Malone London cologne, which is the next best thing to visiting the Cliffs of Dover—complete with windswept hair and salt-crusted skin—is timeless. The scent it leaves behind is so natural and dewy, like how you'd smell if you spent the afternoon outside soaking up the grass, fog, and salty seas. If you're someone who wants something more woody and earthy, but still velvety and luxe, it's the perfect antidote. It makes me feel nostalgic, I just can't pinpoint why. Which almost makes it even more enchanting? P.S. I'm not the only one who's fanatical about this perfume, it's a brand best-seller when I cross-checked ratings at Nordstrom, Sephora, and the brand's own website.
Customer Review: "Warm like skin, organic, and elegant. Neck nuzzling goodness. Spare, earthy, for a man or a woman. Evokes the beach's restorative ozone, and the serenity of the woods. Comfort and sensuality in a bottle. The top notes catch you. They fade, like they should. The dry down is subtle, a nose accustomed to "bright" fragrances might miss it. It is there. I like that it fades, like lipstick, as the day goes on. Classic."
Parfums de Marly
Key notes: Rhubarb, lychee, bergamot essence, Turkish rose, peony, vanilla, cashmeran, musk, vetiver
A cult-favorite amongst beauty editors everywhere, Delina won the prize as WWW Editors' "Overall Favorite" perfume earlier this year, and I'm not surprised in the slightest. I'd honestly buy it for the packaging alone, but the completely unique blend of floral meets warm and sweet is completely bewitching. I recommend it to everyone.
Customer review: "I am obsessed with this fragrance! I have a bit of a fragrance obsession going on and in the last 6 months I've bought some very expensive perfumes. This one is THE BEST!! I want to wear it all the time! It is not like anything else you have ever smelled. You will not smell like everyone else. This is a statement fragrance in the way that my grandmother in her time wore Chanel. I LOVE IT!"
Key notes: Freesia, plum, amber, cashmere woods, Madagascar vanilla beans, cistus oil
Vanille Antique is the "bend and snap" of the perfume world. As Elle Woods would say, in my experience, it has a 98% success rate of getting a man's attention. (Not that you should be wearing a perfume to get attention from another man or woman, but you know what I mean.) It's quite literally the sexiest perfume I have ever smelled, and I truly tell you to proceed with caution—it will evoke a primal response from anyone you are (or want to be) romantically involved with. My friend Sophia calls it "sex on a stick," and honestly, she's not wrong. It's the smokiest, richest, non-sickly take on vanilla you'll ever smell. Enjoy.
Customer review: "I love it. It’s mature and sexy. It dries down to a warm woodsy, vanilla smell that people will comment on when they hug you. The initial scent can seem strong to some but the dry down is exquisite. I’ve had countless compliments since I purchased this."
Key notes: Bergamot, lemon, jasmine, saffron, cyclamen, sandalwood, vanilla, musk, amber, moss, cedarwood
I too, like the rest of the universe, love Phlur's famous skin scent, Missing Person. However, I'm an outlier in that I actually think the brand's absolute best scent is the *still beloved*, just slightly more under-the-radar perfume, Somebody Wood. It's just so, so perfect to me. It's earthy and woody, but not too earthy and woody thanks to the hints of water (cyclamen), citrus (bergamot), leather (saffron), and sweet (vanilla). It's got range!"
Customer review: "Smells divine. I smelt this in person and immediately grabbed the box to buy. It’s a very beginner-friendly woody scent, and it is slightly floral on me. I’ve been using it everyday since i’ve purchased, and have gotten several compliments!"
Maison Margiela 'REPLICA'
Key notes: Pink pepper, vegetal accord, bergamot, aquatic accord, rose petal, jasmine, grandiflorum, patchouli, pine needle, moss accord
I love this perfume so much because it smells like a dewy soil-soaked post-rain walk outside when the sky has a lingering darkness, and there's still fog or mist in the air. Plus, since this fragrance was crafted to capture the ambiance of Dublin circa 1967, there's likely a rainbow in the mix too. (As someone who studied abroad in Ireland, I miss the five rainbows I used to experience a day!) This scent is earthy in the fresh and aquatic sense, with slick and lush notes like aquatic accord, rose petal, and pine needle taking center stage. I have lots of favorites from REPLICA, so it's telling that this one is my all-time favorite.
Customer review: "Beautiful. I had been looking for a new perfume for months and hadn't been excited by any scent until I came across this earlier last year. It stuck in my head enough to impulse buy it for myself as a Christmas present, and I have no regrets. It is a beautiful and fresh scent with lasting power, and I will definitely be repurchasing to keep it in my collection."
Key notes: Coriander, orange flower, bay leaf, cumin, patchouli, cedarwood, tonka bean, Peru balsam, cistus absolute
I am so obsessed with Perfumehead, that I wrote an entire review dedicated to the new brand. I'm also a huge fan of Cosmic Cowboy (and I love to layer them!) but Canadian Tuxedo is just so effortlessly cool to me. Smelling just how it sounds, it draws inspiration from denim-clad Ryan Gosling in Drive, Britney and Justin, and The Outsiders by Francis Ford Coppola. It's fresh and a tad more relaxed, although still warm, spicy, and woody—just not obtrusively. Think of your favorite pair of Levi's that just get better and better—alchemic magic.
Key notes: Bergamot, Tuscan leather, galbanum, patchouli, black amber
Mango Skin might get all of the love on TikTok when it comes to virality, but Morning Chess is the underrated star you should buy if you love something unisex and want to smell completely unique. It's inspired by the crisp, green Swedish coast, and it makes me feel like I'm vacationing in a quaint Nordic cottage with beams of sunlight hitting my morning coffee. It's sublime.
Customer review: "High-end scent! Light, sexy, and just long-lasting."
Key notes: Bergamot, Italian lemon, aquaflora, lavandin, French mimosa, ylang-ylang, orris, vetiver, sandalwood, sensual musk
Comparatively new to the fragrance industry, Eauso Vert is setting the standard when it comes to sustainability and ingredient transparency. It's one of the only natural fragrance brands I've tried with the longevity of non-clean traditional perfumes, and I've been having a complete love affair with each of the line's five scents. It was honestly so hard for me to choose between Sintra and Purple Noon (a perfume you may be familiar with as it went viral on TikTok months ago and has been sold out ever since), but if I had to choose one, I think it would be Sintra—a clean, chic take on classic musk I just can't get enough of. It's become my go-to everyday scent, and the influx of compliments I've received just encourages my obsession. The brand says it best: "Crisp and verdant, yet animalic. A seductive balance of skin-like orris flushed with a wildly euphoric musk. An aromatic lavandin delight."
Key notes: Ambrette seeds, pear nectar, orris butter, carrot seeds, tobacco flower, white cedarwood, ambroxan, liquid musk
I've loved this perfume for years, and it never fails to make my list of personal favorites, no matter how many new perfumes I try. The first time I sprayed it in the office (pre-pandemic) and wore it, everyone around my desk immediately jerked their heads around to ask what it was. I'd describe it as a juicy, fresh, and slightly citrusy scent. If my own testimony isn't enough, maybe the fact that all of my friends now own their own bottle, and that I frequently receive DMs from happy readers who I convinced to try it as well, will do the trick.
Customer Review: "This is the best spring/summer fragrance. It’s light, fruity, and musky. I have gotten more compliments on this fragrance than I have any other perfumes."
Key notes: White tea, mandarin, bergamot, jasmine, rose, ginger, sandalwood, amber
St. Rose is one of the very few fragrance lines to exist that I would honestly and truly wear every single one of its scents. That said, Juliet in White is so beyond and special that it almost feels wasted on any ol' normal day. If you love both floral and woodsy perfumes, this one combines the best of both worlds—white tea, mandarin, and bergamot on top for just a little bit of fizz; jasmine, rose, and ginger at the heart for a subtly spicy floral component; and sandalwood and amber at the base to keep it nice and grounded. I've had it in my arsenal for years, and it's still the one I'm reserving for my one-day wedding.
Key notes: Cypress, lemon, oakwood
I've been known to wear men's scents when I'm in a certain type of mood. (My fragrance MO can fluctuate dramatically depending on the day, btw.) So, it's no surprise how much I love this perfectly unisex scent from Tom Ford. It's incredibly fresh—citrusy and woodsy without smelling overpowering or too heavy. It's inspired by the Mediterranean which we love, and the mix of cypress, cistus, oakwood, and salty amber is like bottled sex on a yacht. (Is that okay to say?! Lol—I'm going there.)
Customer Review: "To me, it's unisex. It smells luxurious and sexy, mysterious and dark, yet something you could wear every day. This is something that will make heads turn and people ask you what are you wearing because it is that alluring. When my husband wears it I want to just snuggle up into his chest and breathe it in all night long. This cologne smells like money and wealth. A couple of sprays are enough, and it lasts the entire day—it's impressive. This is a staple to have in your fragrance collection and trust me it is an attention-getter. To me, it smells a little musky, in the best way, and dark if that makes sense. It is a beautiful fragrance."
Key notes: Sicilian lemon, cassis, pear, lotus blossom, peony, Centifolia rose petals, cashmere woods, spring musks, vanilla orchid
It just doesn't get more classic than a timeless rose perfume, but some can tread a little too classic, and smell old-fashioned and stuffy. Rrose from clean brand Ellis Brooklyn gets it just right and is one of the most elegant and beautiful takes on rose that I've ever smelled. Sparkling additions like peony, Sicilian lemon, spring musks, and cashmere woods, keep it fresh and upbeat. This rose is the antithesis of grandma.
Customer Review: "Rrose is quickly becoming my signature scent. I am addicted, can’t stop smelling it. I recently began switching to less toxic fragrances, and this is my favorite so far. At first spray I wasn’t sure about it because it was pretty strong on the fresh-cut rose scent (which is lovely but maybe not how I want to smell all the time). But before long it warms up a little and becomes a perfect balance of delicate florals, with a touch of sweetness, and a little bit fresh. My husband loves it too. While I can totally wear this on its own, I love to layer it with Clean Reserve’s Radiant Nectar."
Key notes: Bergamot, white amber, musk
I quite literally own and love DedCool's entire line of genderless, vegan, and nontoxic scents, so it's basically impossible to pick a favorite. But, the one I recommend and reach for the most, is the brand's you-but-better mega-hit, Milk. I love how different it smells on everyone, and while it's superb on its own, it also works magical wonders on your other favorite fragrances. Buy it, you'll have so much fun!
Customer review: "THIS IS THE TRUTH! I’ve been wearing this perfume for two years now! I have quite a large collection but I reach for this one the most. It is absolutely amazing by itself and gets me so many compliments on my scent. This perfume also layers so well with other scents. Makes them smell even better without changing the scent profile."
Key notes: Oud wood, white almond, raspberry accord, blond woods, Atlas cedar, rose, sandalwood, vanilla
This is probably the sweetest perfume I own, but it's also probably one of the most sophisticated perfumes I own, and usually, the two adjectives do not go hand in hand! People go absolutely nuts over this fragrance (if you think it smells good from the bottle, just wait until it starts to alchemize with your unique skin chemistry) and even my dad, who is quite literally the pickiest person when it comes to scent and never likes ANYTHING, was blown away when I was home and wearing this over the holidays last year. Interestingly, the brand explains on its website that oud is considered "one of the most mysterious materials used in perfumery." Its potent fragrance lies in its resin, which is secreted from the core of the wood.
Customer review: "I bought this fragrance as a result of a sample. It's exquisite and unique. I am so glad I purchased it. I love the way it smells on me, and it lasts a long time. I sometimes even spritz a little on before going to bed and the fragrance is still there when I awake the next morning. All of Guerlain's fragrances are unique!"
Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Key notes: Jasmine, vetiver, rose, patchouli, violet, orange blossom, iris, lily of the valley
This delicate perfume smells like a bouquet composed of florals from all around the world: patchouli from Indonesia, Iris from Florence, Rose from Grasse, and jasmine from Egypt. Maison Francis Kurkdjian makes lots of very iconic scents—most notably Baccarat Rouge 540—but this dark horse scent is the one I slyly wear and recommend the most. I do own and love Baccarat Rouge 540, but I truly love this one more!
Customer review: "I’m so happy that I bought this! Was a blind buy and wow! So elegant and fresh! Mood lifting and so beautiful! Super feminine. I can’t stop smelling my wrists. What a wonderful buy. I don’t like heavy sweet vanilla perfumes. So if you are like me this is the perfume for you. You will smell clean and delicious."
Key notes: Jasmine, melon, orange blossom, tuberose, white musk
Portrait of a Lady has become the Frédéric Malle scent in recent years, but, plot twist…it's really not my fave. Carnal Flower is another iconic Malle fragrance (composed by the same perfumer as Portrait, Dominique Ropion), but I personally find it twenty times more alluring. And, honestly, a little twisty which I freaking love. It's truly unlike anything you've ever smelled before and develops into the most lush and milky olfactory confection. It's a "holy sh*t you smell amazing" vibe. Also, a fun fact, Carnal Flower contains the highest concentration of natural tuberose in the perfume industry. It's a masterpiece.
Customer review: "Sexy, devious, floral, fun.
I've read so much on this fragrance, and I'm happy to report that everyone was right! It's a warm and divine and luxurious floral scent. I am no expert on fragrances, so I cannot speak on top notes and base notes, but many perfumistas do and a quick search will give you more than you can handle. Carnal Flower is sweet on initial smell, think tuberose, roses, gardenias, and then it melts into something more silky, sexy, and mature. People will be delighted by your scent from two to three feet away. For me, it doesn't leave a long trail, but you will still have people racing to ask you about that insanely tempting, nicely naughty fragrance. Man or woman, I recommend you put a drop on your wrists and wear it for a day. It just may be love at first whiff, just as it was for me."