There's a lot of power in a signature scent—it's another form of personal identity that allows the wearer to be sensed without even speaking. Consider it the beauty counterpart to personal style. And just like my own sartorial approach, I've taken care to find a scent that really resonates with me.
As most of you already know, fragrance is a highly personal thing. I would be okay with smelling like Atelier Cologne's Vanille Insensée for the rest of my life. On the other hand, my mother tends to run across the room anytime she's within walking distance of it. Each person has their own idiosyncratic preferences that add an extra layer of complexity to the business of fragrance. It's partly why it's taken me so long to find my own favourite scent that I can stand to wear on repeat.
If you're equally overwhelmed about how to go about finding your own signature scent, I have a few trusty recommendations that might help. I asked my colleagues to reveal their own personal fragrances they use religiously and let me say the list is quite diverse. From niche, musky scents to nostalgic classics, these are the fragrances our editors always keep in stock.
Kristen Nichols, Senior Fashion Editor
"There is simply nothing more intoxicating than Portrait of a Lady from Frédéric Malle—the fragrance that has a permanent place on my vanity. A beautiful blend of Turkish rose with a spicy, smoky base of sandalwood and frankincense, I could actually bathe in this scent, which I just might start doing now that a shower cream has also been released."
Allyson Payer, Senior Fashion Editor
"Byredo Gypsy Water is one of those scents that are very distinctive, but difficult to describe. Since it's both woody and spicy (thanks to the base notes of vanilla, sandalwood, and amber), it works year-round, day and night. It's very popular but it's not one that I detect a ton out and about. And when I'm wearing it, people often ask me what it is, which is a sign that it's appealing without being too recognisable."
Courtney Higgs, Beauty Editor
"I'm a true fragrance lover, so choosing a single scent to be my signature is simply impossible. My vanity is stacked with dozens of bottles I cycle through depending on factors like the season, the occasion, and my mood, but I will say that recently I've found myself reaching for Kilian's iconic Love Don't Be Shy regularly for the past couple of months. It all started when I gave the scent a test drive in an effort to discover why Rihanna loves it so much and in the process, I absolutely fell in love with this sweet tonic, laced with notes of marshmallow, neroli, and orange blossom. It's a way different vibe than any of the more androgynous, sandalwood-heavy scents I used to wear on repeat, but it's quickly become one of my all-time favourites."
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
"I know the patchouli name might scare some people off at first glance, but this is described as a dry, woody scent that is crisp, green, and surprising. I would add that it's also a smoky perfume with notes of sandalwood too. I have been smitten ever since the Le Labo salesperson said it's an unusual choice. Santal 33, who?"
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor
"Confession: I have not changed my perfume since high school. I know that you're 'supposed' to evolve your scent palette over the years, but honestly, I have been unable to find a scent that melds as well with my natural scent, like Juicy Couture's Viva La Juicy. I still love this scent because its mix of vanilla, jasmine, and mandarin isn't overpowering but still is poignant. Basically, every spritz brings me so much joy, and until I find another perfume that does that, I'll be standing by this scent for a while."—Jasmine
Anna Laplaca, Associate Fashion Editor
"Go ahead and add me to the tally of Glossier You's massive fanbase because I'm obsessed. The formula is made so that once it sinks into your skin it will smell slightly different on everyone, but I've found that it's warm, deep, and very inviting. With bright pink pepper and woodsy ambrette seeds, it's a balanced and versatile scent that lends itself well to wearing every day and or any occasion."
Indya Brown, Market Editor
This is one of those compliment magnets. Whenever I'm wearing this I can't be incognito even if I tried. It elicits such reaction from people I encounter no matter if I'm at the post office or the dentist. The notes of grapefruit and jasmine push this fragrance over to the intense side of the spectrum, so if you spray it once, just be prepared to get a whiff of this all day.
I'm going to cheat a bit here and include Chanel's N°5 L'Eau as well. The original is a classic with a well-documented history, but admittedly it felt too heavy for me to use on the daily. Once I smelled this version—a lighter, more powdery version of the iconic original—I was instantly drawn in. Now, I make sure to have a bottle of this stocked in my collection as well as for on the go.
Judith Jones, Senior Market Editor
"I'm a huge fan of Jo Malone scents and their Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne is one of my absolute favorites. The scent of lime adds a vibrant, citrusy freshness and tropical twist to herbaceous basil and thyme. It hits my nose just right! I always get a ton of compliments when I wear it."
Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor
"You know a perfume is one in a million when you fork over £100 for the real thing less than 10 seconds after getting a whiff of a sample. I had an immediate 'Where have you been all my life?' reaction to this stunning fragrance, and I think you will too—especially if you're someone, like me, who goes weak in the knees for rose-led scents. The aforementioned is anchored by violet, musk, plus pink and black pepper. It's delicious, and it's quickly become my signature."
Hannah Almassi, Editor in Chief
"It's been a long time since I was in Paris sipping a strong drink in a dark and moody hotel bar, but this musky scent transports me immediately. Although the fragrance is inspired by black tie events and after-dark adventures, this androgynous fragrance actually works nicely during the day as it's surprisingly light for a smoky, earthy scent. I'd simply layer on more spritzes should I ever get to party in the City of Lights again…"
Elinor Block, Assistant Editor
"I never thought I’d be into a rose perfume but I’ve worn this for five years and I’m hooked. It’s a modern take on the classic and smells fresh but doesn’t disappear easily. My husband likes to describe the smell as 'being on holiday in California', which I think is quite the selling point."
Mica Ricketts, Beauty Editor
"I'm fickle when it comes to fragrance and love trying new perfumes so having to choose just one signature scent is incredibly hard. However, there is one that I reach for more than all others and it's Byredo's Velvet Haze. Over the last year especially, it's been like a bit of a comfort blanket for me—albeit an incredibly luxurious one—thanks to its warming blend of patchouli, cocoa, and musk. However, don't let that fool you into thinking that this is a wintery scent. The unexpected hit of coconut water keeps this feeling fresh and modern and it's why I come back to it all year-round."
Indya Brown is a fashion editor, stylist, and writer living in Los Angeles. While going to school at Columbia University in New York City, she got her feet wet in the fashion industry interning at Elle magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and New York magazine's The Cut. After graduating in 2016, she joined The Cut as a fashion assistant, eventually working her way up to fashion editor. There, she worked on a multitude of projects, including styling inbook feature stories for New York magazine's print issue, writing and pitching market stories for The Cut, and serving as fashion lead for The Cut's branded content. While New York has been her home for over 10 years, she moved to Los Angeles in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 for a new chapter. Now she is a fashion market editor for Who What Wear, focusing on emerging designers, rising trends on and off the internet, interior design, and BIPOC creatives and brands. Aside from her duties as a fashion market editor, Brown is also a freelance stylist and writer, working on national print and video commercial campaigns for Sephora, The Independent, and Cadillac. Her bylines also include Harper's Bazaar, Vox, and The New York Times. But once the computer goes down and the emails turn off, she's likely eating her way through Koreatown, hunting down vintage furniture, scoping out new outrageous nail designs to try, or taking a hot cycling class.