A version of this story originally appeared on the Strategist U.S.
Scent can say a lot about you — and how you want to be perceived. And on an occasion when the goal is to feel (and smell) sexy, perfume can even become a memorable yet invisible accessory. Whether you’ve found your first-date signature already or just want a fragrance that brings out your most big-night-out-ready self, a little guidance to the nuanced world of fragrance might help — especially when it comes from someone who sells sexy for a living. Ahead, I spoke with Jennifer Zuccarini, founder of high-end lingerie brand Fleur du Mal and perfume aficionado, about what she wears when she wants to feel particularly seductive and self-assured. After all, aside from looks, people are most drawn to scent — “If you’re not attracted to the way somebody smells, it’s not going to happen,” she says. So while fragrance is highly personal, Zuccarini shares her favourite sexy fragrances for every event that calls for a boost of confidence.
For a casual night out
I rotate different fragrances; I’m not someone who has a signature scent. I envy those people in a way because they’re very set in who they are and what they like. But I like to switch it up. For a weekend date with my husband, trying a new restaurant or just spending time together, I love to wear Tom Ford’s Santal Blush. When I breathe it in, I go, “Ahh.” It feels special and seductive because it has that little bit of smoke to it, which smells so intoxicating. Even if the plan doesn’t include anything that special, sometimes you still need that bit of oomph.
For a first date
Wear something mesmerising and intoxicating on a first date. Something that doesn’t feel too far out of your comfort zone, since you want to feel like yourself, but don’t just wear what you would wear to the office. Spritz yourself with something spicy you don’t wear every day that will leave a long-lasting impression on your date — in a good way. I love the deep smoky notes of this Chanel fragrance. Nicotine and tobacco scents within fragrances have become very popular recently — they’re definitely sexy notes, but when done right, can be very subtle.
For an anniversary date
Sometimes I’ll wear a scent so much that at a certain point, I barely smell it anymore. The same thing can happen with your partner: You become so accustomed to each other’s scents, especially if you’re married or live together. A special night out celebrating your relationship, like an anniversary, gives reason to shake things up and reignite that flame you felt at the very beginning of your relationship. You’d wear beautiful lingerie you may not wear every night, so why not wear a special, seductive scent? For me, that scent is Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique, which has African marigold, violet, cedarwood, and vetiver. I love to look at notes that perfumers add in to complement the smokiness, which in this case is the addition of flowers. Just a little bit of this will arouse you and your partner.
For a summer date
Sweat can impact your perfume, which is why people use a lighter eau de toilette or eau de cologne in the summertime. Even if you’re not noticeably sweating, your warm skin can also change the scent. I typically don’t love floral scents as I think many can be far too sweet and powdery, but florals and citrus in the summer can be wonderful. Tuberose and jasmine are two very sexy floral scents, but violet really can be very arousing, too. I find this Gucci violet perfume oil enchanting and balanced. As soon as I smelled it, I thought, I have to have this. I love it. It’s not a spray, so you drop the oil onto your pulse points. Because Gucci designed the oil to be very light, you can layer it on top of other fragrances for a signature scent or something entirely new.
For a date (with friends)
People are not always going out to find a partner or someone to go home with. For a night out with friends when you want to be free and yourself, wear something that you feel represents you. Obviously, everyone applies a different definition to that sentiment, but one fascinating fragrance for that is Escentric Molecules Molecule 01; it smells different on everyone because it’s basically a non-fragrance. When you apply the scent, which is a sheer sandalwood, it mixes with your natural body chemistry, and certain notes become enhanced. You may not smell it on yourself, but whoever you’re with will, and it can be very entrancing.
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