A short history of perfume and the best ways to apply it.

Dear reader, 

I recently wrote about the little simple things you can do today in order to feel more elegant and, most importantly, more confident (the post is over here). One of the five steps I described in this post was related to the use of perfume. I think, indeed, that perfume can instantly upgrade your personal style, elegance and confidence. In today’s post, I think we could (very) shortly cover the history of perfume before getting into some details related to the reason why we use perfume today as well as the best ways to apply it. If you are interested, let’s get started with the History part (if you want, more information right here).

A short history of perfume

I will be really quick on this one as I am quite passionate and do not want to bore you. Perfume is not a “new trend” as a lot of people think it is, it is even rather old. More than 2 000 years ago, the Egyptians already used it in order to create a link with gods. The greek meaning of the word “Religion”, indeed, has to do with the meaning of the verb “link” today : Religion is the link between men and gods, and the Egyptians believed perfume could embody this link.

As the centuries passed, perfume became far more sensual and even erotic, especially in the Roman Empire, that is why the Pope forbade its use. It was then allowed again, but only for its medical purposes, especially at the Medical University of Montpellier (France), under to sharp surveillance of the Pope. Decades went by, and the Kings and Queens started using it again for more aesthetic purposes.

Catherine de Médicis, when she came from Italy to France in order to marry the future king, brought with her wonderful scented gloves. No need to tell you it gave ideas to women at court! Perfume was seen for several dynasties as a representation of power and wealth.

With Napoléon 1er, in the beginning of the 19th century, the new trend became Eau de Cologne, which he even brought with him on the battlefield in little bottles he put in his boots. His first wife, Marie-Louise, was however more fond of floral perfumes, and used a more floral Eau de Cologne. It is thanks to both Napoléon 1er and Marie-Louise that perfume became “affordable” and that is is as famous among the people as it is today.

Choosing a signature smell : the story we tell

For the purpose of this post, I wondered about my own history with perfume as, more than the complete History of perfume, there are the stories we tell with perfume. I think there are two sides when it comes to perfume : people who want to choose their perfume according to their mood, and people who have a signature smell they use everyday. I personally have belonged to both sides but, today, I am definitely more part of the ones who think a signature smell is perfect. Through your signature smell, you tell a story, your story. When you smell the perfume that resonates with you, then you know. You know it is going to be your perfume, your friend for the years to come. I personally had one, then switched to wearing different perfumes according to the seasons of the year, but have turned back to my old perfume as I missed it too much.

Having a signature smell allows you, in my eyes, to feel instantly put together. Every morning, when I spray my eau de parfum, I feel ready to start the day, it is like a little signal telling me “Camille, it is time to get started”. Having a signature smell is like feeling at home everywhere, covered in so much sweetness and confidence-in-bottle. To finish on the topic of signature smells, I will simply ask a question : is not it cool to know that, the moment you enter a room, people know you are here only by the smell of your perfume? I personally think it is and it increases my level of confidence in a considerable way.

If you are looking for a signature smell, here are a few suggestions: I personally wear Repetto, my mother wears La Petite Robe Noire (Guerlain, which is by the way the oldest modern parfumeur) and a friend of mine wears La Vie est Belle. I personally would recommend Nina Ricci‘s and Kenzo’s (Kenzo World especially) perfumes for younger girls and Chanel and Dior for women who have passed the age of twenty. It is a personal point of view and I have actually been wearing the N°5 at fifteen, but I would personally not do it again.

The best ways to apply perfume 

  • Perfume works best on warmer places, so I would recommend applying it on warmer places for the notes de coeur (the part of the perfume that can last between, three minutes and two hours) to last longer. The best places to apply perfume, according to the warmth-principle, are: behind the ears, on your breasts, behind your elbows and behind your knees. However, be careful: choose only two of these places or you risk to provoke a headache to people around you, as even a good-quality perfume can seem cheap if you spray too much of it. Once again, lees is more.
  • Perfume is made of alcohol, so it is important to avoid putting in on your clothes (especially when it comes to fragile materials such as silk and linen) and hair. If you want to put it on your hair (which I personally do), here is a little tip : spray it on your hairbrush, let it dry a little and brush your hair : they will smell of perfume without being damaged.
  • My last tip is to put a little bit of perfume on your pillow at night (once again, if your pillow is in satin or silk, I would not recommend it as it could stain the fabric). As you will sleep on it all night long, your hair will smell incredibly good in the morning.

To finish, I would love to add that, in France, a popular saying says that a woman applies perfume everywhere she wants to be kissed… so play with your imagination here, as all tips I gave are guidelines but not real rules.

Hoping you have learnt something new today, 

Camille Taboulot. 

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