I used to wear cologne. I probably wore it consistently from the age of 15 to 27 or so. In high school, I wore Drakkar Noir and whatever other swill West Van teenage boys were dousing themselves in. Later on, I wore sundry other fragrances–I can’t remember any of them. I stopped for a couple of reasons:
- I didn’t like the idea that I smelled like everybody else (more on this in a minute).
- I ran out of cologne, and didn’t replace it.
Years ago, my Mom started wearing perfume again because she had heard my brother and I comment that someone “smelled like Grandma”. She liked the idea that we associate a smell–being an extremely powerful memory trigger–with a particular person. I like this idea as well, so I’m considering diving back into the world of cologne.
I haven’t shopped for cologne for years (even when I wore it, I mostly received it as gifts). However, I’m perceiving a number of issues around the process:
- If I can avoid it, I don’t like owning the same thing everybody else owns. I try to buy clothes at vintage clothing stores and when I’m traveling, and avoid stores like the Gap like a plague. Sartorial uniqueness is important to me, and that sense extends to how I smell.
- How many different colognes are for sale in downtown Vancouver? Less than a hundred, I’d guess. That means, whichever one I pick, I’ll smell like a lot of people.
- Yes, I’ve heard that whole argument about ‘the smell changes when it combines with your unique body chemsitry’. This may be true, but if someone can still recognize the brand of cologne I’m wearing, the smell doesn’t change enough. I still suspect that this is mostly good spin from the perfume industry.
- In department stores, at least, the sale of cologne isn’t optimized for men. We have to talk to a salesperson (who is no doubt paid on commission), and we can’t be left alone to try out the merchandise. Besides, it’s in the perfume department–an intimidating feminine enclave if there ever was one.
In short, I’m putting off buying cologne because I fear I’m going to be disappointed. Does anyone have any advice? Obscure colognes that smell good? Alternative means of getting rarer colognes? Can I pay someone to make me a unique cologne?