Stage Setting or Mood Setting?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo many perfume blogs, mine included, gloss over the subject of when and why and how we reach for bottles of perfume. This tends to obscure the essential fact that there inevitably are perfumes or smells more congenial to one individual wearer than others.  Whatever you like to wear, whether it is green or floral or woody or oriental, has something to do with the particular set of tastes and habits that are native to you.  We all know when something is simply wrong.

So why don’t we trust our own instincts?

One culprit is distraction.  Too much comes out every year. A person can lose their sense of the scents that define them, lose a sense of what it is to have an olfactory identity.  Or, to put it another way, I can. I begin to tell myself hilarious fibs about how often I will wear a perfume. 

Certain perfumes, however beautiful they may be, are not wearable, don’t fit in with my lifestyle, and that is the homely truth.

Of course, there are two great ways to wear perfume, and depending on what sort of person you are, you will find that you fall into one of them: Perfume as Deception or Perfume as Truth

Now this sounds, I admit, a bit stark, but we are dealing with the murky business here of whim versus habit, and how often we are swayed by either.  Those who use Perfume as Deception are perhaps interested in imposing an unexpected perspective on every day life, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Such people are fond of a bit of role playing in different circumstances, and who is not?

The answer of course is those stodgy people for whom the steady beat of habit is the most comfortable rhythm.  We like using the same perfume, or one of a small posse of perfumes, to which we are used and which tell a kind of truth about us.

Which of these two stratagems you tend to use says something about you as a person, something about your sense of esthetics, something about your needs; like for instance whether or not you need to stay awake after lunch or whether your afternoons are like bankers’ afternoons, and strictly negligible. Whether you like a siesta, and therefore are willing to pass an afternoon in a haze of orange blossom, or instead need to sit up and pay attention in a cloud of green tea and mint.

If you wear perfume strictly as an extension of yourself and your own needs, then this sort of choice comes pretty close to aromatherapy.  You are trying to rev yourself up, or calm yourself down, the other strategy is using perfume for effect, to blend into a situation, or to stand out from it.  The reasons for the selections made are entirely different.

Which category do you fall into?  Do you wear perfume to tell the truth, or to role play a little?

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6 thoughts on “Stage Setting or Mood Setting?

  1. I’d say for me perfume is mostly about mood, an extension of myself. I think this is exactly why I’m adamant against certain fragrances because I don’t get them, they’re not me in any form (who I was/am/want to be). But there are times, though rare, that I put on a scent like a costume, or a shield.

    • Yup, that’s what I’d say too. I never used to understand the other point of view at all, but then read a quote from Roja Dove about how perfume could help you to lie a little. It had never occurred to me. Some perfume wearing is sort of like trick or treating or Carnival, and a lot of people do that, but I wonder if it’s a minority or majority of perfume wearers?

  2. Perfumes are a part of my life, it doesn’t feel right not to wear a perfume but I don’t think I fit into any of the categories you suggested: I do not wear perfumes that are not “me”, but I wear so many different perfumes that they just can’t all represent me, right?

    • Maybe you’ve moved into the stage of connoisseur, where you find it hard to have an identity. It’s exactly that you try so many things in order to write about them, or know about them, that it’s difficult to say what your fragrance profile is anymore. Believe me, I know what this feels like. I am trying currently to weed out the duplicates from my perfumes, and also the ones that I seldom wear. The difference between the what’s on my skin and what’s on the shelf is startling.

      • All you said is true but in addition to that I’m a collector (and a little bit a hoarder probably): with some perfumes it’s important for me to own them – even if I know I’ll wear them two-three times a year.

        • Yes you are a collector then.
          What I do is to collect what I know will become rare. I cellar it just like wine! Guerlain LEs especially.

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